I did it! I went to Goodreads and joined the 2015 Reading Challenge with the goal of reading 100 books this year. That was the New Year’s resolution, and I am sticking to it! Luckily the weather is cooperating. It is cold and snowing again, and the cats and I are piled in bed reading between snow-shoveling breaks. If this keeps up I will have the 100 books done in no time!
No, I will not be reviewing all of those books on this blog. (Did I just hear a sigh of relief from my sister in San Diego?? ) Seriously, that might cut into my knitting time! Besides, I really have no intrinsic desire to become a book reviewer; too much like doing book reports late Sunday night like I did in school. Every once in a while, however, there is a book that I feel compelled to write about. It consumes me while I am reading it, it forces me onto the internet to track down information, and leads me into reflection on the personalities and motivations of the story’s characters. I’m almost forced to write about it to get it out of my system. Having said that, let me present to you the first book of 2015. Ta-daa! The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny.
I’ve been reading her Chief Inspector Gamache novels steadily since I read the first one in early December, Still Life. What a series! I’ve grown to love the people of Tree Pines even though they seem to have too many murders in their tiny, artistic village with its great food and crazy duck-loving poet. The complex relationships between the Chief Inspector and his staff, the hint of a conspiracy of immense magnitude, the ongoing themes and mystery plots keep me reading each new book as I care about the people in them so much.
The Beautiful Mystery is a book of many layers. In the most simple terms the story centers around the murder of a monk in a remote monastery in the wilderness of Quebec called Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups. As Gamache and his second-in-command Jean-Guy Beauvoir investigate this crime they discover that the monks, who have taken a vow of silence and devoted their lives to the singing of unique Gregorian Chants, are deeply divided and engaged in civil war. When Gamache’s superior arrives at the monastery it becomes clear that another civil war is waging within the Surete du Quebec. If that wasn’t enough, further events make clear that the monastery’s secret location and devotion to music is part of an ancient division within the Catholic Church. Good grief! How many layers deep does this go?
It should have been a confusing book, but the many different themes and plots are skillfully woven together and the book is written beautifully. The murder is solved, some of the conflicts are resolved, and others move forward to be continued in further books. I am becoming concerned as this is the 8th book in the series, and I do hope that I will get to the bottom of this immense conspiracy within the Surete soon. Wait, forget I just said that. I think that the suspense was getting to me there. The truth is, this book was simply wonderful. It is a book about faith, love, betrayal and great divisions. It addresses addiction; to music, to drugs, to power, and what people will do to protect and secure their addictions. Easily, and too often, these addictions can lead to murder.
“The Beautiful Mystery” in Gregorian chant is the starting note for the chant; the baseline that can be used to compare all other notes to. This book is about beginnings, but it is also about endings; the beginning of the conspiracy in the Surete has now been reveled, the sides in the civil war are drawn, the battles have begun and resolution is coming. At the end of the book it becomes clear that Gamache is much more than meets the eye; he has been engaged in a campaign of complex and long duration to clean up the rot in the Surete. He feels he has “been at sea a long time, but he can finally see the shore”.
Please, please make it soon. I’m running out of books.
I’m starting How the Light Gets In, the next book in the series tonight!