The Annotated Three Pines – A Trick of the Light
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.