Sunday Edition beach reads: Louise Penny

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First aired on The Sunday Edition (26/08/12)

When one goes on an excursion to the beach, it's always good to bring a friend. Someone to help lug your gear, rub sunscreen on those hard-to-reach places on your back and toss the Frisbee with. But sometimes the best friend you bring to the beach is the main character in the book you bring along.

louise-penny-author-150.jpgQuebec writer Louise Penny knows a thing or two about old fictional friends. Her creation, the brilliant, brave, mystery-solving Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has been winning fans since 2005's Still Life. She brought him back for another adventure in her latest novel The Beautiful Mystery. There's no question that Gamache is much beloved (after all, he won this past year's reader-voted CanLit Hunger Games, and CBC has just commissioned a movie based on Still Life). But just why is it so easy to fall for him, The Sunday Edition asked recently.

"He's a good man and I think that's sort of what makes him a little bit different in the world of crime fiction where a lot of the protagonists are struggling with some very significant demons," Penny said. "Gamache is kind of on the other side of it. He's the after-picture, he's loved, he loves, he has the loyalty of his staff, he has integrity, he has good humour. But he has all of this not because he's just a little bit too naïve or stupid to understand how cruel the world can be. In fact, he has it because he understands how cruel the world can be." 

"He's kind of modelled a little bit on my husband although I try not to say that in his presence!"

beautiful-mystery-125.jpgBut, like all old friends you come to know, he's by no means perfect. And perhaps it's his altruism and willingness to give people the benefit of the doubt and help them that is his "blind spot," according to Penny.

"He has not only a belief in people but a belief in his own abilities that perhaps goes beyond reality and it comes and it bites him a few times."

The Beautiful Mystery takes the inspector out of his fictional community of Three Pines, Quebec, and puts him in an unusual place to solve a murder: the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, located deep in the Quebec wilderness. Do you plan to take Gamache to the beach as well?

Win some beach reads!

Who are your most cherished literary "friends?" Are there characters and series you return to time and time again? Share some of your favourite examples here. We'll be doing weekly draws for the books featured on The Sunday Edition. You can also enter our grand prize draw!