The Annotated Three Pines – A Better Man

From Pg. 9:
Ruth made a noise that could have been a laugh. Or indigestion.
‘I’ll tell you what is funny. You crash and burn trying to do something different, while Armand destroys his career by agreeing to go back and do the same old thing.’

Louise’s Thoughts:
I so enjoy writing Ruth, though it takes a, perversely, delicate touch. She needs to be honest and cranky, often insulting, while not descending into caricature or outright nastiness. Here that ambivalence is illustrated, I hoped, through their inability to know if the noise is amusement or indigestion. Though, once again, she uncomfortably states what most are thinking.

From Pg. 42
“Consequences,” said Gamache. “We must always consider the consequences
of our actions. Or inaction.”

Louise’s Thoughts:
This is an ongoing theme within the books, and with Gamache. Considering the consequences, knowing the consequences, weighing the outcomes….and still deciding to act. It’s one thing to act on instinct, and there’s often rare courage in that – but Armand tries to impress on his people that there’s even more courage in looking without blinking at what their actions might mean. Good and bad. Intended and unintended. He goes on to say that, in his opinion, that’s part of their contract with the Quebec population. That those with a badge and a gun, will have the maturity to think before they act.

From Pg. 11
He left the woods late that afternoon, shattered.
And now he was back.
A better man? A bitter man?
They were about to find out.

Louise’s Thoughts:
The homicide team is about to see Armand Gamache, back at work as their Chief Inspector, for the first time since his suspension and demotion from Chief Superintendent. I loved writing this scene…of his return, and their reaction. And my reaction, to having him back as head of homicide. Where the whole Three Pines series began. Older. More bruised. Both him, and me. And you too, I suspect. Have the years, the events, the vicissitudes made him, us, bitter or better?

From Pg. 16
‘I see.’ Gamache lowered his voice, though all could still hear the words. ‘When I was Chief Superintendent I had a poster framed in my office. On it were the last words of a favorite poet, Seamus Heaney. Noli Timere. It’s Latin. Do you know what it means?’
He looked around the room.
‘Neither did I,’ he admitted, when no one spoke. ‘I had to look it up. It means, Be Not Afraid.’

Louise’s Thoughts:
Not completely coincidentally, I have the same poster in my living room, where I see it everyday as I write. I’m looking at it now. Fear is such a thief. If I only did what I was comfortable with, there’d be no books, no marriage, fewer close relationships. Less travel, far fewer, or no, risks. And my life would shrink to nothing. Armand knows that the bravest person in any room is the one who can admit he’s scared sh**less. But does it anyway. Here he’s encouraging a young agent to speak his mind, even though he’s afraid.

From Pg. 48
She also happened to be the chief of the volunteer fire department. Not because she was a natural leader, but because most villagers would rather run into a burning building or a river in full flood than face Ruth Zardo’s sharp tongue.

Louise’s Thoughts:
Ha – I’ve used similar descriptions of Ruth, and once again I hoped to illustrate the contradiction that is Ruth…indeed, that is most of us. The elderly poet could stay home, ignoring whatever natural disaster has cropped up. Instead, she takes on a leadership role, whether her neighbors like it or not. Yet she’s strangely effective, partly because the very thing that makes her almost as terrifying as the catastrophe, makes her uniquely effective. Ruth Zardo never shies away from the truth. From a fight. In this book we see her doing just that, with some great success, and with some terrible result.

Discussion on “The Annotated Three Pines – A Better Man

  1. Sue Moore says:

    Re: Noli Timere – I heard a sermon recently that reminded us that “Be not afraid” is in the Bible 365 times – 365 times! The speaker noted that maybe on Leap Year we could be afraid for one day.

  2. Vivien says:

    Why did I read this post at this very moment this very morning? It was meant to be. As I believe a lot is just plain meant to be. Page 16 “Be not afraid”. Speaks to me as I embark on a journey that was meant to be. Coming out I am sure a better woman!

  3. Muriel Clark says:

    Armand’s thoughtful consideration of the consequences and still acting courageously even when he know he may suffer, is one of the qualities I admire most. And THANK YOU! Thank you for acting courageously and gifting us Armand Gamache and Three Pines. Noli Timere.

  4. Marianne Dickson says:

    Thank you Louise for reminding us of the two words Noli Timere. I have used them every day through a difficult passage . Loved reading Gamache again . Wonderful book.

  5. Lynne says:

    Noli timere. Good words to live by. Go out of our comfort zones.
    Gamache is my favourite character by far and Ruth a close second. Thank you for keeping our minds nimble and showing us a better way.

  6. Andrea Gailus says:

    After re-reading the series, my gift to myself is to start A Better Man, my signed copy from Bellingham! I want to gobble it up quickly and I don’t want it to end.

  7. Diane says:

    Be not Afraid, a song often played and sung at funerals. We sang it at my best friend’s funeral when she passed due to Alzheimer’s last March.

  8. Susan Mather says:

    Our Book Club talked about this book on Monday. It would have been interesting to see this then, but we found plenty to talk about in the latest book of one of my favorite authors! Her descriptions of atmosphere and climates are unsurpassed and her characters, complex and nuanced. It is not “Your Mother’s Mystery!”

  9. Nancy Starke says:

    Jean Guy is Chief Inspector in this book. Gamache works for him on this case. Did I misinterpret it?

  10. Lynne says:

    That’s exactly what happens. And Gamache handles it better than Jean Guy does. He is uncomfortable with the situation where Armand, while he may have a better way, will not do anything to make Jean Guy appear in any way as weak in his job as Chief Inspector. Armand doesn’t need to push himself forward — he knows who he is and perhaps he is less FINE than most.

  11. Sandra says:

    “Be not afraid! The Lord is with you and so am I. “ I say those words every time I leave my husband (who has dementia) at the nursing home. Never goodbye!

  12. Joanne says:

    Louise do you know the hymn “Be Not Afraid” by Bob Dufford? Appropriate for all tough situations one experiences. It’s easy to find on You Tube with the lyrics. Find the version where the original line “you shall speak your words to foreign men” has been changed to the more inclusive “you shall speak your words in foreign lands”.

  13. Diana says:

    So looking forward to the next Armand Gamache book.t

  14. Jeffrey Patten says:

    Ruth. The sharp tongued but brilliant poet!
    I wonder if we’ll ever get to read Ruth’s (Louise’s) original work?
    (I know that you, Louise, have borrowed to create Ruth’ poetry.)
    I’m always looking forward to the next reveal of what drives Ruth.
    More than near drowning, surely? Though the sacrifice to save herself must be pivotal.

  15. Karen Inderlied says:

    How powerful a random quote can be.
    My beautiful husband developed Lewy body dementia. I indulged myself in changing scenarios where we could live almost as always. So? I became quite ill suddenly. This made me realize I’ve been a bit of a fool. I acknowledged my skewed perspective put him in danger. Noli timere? A true and timely “mot juste.” I am working on it.
    Your books give me a way to escape into a dream where I am not alone and am able to keep company with characters (I had written people!) I truly like, and a place I’d love to visit. (I am not afraid of Ruth!) Thank you for that, Louise Penny. And, please hurry up the next book.

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