Monday, July 2, 2012

Louise Penny and Loonies

The book, booze and sunscreen combo. Canada Day 2012.

I spent the Canada Day long weekend in cottage country near Ottawa at my sister in law’s. A nice weekend to be on ‘loon alert.’

She told about  her latest favorite author, a Quebecker, Louise Penny. She writes crime novels.  

Now, as a rule, I’m not big into crime novels, or crime shows, making me the exception, I think, among my friends.  But my sister in law,a retired teacher (or more to the point, teacher of teachers) piqued my interest my telling me about the author. What she’d read in (of all places) a Costco Magazine article.

Louise Penny, she told me, has only been publishing novels for a few years. It took her about 50 tries to get her first novel published. She eventually found a publisher, but only in the UK. Little Brown.

“And she writes crime novels set in the Eastern Townships,” my sister in law told me.

Well,  I had to take a look.

My sister in law passed me a novel called Bury your Dead. “I liked this one the best, so far,”

The back blurb reads, and I quote “ A man has been murdered in one of the city’s oldest building, a library where the English citizens of Quebec safeguard their history.”

Yikes!  No wonder she couldn’t find a publisher in Canada!

Perusing the first few pages of another book, Dead Cold, I saw the name of St. Polycarpe, around where I live, as it happens. “What novel mentions St. Polycarpe?” I said to my husband, who is from the area. I also saw some statements that were, how do I say? politically charged. 

I also noticed that Louise Penny had a sweet flowing style. But it's her characterizations that my sister in law really likes.

Well, now I must go home to download the ebooks. (My sister in law has promised Penny's books to someone else and there’s no cellphone coverage at her cottage.”

How could I not be interested, as I have spent the last five years researching background to letters about a turn of the last century townships family, the Nicholsons. I’ve turned the letters into a free ebook   - in three episodes, School Marms and Suffragettes, Threshold Girl, about Flora Nicholson’s year at Macdonald in 1911/12, Diary of a Confirmed Spinster, about Edith Nicholson’s unhappy year 1910 where she loses her fiancĂ© in a fire in Cornwall. (I’ve turned that into a murder mystery of sorts) and Biology and Ambition an epistolary novel about Marion Nicholson, my husband’s  and sister in law’s grandmother, who worked a teacher for 5 years at Royal Arthur in Little Burgundy.

 There's a loon in this picture. I actually caught it taking off and looking and sounding very LOONY but I had the camera on pause!

Looking for Mrs. Peel is a play about my grandmother's trials at Changi Prison in WWII, and Milk and water is my eplay about Montreal in 1927. This story is certainly politically charged! It's based on my grandfather, who was Director of City Services, so implicated in all the 'scandals' of the era, including the Laurier Palace Fire, and the Coderre Inquiry into Police Corruption.