Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Beautiful Mystery

by Louise Penny

At my house when a new Louise Penny book arrives (and yes, this is one author that I pre-order) there's a debate over who gets their hands on it first.  I usually win.  My oldest daughter who lives near (through the back gate) usually heaves a sigh as she realizes Candleman gets it second.  She doesn't complain too loudly because she doesn't pay for the books.

The Beautiful Mystery is book 8 in the Inspector Gamache series.  Many of the other books in the series can be read as stand-alones, although it's better to read them in order.  I didn't the first time I read them but I was able to put the pieces together just fine.  With the second reading, I read them in order.  Definitely better.  But if you're intimidated about 8 books, pick one and read; and then pick another but don't start with The Beautiful Mystery.

You don't want to read The Beautiful Mystery until you've developed a relationship with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his First Lieutenant Jean Guy Beauvoir.  Trust me, if you read any of these books you will develop a relationship with the characters.  They are so real, so complex, and often quirky.

I spent the first 100 pages interested in the story but missing all the characters from Three Pines.  The Beautiful Mystery focuses on Gamache and Beauvoir in the setting of a Monastery.  I enjoyed learning about the monks who lived with a vow of silence except when they gathered several times a day and sank Gregorian chants.

I don't want to say too much about the story because I think each new reader should experience it page by page and not from review to review.  When I say "new reader" I don't mean new to the series.  Again, I don't think this should be the first Louise Penny book you read, but if you have been reading these, this one is a must.  It's powerful.  I have been thinking about it for 3 days since I finished reading and am dying for my husband to finish  so I can discuss it with him.

I liked this description of the abbot: "An autumn face, after all the leaves had fallen."

A theme that comes through in several of the books is appearance.  "Again Beauvoir was taken by the clash of perception and reality in this monastery.  and the choice to reflect what looked good rather than what was truthful."  And, "That was the thing with the bad apple.  It was insidious.  Slow.  It looked just fine, from the outside, until the rot  spread.  And by then it was too late."

Macmillan Audio has provided a short clip to listen to.

My only question at this point is how am I going to wait for a whole year until the next book arrives?


Cath said...

I love this series but am not as far along as you. I think I've read up to and including book 4. I need to catch up as I love the idea of Gamache and Beauvoir in a monastery!

Beth said...

I love getting into a series with characters I enjoy. I recently saw Penny's review of Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce series (which I love) and thought I should try to find one of her books. I didn't realize this was apart of a series, so good to know. I'll have to search google for the timeline so I can begin! Are there are any authors or titles you would compare this to?

Booklogged said...

Cath, you have some good reads still ahead.
Beth, start with Still Life. You'll enjoy it but the more you read of the series the more you realize what a gifted author she is. I haven't read another mystery series as well written as these, so no I can't think of any to compare with them. I am going to check out the Flavia de Luce series upon your recommendation.

Susan said...

I love this series. I'm about to start Bury Your Dead, and already have the one after, A Trick of the Light, ready to read after. It's such a good series, and she is exploring so many themes of the human heart, and relationships, in them.

You wrote a lovely review here, and I can hardly wait to get to it!

Can I recommend the Elly Griffiths mysteries (Ruth Galloway character) in the meantime, while you wait? Just as good, in their way, I think.

Zibilee said...

I need to read these, because so many people love them, and though I am a bit anxious about starting a series, I think that the love that people have for these books outweighs the fear I have in starting a new series. Fantastic review today. I can tell that you really love these books!

Les said...

I've only read the first in this series, but after reading your review, I know I need to get cracking and read more! If you don't follow Carl's blog, I highly recommend his recent post about Louise Penney's books. Go here to read it. He's done a marvelous job outlining all the reasons he loves the books.

SuziQoregon said...

I am stalking the library website daily. Today I moved up from #3 in line to #2 in line for the audio. I love this series.