Tuesday, September 2, 2014

THE LONG WAY HOME by Louise Penny


Louise Penny’s The Long Way Home lives up to its title.

At least three major characters take the long way home, the long way to the peace Three Pines offers.

Former Quebec Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, Clara Morrow, and her husband Peter are among those trying to find their way.

Clara asks Gamache to help her search for her husband Peter. They separated a year ago, but Peter did not return as agreed. Clara fears the worst.

Gamache struggles with Clara’s request. Did Gamache retire to escape, to relax and heal, to avoid doing what he has always done? Or does his retirement involve something else?

From what is Gamache coming home? Does it have to do with the book he reads each morning, though he never goes beyond a bookmarked page?

The search for Peter is tedious. Most of the way, Clara, not Gamache, is in charge. Gamache and the others search people’s minds and emotions. (By and large, these are artists’ troubled minds.)

With the help of Three Pines’ Myrna and Ruth, Gamache solves a crime they don’t know is happening until near the end of the book.

Even the catastrophically suffering Peter finds his way home.

I saw The Long Way Home as a book about retirement.

I live in a retirement community. I watch many retired people.

Some retirees want to continue what they have always done. Some want to do yard work and to putter around in the woods. Some are trying to put their lives back together following great stress. Some want to be involved, to be leaders in community groups. Some want to play games, go to dances, or attend parties. Some are simply sick and dying. 

The Long Way Home is about retirees (and others) trying to rebuild their lives. For Gamache, his retirement comes to be something in between relaxation and involvement. 

The Long Way Home was not an easy book to read. It is too thoughtful, too plodding (in the first half, at least). But that’s Louise Penny.

I had wondered what direction Armand Gamache would take in his retirement. Now I know.

In one way, he is like I am. Over the years, he gave too much to other people. He is using his retirement to find himself, to find his long way home.


pattinase (abbott) said...

As much as I admire things about both Louise Penney and Tana French, I get impatient with their idea of how much patience a reader has. They have both passed the point where an editor is going to make much of an impact but boy some editing would serve them both well.

Joe Barone said...

You could probably tell I feel much the same way.