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Louise Penny
- March Newsletter

"Airplane travel is nature's way of making you look like your passport photo."
- Al Gore
Dear <<First Name>>

Laughed like mad when I read the Gore quote, and thought you might like it too.  Always makes me a little upset when the customs person looks at me, then at the maniacal passport photo, and never says, 'This can't be you.'

I think the quote also resonated because I've been doing some traveling in February, and more coming up in March.

Order of Canada

The highlight of February, as you might already know, was that I was given the Order of Canada - the highest civilian honour in the country.  I was amazed.  It was amazing.

As I think I mentioned in my last letter, it had actually been given to me a few years ago, but I didn't feel I could go to the investiture while Michael was alive.  I could not leave him behind.  

He, along with my friend Shelagh Rogers, worked secretly on the application, and fortunately, when the Governor General's office called with the news, Michael was still able to understand, and to celebrate.  But, by the time I was invited to the investiture, he'd drifted too far away.  

So I waited until he'd gone.  And then he could go.  And he did.  In a fun little enameled box.  He was with me the whole time.

Shelagh came from Gabriola Island in BC, to be my "date".  My brother Rob and his wife Audi came from Edmonton.  My Assistant Lise and her husband Del were there too.  

Now, since Shelagh was my main guest, we were told to show up at Rideau Hall, the Governor General's residence, early.  But - once there - we were told that I'd have to go in without her.


She was my security blanket.  A great friend, who herself is an Officer of the Order of Canada (one up from my status) and she knows everyone.  I was planning to lean on, if not cling to, her.

Then I find myself alone.  Well, with the other 40 people getting the Order of Canada….but without the walking Ativan that is a friend.  

We were shepherded into this splendid room at Rideau Hall, and an Aide-de-Camp walked us through what would happen.

We'd process in, behind the Governor General and his wife.  Our seats were well marked.  When our turn came, our name would be announced.  We were told to get up and walk down the long aisle to where His Excellency was sitting at the front.  

We were told to stop.  Nod to him.  Then step to his right, turn.  Face the audience.  The citation would be read out and at the end, they would repeat my name, so I'd know that part was over.  Then I needed to step back in front of the GG, he'd get up, pin the Order of Canada on me, then we'd both turn, face the camera, then I'd walk back across the stage to sign the book.

Everyone clear? The aide-de-camp asked.  

We nodded.

The truth was, he'd lost me at, 'Everyone listening?...'

It was incredibly moving, listening to the citations.  The motto for the Order of Canada is, 'They Desire a Better Country', and that is certainly true of everyone there.  Their accomplishments, their passion, their selflessness was breath-taking and inspiring.

Then it was my turn.  My hands were freezing, my knees shaking, my mind a blank.  

I got up and started down the long, long, longer still aisle.  And at the end the GG sat.  Smiling.  Encouraging.  I focussed completely on him.  And tried to remember, please God remember, what to do.

So far, none of the other celebrants had peed or passed out, and I did not want to be the first.  

I made it through.  To be honest, I tried not to think of Michael, because I didn't want to be standing there in front of hundreds of people, crying.  Though I did cry that morning when Shelagh came by my hotel room with a book she and her husband had made.  Of the emails that passed between Michael and her.  She called him 007, and he called her Mata Hari.

Afterward, I hugged my purse, with him in it, to me.  And took him, of course, to the gala that night.  Cocktail dress in place of the long gown.  

What a time.  

From there, Rob, Audi and I flew to Toronto for a family reunion.  Then I came home on the train.  

5 hour trip - which was perfect.  Allowed me to start the third draft of the next Gamache book.  And….last night I finished that draft, and sent it off to my agent and editors in New York and London, and to Lise.  

This is an excruciating time, waiting to hear what they think. 

Knowlton Academy

Also in February, I spoke to the most wonderful students at the Knowlton Academy.  I was worried that I'd bore them, but they were so well prepared with excellent question, and were so tuned-in, I was amazed.  And relieved!

Knowlton Theatre Dinner

Also went to the local annual dinner theatre, put on by the amateur theatre company.  Though it was anything but amateur.  Original songs, choreography, and skits all having to do with village life.  Including a hilarious appearance by Chief Inspector Almond Panache and Guy-Jean Govoir.  

Loved it.  Made me feel very proud, and very grateful, to live in the village of Knowlton. 

A Great Reckoning
- Award Nominations

And, I heard that A GREAT RECKONING has been nominated for an Audie Award, for best Crime Fiction Audio Book.  Congratulations, Robert Bathurst!  

As well, it's been shortlisted for the Barry Award, for Best Crime Novel in the US and the Hammett Award, (named in honour of Dashiell Hammett, of course) and given by the International Association of Crime Writers, for Best Crime Fiction of the year.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Such an exciting time. 


Am in New York right now, holding meetings.  And then, later in the month, I've decided to go to London, baby!  

With the book done, and the winter dragging on at home, I thought that would be a lovely break.  A reward.  Something to look forward to.  So important to be kind to ourselves.  I'm extremely fortunate that in my case, that means a trip to one of my favourite cities in the world.

Honourary Doctorate

Another bit of news - Carleton University in Ottawa, one of the premier universities in Canada, is giving me an Honourary Doctorate!  Wow.  I am so astonished.  It's a humbling thing, to be given this honour and to be present on this most important day to celebrate so many young people.  

The convocation is mid-June.  Am hoping to do an event in Ottawa to correspond to the graduation.  Will tell you more as it gets closer and I have some details. 

Paperback release
- A Great Reckoning

And, a reminder that the paperback of A GREAT RECKONING will be released May 2nd.  Am hoping to do a couple of events around that as well.  More as those details come in too. 
Most of all, though, I want to reassure you that I'm both fine and F.I.N.E.  With a bit of SNAFU thrown in.  But, all joking aside, I am adjusting to life without Michael.  I still hear a noise down the hall and begin to get up, to check.  Sometimes I leap right over his dementia and expect to see the 'old' Michael, smiling and vibrant, standing there. 

But then it goes away.

I don't cry every day any more.  And when I do, the tears are far less wrenching.  And I realize, to be honest, they are more for me than him.  Michael is free, and at peace.  

I was so afraid that when he died so would the love.  The memory of love might remain but the actual 'feeling' would be gone.  But it hasn't, at all.  I love him as much now as ever.  I am as married to him now, as ever. 

Though I sometimes feel guilty.  Feel as though I am not missing him as much as I should.  That any happiness I feel, any enjoyment, is a betrayal of Michael.

But in my saner moments I know that if my heart is light, it's because Michael's in it.  

You have been so incredibly kind, always caring.  Patient.  Thank you.  Bless you.  

Oh, and Bishop says hello.  He's thriving!  Better than ever.  Kim stays with him when I'm gone, and he adores her.  And the cookies she bakes him.  

With big embraces, always, my friend,

Louise and Bishop and 007 in the cheerful enameled box

(To see the photographs used in this newsletter in a larger size click here to see them via my website.)
A Great Reckoning
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The Nature of the Beast
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Mystery Booksellers Association
Here's the order of the Chief Inspector Gamache books, from the first to the most recent:












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Louise Penny · 581 Mansonville rd · Mansonville · Quebec, Canada J0E 1X0 · Canada