A Hug for Louise Penny

Her name is Louise.  My mother’s name is Louise.

Her husband’s name is Michael. My brother’s name is Michael.

The village church in her books was named for St. Thomas. My village church is also St. Thomas’ Anglican. 

blog-photo-old-church-interior-with-pews

blog-photo-st-thomas-church-historic-chapel

We both attended Ryerson Polytechnic in Toronto, at roughly the same time. We worked at the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), also at roughly the same time.

We have both been through a version of hell.

But importantly, happily, we have both been loved by wonderful men who have supported us and encouraged us to write.

With our similar experiences, Louise once remarked that we seem like sisters. I agreed. Except, I remember thinking, I could barely imagine being as great an author as she is. 

blog-louise-penny

Not only is she a wildly successful author, she’s also taken the time to encourage new authors like me. 

I say all this to explain my affection for Louise Penny, a woman I’ve never met.

Louise Penny - The Nature of the Beast.png

I’ve read all her books. Late last night, I finished reading the latest, A Great Reckoning. Again, I marveled at the beauty of her writing, the depth of her characters, the unexpected twists, turns and humour in her stories.

louise-penny-a-great-reckoning

I also read the Acknowledgements section. In it, she writes about the progression and impact of husband Michael’s illness. The support they have received from doctors, caregivers, family, colleagues and friends. (Louise had openly shared updates on Michael’s dementia.)

louise-penny-michael-and-bishop-2014

This morning, I woke up wanting to find out how they were both doing. So I did something I hadn’t done in several weeks: visited her Facebook page.

And learned the news, though no longer new by now: Michael died weeks ago.

My heart lurched, then wept. For Michael, and for Louise’s loss. Her grief.

louise-penny-louise-and-michael

As Louise Penny’s readers know, theirs has been a great love story. We’ve followed the seasons of their life together through Louise’s Facebook page and newsletter.

louise-penny-garden-at-home

In my mind, I can see them without looking at the photos. The two of them and their beloved golden retrievers – Trudy first, then Bishop – at their home in the eastern townships of Quebec.

louise-penny-michael-and-bishop-sitting-on-bench

Michael gave Louise her life and her dream, she said earlier this year. This brave, good man became the inspiration for her main character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.

louise-penny-michael-looks-at-nyt-ad-for-louises-book

In her October newsletter, Louise wrote about Michael’s last days, and his death. And she shared these words:

“And we will remember, and celebrate, a great man.  The love of my life. 

And the lamp remains lit.  The way forward clear.”

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

–The Prayer of St. Francis.

The above was Michael’s favourite prayer.  Below, a powerful author interview with Louise, done earlier this year:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/thenational/louise-penny-on-her-unexpected-road-to-success-1.3641698

Condolences, dear Louise.  And a prayer for strength and comfort for you and the family.

Advertisements

69 Comments

Filed under A Good Home, Famous Authors, Louise Penny, Murder Mystery Author

69 responses to “A Hug for Louise Penny

  1. Very nice tribute Cynthia. I’m sorry for her loss and can tell you love and appreciate Louise. You’ve made me want to learn more about her books and life. Thanks!

  2. Many comforting thoughts to Louise at this time of profound loss. It sounds as if each was truly blessed to share their lives with one another. And thank you, Cynthia, for sharing your relationship to Louise as well. I, too, am now curious to read one of Louise’s novels.
    Hugs to you, too.

    • Thanks, Jeanne. I hope you do get to read her novels. They would definitely meet your criteria for a well-written book!
      Interestingly, when you see how her readers respond to her on her Facebook page, you’ll notice that they speak to her like a friend. She’s an author with an affectionate group of followers, that’s for sure.

  3. Jaquelyn Dixon

    A very warm person. Congratulations on your achiements and condolence on the passing of your husband Michael. A very nice blog Cynthia.

  4. Interesting how we can connect so deeply with someone we’ve never met. I’m sorry for your friend’s loss.

    • It’s a bit unexpected, isn’t it? Yet, if you visit Louise’s Facebook page, you’ll see that many of her readers see her as a friend, and they mourn Michael’s death. To follow Louise’s author journey is to know how much she and Michael have loved and support each other.

  5. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Cynthia Reyes with a lovely post about an author that she has long admired and also a tribute to Louise Penny’s husband who was her inspiration and recently died.

  6. I didn’t know any of this. All I knew is that I have loved her books I have read so far. How sad. Thank you for sharing, Cynthia.

  7. Cynthia, what a beautiful and loving tribute to one of Canada’s treasured authors as she mourns the loss of her late husband. I’ve only recently become acquainted with Louise Penny (and Inspector Gamache). Like you, I hadn’t been on her Facebook page for awhile. Thank you letting us know about her and Michael. I will love the Inspector even more knowing his character was inspired by her late husband. I’ve only read one of her books so far, and now I’m reminded to dig into the unread one I have on my shelf.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

  8. You have a great tribute. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Beautiful post ~ beautiful tribute…

  10. I haven’t read any of Louise Penny’s books but I came to know of her when I first started blogging. It’s lovely to know of your connection. I am sending a hug for Louise, and a hug for you, too. My sister is a Louise. 🙂 My grandmother was a Louisa. Louise is a strong name with a noble heritage in Canada. http://www.thewhig.com/2014/03/07/princess-louise-and-the-founding-of-the-national-gallery-of-canada Thank goodness for the’ Louises’ of our lives.

    • Thank you! You should read one of her books – I know you’ll enjoy it and want to read more. You love beautiful writing and hers is definitely that! Great to hear you have Louise and Louisa in your family too. And wasn’t that regal Louise something? I’d never heard of her, yet she had such an impact on Canadian art.

  11. i did not know Louise. but this is a touching tribute. thank you for sharing. i am sorry for her loss..

  12. That’s so sad. As we age we hear of more and more deaths and illness. Life speeds up and runs away from us.
    Condolences, if somewhat belated, to Louise.
    And that’s a beautiful garden, and a lovely blue scarf/shawl/wrap.
    I’ll look for her books at the library.

    • Her writing is glorious, taut, tender, humorous, sharp, insightful, vivid, emotive, and all those things you tell writers to aim for, K. And it’s all there in the one package of each of her books.

  13. I’ve been reading Penny’s books right from the very start and following her success and, more recently, her loss and grief, on Facebook. She seems such a warm and open person–I’ve been impressed with her candid posts about Michael’s decline and her willingness to discuss it all, in spite of how difficult that must be. I hope she has occasion to read your tribute–I’m sure she would gain a measure of comfort from it.

    • Thanks, Kerry. I’ve also been impressed by the openness she and Michael showed in talking about the disease. I’m not surprised though. Two very fine people. (And not necessarily FINE as defined in her books. Smile….)

  14. Thanks for sharing your lovely tribute, Cynthia. Praying for Penny and her family. No doubt, writing about Michael is helpful in the healing process.

  15. A beautiful tribute Cynthia. It’s wonderful the connections that can be made between those who haven’t met.

  16. My heart goes out to Louise. Michael was a very special person in her life. A beautiful tribute, Cynthia. They are in my thoughts and prayers now, too.

  17. Lovely to see a tribute to Louise Penny’s husband Michael in your blog. A truly remarkable man, married to an equally remarkable woman. I love that her books (brilliant) take place in Quebec. Thank you for bringing her back into my consciousness, and that St. Francis poem.

    • Me too. Somehow, living in Ontario these days, it feels as if we sometimes lose sight of Quebec. Louise, through her remarkable books, brings me back there each time, and I’m always grateful for that.
      Thanks for your reply, Diane, and I am always surprised at how beautiful the St. Francis prayer is.

  18. Such a lovely tribute, although sad, Cynthia. I hope Louise will have a chance to read this beautiful article to learn of your admiration for her and her work, and your heartfelt thoughts about her great loss. ❤

  19. Amazing how someone you have never met can touch your life in such a special way! Reminds me of someone I know. This is a beautiful write up for Louise and I hope she has found comfort in her world. Tina

  20. A beautiful tribute Cynthia. My condolences to Louise and her family.

  21. What a beautiful tribute for someone you admire. I have not read her works but will check them out. Thought I’d come by here and visit you and see what I’ve been missing. 🙂

  22. I read this and found myself crying .. Thinking of you and Louise and her family. Aren’t we lucky to have special people in our lives

    • Yes, indeed, Julie. Louise and Michael knew they were very fortunate to have found each other.
      And for me: I guess that’s why so much of my second book is about the love and courage of the people in my life. Such a blessing to have special people in our lives.
      Thank you for your kind comment.

  23. [D] Life can be so beautiful. Thanks for sharing this.

  24. Oh, this was also my Nana’s favorite prayer. I will keep Louise in my prayers. And I would be remiss if I did not remind you that you have been kind to me–reading my draft–and yet, we’ve never met. You, too, are a light.

  25. Kev

    Wow… You must be twin souls, Cynthia! Thanks for the wonderful introduction to Louise. 🙂

  26. Kev

    Meant to add, blessings and comfort to her.

  27. Margaret Mair

    “And the lamp remains lit. The way forward clear.” A woman of courage and grace, it seems. My sympathies to you, for the loss of someone you respected and admired, and to Louise Penny for the loss of the man she loved and who loved her. May the consolation offered by that beautiful prayer sustain her.

    • Thanks for your lovely reply, Margaret. I’ve never met either Michael or Louise, but through her, I think all her followers fell in love with them both. The messages on her Facebook page have been moving and heartwarming too. A woman of courage and grace indeed.

  28. I once heard Louise Penny speak and I was so impressed. My heart goes out to her as she deals with the loss of her husband, the love of her life and her inspiration. Thanks for this post.

  29. This really is a beautiful prayer! Thank you for writing this heartfelt piece. I would love to read her books after reading this lovely tribute to her and her husband. xx

  30. Hey Cynthia, Check it out! Louise Penny’s book, “A Great Reckoning”, is nominated as one of the best mystery and thrillers of 2016 by goodreads, and you can vote for her! Thought you might want to know. The link – https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-mystery-thriller-books-2016
    Have a lovely day. 🙂

  31. I, too am a fan of hers and felt sorrow at her loss. I thought A Great Reckoning was one of her best and am happy to see it nominated by
    Goodreads. I’ve cast my vote and hope there will be many more visits to Three Pines in my future.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s