The Annotated Three Pines – The Cruelest Month

From Pg. 8
There was certainly nothing cool about Three Pines, nothing funky or edgy or any of the other things that had mattered to Clara when she’d graduated from art college twenty-five years ago. Nothing here was designed. Instead, the village seemed to follow the lead of the three pines on the green and simply to have grown from the earth over time.

Louise’s Thoughts:
Ha – haven’t read this description of the village for many years, and honestly? It describes how I see, and feel about, Three Pines to this day. It is natural and organic. No more need to impress or prove itself than an otter or eagle or pine tree has.

From Pg. 59
It was Armand Gamache’s favorite view. The mountains rose graciously on the far side, folding into each other, their slopes covered with a fuzz of lime green buds. He could smell not just the pine now, but the very earth, and other aromas. The musky rich scent of dried autumn leaves, the wood smoke rising from the chimneys below, and something else. He lifted his head and inhaled again, softly this time. There, below the bolder aromas, sat a subtler scent. The first of the spring flowers.

Louise’s Thoughts:
Ahhh – it’s spring here now, as I read this, and while we aren’t quite at the first flowers, how well I know that awe, and wonderment. As the world comes alive. As a city woman, born and raised, moving to the Quebec countryside with Michael was a revelation. The beauty, the peace. The challenges. And how deeply connected to the rhythms and wonder of nature we became. I wanted, and still want, desperately to reflect that in the books.

From Pg. 55
‘One day that ego of yours’ll kill you. That’s all it is, you know. You pretend it’s selfless, you pretend to be the great teacher, the wise and patient Armand Gamache, but you and I both know it’s ego. Pride. Be careful, my friend. She’s dangerous. You’ve said so yourself.’

Louise’s Thoughts:
This is a continuing theme – Armand’s Achilles Heel. People sometimes tell me he’s too perfect, and I think – well, you’re not reading the books very closely. Not seeing the dangers of a good man, seeing good in others, where none exists. His sense that he has an insight – where others see only blindness.

From Pg. 56
It was a strange admission for Beauvoir. Normally so rational and driven by facts, he gave no credence to things unseen, like emotions. He was the perfect complement to his boss, who, in Beauvoir’s opinion, spent far too much time crawling into people’s heads and hearts. Inside there lived chaos, and Beauvoir wasn’t a big one for that.

Louise’s Thoughts:
Jean-Guy probably evolves the most of any of the characters, and this is the beginning of that evolution. Here we see inside him. How guarded, how afraid, he is, of being completely human. I knew I wanted him to grow, but to be honest, at this stage, I didn’t know in which direction. Or how he’d get there. What would have to happen, to break Beauvoir’s mind-set? Of course, later in the series, we see. It had to be an event so shattering, he could not remain the same.

From Pg. 65
Clara turned to Gamache….He spoke to her in English, as a courtesy, she knew. His English was perfect and, strangely, he had a British accent. She’d been meaning each time they’d met to ask him about that.
‘Why do you speak with an English accent?’
His eyebrows rose and he turned a mildly surprised face to her.
‘Is that the answer to my question?’ he asked with a smile.
‘No, professor. But it’s something I’ve been meaning to ask and keep forgetting.’
‘I went to Cambridge. Christ’s College. Studied history.’
‘And honed your English.’
‘Learned my English.’

Louise’s Thoughts:
Now this is a nod to two people. First and foremost, my husband Michael, on whom Gamache is modelled. Michael, not completely coincidently, went to Christ’s College, Cambridge, and loved it. But this part of Gamache’s character also acknowledges someone I interviewed often when I was a journalist with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Jacques Parizeau was the leader of the separatist Parti Québécois. He fought most of his political life to have Québec separate from the rest of Canada. He was a passionate defender of the French language, and most Anglos were wary of him at best, hated him at worst. And yet, he was an Anglophile, and spoke perfect English with a British accent. His love of all things English didn’t diminish his aspirations for his beloved Québec. I found that fascinating. And while Gamache is not a separatist, I thought it would be fun to add this unexpected element to his character – his slightly accented English. And the fact he too loves Québec and went to Cambridge.

Discussion on “The Annotated Three Pines – The Cruelest Month

  1. Françoise L. Upton says:

    Love these insights into the characters. I believe the characters in the he books are what makes the books so interesting. You want to go to Three Pines and meet them, have a drink and a bite to eat at the bistro.

  2. Diane Henderson says:

    Love this about Beauvoir, the hardest character for me to love.

  3. Leslie Sloan says:

    I love, love, love this ! Thanks for taking the time. Perhaps more authors should.

  4. louise miles says:

    How wonderful…since the very beginning I imagined Gamache as modelled on Jacques Parizeau in appearance and the English accent was a given. . I am Mo ntrealer and had met and talked with Parizeau. .. Gamache shares the same intellectual mind.

    • Aurora51 says:

      Parizeau – exactly! At least physically and the voice/accent. I was so disappointed with the actor chosen for the TV movie (way too young, unable to project the warm curiosity that characterizes Gamache). At the beginning of every winter, I start the re-reading of the series, along with some of Robertson Davies’ trilogies. And like others here, I “gobble” up each new book and then re-read it in the sequence…. Merci, Louise!

  5. Carol Tavitian says:

    I am enjoying this series of quotes and comments so much. I love that you are sharing your thoughts with us. Thank you.

  6. I remember the reference to Gamache’s almost innocence in looking for goodness. I wondered then if it was a setup for a fall, that he could not remain so. I have to go back now and re-read the whole book. Love these references and your insight

  7. Maradel Sager says:

    Love the fact that you hadn’t read the village description for years. But still felt the same about it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us…fabulous….

  8. Cece Bracamonte says:

    I start read for the third time, It always find something new.

  9. Alice Briggs says:

    You have touched on why we all love Three Pines so much and wish we could visit it regularly in real life. It’s not pretentious. The characters are quirky, yet delightful. And it’s such a pretty place. It welcomes us every time. We know all this because of your amazing, engaging writing!

  10. Mary Sue Timar says:

    The first time I read the novels, I devoured them. They were such page turners, such joy and pain. I am grateful for these notes. I will read them again and savor these wonderful citizens of Three Pines , their lives and friendships. Thank you Louise for your insights!

  11. Jane Moore says:

    This is so amazing. Thanks, Louise.

  12. Betty Mathis says:

    You have certainly brought Three Pines to life-if only I could spend a week there! Please keep writing, your stories are wonderful

  13. Carole Carraro says:

    Your comments make rereading the series even more enjoyable. As others have previously mentioned, I devoured the books the 1st time I read them…now I can savour them. Thanks Louise for writing such a captivating series.

  14. nancy h says:

    I saw Louise Penny on CBS Morning News (she seemed nice!) so I decided to read one of her books. I made a mistake and started the series with this book. Although I was missing the information from the first two books, I loved the characters and Three Pines. I immediately bought all her books and started at the beginning. One of the perks of retirement is that, if I want, I can read all day – and I did. What fun! I’ve read the series more than once. Usually I rush through the first reading to see what’s happening with the characters and then read it a second time to savor the quality of the story and Louise’s writing. These notes and insights are adding to my enjoyment of the books. Thank you Louise!

  15. Ann Stutzman says:

    I wish I kept all your books for rereading, but I loved them so much I wanted to share. Consequently you have a large fan club who equally await each book.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *