Long Way Home (Penny)

The Long Way Home  (Inspector Gamache Series, 10)
Louise Penny, 2014
St. Martin's Press♥
384 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781250022066

Happily retired in the village of Three Pines, Armand Gamache, former Chief Inspector of Homicide with the Surete du Quebec, 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 Quebec. And deeper and deeper into the soul of Peter Morrow—a man so desperate to recapture his fame as an artist that 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. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Where—Toronto, Canada
Education—B.A, Ryerson University
Awards—Agatha Award (4 times) "New Blood" Dagger Award;
   Arthur Ellis Award; Barry Award, Anthony Award; Dilys Award.
Currently—lives in Knowlton, Canada (outside of Montreal)

In her words
I live outside a small village south of Montreal, quite close to the American border. 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! (From the author's website with permission.)

Book Reviews
I’m on record suggesting that Penny has become an equal to P.D. James in the psychological depth of her characters and their emotional connection to place, but in The Long Way Home it’s just not enough.... Once again the inner lives of Penny’s characters are at the forefront, attempting to heal their "sin-sick" souls, but this time it’s at the expense of a plot that’s sluggish and lacks suspense.
Carole E. Barrowman - Minneapolis Star Tribune

[P]erceptive, perfectly paced.... Clara turns to Gamache for help in locating Peter....  At times, the prose is remarkably fresh, filled with illuminating and delightful turns of phrase (e.g., Clara notices “her own ego, showing some ankle”), though readers should also be prepared for the breathless sentence fragments that litter virtually every chapter.
Publishers Weekly

(Starred review.) As with all the author’s other titles, Penny wraps her mystery around the history and personality of the people involved. By this point in the series, each inhabitant of Three Pines is a distinct individual, and the humor that lights the dark places of the investigation is firmly rooted in their long friendships, or, in some cases, frenemyships. The heartbreaking conclusion will leave series readers blinking back tears.
Library Journal

(Starred review.) Penny dexterously combines suspense with psychological drama, overlaying the whole with an all-powerful sense of landscape as a conduit to meaning.... Another gem from the endlessly astonishing Penny.

Armand Gamache...understands better than most that danger never strays far from home..... The emotional depth accessed here is both a wonder and a joy to uncover.... Gamache's 10th outing culminates in one breathless encounter, and readers may feel they weren't prepared for this story to end. The residents of Three Pines will be back, no doubt, as they'll have new wounds to mend.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
1. When Leo invited Daphne and Claire to come stay for a weekend in Scotland, Daphne decided to go alone to have time to judge herself whether to continue their unorthodox relationship. The visit resulted in a proposal of marriage that Daphne decided to accept. Claire was her one big responsibility. Do you think she was considerate enough of this in accepting Leo’s proposal?

2. When Marcus and Charity decided to return to London directly after Daphne’s funeral, how did you react? Putting yourself in their shoes, and understanding that they had come all the way from London to attend the funeral of their stepmother whom they despised, were they at all justified in their actions?

3. When Claire encounters Jonas in Leo’s office, it is the first time she has spoken to him or even seen him since the day that their friendship came to an end eighteen years before. Outwardly, Claire’s emotions seemed to display anger at Jonas’s involvement with Leo’s affairs, but what else do you feel was going on in her mind?

4. It is quite apparent after the ultrasmart Kerr-Jamieson party in London what really drives Charity. What do you think of her character and her motivations?

5. When Jonas eventually reveals to Claire why he ended their friendship, was he right in keeping it from her for all those years? Discuss the implications on everyone if it had come out into the open.

6. Only Leo knew the truth, almost from the moment it happened. His own children carried out a premeditated course of action to irrevocably damage his stepdaughter’s friendship with Jonas, and as a result, she left his house and never returned. What emotions would this have evoked in Leo over the years?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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