Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review: The Long Way Home (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #10) by Louise Penny

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (Aug. 26 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250022061
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250022066

Book Description

 Happily retired in the village of Three Pines, Armand Gamache, former Chief Inspector of Homicide with the Sûreté du Québec, has found a peace he’d only imagined possible. On warm summer mornings he sits on a bench holding a small book, The Balm in Gilead, in his large hands. "There is a balm in Gilead," his neighbor Clara Morrow reads from the dust jacket, "to make the wounded whole."

While Gamache doesn’t talk about his wounds and his balm, Clara tells him about hers. Peter, her artist husband, has failed to come home. Failed to show up as promised on the first anniversary of their separation. She wants Gamache’s help to find him. Having finally found sanctuary, Gamache feels a near revulsion at the thought of leaving Three Pines. "There’s power enough in Heaven," he finishes the quote as he contemplates the quiet village, "to cure a sin-sick soul." And then he gets up. And joins her.

Together with his former second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and Myrna Landers, they journey deeper and deeper into Québec. And deeper and deeper into the soul of Peter Morrow. A man so desperate to recapture his fame as an artist, he would sell that soul. And may have. The journey takes them further and further from Three Pines, to the very mouth of the great St. Lawrence river. To an area so desolate, so damned, the first mariners called it The land God gave to Cain. And there they discover the terrible damage done by a sin-sick soul.

About the Author


I live outside a small village south of Montreal, quite close to the American border. My husband Michael and I have a golden retriever named Trudy. Until recently we also had Maggie - who limped around the pond on three legs, and Seamus, who we found wandering sick on the road. He was in terrible condition and had apparently spent most of his life tied up in a barn. But despite this a moment didn't go by when he wasn't gentle and kind and grateful. And for two years we poured love into him, and food and medicine. He loved stuffed toys and Trudy, who looks a little like a stuffed toy. Actually, so does Michael. Seamus loved him too.

But eventually his body gave out. He was still bright-eyed, still kissed us, still managed a thump with his tail. But he couldn't go on. And so the old wanderer made his last trip to the vet, and after the injection his heart stopped. But as Gamache describes in A FATAL GRACE/DEAD COLD about putting his own dog, Sonny down. He had the impression his heart didn't so much stop as that Sonny had finally given it all away. So too with Seamus.

Years of abuse, of neglect, of sorrow. And still Seamus had love to give. Michael and I have become dedicated supporters of the SPCA and the no-kill shelter near us. We encourage you too as well, though we suspect most of you already support the SPCA, or your local equivalent. Click here if you wish to visit the SPCA Monteregie website.

I'd like to tell you a little bit about myself. I was born in Toronto in 1958 and became a journalist and radio host with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, specializing in hard news and current affairs. My first job was in Toronto and then moved to Thunder Bay at the far tip of Lake Superior, in Ontario. It was a great place to learn the art and craft of radio and interviewing, and listening. That was the key. A good interviewer rarely speaks, she listens. Closely and carefully. I think the same is true of writers.
From Thunder Bay I moved to Winnipeg to produce documentaries and host the CBC afternoon show. It was a hugely creative time with amazingly creative people. But I decided I needed to host a morning show, and so accepted a job in Quebec City. The advantage of a morning show is that it has the largest audience, the disadvantage is having to rise at 4am.

But Quebec City offered other advantages that far outweighed the ungodly hour. It's staggeringly beautiful and almost totally French and I wanted to learn. Within weeks I'd called Quebecers 'good pumpkins', ordered flaming mice in a restaurant, for dessert naturally, and asked a taxi driver to 'take me to the war, please.' He turned around and asked 'Which war exactly, Madame?' Fortunately elegant and venerable Quebec City has a very tolerant and gentle nature and simply smiled at me.

From there the job took me to Montreal, where I ended my career on CBC Radio's noon programme.
In my mid-thirties the most remarkable thing happened. I fell in love with Michael, the head of hematology at the Montreal Children's Hospital. He'd go on to hold the first named chair in pediatric hematology in Canada, something I take full credit for, out of his hearing.

It's an amazing and blessed thing to find love later in life. It was my first marriage and his second. He'd lost his first wife to cancer a few years earlier and that had just about killed him. Sad and grieving we met and began a gentle and tentative courtship, both of us slightly fearful, but overcome with the rightness of it. And overcome with gratitude that this should happen to us and deeply grateful to the family and friends who supported us.

Fifteen years later we live in an old United Empire Loyalist brick home in the country, surrounded by maple woods and mountains and smelly dogs.

Since I was a child I've dreamed of writing and now I am. Beyond my wildest dreams (and I can dream pretty wild) the Chief Inspector Gamache books have found a world-wide audience, won awards and ended up on bestseller lists including the New York Times. Even more satisfying, I have found a group of friends in the writing community. Other authors, booksellers, readers - who have become important parts of our lives. I thought writing might provide me with an income - I had no idea the real riches were more precious but less substantial. Friendships. 

There are times when I'm in tears writing. Not because I'm so moved by my own writing, but out of gratitude that I get to do this. In my life as a journalist I covered deaths and accidents and horrible events, as well as the quieter disasters of despair and poverty. Now, every morning I go to my office, put the coffee on, fire up the computer and visit my imaginary friends, Gamache and Beauvoir and Clara and Peter. What a privilege it is to write. I hope you enjoy reading the books as much as I enjoy writing them.

Chief Inspector Gamache was inspired by a number of people, and one main inspiration was this man holding a copy of En plein coeur. Jean Gamache, a tailor in Granby. He looks slightly as I picture Gamache, but mostly it was his courtesy and dignity and kind eyes that really caught my imagination. What a pleasure to be able to give him a copy of En plein coeur!

My Review

Of all the authors that I read, Louise Penny is definitely one that I find superior. I look forward to her books centering around Chief Inspector Gamanche and the village of Three Pines. They are amazing. This is a series that everyone should be reading. What a splendid writer! Her books are thought provoking and a delight to read. 

Gamache has retired to the Village of Three Pines. He belongs there. That has always been obvious. As much as I have enjoyed the books in the series set in other places, nothing compares to the books set in Three Pines. One of my least favorite people in Three Pines has always been Peter Morrow. He was so horribly self centered and so terribly jealous of his wife's success. Peter's wife Clara is a messy and artsy woman who developed into an amazing artist. It has been beautiful to watch Clara's transformation.

One year ago, Clara sent Peter away. To find himself. To realize what a jerk he was being. How utterly self centered he really was. Clara always thought that Peter would come back at the end of the year. He doesn't. Once Clara works up the courage to talk to Armand Gamanche in regard to looking for Peter thus a series of events in set into motion that send our Three Pines friends on an adventure.

As expected, I devoured this book by Louise Penny. The Long Way Home is a wonderful addition to the Chief Inspector Gamanche series. Now I have to wait until next August for the next one.....

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