When Life Imitates Art…

Dear Reader:

Anne and I have been flip-flopping books so much we are starting to forget who has read what. I found some stick-on (old mailbox letters) and we split them up (before church the other Sunday) so we could stick the numbers on the back binding to help us keep them straight in our minds.

But even then…I ran over to Anne’s house Tuesday night to get the next book…only to be reminded that Anne had given me two books on our last swap…it was at home. Duh! (But I did stop by Tastee-Freeze and get us some ice cream…so all was not lost.)

And besides Anne had some interesting and funny news about the main character (who everyone falls in love with when reading Louise Penny’s detective series- Chief Inspector Armand Gamach)

She had gone to the “Y” in town for a “fiddling” practice session and upon leaving realized the streets were congested from a train stopped (or maybe it was just moving real slow) on the tracks a block ahead. She ended up turning into another little street and started laughing out loud….who knew?

Let me remind you that in all the murder mysteries in Louise Penny’s novels Three Pines is a fictional town in Quebec province . Supposedly it got its name, dating back to the American Revolution…because the town planted three trees together…a secret code for Loyalists during the war to know that they were welcome to come to Three Pines for refuge and comfort.

(As a history teacher, it reminds me of the symbols put out on the Underground Railroad, during the Civil War,  for fugitives, run-away slaves, to follow…many times in the form of certain quilt patterns hung over clothes lines)

This symbolism continues throughout the book as more and more of the main characters realize what a jewel the little town of Three Pines is and it remains an emotional refuge for all the characters at different points in their lives.

Since both Anne and I are now over halfway through the series (scary thought…we don’t want it to ever end) we continue to  ‘eat, drink, and sleep’  the lovable main character…Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Not a name that we are likely to come across in real life…but then…

As Anne turned into this side street off Railroad Street Sunday…what did she see but…


Do you happen to notice that the street is PINE Street? I drove over and took these pictures but in an ad I found for this local lawyer…I thought the S. Pine looked like  3 Pine (my eyes water terribly while on this oral chemo regiment) and it was so blurry…it took me a minute to rein in my unbridled excitement and realize the visual error. Who knew we had a Gamache right here in Summerville?

Another strange thing…the ‘Three Pines’ stand at the entrance to the fictional town by that same name in Quebec but here in Summerville…there is a round cemented circle in front of the legal office and a huge old beautiful oak tree  stands right in the center.

(I picked up on the irony of Summerville being known as “The Flower Town in the Pines”…with its motto saying: Sacra Pinus Esto (The Pine is Sacred)” while Summerville’s Gamache’s office has a gigantic oak instead of pines.)

One of the best ways we can tell if a book is going to be memorable deals with  the words of wisdom and the simplicity of life’s lessons found throughout the pages.

These traits are more enduring than just the story line. It is the words of wisdom we take from the reading that is the most important.

Here are a few samples of the types of experienced wisdom found in Louise Penny’s novels.

 “I was tired of seeing the Graces always depicted as beautiful young things. I think wisdom comes with age and life and pain. And knowing what matters.”

What are you afraid of? I’m afraid of not recognizing Paradise.”

The leaves had fallen from the trees and lay crisp and crackling beneath his feet. Picking one up he marveled, not for the first time, at the perfection of nature where leaves were most beautiful at the very end of their lives.”

To be silent. In hopes of not offending, in hopes of being accepted. But what happened to people who never spoke, never raised their voices? Kept everything inside? Gamache knew what happened. Everything they swallowed, every word, thought, feeling rattled around inside, hollowing the person out. And into that chasm they stuffed their words, their rage.”

“Things are strongest where they’re broken.”

“Where there is love there is courage, where there is courage there is peace, where there is peace there is God. And when you have God, you have everything.”

What did falling in love do for you? Can you ever really explain it? It filled empty spaces I never knew were empty. It cured a loneliness I never knew I had. It gave me joy. And freedom. I think that was the most amazing part. I suddenly felt both embraced and freed at the same time.”

Now here’s a good one: you’re lying on your deathbed. You have one hour to live. Who is it, exactly, you have needed all these years to forgive?”

“Goodness exists”

So until tomorrow:

These are just a few samples of the types of “Aha” moments one has while reading this series…like Louise Penny said…if her readers only remember one thing…do remember that Chief Inspector Armand Gamache had seen it all…the very worst side of human nature….yet to the end he always believed “Goodness exists.” Shouldn’t we?

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Rutledge is all excited about playing soccer this year….Lachlan is looking at traveling attire to wear whenever he is around airports…and their latest friend must live on Daniel Island too..hopefully sticking to his lagoon far from them.



About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to When Life Imitates Art…

  1. bcparkison says:

    Maybe I will look into these books. They certainly come highly recommended. My cousins wife is a writer. She writes historical novels with a Christian lesson. Her name is Beth White. She teaches music in a public school in Mobile Ala. Her choir is award winning. Check her out…you may find another series to follow.
    Your blog is always interesting.


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