“Still Life: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel” by Louise Penny

This mystery, part of a series (I don’t know how many books), takes place in Canada, and is highly atmospheric. The plot was overly complex for my taste, but I enjoyed the characters. One assumption was that a painting can convey a complex (accusatory) message. I wonder how many investigators would consider that? My impression is that, here in New Jersey land, most murders are stupid acts by stupid people, and investigators don’t get to exercise their critical intelligence very often.

When I describe a novel as “atmospheric”, I’m referring to culture, and this book explores an interesting aspect of Canadian culture, or rather bi-culture. Both French and English are official languages. I believe the educational system is directed towards bilingualism. The book occasionally explores the questions of relative status and power between the two cultural groups.. which he refers to as Francophone and Anglophone. Certainly the author believes that French speaking women are sharper dressers!

Last summer I met a woman from Massachusetts who grew up in Canada and, I believe, spoke French before she learned English. I’d love to run this book past her for critical commentary! When I need something to read at the beach, I’ll return to Louise Penny.

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One thought on ““Still Life: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel” by Louise Penny

  1. I read this because I was hearing so much about Louise Penny, but I have to say that I was not that impressed. Never have read the 2nd book in the series. A friend in my mystery book club said she liked them because she thought the depiction of the small village was very real. She live in Newfane and says she recognizes each of the characters in one of her neighbors.

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