LOUISE PENNY’S

Series Re-Read: The Long Way Home

INTRODUCTION BY PAUL HOCHMAN

I first met Louise in 2006 while working at BarnesAndNoble.com. We had a fabulous lunch at a Greek restaurant in New York City to celebrate the publication of STILL LIFE. She signed my copy of the book as follows:

“For Paul, such fun undermining St. Martin’s together”

Little did we both know that just four years later I’d join St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books and, together with Louise and the wonderful “Team Penny”, we’d undermine the publishing status quo and rocket Louise’s books to the top of the Bestseller Lists!

Gamache Series.com, the website you are now reading, and the Re-Reads initiative was originally conceived to promote THE LONG WAY HOME so to say I have a certain connection to this book (and all of Louise’s novels really!) is to say the least! This website – a community really – with an enormous amount of content and connections was built on the back of THE LONG WAY HOME.  

The really unique thing about THE LONG WAY HOME Re-Read is that it was led by readers just like you, in real time, at the point of publication. Now – I doubt it – but if you haven’t read the book yet, beware, spoilers lie ahead! 

RECAP

Insert reader-led discussion, making sure to invert content to begin with Chapters 1-10 https://www.gamacheseries.com/the-long-way-home/re-read/

FAVORITE QUOTE

“Fear lives in the head. And courage lives in the heart. The job is to get from one to the other.”

CONCLUSION

What an amazing journey revisiting my friends from Three Pines in the pages of THE LONG WAY HOME. I can’t believe it’s been eight years since the book was published (and this website was launched!) and almost twelve years since I started working with Louise! 

The activist and journalist, Ella Winter, once said, “Don’t you know you can’t go home again?” Thomas Wolfe would then use the quote to entitle his posthumously released novel YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN. 

I, however, in the spirit of Ruth Zardo call bullshit! 

Of course you can go home again. Even if it’s a long way home. We, as readers and lovers of the World of Louise Penny, are fortunate enough to go home to Three Pines every year! 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Clara first approaches Gamache with great ambivalence: wanting (though fearing) to
    know what happened to Peter, while reluctant to disturb Gamache’s newfound peace.
    How did you feel about the decisions they both make at this point?
  1. “I thought he’d come home,” Clara says of Peter. Did you? How did your view of him
    change in the course of the book?
  1. What does it mean to you to be a “brave man in a brave country”? How does courage—or
    cowardice—feature in this novel?
  1. On the first page of the book, we hear about Armand Gamache’s repeated gesture, “so
    tiny, so insignificant.” What is the true significance of this and other seemingly
    inconsequential actions in this story?
  1. What do you think of Ruth’s role in this story? For example, consider the scene in
    Massey’s studio, where she “seemed to have lost her mind. But found, Reine Marie
    thought, her heart.”
  1. Both Peter and Gamache’s father, in a sense, disappear. What is the impact of this kind of
    loss on Clara and Gamache? Have you ever experienced anything similar in your own
    life?
  1. There is so much about art and the creative process in this book. How do we see that
    unfold in the lives not only of Clara and Peter, but also of Norman and Massey? For example, what do you make of the Salon des Refusés? What do you think it meant to the
    artists themselves?
  1. What roles do creativity and acclaim (or obscurity) play in the lives of both Clara and
    Peter? In their marriage? Do you believe that Clara and Peter’s marriage could have been
    saved?
  1. Louise has sometimes talked about the importance of chiaroscuro — the play of light and
    shadow — in her work. What are the darkest and the lightest points in this novel? What
    are some humorous moments, and how did you respond to them?
  1. Peter’s paintings look completely different from different perspectives. How does that
    apply to other characters or events in the story?
  1. In Chapter Six, Myrna observes about jealousy: “It’s like drinking acid, and expecting the other person to die.” How does jealousy play out in the lives of various characters here?
    What effects have you seen it have in real life?
  1. How does Clara’s quote from one of her favorite movies, “Sometimes the magic works,”
    play out in the story?
  1. While a number of Louise’s books end in unexpected ways, the conclusion of this one is
    particularly shocking. How did you feel as you were reading it, and what do you think
    when you look back at it now?
  1. In some ways Clara’s quest to find Peter recalls such classic journeys as The Odyssey and
    The Heart of Darkness. What are the most significant discoveries the central figures in this novel make along the way?

Reading Group Guide

Now that we’ve made it Home, here are the official reading group questions for The Long Way Home. Join us in a discussion of these questions. Also, enter to win a signed first edition copy of Still Life!


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The Long Way Home, Chapters 31-41

Join us for a discussion on the final chapters of The Long Way Home.


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The Long Way Home, Chapters 21-30

Continuing the discussion of The Long Way Home with chapters 21-30.


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The Long Way Home, Chapters 11-20

Continuing the discussion of The Long Way Home with chapters 11-20.


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The Long Way Home, Chapters 1-10

Join us for a discussion on the first 10 chapters of The Long Way Home.


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