What’s on my Bedside Reading Table in April?

I have discovered Louise Penny and Three Pines! Better late than never I always say. For months now, people have been urging me to start the series (in the order the books were written) so I finally picked up Still Life and was instantly hooked. As in staying up way past my bedtime until the book falls on my face three times and I give up and mark the page even though I’m dying to see what will be revealed next.

Last night I finished A Fatal Grace the second book in the series and it was even better than the first because I already had a sense of place the minute I eagerly turned to the first page. There’s a misconception that people in small towns are simple, country folk who don’t expend a lot of energy on deep thoughts or complicated emotions. Having lived in a village myself for the last eighteen years, I can attest that this a blatant falsehood. People aren’t always what they seem, or look like, on the surface and a little gentle excavation often leads to all sorts of surprises and hidden treasures just below the surface.

Penny’s characters share all this and more. The best authors give you characters you can identify with and care about and it’s all in the details which Penny is spot-on with. Ruth Zardo’s poetry is as dark and gripping as the crusty old woman herself. Inspector Jean Guy Beauvoir dresses in fashionable clothes and freezes in the Quebec winters rather than look like a “dork in a parka and stupid hat”. And when it’s revealed that Peter has given Clara a Christmas gift from the local dumpster, rather than shopping at a boutique even though they can afford gifts now, you feel her disbelief and hurt. For a writer like me who would like to try her hand at fiction someday,  there couldn’t be a better role model for creating believable and sympathetic characters.

I’m already looking forward to stopping at the local library and picking up the third book, with the same sense of pleasure and anticipation that I look forward to the next season of Longmire. Whoever said that virtual friends aren’t important or valuable to ones well-being clearly never had any!

Next up in the queue, more trials and tribulations of small-town life in Rebecca Barry’s memoir on motherhood, creativity, and marriage, Recipes for a Beautiful Life: A Memoir in Stories.

After that I’m looking forward to diving into Kill ‘Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul James McBride’s latest book about the way America’s cultural heritage was influenced by the great entertainer.

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