Book Review: Louise Penny’s The Long Way Home

Posted March 24, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Louise Penny’s The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home


Louise Penny

mystery that was published by Minotaur Books on August 26, 2014 and has 384 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Still Life, A Fatal Grace, A Rule Against Murder, The Cruelest Month, The Brutal Telling, Bury Your Dead, The Hangman, A Trick of the Light, The Beautiful Mystery, How the Light Gets In, The Nature of the Beast, A Great Reckoning

Tenth in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series set in Canada and revolving around the now-retired Gamache.

My Take

It’s a beautiful start to The Long Way Home. Armand has been visiting the village for years, solving crimes. Now he’s is living there and so much a part of the village — that description of the weekly barbecues pulls me right in. Lovely meals, lively meetings, and contentment. It’s a settling in for the Gamaches and for Henri as he comes to accept that Emilie is long gone and he substitutes the Gamaches as his true family.

This is a more intellectual story with the exploration of the differences in artistic styles, of learning to change, of the books and artists discussed. Be prepared to cry your eyes out. Thank god Penny leaves a scrap of hope, but now I have to wait until August 2015 before I find out what happens next! This, this is what I hate about getting caught up with a series!! I hate waiting!

It has been a fascinating ride with this series as Penny keeps a warm central core of characters, even though these characters do not always appear in a good light. Liars, cheats, betrayers, murderers…Penny and the village of Three Pines has it all. Then there’s the overall series conflict that appears to have been resolved in How the Light Gets In, 9, for which I am most grateful. The tension was killing me.

The day Reine-Marie has feared has arrived, only she doesn’t realize how little Armand wants to accept this. But friends help friends, and Armand cannot turn away. And it’s an uncomfortable journey for Clara and Armand as they learn more than they want about Peter and his family. There are moments of joy, minutes of questioning, and hours of discovery. I do love the description of both Peter’s and Clara’s art: the reasons why Peter’s work differs so much from Clara’s.

It was Clara’s exuberance that Peter tried to murder. Penny’s description of the conflict between Clara’s work and Peter’s is so moving, so real. The categorization of where Peter’s work fits in terms of the future, his tackling that mindset, and his own voyage of discovery inspires hope and a desire to see how far Peter can take this.

The vicious harangue from Irene Finney…jesus. And she doesn’t spare Gamache either. I don’t know how Bert can stand to be around her. Then the comment Armand tosses back at the old witch. Oh, YEAH! There’s an interesting exchange between Clara and Marianna that Myrna questions only to see the tactics Clara employed later. A very nice bit.

I’m curious too. Why isn’t there a tenth muse?

Hmm, it’s almost embarrassing the differences between the Admiral’s Suite and the Captain’s, lol.

That end bit was quite confusing. Penny had me thinking another man had died and not the one who did.

There are positives: the galleries so eager to speak to Clara (all of a sudden!); Peter’s feelings for Clara; the thought of the masterpiece in Peter’s life, Clara’s love; and, the words Clara murmurs to Peter in that cottage, so beautiful, so loving.

Noli timere

The Story

It’s a small mystery Clara wants to solve, why Armand hides the book he never seems to finish. Unfortunately, there’s a bigger mystery, Clara needs to solve: why Peter is late coming home. They agreed to a year, and it’s weeks past.

Meanwhile Armand is reveling in retirement. The fears he had about it? It’s just the opposite. And Rosa is selling books at the bookstore.

The Characters

Armand Gamache and his wife, Reine-Marie, have retired to the village of Three Pines with their rescued German shepherd, Henri. Get far away if Henri quacks! Their daughter, Annie, is happily married to Jean-Guy Beauvoir, Armand’s former second-in-command who is faithfully seeing his therapist and attending AA.

The core characters in Three Pines
Clara Morrow is an artist who has recently been discovered. Her husband, Peter, has been an established artist and incredibly jealous of her newfound success. Bert Finney is Peter’s stepfather and married to his bitch of a mother, Irene. She should have had her uterus carved out, like her heart. My own family hangs my artwork. Thomas is his supercilious older brother while Marianna is his spiteful younger sister. Bean is Marianna’s androgynous child whose sex no one knows.

Ruth Zardo and her duck, Rosa, continue to curse at each other. Dr. Myrna Landers, a retired psychologist, tries to keep Ruth from borrowing books from her New and Used Bookstore and sees Armand once a week. Dominique is Annie’s friend, and she and her husband, Marc, run an upscale spa and B&B in Three Pines.

Gilles Sandon builds custom furniture, and he’s built a bench for the top of the hill. Sarah runs her bakery. Monsieur Béliveau operates the general store. Olivier and his partner, Gabri Dubeau, run the bistro and the B&B. Dr. Vincent Gilbert became a hermit in The Brutal Telling, 5; most of the world believes he’s a saint. They don’t know him.

La Sûreté Québec
The former Inspector Isabelle Lacoste is now acting Chief Inspector Lacoste. Adam Cohen is her new trainee (see How the Light Gets In).

Ontario College of Canadian Arts
Professor Paul Massey is one of the art teachers; he taught conceptual drawing. Professor Sébastien Norman (he was to teach art theory) set up the Salon des Refusés to feature those students who were turned down.

Charlevoix and Baie-Saint-Paul
Marcel Chartrand runs the Galerie Gagnon. No Man inadvertently set up an artist colony some years ago. Luc Vachon was a member of the artist colony and then he bought the brasserie which he named La Muse. Agent Beatrice Pagé is nervous about meeting Gamache. Captain Jeanne Nadeau is the station chief. Agent Morriseau has been around forever, even knew No Man.

Marc Brossard is the pilot who starts them on their journey. Loup de Mer is the ship that continues them on their travels. Julie Foucault is a teacher in Blanc-Sablon whose specialty is science.

Dumfries, Scotland
Constable Robert Stuart‘s beat is Dumfries where the Garden of Cosmic Speculation is located. Alphonse is the waiter at the café who had his own experience at the garden.

La Porte, a refuge, a retreat for the disabled and the abled, is in the 15th arrondissement in Paris.

Catching up…
A romance seems to be developing between Sarah and Monsieur Béliveau, and that’s not the only one!

The Cover and Title

The cover is so calm and peaceful — I love the cleverness of the artist’s canvas as a background — so perfect for a story about artists! Even better is that lovely blue sky and the silhouette of a mountainous coastline and a sparse looking village, its position a metaphor for how Gamache’s world gets turned upside down.

The title is the truth, for it’s The Long Way Home for Peter as well as a metaphor for how the friends solve this mystery.