Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer on OWN

Link to Oprah.com to watch a brief clip of Ms. Davis and Ms. Spencer talking about their portrayal of characters in the movie, The Help, based on one of our favorite book club choices. Ms. Davis is rocking that hairdo and earrings with style. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

Canadian writer Louise Penny does it again.  This book, Bury Your Dead, took me on a wild ride.  There were  three stories going on in the one book. One was a murder mystery set in the village of Three Pines; a continuation from the last book in the series, Brutal Telling. That murder investigation was led by a reluctant Inspector Jean Guy Beauvoir and guided by the omnipresent hand or maybe I should say the mind of Gamache.  The other mystery occurred in the past but was haunting Gamache in the present as he tried to solve the murder of an unlikeable Archaeologist in the anglo-operated library of the Literary and Historical Society (Lit and His) in the city of Quebec.  Interwoven in the Quebec murder mystery is the history of Quebec and the animosity between the francophones and the anglophones.  The Battles of the Plains of Abraham and Samuel de Champlain are mentioned throughout the telling of the Quebec portion of the story.

The theme in the story had to do with letting go of grief, loss, and lies.  There were all kinds of loss in the story: loss of friendship, loss of voice, loss of the dead body of a historical figure.  The writing is really good caused me to be on edge.  I was eager to get to the end to see who the murderer was in each of the three stories and the motive for the mayhem. 

The strength of Louise Penny's writings is the quirky characters.   Grumpy Ruth the poet, Clara the artist, and Myrna the black retired Psychologist who owns a book store reappear in the story.  There were equally quirky characters on the Board of the Lit and His; the librarian who thinks she is fluent in French and the man who spoke in a whisper, for examples. The very odd, annoying, but smart agent Yvette Nichol made a brief appearance in this story.  She's been stuck in an office where she has been forced to learn to acquire effective listening skills. I am hoping she will appear in the next Penny mystery, A Trick of the Light.

Read a little of Louise Penny's blog here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Detective Novel

I am sharing information today about a debut novel by Jamaican-born Gillian Royes with the weird title of  Goat head of Largo Bay.  Watch  She is envisioning a series of 10 books and it all started in her dreams. Will she be the new Jamaican version of Canadian Louise Penny?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

I am on page 44 of Bury Your Dead.   The setting is different from the previous books in the Three Pines series but, as usual, there are plots and subplots in the story as I have come to expect in Penny's books. The first few pages had to do with what appears to be some type of raid led by Chief Inspector Armand Gamache in which he underestimated the danger involved. The story then fast forwards to Gamache on leave in old Quebec City and staying with his retired mentor.  He is accompanied by his dog and has been doing research at the Literary and Historical Society library. Slowly certain facts are revealed. Gamache was injured in that raid.  Inspector Beauvoir is also at home recuperating. Young officers have been killed.  We don't know what exactly happened in the raid.  How did it go so wrong?

There is a link back to The Brutal Telling and therefore back to the quirky characters from Three Pines.  Gabri has been sending letters daily to Gamache insisting that Oliver, his incarcerated partner, is innocent.  His certainty is based on the dead body being moved.  Why would Oliver move the body of his victim to a place where it could be found when he could have left it in the woods. I am hoping all the loose ends from that murder mystery will have a satisfactory resolution in this book.

Naturally, in the midst of this, a dead body is found in the basement of the library that Gamache has been visiting.  He is asked to get involved even if it were a minor role as interpreter for the French speaking police and the English speaking librarian.   Up to this point in the book he has refused.  We meet new characters in this book, the Board members at the Literary and Historical Society.  They are all aged except for a young pastor.

At least one amazon reviewer has said that this is the best one in the series.  I will let you know if it is.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What are you reading now?

I finished The Brutal Telling. The ending leaves you wanting more.  Too many loose ends;  too many things are unresolved.  I want to know what was the brutal telling that made Emily Carr leave home?  The themes in The Brutal Telling were greed and fear.  The biggest fear according to the author was conscience.    I have moved on to the next book in the Three Pines series by Louise Penny, Bury Your Dead.  Hopefully, I will get some answers here.

What are you reading now?

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Brutal Telling

I am on page 362 of the Brutal Telling.  This story reminds me of a lite version of the Da Vinci Code and The Amber Room by Steve Berry.  There  are codes to be broken and interpreted.  There is art, history,  religion, literature - poetry and allegory intertwined in the story.  For example, the  story incorporates a statue of the artist Emily Carr and her monkey named woo.  Emily left home because of some mysterious incident involving her father.   Also, there is a reference to the Buddhist belief in the Wheel of Life, specifically the "Hungry Ghost".  That's a concept of the state of man where the more he fills his life with food or money or power, the hungrier he is for more.

The murder weapon has been found, a motive for murder has been discerned, and an arrest has been made. Yet, at this point of the story there are unanswered questions, as the author says, a wide trail of "maybes" and "whys". How did the dead man end up with historical treasures that have not been reported stolen; such as a pane from the Amber Room.  Why did Dr Gilbert turn up around the time when a murder takes place?  Coincidence? I can't wait to read more.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Three Pines Series

As you know my dear reader, I became hooked on Louise Penny ever since reading Still Life, a book club selection,with a French Canadian village setting. I am on page 245 of The Brutal Telling, the fifth in the Three Pines series.  Imagine my surprise when I received my copy of First Magazine for Women, dated March 5th, and found a book recommendation; the 7th book in the Three Pines series, A Trick of the Light.  In that story, Lillian is found dead in Clara's garden; a woman Clara claims she has not seen in twenty years.

In The Brutal Telling, a dead man is found in the bistro, owned by Gabriel and Oliver, in the village of Three Pines.  Oliver knows the dead man but is pretending he has no idea who he is.  Everyone knows the hiding place for the key to the bistro so anybody could have killed the stranger and put him in the bistro.  The question is why was the body moved to the bistro, where was he killed and why. 

Chief Inspector Gamache is on the case with the usual team plus one rookie.  Fascinating story so far especially the sub plot of the old Hadley house which has new owners who want to turn the house of death and evil into an exclusive spa destination.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Book Club Selection 2012

I love this quote.  Wanted to share with you book lovers:
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one.”― George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Two days ago, I finished reading the classic historical fiction, Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini, set in the period of the French Revolution.  Interestingly, what led to the revolution was the situation where the poor was burdened with heavy taxation while the rich and nobility had numerous tax exemptions.

I loved the storyline divided into three parts: Andre-Louis the lawyer and cynic; Andre-Louis transforming into Scaramouche the improv actor, writer, and businessman;  then Andre-Louis the master swordsman and revolutionary.  In 1952, the movie version of Scaramouche starred Stewart Granger as Andre-Louis and Janet Leigh as Aline.

A book club member introduced me to the writings of Louise Penny, a Canadian murder mystery writer. Today, I will move on to Louise Penny's fifth book, The Brutal Telling.  After that, I will start our book club selection for March, The Paris Wife.