Louise Penny: return to the land of winter | Culture | EUROtoday

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The different night time I dreamed that I used to be returning to Three Pines, which is absurd as a result of Three Pines doesn't exist. It is the Canadian city of Louise Penny's great detective novels (and subsequent tv sequence) starring detective Armand Gamache, head of the Quebec Sûreté, and a literary creation as fictional as Smallville, Tween Peaks or Jerusalem's Lot. And but, it is considering Three Pines and beginning to keep in mind all its geography, and the unspeakable chilly that I skilled there, and so many unforgettable issues that I skilled. Because Three Pines doesn’t exist, however Penny invented it based mostly on actual websites, small cities within the Eastern Cantons area, between the Saint Lawrence River and the Quebec border with the United States.

In the center of the tough winter of 2016 (“Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver”—“My country is not a country, it is winter”—, Gilles Vigneault, the Blanc-Sablon poet) I traveled there to interview Penny, who lives within the village of Knowlton, subsequent to Loch Brome, a spot so distant that she would have a tough time reaching Jesuit Joe. Jet lag, driving a rented automobile in the midst of a heavy snowfall from Montreal (a couple of hundred kilometers) and having a moose cross my path on the highway didn’t assist my head, which was additionally encased in a thick balaclava, to be very clear. Given my state and my sense of path, it's unusual that I didn't find yourself in Manitoba. So I’ve complicated and disjointed recollections of the time I spent there, partly wandering round misplaced. I ended in Standbridge East and visited a small museum in an outdated watermill displaying Spencer rifles from the Red Sashes of Missiquoi, the area's Canadian volunteer militia that fought off the invasion of the 1870s. the Irish-American Fenians, an episode I had no thought about. Missiquoi It is a phrase from the Abenaki Indians which means “rich in waterfowl.” He places it in my Moleskine pocket book comparable to that journey and stuffed with equally vital notes. Some are tough to decipher as a result of they’re written shakily. I used to be so chilly on a regular basis (we had been nearly 30 levels beneath zero) that I might have been capable of kill a beaver with my naked arms and pores and skin it to make a heat hat like Daniel Boone's.

Then the picture involves thoughts, behind the window of a bar the place I used to be vainly attempting to heat up, of a woodpecker climbing the trunk of a tree. It was a “pic chevelu” (Picoides villosus)I do know this as a result of I recognized it later due to a small quantity, Winter birds in Quebec, by Peter Lane, Editions Heritage of Montreal, 1980, which I took, with surreptitious manners worthy of the Huron Indian Magua, from the Abercorn house of the Lapointe household, the place they’d kindly welcomed me. Fortunately, they didn't have a Spencer rifle.

I noticed the three pine bushes all over the place (like in Frelighsburg, at whose fuel station I met my first Canadian Mounted Police, of whom I’ve nice recollections), which I attributed to my hallucinatory state, though it turned out that they had been actual, the pine bushes , in some cities: they had been an outdated secret signal of belonging to the loyalist trigger (to the British crown). In Knowlton I keep in mind strolling knee-deep in snow like a shabby knock-off of Dr. Zhivago to the outdated courthouse the place historic artifacts had been on show like a canoe that appeared like one thing out of The final Mohicanrelics of the battle towards Tecumseh and possessions of the outlaw native Donald Morrison. I additionally noticed, with pure shock and pinching myself in case I used to be dreaming, a German Fokker D. VII biplane from the First World War that was stored in a type of shed museum.

“In those woods, winter was a magnificent killer, splendid and luminous.”

One of essentially the most nice locations to go to was the Brome Lake Books / Livres Lac Brome bookstore, which, other than the total heating, has an area devoted to Louis Penny and his works (18 titles of the Gamache sequence printed in English, 10 of them already in Spanish) and the place they promote you objects associated to their books, similar to maps, t-shirts, key chains, espresso mugs with the silhouette of the three pine bushes or the motto “Vive Gamache”. I put all this collectively to make my sister Patricia offended, who will not be solely an enormous fan of Penny but in addition her enthusiastic translator into Spanish. Since you might be chilly no less than they envy you. I even thought of bringing him a goose just like the one. Rosa of the excellent nationwide poet Ruth Zardo, one of the distinctive characters within the Penny sequence. But anybody discovered a white goose within the snow. In the bookstore, the place I purchased the Amoreaux Dictionary of Quebec by Denise Bombardier (Plon, 2014), and The wooden runners, by Jeanne Pomerlau (Éditions Dupont, 1996), in regards to the robust guys who had been concerned within the pores and skin commerce with the Amerindians and which incorporates standard songs for when it freezes to the standpoint (“Ah! Que l'hiver est lengthy, / que ce temps est ennuyant! / Nuit et jour mon coeur soupire / de voir vino le doux printemps” — “Ah! How long is the winter / how boring is this climate / night and day my heart sighs / waiting for the sweet spring—), are also organized tours for the locations of the novels, although not even the most masochistic Gamache follower would have hired one in winter. The only advantage of the season is that the bears hibernate.

I stayed with Penny in a nearby town with the ominous name—seen from today—of Sutton. It was a very pleasant meeting (although we did not taste the grouse with roasted figs and cauliflower puree), dedicated especially to talking about the novel that he had just published in Spanish at the time, Bury the dead (one of my favorites because there are many historical references and none other than the Marquis de Montcalm, the ambiguous French commander in the film, appears The last Mohican), although the writer later sent me to a tour frissant through the city of Quebec where I ended up almost like General Wolf after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (which is right there). “Why do we live here and not in Barbados?”, a character asks with a lot of common sense. of Penny chilled.

The writer Louise Penny, pictured during her visit to Barcelona to present 'The Kingdom of the Blind', from the police series Armand Gamache, on March 29.
The writer Louise Penny, pictured during her visit to Barcelona to present 'The Kingdom of the Blind', from the police series Armand Gamache, on March 29. Enric Fontcuberta (EFE)

All these beautiful memories came flooding back to me the other day when I met in Barcelona with Louis Penny, who was presenting his latest book published in Spanish, The kingdom of the blind. I previously devoured the novel, one of the best in the series, 446 pages that combine, as only Penny knows how, intrigue, violence, humanity—”the question is: what do people keep in their hearts?”—and the cold. (35 degrees below zero, “but it is dry cold”). “My books are not just about murders,” he defined within the + Bernat Bookstore, stuffed with Penny individuals. “There are other challenges, other issues, community, love, friendship, forgiveness and what happens if we fail to forgive.” In the brand new novel, which has a number of plot traces, Gamache, nonetheless pending a call on his skilled future after the police operation that has not prevented a stash of a drug 100 instances worse than fentanyl, carfentanil (!), from being About to succeed in the road, he finds himself concerned in a will and an odd household matter with crime included. The two investigations, that of the lacking drug and that of the inheritance, run in parallel all through the novel, which incorporates all the standard great secondary characters. Three Pines seems in a very good a part of the e-book (additionally the underworld of Montreal), and the Quebec winter, “which he could kill, and every year he did,” is omnipresent. The crunch of snow below boots, crack, crunch; crack, crunch. The massive, gentle, relentless flakes. “In those woods, winter was a magnificent killer, splendid and luminous.”

At the center of the novel is Gamache, who lives “in the abode of pain” of his arduous police decisions and at the same time in the lullaby of family and friends. Midway between horror and love, skeptical and compassionate like a Marcus Aurelius of the Sûreté, he considers, despite all the rot he has seen, that we all have the possibility of saving ourselves. And he is willing to pitch in to help. I read that same feeling again in Penny's eyes the other day at the Igueldo restaurant, when I approached to greet her at the end of the day and she raised her head with her permanent smile. A person who believes in second chances and in the intrinsic goodness of human beings.

She has always said that Gamache was her husband Michael and in fact she was about to leave the series after his death. However, it seems to me that Gamache is actually her, as she is the winter of her country. A winter that sparkles in her lady-of-crime eyes, bright blue as ice, but at the same time full of the promise of warmth of tea or hot chocolate and a good conversation by the stove. The crackling of maple logs at a bonfire, a hot dog at a Canadians hockey game, a smile. Therein lies the Grace. In the midst of cold and desolation, goodness, goodness.

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