After months of sheltering in place, I found myself more distractible than I like. You too? Reading my normal fare—historical and literary fiction—just didn’t hold my attention or provide the desired escape.
Stepping outside those usual genres, I decided on a mystery, namely A Better Man by Louise Penny. I was immediately charmed and intrigued by the depth of the characters, especially Inspector Gamache and the setting of both urban and rural Quebec. The disappearance of a young woman, a flood threatening the village, and internal police conflicts, all kept me fully engaged. I also loved the gentle wisdom Penny sprinkles throughout, which I’ve shared below. In short, I’ll be back for more.
(Gamache and Beauvoir) “… were meant to be together. Had been, in her opinion, for many lifetimes. As colleagues, as father and son. As brothers. As long as they were together both would be safe.”
“She’d worked with them for years. Seen their relationship blossom and wither. Seen it through all its spasms, incarnations, hoops, and dips. The ruptures and the mendings. Things are strongest where they’re broken.”
“… four statements that led to wisdom. … I was wrong. I’m sorry. I don’t know. I need help.”
“Myrna understood how damaging it was to compare pain. To dismiss hurt just because it wasn’t the worst.”
“How often we made our worst fears come true, by behaving as though they already were.”
“Pour yourself a vat of wine, cut a huge slice of chocolate cake, sit by the fire, and know you’re loved.”
Then a friend recommended The Editor by Steven Rowley thinking this story of a new writer and his very famous editor would resonate with me. It did. Here is a sample of Rowley’s words.
“…instead of getting a therapist, I became a writer. Instead of telling one person, I aspire to tell the world.”
“It is special. To find something in a manuscript that you recognize as familiar truth, but also as wisdom you’re hearing voiced in a new and articulate way.”
“Don’t tell your story to change something about the past; the past is inherently unchangeable. There is no cure… Remember, and then assemble all the lovely bits…To truly remember, I believe, is to heal.”
“Hard truths can drive people apart. But great art can bring them back together.”
“I’ve found the only way to be happy in life is to love and be good at your work.”
Finally, One of Three by Mary Tumbusch intrigued me as another book by a local (as in Carson City, Nevada) author who I actually knew. I just had no idea she’d written a book! This ambitious story weaves two time periods (present-day and the 1840s) and three locations (Carson City, New York City, and County Cork Ireland) in a compelling (and as yet unfinished) tale. Claire, a present-day hydrologist in Northern Nevada discovers a journal revealing the workaday life of Daniel, a young Irish immigrant, living in New York City. Reading the journal provides Claire an escape from some profound personal struggles. The desperate times of Ireland’s Potato Famine are described by Daniel’s wife who remains on the Glen Haven estate, in service with her mother and dealing with struggles of her own.
The author also provides insight into the work-life and conflicts of a government scientist working in very rural Nevada. The end of the book left me wanting more, so I hope Ms. Tumbusch will soon publish the rest of the story.
What books have you been able to escape into during this prolonged period of solitude? Any surprises?