Love Can Be Murder

Dear Reader:

Over the last three days both Anne and Cindy have excitedly “messengered” me to let me know that while we wait for Louise Penny’s latest detective book to arrive August 27 (the 15th in the series)…Penny has taken the time to go back to the first book in the series (Still Life– copyrighted in 2005) to analyze her own writing and share her new thoughts while re-reading what she first created.

In doing so Penny surprised herself at the direction the characters evolved and the seemingly subtle but far-reaching metamorphosis that the little town of Three Pines undergoes. Basically Penny discovers that the characters and story line take on a ‘life of their own.’

Was it really that long ago when the whole Gamache Detective Series began with a “bang” literally? 2005? A seventy-six year old woman is found dead in a tiny town with no plausible reason why…especially when it becomes obvious from the clues…it was no accident but intentional homicide… And thus the famous Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec is called in and life in Three Pines will never return to its original, pre-existing state again.

From Pg. 1:
Miss Jane Neal met her maker in the early morning mist of Thanksgiving Sunday. It was pretty much a surprise all round. Miss Neal’s was not a natural death, unless you’re of the belief everything happens as it’s supposed to. If so, for her seventy-six years Jane Neal had been walking toward this final moment when death met her in the brilliant maple woods on the verge of the village of Three Pines. She’d fallen spread-eagled, as though making angels in the bright and brittle leaves.

Louise’s Thoughts:
First line of first book. This wasn’t how it originally started. Still Life first started with Jane waking up and making breakfast, but then I realized I wanted to start with both her death, then get to know her life. And I also wanted a very clear, immediate sense of place and season.

Boo’s Thoughts: What immediately attracted me to the book was death arriving so quickly and unexpectedly to an older woman character surrounded with so much beauty. The oxymoron of a violent death amid the beauty of life instilled in me the desire to not put the book down until I had read it all….(it actually took me two days of straight reading to accomplish this…and I was hooked.) I couldn’t get to the next novel in the series fast enough!

* There is another cryptic message in this next passage that I had never contemplated, yet I love its deeper meaning.

From Pg. 27:
‘Three Pines … Three Pines,’ he (Gamache) repeated, as he tried to find it. ‘Could it be called something else?’ he asked himself, unable for the first time with this detailed map to find a village. ‘Trois Pins, perhaps?’ No, there was nothing

Louise’s Thoughts:
I’d searched most of my life for ‘home’ and when I found it in Quebec, it felt like magic. It was so important to me to bring that sense of belonging, of Fate, of gentle magic to Three Pines, right off the bat. That it was only ever found by people lost.

Boo’s Thoughts:

Don’t we spend our whole life looking for a place on earth we can call home before we go to our eternal one? And haven’t we all felt the pull of a place that seems to be calling us home to it?

I feel this way with Tommy and Kaitlyn’s annual sojourn to Ireland ….it definitely keeps bringing them back to a place where they are discovering new things about themselves and each other outwardly and inwardly. The pull is so strong that they are willing to sacrifice and save from the time they return back to Charleston each year until they return to Ireland in May. They have found something special.

I felt this same pull for the Lowcountry when I left the Piedmont (red-clay) area of Laurens….and now Summerville is the place that will always be home to me… while on my earthly visit.

*Many of the characters in the Louise Penny series will actually feel the magnetic pull of Three Pines and make it their own home….unknowingly they were ‘lost but now are found.

The last example I will share with you is for all you readers who might be thinking that these books sounds too serious and the clues too complex to want to deal with…especially when summer romances are calling. Let me assure you that there is lots of subtle humor in the series, made even funnier by the bizarre circumstances surrounding the humor.

From Pg. 82:
‘They are four sentences we learn to say, and mean.’ Gamache held up his hand as a fist and raised a finger with each point. ‘I don’t know. I need help. I’m sorry. And one other.’ Gamache thought for a moment but couldn’t bring it to mind. ‘I forget. But we’ll talk more about it tonight, right?’

‘Right, sir. And thank you.’ Oddly enough, she realised she meant it.

After Gamache had left, Nichol brought out her note­book. She hadn’t wanted to take notes while he was talking. She figured it would make her look foolish. Now she quickly wrote: I’m sorry, I don’t know, I need help, I forget.

Louise’s Thoughts:
This brings back memories on so many levels. When asked in live reading events to recite the four sentences, Penny admits that she almost always forgets one, as Gamache does here.

Those sentences came from the very first time I met Michael. He opened a meeting by reciting them, and I thought….what an extraordinary man. But, on another level, in the book, I knew I wanted some humor, and it just seemed so human, and yet silly, that Nichol would think ‘I forget’ is a sentence that leads to wisdom.

Boo’s Thoughts:

I wish Penny hadn’t written that last sentence…because (like what Nichol wrote) if “I forget” was a sentence that could lead to wisdom…I would be so very very wise!: 🙂

So until tomorrow..

“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

I finally got to see Jakie’s end of the year program…normally the Ya’s have been at the beach that week but since we went early I got to go. Jakie was adorable…oblivious to the two little girls (one on each side) nervously swishing their dresses.

Sorry the photos are a little blurry…had to keep enlarging from our seating location in the large chapel at the Citadel Square Baptist church.

Photos- Left to right

Jakie -found himself in the middle of the stage between two little precious girls who nervously whished their little dresses up more and more as the program continued…In this first picture Jakie ignored them when he found all of us in the crowd and grinned.


Jakie’s forte was jumping higher than anybody else during one song they performed about a frog.

At last he was taller than the girls!



He remembered his line of scripture but got confused when they counted by 10’s and he was supposed to be 90… he simply repeated the scripture again…and the little girl to his right went on with her line…the big conclusion 100! (after giving him a stare…like..why did you say that????)

The little girl to his left had her dress so hiked up by the end of the performance…Jakie did only what any gentleman would do…he put on his hand blinders to cover his red face!


Pre-School End-of-the -Year performances…they keep you chuckling till the next year’s performance.

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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4 Responses to Love Can Be Murder

  1. Anne says:

    A double delight: Penny’s thoughts and Boo’s thoughts!! You must continue annotating the annotations!


    • rebecca dingle says:

      Too funny! It is interesting, however going back down memory lane and revisiting something familiar but now seen in a different perspective.


  2. bcparkison says:

    Now that I have finished the Midford series I may need to visit Three Pines.


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