Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fatal Grace

by Louise Penny

I had so much fun rereading Still Life that I decided to reread the 2nd in the Armand Gamache series.  I did so with some trepidation.  The first time through this book was on audio.  Candleman and I listened to it in Nov. 2009 on a trip to southern Utah.  I remember I had to do a song & dance routine to convince him to give it a try.  Now Louise Penny is his favorite author; he's read all 7 books in the series; and is rereading Still Life.  Makes me smile.

So if I love Louise Penny and this series so much why was I tempted to skip book 2 on my reread journey?  I remembered one of the characters - a wife and a mother - and I despised her so intensely that I didn't think I wanted to reread a book with such a despicable character.  I decided to because the first time through the series I didn't read the books in order and this time I wanted to capture the back story in the correct order.

I'm so glad I did reread this book.  As I mentioned with my 2nd review of Still Life, Penny's writing is excellent and the subtleties in the story and the characters is better captured on the 2nd reading.  Penny's nuances in theme development and character development are the best I've seen.  All the way through the book I thought the title, A Fatal Grace, referred to the 'ice lady' who is also exemplified in the Canadian title of this same novel, Dead Cold, but that's only one meaning.  Penny plays with this term several times throughout the book.  The most powerful meaning has to do with a painting by another character titled, The Three Graces. 

In my first review I wrote, "I am going to need to reread this one so I can book dart those many passages I loved while listening to it."  Just now as I pulled the book off the shelf to look at some of those passages I bookdarted, I discovered I had become so engrossed with the story that I only added two towards the end!

One of the passages I marked was a poem that appears, in parts, throughout the book but is completed here.
And when he things, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root,
And then he falls, as I do.

'And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer." said Gamache in a whisper.
'Never to hope again.' Reine-Marie finished the quote.
 The other is from one of the women in the painting of The Three Graces.
   She knew then the answer to her riddle.  Why her father and his friends had cried 'F*** the Pope' as they went to their deaths.
   There was no answer.  They were his words, his life, his path and his death.
   This was hers.  She'd spent here entire life trying to solve something that had nothing to do with her.  She'd never understand and she didn't have to.  All she had to understand was her own life and death.
I look forward with great anticipation to the time I get to sit down in my reading spot and again turn the pages of book 3 in the series.  Alas, it will have to wait awhile because I've gone and accepted too many arcs that are piling up on my desk.  I thought I'd learned my lesson when it came to arcs - just don't accept them no matter how good they sound.  It's not that I don't love reading them, it's just that I don't read as much as I used to and so I'm slower getting thsose arcs read and reviewed.  I guess I could give up genealogy, quilting, spending time with my family, and playing a couple rounds of Catan on the computer but I can't face giving up any of those things.  You'll be happy to note that I've been very successful ridding my life of cooking and cleaning!  A journaling side note for my future benefit - At this period in time my granddaughter(8)  has gathered several of us together on a regular basis to play a variation of Canasta called Hand & Foot.  Most of the time it's been me, 2 daughters, and my granddaughter but we occasionally gather in my grandson, his father, and Candleman.  It's been loads of fun.


Zibilee said...

I am so glad that you let down your resolve and decided to read this one, and even more glad that you enjoyed it so much! All this praise about these books makes me more than curious about picking them up and giving them a try for myself. Great review today!

Kailana said...

I have been hearing a lot of good things about Louise Penny, but I have never read her myself. One day...

Glad to see a post from you. Hope all is well!

Susan said...

She does write wonderful mysteries, doesn't she? I love this series. I have Bury Your Dead next up to read. I want to move to Three Pines (despite all the crime), do you? I'm glad it's holding up under a reread, something I will eventually do again with these. Enjoy your reread!

Les said...

I'm so happy to see you posting again! And what a timely topic, as I'm planning to reread Still Life before I dive into the rest of Penny's books. I've finished with all of the Maisie Dobbs books and am anxious to now read Louise's mysteries. My mom loves them (and her blog) and I've been holding back since I don't like to read to many series at the same time.