The Annotated Three Pines – Bury Your Dead

From Pg. 5
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears, Émile remembered the quote as he remembered those days. Yes, he thought, that described it. Chasmed fears. Both their own, and the murderers. Across tables across the province he and Gamache had sat. Just like this.

Louise’s Thoughts:
The Hound of Heaven. I remember when my mother gave me the tiny booklet with the green cover and told me it was one of her favourite poems. I’d just finished reading The Hound of the Baskervilles, and for some reason thought it was the same story, in verse. It is not. The Hound of Heaven quickly became one of my favourite poems, to the extent that I memorized it. I suspect I loved it because it described my relationship to God, at that time. Believing, but afraid of what God might ask of me. It’s that same sort of tension that I try to bring to the books. Especially, perhaps, Bury Your Dead. The struggle to believe, to trust, to give up, in the face of terrible reasons not to. To face those chasmed fears. In my life. In Gamache’s. In yours.

From Pg. 14
Closing his eyes he breathed deeply, smelling the musky scents of the library. Of age, of stability, of calm and peace. Of old- fashioned polish, of wood, of words bound in worn leather.

Louise’s Thoughts:
So interesting to read this, and realize that the sense of smell has been a theme throughout the books. In fact, it plays a part in the one I’m just writing now. So evocative, no? How quickly not just memories, but feelings, come back. We’re transported body and soul, to another place. Like Armand, and probably like you, I cherish the smell of books. Opening one and smelling that distinctive scent. And then, put hundreds, thousands, together in an old library, and what do you have? A haven. Exactly what Armand needs.

From Pg. 28
Though these days he was never alone. He longed for it, for blessed solitude. Avec le temps, Émile had said. With time. And maybe he was right. His strength was coming back, why not his sanity?

Louise’s Thoughts:
I suspect anyone who has ever lost a loved one knows how Armand is feeling. Of being haunted. Of both wanting that ghostly companionship, but also longing to move forward. Out of crushing grief. The attachment here is with a barb. This memory, this boy, is connected to Armand, without respite. Both a companion and an accusation.

From Pg. 92
All the images he kept locked away during the day he let out at night. He had to. He’d tried to keep them in, behind the groaning door but they’d pounded and pressed, hammering away until he had no choice.

Louise’s Thoughts:
It was difficult to write about PTSD. To try to get into the mind of someone who’d suffered. Who’d survived when those he was responsible for did not. And that the conscious mind could only control so much, and so long. Before it broke. But then, as we know, it’s how the light gets in.

From Pg. 192
In my line of work you grow suspicious of coincidences. They happen, but not often. And when you see one you ask questions.

Louise’s Thoughts:
Honestly, I try not to deal in coincidences. Seems far to facile, too cliched. But when I do, it is done very carefully, very consciously. I hope, in this case, it works.

Discussion on “The Annotated Three Pines – Bury Your Dead

  1. Sue Oerter says:

    I love how your books take me places. Not always physical cities, but places in my own life to revisit. I had a “mentor” for a brief time and valued her insight in a situation I could not grasp. I also seek respite and find it in old friends and new places. Thank you – I can not wait for August. I just finished “A Trick of the Light” in may re-reading of the series.

  2. Laurie Kolada says:

    Bury Your Dead is my favourite Gamache book so far. The raw emotions leaped from the pages into my heart. Each of your books touch me but that one has stayed with me. Thank you.

  3. Alice Briggs says:

    Tapping into the 5 senses does indeed transport the reader to a memory that forges a connection with a character.
    Few authors employ a reference to smell to engage the reader, and none do it better than you.

  4. Barbara Brown says:

    I want to re-read this one. Your words, “the struggle to believe, to trust, to give up” resonate so much with me right now. I just re-read “Kingdom of the Blind” in preparation for the next one. Can’t wait til August 27th!

  5. Beky Hazelton says:

    Bury Your Dead is one of the books I most easily return to as there are so many depths to plumb. There is the trauma, the history of provincial tragedy, the power struggle of cultures in the present day. And the exposition of that first quote from The Hound of Heaven, that is why you are my favorite author Louise, it says it all.

  6. Al Dussault says:

    The library, the packed snow of a Quebec winter, the deep cold, the warm friendship, Henri, almost a metaphor for how Armand loves with integrity and loyalty.
    All against the backdrop of the Canada Way. Almost historical fiction?

    In an uncanny way your books blend into my emotional memories of Canada.

  7. Diane Henderson says:

    What a memory of my hometown library this brings up❤️Now I read on a kindle since I travel frequently, but if I walked into a library blindfolded I’d immediately know where I was

  8. Joy says:

    A friend introduced me to Louise Penny a couple months ago and I began reading through the series in order. I loved each of the first five books, but when I hit Bury Your Dead I was completely blown away. I read A LOT but had never come across such mastery in weaving several plots throughout a novel; they were all gripping. I think what most impressed me was Penny’s restraint as an author, rationing details and doling them out little by little, in present day and flashbacks. I was in awe! How unusual is it for an author to be able to reveal the depth of the relationship between two characters when they spend the entire book apart, as Penny does with Gamache and Beauvoir in this novel? That’s pretty impressive.

    I was also overwhelmed by how much I had grown to care for the characters by that point in the series; their suffering becomes the suffering of the invested reader, for sure. And yet there’s still humor: “The night is a strawberry” and “True, I might go fake broke, but I think it’s worth it.” Every book in this series is a pleasure to read, but Bury Your Dead is Louise Penny at her very best.

    • Susie Scoppa says:

      My favorite book! I went to Quebec to celebrate my retirement and to see more of my heritage homeland. My mind could see all the weather and many places in the book. I did buy an autographed copy when you came to Syracuse NY! I’ve read this book several times and find a new twist or phrase to ponder each reading!

    • Fran says:

      I so agree with all you say. Very similar to my experience in learning about and learning to love Louise Penny.

  9. Bonnie Vanover says:

    Love libraries, love literary illusions connecting me to other books, and love these books!!!

  10. Susan Saunders says:

    This was the first Gamache book I read. Quickly realized that I was missing backstory, starting in the middle of a series, but it did not matter. The characters, the history, the angst, the insights – they all sucked me in and left me wanting more. To know more. To learn more. To revel more in Louise Penny’s masterful artistry. Since then have read the series in order with my husband and then passed each along to my mother. We are all fans of Three Pines, its inhabitants, and its creator!

  11. Debra DiBattista says:

    Bury Your Dead was one of my favorite books. I love your historical references, my Dad’s family was from Quebec. I also enjoy a book that stands alone without the Three Pines gang once in a while. Cannot wait for your new book, I like to “savor” them and not read too fast. I used to do this with Nancy Drew fifty years ago!!

  12. Karen I Ford says:

    The library was such a refuge for me. Our neighbor took me to the library for my first library card when I was about 6. It was a refuge for a curious child. Just thinking about the smell of books brings back so many memories. The sense of smell can trigger instant recognition, a perfume worn by your great-aunt, the incense at special church services, driving by a favorite burger joint, new mown alfalfa. All are a part of our memory and make us who we are.

    Louise’s books are like that, we remember each of the characters and the emotions that they trigger. “Bury Your Dead” was so full of memory evoking scenes and built up the tension. Louise really touches all of our emotions and senses.

    • Linda Pearson says:

      My oldest grandaughter has been a reader from the age of 5. More to the point, she collects books, and I mean EVERY book she has ever got. When asked by her mother to cull the collection she looked at her in genuine horror and asked, “Would you cull your friends?!” A few Christmases ago, after the opening of gifts and the clean-up, I watched Gracie from a corner of the living room. She didn’t know I was looking at her. As usual, she had a stack of new books received as gifts. Unobserved she gazed at each of them and at the last, stuck her nose deeply into the centre of one and breathed deeply. Suddenly, she jumped up and looked around. Spotting me, she ran over and exclaimed, “Grandma! Smell this book. Isn’t it WONDERFUL?!!!” That was the greatest gift I got that year. She and I don’t do kindle.

  13. Ruth Puckett says:

    Of course, one of the most famous is Proust and his reference to madeleines in tea. All of the senses can trigger flashes of the past. It is hard for me to pick a favorite Louise Penny book but do love this one. The interplay between Armand and Emile. Love the additional feedback. Enjoying these Q and A very much! Thanks for all of the time you give, Louise, to crafting joy for all of us!!

    • Ruth Puckett says:

      Need to add a postscript. Went on line and found “Hound of Heaven”. Am breathing in the hope. Will need to read it several more times to really absorb it. Favorite line so far is, “All that thy child’s mistake Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home: Rise, clasp My hand and come!”. Such a comforting invitation . Thanks, Louise, for sending me searching. Had used the phrase Hound of Heaven, and even a quote or two, but had never savored the entire poem.

  14. Katherine Bollinger says:

    One of my favorite memories is visiting the library as a little girl in small town South Louisiana. If I finished all my books in one or two days my dad (being an English teacher) would bring me right back. Love all your stories, your characters, Three Pines and intricate personalities. Thank you!

  15. Fran Wheeler says:

    Closing his eyes he breathed deeply, smelling the musky scents of the library. Of age, of stability, of calm and peace. Of old- fashioned polish, of wood, of words bound in worn leather.

    I love this description! It speaks to my heart. You might like this description that comes from a book by Laurie R. King, Dreaming Spires: “The house was still, weighty with the comfort of a thousand books.”

    I’ll add your description to my collection. Thank you. Your books speak to my heart.

    • Ardella Webb says:

      I have a friend who loves reading- she would share her love of Laurie King – both over the phone & in written letters. Sadly, alzheimers has overtaken the dialogue we could have – I find myself thinking: must call & talk about Louise Penny & her books. Can only do so in my mind as she has been robbed of this sharing. I do have 2 adult dghters who share with me each book read!

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