The Annotated Three Pines: A Trick of the Light

The Annotated Three Pines: A Trick of the Light

A Trick of the Light

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From Pg. 3
Now, within feet of the end of her journey all she wanted to do was run away home to Three Pines. To open the wooden gate. To race up the path lined with apple trees in spring bloom. To slam their front door shut behind her. To lean against it. To lock it. To press her body against it, and keep the world out.

Louise’s Thoughts:
OH, how often have we all felt like this. Perhaps fleetingly, perhaps not even seriously. But it’s there. That thought…I want to go home. Where I’m safe and sovereign. I’ve felt like that just before dinner parties. Just before events. Just before getting on planes. Exactly as Clara feels, just before her big show. As she looks at the closed door. But – the strangest thing happens, if we keep going. Through the door. The party, the event, the journey are so much better than we realized, or feared. O wanted to write about Clara’s fears. Her courage. But also her relationship to her home.


From Pg. 5
They’re laughing, thought Clara. They’re laughing at my art.
And in that instant the body of the poem surfaced. The rest of it was revealed.
Oh, no no no, thought Clara. Still the dead one lay moaning. I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning

Louise’s Thoughts:
Much like the passage above, I really wanted to show Clara as both brave and vulnerable. And to explore what her art means to her. As you might know, while I suspect all the main character have parts of me inside them (especially the less savoury parts!), I am, for the most part, Clara. So it is always both a joy and a challenge to write her. To look deep inside myself and own my insecurities. And reflect them in Clara. This book in particular has a great deal about my life.


From Pg. 6
And he’d soon realize this was not the home of some retiring professor of French literature. The shelves were packed with case histories, with books on medicine and forensics, with tomes on Napoleonic and common law, fingerprinting, genetic coding, wounds and weapons. Murder. Armand Gamache’s study was filled with it. But still, even among the death, space was made for books on philosophy and poetry.

Louise’s Thoughts:
What joy it always is, to write about the books on someone’s shelves, and the insights we get into that person. I find it baffling when people say they won’t or don’t read a certain type of book. Closing themselves off from a whole world. I wanted this passage to quietly reflect, through books, what sort of person Armand Gamache is. Not just a detective, but a human being.


From Pg. 11
Despite himself, Beauvoir laughed. “There is strong shadow where there is much light.”
Annie’s look of astonishment made Beauvoir laugh again.
“Let me guess,” she said. “You didn’t make that up.”
Beauvoir smiled and nodded. “Some German guy said it. And then your father said it.”
“A few times?”
“Often enough that I wake up screaming it in the middle of the Night.”

Louise’s Thoughts:
Ha – again, this passage is about relationships. We get, I hope, insight into Jean-Guy, about Annie, their relationship with each other, and their relationship to Armand. Not just as father/mentor, but they know him. And he knows them. There is clear affection there. And the whole light/shadow theme is touched on. It is, and becomes, a vital motif in all the books.


From Pg. 61
The village of Three Pines, he noticed, was dotted with lilac bushes. Not the new hybrids with double blooms and vibrant colors. These were the soft purples and whites of his grandmother’s garden. When had they been young? Had doughboys returning from Vimy and Flanders and Passchendaele marched past these same bushes? Had they breathed in the scent and known, at last, they were home? At peace.

Louise’s Thoughts:
This passages highlights something vital in the books – that past and present live comfortably together in Three Pines. It’s one of the things I was searching for when I began the series. I wanted to create a place where there was predictability, heritage, continuity, even as the world evolved. There are deep roots in the village, going back generations – like the lilac bushes, like the homes, like the pines on the village green, that don’t change. But plenty, perforce, does change. Three Pines isn’t a time capsule. Far from it. It’s a vibrant, very much alive, community. But what makes it vibrant is its very stability. It doesn’t descend into chaos. It evolves. Grows. Changes. While honouring, valuing, protecting its roots. There is a beauty, a grace, a memory about the village. A peace and calm that come with stability. The lilacs aren’t just a bush, they are the embodiment of the roots, that helps the village survive and transcend threats and uncertain times.

28 replies on “The Annotated Three Pines: A Trick of the Light”

I have read and reread your stories of Inspector Gamache and the Three Pines families. They are marvelous characters and so much alive in their frailties and joy through the gifts of superb narration in audio form. Louise, thanks for many hours of sheer pleasure!

I also just realized that there is more than one comment and am very much enjoying going through all of them and through the reader comments as I recover from knee replacement surgery – what a blessing to discover these!

I missed at first that each email alerting me to the annotated book that week had more than the one highlighted in that. I just went to the site and am enjoying the detail in each one so much. I may have posted earlier, but it bears repeating…….Louise Penny is my #1 choice as companion on a deserted island. I’d add David Brooks another wise author, philosopher, commentator, and all around good and wise man. The conversations! Wow!! Rereading the Gamache books increases your admiration of Louise , the woman, incrementally. She educates, delights, impresses me each reading. The box of clips of wisdom is filling. I need a new one designated for A Better Man ! Wonderful Title! I’m getting excited. One more month!

It has been a joy to read about 3 Pines and to know the refuge and joy of place that it offers to those lucky enough to live there. I have a place that does the same for me. When I approach it by ferry boat my shoulders drop, my lungs fill with the tangy salt air and I can’t help but feel more centered. I call this place my heart-home. When I arrive I am more at peace and more myself than anywhere else.

I am enjoying the annotations a great deal. I have many “aha” and “that’s just what I was thinking” moments.

Thank you Louise,
For your insights. They make the books richer and makes me love them more.
The lilacs aren’t just a bush, they are the embodiment of MY roots… that helps Me survive…
As I look out at the lilacs I transplanted from my mother’s garden. You know me so well.

I love your annotations. It is fun to see if my perceptions follow your thoughts in writing whether solving a mystery or discussing relationships or presenting what makes each of us who we are. Sometimes I surprise myself. I like to keep track of those quotes that are meaningful. I have a shelf just for this series.

I’ve just finished re-reading the Murder Stone where there too Clara just wants to go back home to 3 Pines instead of having to be at the Morrow’s family reunion. As much as we like to go away to travel, visit friends and family or new places, there’s nothing like coming back to our familiar “home”.

I love the depth of the characters in these books. I am only part way through the series but I feel as if I know these people! I like the psychological insight into each of them. I recommend them to all my friends.

I love the Annotated Three Pines series! Thank you for sharing your intentions when writing the selected passages. It makes me appreciate and enjoy your books even more!

I just read Kingdom of the Blind in preparation for your new book and found myself wondering what artist or artists Clara’s creations would be similar to.

Beautiful passages and wonderful insights behind your thoughts. The past and the present…
You make even difficult moments seem positive and survivable.
I hope you are right. The gift of a safe haven is beyond price, as are those who know us so well and our relationships to them.
The lilac bushes sum it all up in their age.
Thank you!

The last, p 61, really touched me. You meld the whole of the past and present together with such a small thing–a lilac bush. It is the small things which we spot amongst the larger picture which reminds us of the whole. I love how you do that.

I’ve always said that reading gives you a better idea of how others think, or what makes them tick. You do such an excellent job of portraying this that I am always engrossed in your characters and love them all!

As always the insights into the books are helpful and enjoyable. But I wish there could be a few from deeper in the books, when, so to speak, the merde hits the fan.

I think the places I hold most dearly are my “Three Pines”…that’s part of why I’m so drawn to your books and the beautifully crafted characters. Many of these places struggle economically but it’s the moments I spend there and the people with whom I share time that matter. I’m learning to let go of the aspects I can’t change and treasure the golden times. Indeed, these are often “tricks if the light”! Thanks!!

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