The cozy, seemingly idyllic town of Three Pines is thrown into chaos when an impromptu sance turns deadly. In this complex, accomplished mystery, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache must confront a myriad of baffling questions surrounding the case.
This message has been edited by chapteraday on May 12, 2008 1:36 PM This message has been edited by chapteraday on May 7, 2008 6:34 PM This message has been edited by chapteraday on Apr 28, 2008 1:23 PM This message has been edited by chapteraday on Apr 21, 2008 11:35 AM This message has been edited by chapteraday on Apr 14, 2008 9:13 AM This message has been edited by chapteraday on Apr 14, 2008 9:10 AM
Although I read a wide variety of books, I rarely choose mysteries. I signed up for this online bookclub because, being an obsessed reader, I'm always on the lookout for something intriguing--something to expand my horizons. And so I started reading the online selection with reasonable expectations. However, I must say that I really don't care--yet--about any of the characters nor about their Easter bunny/eggs discussions. I will continue reading, of course--I never give up on a book, but so far I am not getting into this!
Thanks for your honesty - and for deciding to stick with the book. I think it might be worth the effort, though it's just possible I'm biased. Can't imagine that's true, though.
All best, and even if you don't connect with this book it's still wonderful to hear from someone who loves books so much.
I have eagerly awaited the third Three Pines books and am into about the first third of it so far. Perhaps the readers who are not "grabbed" by the first few chapters need to read the first two books before starting this one. One really needs the character background to appreciate the current book...and how can anyone not love Gamache! I have also written to you via your website to tell you I am recommending your books to my library patrons. Keep up the great work!
Thank you for writing again. I'm so glad you're enjoying The Cruelest Month. It was a joy to write, surprisingly, given the seance and the frightening old Hadley house, and the past haunting and stalking Gamache.
This whole writing thing is quite an experience. I was a radio host/journalist on CBC radio for many years, doing live interviews on hard and heavy news. Used to hear all the time from people who hated what I did. The critics are always more vocal, it seems, than those who are supportive, or maybe it just seems that way. But it didn't bother me. I learned who to listen to, and who not to.
This feels differnt. I'm sure I'll develope a thick skin, but perhaps because it takes so long to write a book, and I grow so fond of the characters and care so much, it still hurts. Not the critic's fault - they have a perfect right to voice a strong opinion. That's part of the deal. But I think it's surprised me how much people not liking the books stings.
Maybe that's also the package. I couldn't write the books I do if I didn't care - but this is the down side.
Long answer to your very kind message, Iris. A tonic, and I appreciate it.
This message has been edited by chapteraday on Apr 29, 2008 6:43 PM
I am so pleased to discover another of your books! I love reading a mystery set in my own country and places I can identify with - my Mom and Stepfather lived in St Adele in the Laurentians for many years and I absolutely LOVE that area - I am from Toronto - even the season is perfect for right now in the book. I also enjoy the characters and the inspector - I get hungry just reading your books.
Thanks for another wonderful read - my friend Tina and I "share" books and authors we love and are both looking.
Thank you so much. I'm happily writing away on the next one here in London. Though we took a couple of days off. Had an event in Cambridge, then some friends picked us up and took us to their village in Suffolk called Eye. Isn't that a great name? Like most things, if becomes less ridiculous once you know it. Eye is delightful. With cobbled streets and church spires and thatched roofs. Like a postcard. The home our friends live in is Grade 1 listed, which as far as I can tell means it's cold all year around. It seems to have it's own micro-climate. fortunately Michael and I remembered our long underwear. One pair each. Spent the last few days in layers of sweaters and longjohns. Not very elegant. Fortunately no one expects a writer to be sane never mind sartorial.
But just arrived back in London - will write more on the next Gamache book tomorrow. Then it's off to Washington at the end of the week, then home to Quebec.
I'm so glad you and your sister are enjoying the books - and very grateful you're telling others.
This message has been edited by chapteraday on Apr 29, 2008 6:44 PM
I will have to say that I also had difficulty getting into this story. I encourage one of your reviewers who had trouble to keep going. Since I had enjoyed the previous two books in the series , I kept on reading because I love the Inspector and wanted to see what happens to him. The ending is great.
I have enjoyed the first two days of reads and plan to add the series to my tbr list. After reading reviews of the series, I'm eagerly waiting to meet Inspector Gamache. Agatha Christie was my first love in the mystery genre (years ago), and many reviewers make a comparison to Hercule Poirot. Can't wait to read more!
I'm actually in London this week for the London BookFair. Very exciting. I love London - and was introduced to it as a teen through Agatha
So much fun hearing from someone else raised on the great Dame. I still re-read her stories. Love Poirot and Miss Marple. Loathe Tommy and Tuppence, but even read them in a pinch. Am constantly and totally grateful to Agatha Christie and the other golden age writers. Have you tried Josephine Tey? Michael Innes? Dorothy Sayers? Geroges Simenon and Maigret? Actually, I think my Gamache might be a little closer to Maigret than Poirot, though less austere.
Thanks for writing, and reading.
You all do realize they have sneaked a mystery into our fiction club this week, don't you? - maybe they did not consider it a mystery since it seems so far sort of a fluffy "mystery" - it's not grabbing me either and I have no qualms about giving up on a book -
seem to be in a grumpy mood today - maybe because I was up late last nite working on TAXES - thanks for indulging me - Doris -
Death and taxes I guess really don`t mix, but they do seem inevitable in your life right now. Sorry you`re not enjoying the book. I hesitated about responding to you. Partly because it seemed your comments were directed more generally, and partly because my feelings were hurt, I realize now. Then, after sleeping on it, I realized I`m a grown woman and agreed to respond to messages, not simply the ones I want to answer.
I also realized you hit on a subject that has become quite a discussion within the mystery and crime writing community and that`s the very issue of community. Of belonging. Of exlusion and definition. It`s a sort of literary nationalism, with all the comfort and danger associated with nationalism.
What is crime fiction. Is it any different that literary fiction, or fiction generally. I must say my question mark icon has just disappeared, so the lack of punctuation isn`t intentional.
Many mystery writers these days are growing less and less comfortable with the label, when it is used to marginalize the writing. For instance, many mysteries are reviewed (if at all) in their own section of the books page, and not on the `reviews`page with the rest of the writers. There`s growing discontent with that, and questioning why.
There`s also a growing sense that good writing is good writing. And there`s a lot of it about. Indeed many so-called literary fiction people are writing mysteries - John Blanville, Margaret Atwood, even Shakespeare. To define (and often dismiss) a book as simply a mystery is to do a diservice to the book and the writer. The genre of `mystery` was created as a marketing tool, and a very successful one too. We`ve certainly benefited by it. But it`s not meant to stratify the quality of writing.
I had dinner this past autumn with the head of Hachette Livres Australia and he described being on a commission charged with coming up with a direction for support for Australian culture, including the publishing industry. They were given a series of questions to answer. One was `Define Literary Fiction`.
Now, this is a man who publishes almost exclusively literary fiction. The committee decided to tackle the difficult questions first, and so left the easy, the obvious one to the end - the literary fiction question. But when they got to it, they found it was in fact the most difficult of them all. Everyone thought it was obvious, how could they not know it. But struggle as they might, fight as they might, they couldn`t come up with a satisfactory definition.
He said it revolutionized his view of so-called genre fiction.
Having said all this, there is also a lot of not so great mystery writing out there. Superficial, formulaic - relying on blood rather than feelings. But even those have found happy readers.
The sense in publishing seems to be (and one I adhere to) that for a book to `break-out`it needs to be recognized beyond the borders of it`s genre on the understanding that a good mystery is a good book, and good writing transcends boundaries. Traditional mystery readers picking up and discovering À Thousand Splendid Suns` for example. So I was thrilled when Suzanne chose to put a book she knows perfectly well is a classic mystery into your fiction club. Not to `slip one by`you but to introduce you to a book you might not naturally pick up. I`m very grateful to her for that.
The series has received starred reviews from the Kirkus, Publisher`s weekly, the London Times, the Scotsman, the Sydney Morning Herald. And the Gamache series has been described as `literary mysteries`- I believe because they rely as heavily on character as on mystery, and while it`s possible to read them as comforting cozies, there are deeper layers.
But I also know some people will dislike the books. They certainly aren`t for everyone.
But I also know they belong in this club, as surely as many works of fiction belong in the mystery club. Happily lines are being blurred.
My books may not be great writing, that is certainly debatable. But I believe a good mystery is a good book. But I also understand it is also debatable.
From going from not responding to answering in this length - ha.
Still, Doris, I`m very grateful for your comments and for making me look at my own fears and insecurities, my issues of belonging, and legitimacy. And probably my own jealousy that at least your taxes are close to done!
Be well - and know that I do understand.
I have written to you before (via your website), and want you to know how thrilled I am that your hard cover, THE CRUELEST MONTH, has made it to the USA! Reading the excerpt in the Book Preview Club is a delightful tease, so I am looking forward to reading it in its entirety.
Best wishes for continued success in your Inspector Gamache series...I, for one, am a great fan of him and you as well.
Great to hear from you again - and I`m really glad the book is out in the US as well. In fact, just heard it debuted at number one on the IMBA bestsellers list for hardcovers, so that`s reason to celebrate. Just returned to our rented London flat after a cocktail party with the UK publishers - a madhouse! And dinner with UK and US agents. It`s an amazing life. And one I don`t take for granted for a moment. I think the fact this has all happened in middle age for me - and yet was a dream since childhood - adds to my sense of gratitude and wonderment.
Thanks for keeping in touch and hope you enjoy the rest of the book!
Dear Louise - how to respond? - certainly did not mean to hurt your feelings - sorry - think my angst was more directed at the book club itself which I am so happy to have access to, but you know sometimes we (Obama and I) do not choose our words carefully enough - lol -
I belong to the non-fiction, fiction and mystery sections of the club and as I said in a post I shot off to Suzanne "know I'm being nit-picky but what's up with the mystery in the fiction section this week?" - she, of course, responded kindly, tho' she probably thought "what's up with you being so nit-picky?" -
I did enjoy all the info concerning "literary fiction and mystery" - and do think a mystery can have good writing and provide human interest as well as knowledge of different people and places as well as "fiction" and I enjoy all kinds of mysteries - from the "cozy" to the what - not so cozy? - depends on the mood I'm in - don't remember the author but once after reading two or three mystery books by one author thought "think I need to put him down for now and read something lighter" -
As for your book and books, read several reviews which were all favorable - one person did recommend reading them in sequence so as to get acquainted with the characters, etc. -
Went to my library website and find that they do have your latest book on order and they have both the others in the series - must say the first one appealed to me right away - so you may have a convert here -
I do love Suzanne's book club and as you mentioned, it's a good place to find books and authors that we would not otherwise be introduced to -
Thanks for your very understanding post -
- Doris -
Isn't this lovely. I feel we're getting to know each other in a way we probably wouldn't have had we not both looked deeply at how we're feeling. Thank you so much for your response, your clarity, and your efforts to embrace my books though they didn't naturally appeal at first. I find that incredibly impressive and a real inspiration.
Are your taxes done. (Question mark still acting out).
This message has been edited by chapteraday on Apr 29, 2008 6:46 PM
I'm still enjoying this book. Something about the townspeople strikes a chord with me and I want to learn more about them.
Could really relate to their discussion of spring being unpredictable -- we had snow on Saturday and then today, 4 days later, it is suppose to be sunny, windy and 70.
Comment on the Mystery in Fiction category -- I'm assuming the comment made was because the book club has a separate mystery category, because technically anything that isn't true would belong in the fiction category.
Sorry others in the club may not be partial to your book -- but with what I have read so far, you have gained at least one new reader!!
Thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to correspond with us.
Aren`t you wonderful. What part of the country are you in. Sounds very like Quebec springs. Unsettled and unsettling. But what joy when spring really arrives, and we can exhale. We`re so lucky with the seasons.
Really glad you`re still enjoying the book. Interestingly, two years ago when my first book came out (Still Life) Suzanne had it in the Mystery club. I thought the switch to the fiction club was very courageous on her part - though my books are definitely mysteries. Perhaps she`ll join us and explain it was all a big mistake and she meant to select another Louise Penny entirely.
Hello, I've been enjoying the give and take in the forum this week with your book Louise. Actually I think one of the ways to become long lasting friends with someone is to disagree and still make it through to the other side.
It's true your book is a mystery, but there seemed to be a "fiction" storytelling flavor to it that I did so enjoy and I thought that fiction readers might enjoy a little change of pace. Expectations are important and I don't think it's unreasonable for a reader to expect that if they are signed up for a particular reading genre, that is what they'll receive. Having said that I thought it might be fun to give readers a change of pace and since technically a mystery could fall into a fiction category, I felt that I wasn't straying too far.
So that was my thought process when I scheduled this book. This book club belongs to the readers, so I hope I haven't strayed too far--but don't worry it's back to fiction in the upcoming weeks.
Thanks for speaking up. That's one of the things I love about our bookclub.
This message has been edited by chapteraday on Apr 17, 2008 11:43 AM