Many of you have read this book over the years. It was your enthusiastic reviews that encouraged me to pick this up. I loved it!
Still Life is the 1st of four in the Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series. This one is set in a village south of Montreal. I don't know if any of the others will continue with this same group of people or if Gamache will be tracking down the killer in another area. I can see that he may have to move to a different area if that's were the murder occurs, but I would love to come back to the same people in this book.
Penny does such a wonderful job of fleshing out the characters and making them real-life people. I felt like I wanted to move into the neighborhood and get together with those characters as they celebrate life. I wish I could have seen inside Jane's house. Don't you? (those of you that have read this) And didn't you really like Inspector Gamache? I wish I knew how to pronounce his name.
Last summer we visited Montreal and a cute little village southeast of Montreal named Knowlton. It was such a beautiful area and I pictured the little village in the book looking something like it. And there were some mention of 'Canadian' icons that I wouldn't have known about if I hadn't visited. I don't know how many Canadian Tires we passed on our trip before we learned it was an eating establishment and not a car hardware store. And when Ruth stood up at the funeral and started singing, "What do you do with a drunken sailor" I really enjoyed a good laugh. We listened to that and many other shantys as we drove for weeks through Canada. This book helped to rekindle those good memories I have of my visit to Canada.
I thought the mystery was a good tale and I didn't figure it out until it was obvious who the murderer was. In addition, the writing was superb. I used quite a few book darts to mark passages that I really liked. This passage about a mother of a troubled teenage boy brought me to tears:
"She'd tried praying, but had forgotten the words. Instead she kept repeating the only thing she could remember: Little Boy blue, come blow your horn, the sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn. She's recited it over and over to Philippe when he was little but now she couldn't remember the rest. It seemed to matter, even though it wasn't itself a prayer. it was more than that. It was proof she'd been a good mother. Proof she'd loved her children. Proof, whispered the little girl's voice inside her head, that it isn't your fault. But she couldn't remember the rest of the nursery rhyme. So maybe it was her fault."This passage reminded me of the feelings I had when my father died:
"All Quiet of the western front, thought Gamache, listening to this gentle life. His magical thinking allowed him to be surprised that when such a good soul dies it isn't remarked. The bells of the church didn't set themselves off. The mice and deer didn't cry out. The earth didn't shudder. It should have."I thought I had book 2 sitting on my shelf, but since I couldn't find it and didn't have it entered in Library Thing* I got online and ordered it. It's so fun to have it to look forward to.
*neither of these things guarantees it's not somewhere in my house since it's hit and miss with me.