Postcards from Three Pines: The Cruelest Month

The Cruelest Month Postcard
“Happy Easter! Writing is coming a bit easier. More confident I can actually do this. Season of rebirth to new life for me. Exciting!”

‘So what did Ruth want?’ Olivier asked, as he placed single malt Scotches in front of Myrna and Gabri. Odile and Gilles had gone home but everyone else was in the bistro. Clara waved to Peter, who was shrugging out of his coat and hanging it on a peg by the door. She’d called him as soon as the séance had ended and invited him to the post-mortem.

‘Well, at first we thought she was yelling “fuck”,’ said Myrna, ‘then we realized she was yelling “duck”.’

‘Duck? Really?’ said Olivier, sitting on the arm of Gabri’s wing chair and sipping cognac. ‘Duck? Do you think she’s been saying that all along?’

‘And we just misheard?’ asked Myrna. ‘Duck off. Is that what she said to me the other day?’

‘Duck you?’ said Clara. ‘It’s possible. She is often in a fowl mood.’

Monsieur Béliveau laughed and looked over at Madeleine, pale and quiet beside him.

The fine April day had given way to a cold and damp night. It was getting on for midnight and they were the only ones in the bistro now.

‘What did she want?’ Peter asked.
‘Help with some duck eggs. Remember the ones we found by the pond this afternoon?’ said Clara, turning to Mad. ‘Are you all right?’

‘I’m fine.’ Madeleine smiled. ‘Just a little edgy.’

‘I’m sorry about that,’ said Jeanne. She sat on a hard chair slightly outside their circle. She’d reverted to her mousy self; all evidence of the strong, calm psychic had evaporated as soon as the lights had come on.

‘Oh, no, I’m sure it’s nothing to do with the séance,’ Madeleine assured her. ‘We had coffee after dinner and it must have had caffeine. It affects me that way.’

‘Mais, ce n’est pas possible,’ Monsieur Béliveau said. ‘I’m sure it was decaf.’ Though he was feeling a little edgy himself.

‘What’s the story with the eggs?’ asked Olivier, smoothing the crease on his immaculate corduroys.

‘Seems Ruth went to the pond after we’d left and picked them up,’ Clara explained.

‘Oh, no,’ said Mad.

‘Then the birds came back and wouldn’t sit on the nest,’ said Clara. ‘Just as you predicted. So Ruth took the eggs home.’

‘To eat?’ asked Myrna.

‘To hatch,’ said Gabri, who’d gone with Clara back to Ruth’s tiny house to see if they could help.

‘She didn’t sit on them, did she?’ Myrna asked, not sure if she was amused or repulsed by the image.

‘No, it was actually quite sweet. When we arrived the eggs were sitting on a soft flannel blanket in a basket. She’d put the whole lot in her oven on low.’

‘Good idea,’ said Peter. Like the rest, he’d have expected Ruth to devour, not save, them.

‘I don’t think she’s had that oven on in years. Keeps saying it takes too much energy,’ said Myrna.

‘Well, she has it on now,’ said Clara. ‘Trying to hatch the ducks. Those poor parents.’ She picked up her Scotch and glanced out the window to the darkness of the village green and imagined the parents sitting by the pond, at the spot where their young family had been, where their babies had sat in their little shells, trusting that Mom and Dad would keep them safe and warm. Ducks mate for life, Clara knew. That’s why duck hunting season was particularly cruel. Every now and then in the fall you’d see a lone duck, quacking. Calling. Waiting for its spouse. And for the rest of its life it would wait.

Discussion on “Postcards from Three Pines: The Cruelest Month

  1. Michele Harris says:

    Such rich writing and detail in a few paragraphs is what makes Louise’s novels a favorite of her followers.
    This brings me back to when I first read “The Cruelest Month” and now I want to read it again to mine the golden nuggets of clues!
    And yes…although Ruth often is in a “fowl” mood, one of those golden nuggets are placed within her beating heart.

  2. Nancy Thomas says:

    Just wonderful!

  3. Janet Barlow says:

    I am bringing my mum (almost 89 years old) to Knowlton area later this week to visit the “Three Pines” area. A trip she has wanted to do for a few years. We are both very excited to see the area that has inspired so many wonderful books. Thank you Louise Penny!

    • Vicki says:

      Be sure to visit the museum in Knowlton and look for the painting titled Still Life!

    • Roy Riggs says:

      My wife and I love the books, and look forward to the next. But not sure we want to visit Knowlton. Louise describes Three Pines so vividly, my imagination knows it very well, and I wouldn’t want to disturb my reality. And besides, i’d Be disappointed to find out that Ruth doesn’t live there.

    • PJ Crockett says:

      I would just love to do that!
      Where is it, really?
      I live in San Francisco, so it’s unlikely I will get an opportunity anytime soon, but I’d love to make a point of it♥️✨

  4. Maria O'Grady says:

    My husband and I are visiting the Knowlton area this weekend to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary…so looking forward to nosing around!

    • Susan Titus says:

      We went for our fiftieth – stayed at Maison Hovey. We took the Gamache tour around the area – loved every minute. I wasn’t exactly Three Pines but that village still remains off the map. Can’t wait to go back!!! Am starting the series for the third time while I wait for the new volume in November.

    • PJ Crockett says:


  5. Karen Lewis says:

    Love the postcards!

  6. Madeleine Pieczarka says:

    Love all the Gamache books!

  7. Merci Mille fois for wonderful books and your generous sharing of post cards,your trips etc. All a joy to read.

  8. Donna Gada says:

    Just finished book 2 in series and started the cruelest month. Enjoying reading about Three Pines. Will inspector Gamache eventually move there? Can’t wait to see.

  9. Dianne Bangham says:

    I am enjoying these so much. They make me want to start all over and reread them all❤️❤️❤️

  10. Jan F says:

    When I grow up, I want to be Ruth. A heart hidden beneath layers. Have to peel the layers to find it.

  11. Cindy Matherne says:

    Love! Love! Love! Every single Chief Inspector Gamache story! Can’t wait for Kingdom of the Blind! ❤️ ❤️ I recommend your books to everyone!

  12. Patty Brincefield says:

    This is a great idea. I love all of the books and can’t wait to get my hands on the next one.

  13. Deborah Makin says:

    Love these characters so much. I can’t wait for your next book.

  14. Sue Murray says:

    Totally hooked on this series from day one.
    Lived in Knowlton for 32 years and imagine I recognize some of the characters – hahahaha….

  15. Jill Leaman says:

    Just started reading it. I have every book in the series and am slowly getting thru them.
    I savor every word.

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