Friday, February 6, 2015
In which the mystery book group discusses The Long Way Home by Louise Penny and marvels at Harper Lee's news...
We started out by talking about the big news in the book world - Harper Lee and a new book - a sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird. Wow! Who would have thought? Of course, we're all excited to read more about the characters from this beloved book. We did talk about the age of the author, the mystery surrounding the discovery of this "lost" book, and also the rumors going around about whether the new book, entitled Go Set A Watchman, is being published at the author's behest or not. I guess we will all have to wait and see. Publish date seems to be July 14th.
We very quickly moved on to our scheduled discussion. Our book for this month was Louise Penny's latest, The Long Way Home, 10th in her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. I'm not going to give much of a summary of the book. Suffice it to say that Gamache has retired from his job with the Surete du Quebec and moved with his wife, Reine-Marie, to Three Pines. He spends his days relaxing, taking walks, eating good food with friends, and not thinking about police work. However, one day, Clara Morrow, another resident of Three Pines, comes to Gamache with a problem. She and her husband Peter had agreed to separate a year ago (which we knew from another book) and take some time to consider their lives and marriage. The year has passed and Peter has not returned. Clara is fearful that something has happened and she wants Gamache to help. This book details a journey that Gamache, Clara, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, Gamache's former second-in-command, and Myrna Landers, bookstore owner from Three Pines and former clinical psychologist, take to find the answer to Clara's question. Where is Peter Morrow?
It's always interesting and a little disconcerting when this author takes her characters out of the sanctuary of Three Pines. She's done so in several books and some readers like the variety of the settings and some find these books too different. Me, I love all her books, so it doesn't matter to me where she sets these wonderful characters - maybe Mars will be next. However, this fact was brought up in our discussion and some wondered if the "out of Three Pines" books were more formulaic. It was also brought up that the journey depicted here was long, really long. A few of our members had not read other Penny books and so felt that they didn't understand as much about the characters and back story. I do feel that this is a series best read in order and in it's entirety.
There was a lot of art talk in this book. Plus the book's journey has been compared to The Odyssey or even Heart of Darkness. Gamache himself seemed not the same or not as "in charge". We talked about whether his retirement was the reason or if he had indeed had time to heal after the events of the previous book. Clara was the primary leader of the group and, if you've read anything about Clara Morrow, you understand that the journey would be unusual and a bit chaotic. I'm not going to talk about the ending here, but that was of concern to some in the group.
Our final consensus? A couple loved it (me, one of them), a few liked it well enough, some were so-so about it, and a couple more did not like it at all. It was a mixed reaction, which pretty much was what I expected. It's not a usual Louise Penny book. But then none of hers are predictable. We all agreed that her writing is stellar. Her next book will be titled The Nature of the Beast and it will be available on August 25th. Guess where I will be that day?
The group's book for discussion in March - The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters. I can't wait!