Still Life Discussion Journal – July 2013

It’s summer, the desert, and hot. Record-breaking hot. The kind of heat that keeps the car from ever cooling down and has fueled fires for weeks now. And yet five members came out for our discussion last week!

StillLifeBookCoverWe read a lighter book in June, the first in Louise Penny’s popular Inspector Gamache series, Still Life.  Published in 2005, the book received starred reviews from Publishers’ Weekly and Booklist, won several mystery awards, and has been adapted into a television movie still to be released this year (Canadian). Nearly a year ago, the Las Vegas Review Journal’s Jane Ann Morrison even wrote about her trip to Canada and interview with Louise Penny.

The discussion was straightforward. We laughed a lot. No one at the meeting seemed interested in reading more in the series, but we were all intrigued by the description of Jane’s art and gave credit to the author for Ruth Zardo’s poetry. One member considered the book too preachy and another didn’t find the mystery and solution believable. I found the writing awkward and wonder if this is a language difference. At the end of the meeting, we listened to an on-line French pronunciation guide provided by the author on her website. We all agreed that we would love to go to Canada! And several members shared their experiences.      

Still Life is a first novel and the author had the daunting task of setting up a cozy town, Three Pines, as well as characters who could grow over more mysteries. Part of the appeal of a cozy mystery is attachment to the setting and characters. Sometimes, I worry about the need to have something significant to discuss in a book or movie. But our meetings remind me that what’s significant is the shared experience: the recommendation, the condemnation, perhaps the horror, and definitely the laughter.

  • Other works mentioned:
  • W. H. Auden
  • Agatha Christie
  • Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers