Postcards from Three Pines: Still Life

Still Life Postcard
“Here in Quebec. Finally started writing. I think I’ll call it STILL LIFE. What do you think? Struggling a bit with fear but inspired by the fall colours. ”

Three Pines wasn’t on any tourist map, being too far off any main or even secondary road. Like Narnia, it was generally found unexpectedly and with a degree of surprise that such an elderly village should have been hiding in this valley all along. Anyone fortunate enough to find it once usually found their way back. And Thanksgiving, in early October, was the perfect time. The weather was usually crisp and clear, the summer scents of old garden roses and phlox were replaced by musky autumn leaves, woodsmoke and roast turkey.

Three huge pine trees faced [Gamache] at the far end of the green. Between him and them was a pond, a bunch of sweater-clad children circling it, hunting for frogs, he supposed. The village green sat, not surprisingly, in the center of the village, a road called The Commons circling it with homes, except behind him, which seemed to be the commercial district. It was a very short commercial. It consisted, as far as Gamache could see, of a depanneur whose Pepsi sign read ‘Beliveau’. Beside that was a boulangerie, the Bistro and a bookstore. Four roads led off The Commons, like the spokes of a wheel, or the directions of a compass.

As he sat quietly and let the village happen around him he was impressed by how beautiful it was, these old homes facing the green, with their mature perennial gardens and trees. By how natural everything looked, undesigned. And the pall of grief that settled on this little community was worn with dignity and sadness and a certain familiarity. This village was old, and you don’t get to be old without knowing grief. And loss.

Discussion on “Postcards from Three Pines: Still Life

  1. Dale Brandon says:

    Such a beautiful description of a place one would want to live.

    • Susan Adams says:

      …except for the ridiculously high crimerate. :-)

      • Brian Forbes Colgate says:

        But only once a year, Susan!

      • Nicki says:

        Because everybody at Three Pines has a skeleton in their closet, automatically as a new comer, you have to have one. That could be interesting

        • Beth Van Vorst Gray says:

          Interesting . . . I rather think we all come with our own baggage to wherever we are. I would bet there are a lot of other strangers who come to “Three Pines” but, not being ready to accept themselves–the first step to loving others–simply passed on through.We never read about them, because they are not ready to open themselves to others or even their own personal scrutiny of their lives. There is such a rich undercurrent to the books, the location, the townspeople (simply can’t describe them as characters–they are so real unto themselves), rich poetry quotes, symbolism–they feed the reader on many levels.

      • Deale Hutton says:

        LOL isn’t that the truth. But I still love it.

      • Shirley Pavelich says:

        I never gave that any thought. Her stories are so well written and so intriguing, interesting and fun. I look forward to each and every “crime”.

      • Lorraine Wilson says:

        It’s almost as bad as Cabot Cove….look how popular that series was/is still!

        • Nancy J Goldstein says:

          I have often made the same comparison to Colony Cove. How does such a small perfect place have so many well plotted crimes? Matters not, I guess, if the writing is good. I pre order my books every year and hold onto them until I know she is working on another before I will start to read it. The wonderful characters of Three Pines have me hooked.

          • Shar says:

            I thought I was the only one who does that. Normally there is some bad weather in late January or February and the time seems right to embark on the journey.

          • Sharon says:

            I thought I was the only one who does that. Normally there is some bad weather in late January or February and the time seems right to embark on the journey.

        • Melissa Rowles says:

          Just what I was thinking.

        • Phyllis Bratka says:

          Have you watched the BBC Series; Doc Martin or Midsomer Murders?
          (Doc Martin doesn’t have murders-just lovely little town) Both filmed in beautiful Countryside.

          • Nancy Garver says:

            I watch both of them on PBS in America.

          • I have been watching Midsomer Murders thru both detectives and I love the scenery and the whimsical names of English villages.
            I occasionally watch Doc Martin and love the seaside village as well.

      • Maryann McClellan says:

        thats pretty true, if you go there, beware, because someone always dies….

      • Lois Cook says:

        :) This is how I describe her books to my friends, “it’s an idyllic village…..except for the murders…”

    • Ann Flynt says:

      Every book Louise Penny writes makes me feel such joy, especially since I feel as if her characters are real people. If only I could live in Three Pines, and have someone like Armand Gamache, et al. as my friends. The houses, gardens, all the special places there sound so wonderful. Yes, the murder rates are a bit high, but I think it would be worth it, just to experience such a place. I am looking forward to the next “Gamache” with great anticipation.

      • Connie Moore says:

        I agree Ann Flynt..I would jump at a chance to live there. Do not believe I could get Hubby to though. He wouldn’t leave the US.
        I do wish I had. Purchased all the books in hardback or even paperback instead of digital. Some ore on Kindle and the others are on Nook. I cannot get them all in one place. Guess that is an oh well!! At least I have them.

        • Sharon M. Klein says:

          A liberated woman would have left on her own ; let the husband follow if he wants !

        • Shirley Pavelich says:

          You might be able to have your local reference librarian, or possibly, Best Buy, who have very helpful employees, help you put them in order.

        • Sandy-M Villager says:

          Don’t despair: look for the books in used bookstores. By using Powell’s Bookstore’s online wishlist feature, I was able to complete my collection. I treasure it!

        • ani says:

          I have to touch the leaves of paper….turn them slowly as I breathe. Tuck the book under my pillow….read ONLY a few pages at a time…make the miracle last and find something helpful to others to do while I wait for the next book. I’m getting old, maybe won’t get to read them all…boohoo.

        • Ellen says:

          If you want the hardbacks, try I bought all of mine there.

      • Elaine says:

        Ann, you have described exactly how I feel. I want to live in Three Pines for its beauty and the comfort of good friends. I so look forward to the next one!

      • Joanne Haas says:

        Ann ..I will gladly be yoyr neighbor. Three Pines calks to me … love the setting and the inhabitants.

      • Sue LaBay says:

        You expressed my feelings exactly! Went through a difficult divorce, but felt less lonely when I was reading this series. Love all the characters!

    • Barbara J. Landman says:

      Is there a diagram drawn of Three Pines so I can picture it better? Love this town!

      • PAula says:

        There is a map down the page on this site:

      • Patricia Prague says:

        There is a map of Three Pines. I would gladly send it to you.

        • Ursula Kruppert-Hayes says:

          Hello Payricia. I too am a lover of Louise Penny’s books and was wondering if you would be so kind as to send me a copy of the map as well. I would really appreciate it very much. Thank you.

        • Lis Baston says:

          I have a map of Three Pines in my head, but I would so love to see a map if there is one.
          On reading these comments, I read that there is a map. Could I have one send to me also. I love maps. And I love maps in books. I’ve read Donna Leon’s books and she has a map of Venice inside the cover that I hover over.
          Three Pines is like a real village to me. I love Louise Penny and have read all her book, and her newsletters. Thanks in advance. Lis

          • Ruby Graves says:

            No map in someone else’s head is better than that of my own

          • Catherine Eighmy says:

            I’m wishing for a Map of Three Pines too!
            I know that a drawing of the village exists. My Louise Penny Book club friends here in Tucson, Arizona have met to label the map drawing and to guess about who lives where. We read passages from the books for clues. Perhaps a map will be published in the future?

          • Carol V Wormuth says:

            I too am a fan of Donna Leon’s Brunetti series set in Venice. Like Louise Penny she draws you in to the world of the characters.

        • Roz says:

          I would love to have a map of Three Pines to put up in my house. It would be a joy to look at it while rereading the books

        • Leigh says:

          I would love to have a map of Three Pines, and I would happily pay for one—along with postage. How can I contact you, Patricia?

        • Jana Moses says:

          I would love to have a map of 3 Pines also. I love Louise’s books Like everyone else, 3 Pines and the characters live in me.

          I’d be happy to pay you for the trouble if it’s not too much.

        • Jana Moses says:

          Do you know if one can order the postcards from the books? They are intriguing.

    • Joan Eigenbrod says:


    • Susan says:

      Definitely want a summer home there as long as can live with the characters safely!!
      Love these books

  2. Mary Anne Miller says:

    Loving this already

  3. Nancy says:

    Thank you for starting these postcards.

  4. Helen says:

    Love how Louise describes Three Pines. You just want to find it and stop by.
    Enjoy the people and surroundings.

    • Chrisann says:

      I feel exactly the same way. I can even imagine myself there, smelling the pines, and enjoying a coffee with the gang.

    • Paul says:

      Book me in at the B&B!

    • Sallye says:

      Sorry, I don’t want to visit….I want to move there!!

      • Jane Burns says:

        Me tooooo! I have fallen so in love with these characters, I almost believe it’s all real.

        • John Valentine Sheehan says:

          Oh, but it is real. When I read these books, reality explodes from every page. Maybe that is why I really, really don’t want to stop reading – my other very intrusive reality always awaits. What do you think? Will Peter ever rejoin the town?

          • Maelou says:

            Glad to know that someone else is missing Peter. Maybe Louise got tired of him or decided he was a bad idea? For me, he’s a loose thread.

  5. Ann Gammon says:

    When my brother, Mike, died, I imagined him in a place like Three Pines. The people there would appreciate his kind heart and gentle sense of humor.

    • Mary Ann Freeman says:

      How beautiful. I’d like to think that I’ll go there, too.

    • Sue Zahller says:

      Ann, what a lovely thought as a way to honor the kind of person your bother was. Three Pines seems to capture a bit of heaven on earth.
      Thanks for the series and postcard project, Louise! While in Quebec City this summer we were thrilled to visit the Lit & Hist Society.

    • Sue Zahller says:

      Ann, what a lovely thought as a way to honor the kind of person your brother was. Three Pines seems to capture a bit of heaven on earth.
      Thanks for the series and postcard project, Louise! While in Quebec City this summer we were thrilled to visit the Lit & Hist Society.

    • Nancy Sackett says:

      What a lovely thought. I’d love to think of my husband living there, waiting. Thank you.

    • Claire C Thompson says:

      What a sad thing it is to lose your brother, I have lost 2 younger brothers, one is still here. I am happy you find peace thinking of your brother in Three Pines.

    • Nicki says:

      I love it the thought. I wonder if my parents would want to live on the square or a bit out. My condoléances for your brother. I still have all my sisters and brothers. I cannot imagine loosing one. Sorry for your loss

    • Anne Umphrey says:

      When life gets tough for me I travel in my mind to Three Pines for peace and renewal. I grew up just south of the border in northern VT. I visualize again the fields and mountains, the rocks and the brooks, the sky and the ground, birds, and the smells of the freshly mown hay and the cow barn.

  6. Rosalie Robertson says:

    It’s a fond reminder of the layout of the village, love that!

  7. sheila zumwalt says:

    Thank you, Louise. I decided to reread the whole series this summer so this is perfect. I just have Glass Houses left and will leave it until November.

  8. Diane Pateson says:

    I can feel it, I can smell it,I can hear it, I can see it.

  9. Renee says:

    What a lovely gift to give your readers. Thanks so much!

  10. Suzan says:

    This makes me want to go back and read all of the books from the beginning once again!

    • Brenda Dedrick says:

      Me too! Am going to order Still Life today

    • Anne Umphrey says:

      I have read all the books, in order. My book group read Still Life. Someone else had recommended it. It was delightful reading the first one, being introduced all over again to the people. I am reluctant to say the word “characters” because that doesn’t imply the reality of them only a copy. Knowing them as I do know from the books further on, I can see the first book and the people differently and more wholly than those who have not read later books. Interesting feeling.

  11. Patti says:

    It’s as if I’m standing there looking through Gamache’s eyes. On this hot August day, the cool October wind felt good on m face.

  12. Susan Boisvert says:

    This is wonderful!

  13. Kathleen Fillmore says:

    I yearn for Three Pines!

  14. Frances Scovil says:

    A reminder of all the beautiful detail you provide in your books, bringing the landscape and people so alive. Excited for November 27th!

  15. Anne Marie Creamer says:

    So beautifully described. I can imagine sitting on a bench, taking the whole scene in; an earthy smell, the sounds of the children playing, the warm rich colours all around and the crisp feel of the air on my face.

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