Loonies on the Loose in Pennyland

Sep 26, 2016 | 1 comment

On Our Way!

On Our Way!

Several Louise Penny fans have written me asking about our recent trip to ‘find’ Three Pines – the purely fictional setting for her series about Inspector Armand Gamache.  Questions cover the gamut:  Was the trip a packaged tour?  Did we have a serious guide who was an expert?  Were we able to identify any of the places she mentions in her books?

The answers to the above are “no” “partly” and “yes”.  Five of us in our Mystery Book Club (well… four plus Nyel: Bill and Sue Grennan, Kitt Fleming, me) decided to go to Quebec Province, specifically to the area known as the Eastern Townships, to absorb the ambience of Ms. Penny’s books.  As we made our preparations, Bill wrote to the author, telling her of our plans and asking if she had any ‘advice’ for us.  He got an immediate and thoroughly enchanting response from her assistant which included a “Three Pines Inspiration Map.”

Part of Louise Penny's 'Three Pines Inspirations Map'

Part of Louise Penny’s ‘Three Pines Inspirations Map’

On the map there were five locations indicated by small black pipes – the licorice pipes that Gamache fans would instantly ‘recognize’.   Accompanying the map was a list of eleven locations, also familiar (at least in name): Abbey, Bistro, Bookstore, Boulangerie, Church, General Store, Hadley House, Jane’s ‘Fair Day’ painting, Manoir Bellechasse, Mill, School House.

After each of these listings was an address and an excerpt from one of the books mentioning the site.  For instance, after “Mill” was the notation:  Still Life – Chapter 2: An old stone mill sat beside a pond, the mid-morning sun warming its fieldstones.  Around it the maples and birches and wild cherry trees held their fragile leaves, like thousands of happing hands waving to them upon arrival.

We flew into Montreal, rented a van to accommodate ourselves and luggage and followed the map, staying at small hotels or bed-and-breakfasts along the way.  Bill had found that in Quebec City there was an actual guided tour regarding Penny’s “Bury Your Dead” book but the timing didn’t work out for us — wrong days.  So he arranged with the guide to meet us separately and we had our own personal two-hour tour with professional (fabulous!) guide Marie Legroulx.

La Rumeur Affanee (the boulangerie)

La Rumeur Affanee (the boulangerie)

This description is purely bare bones.  We did, indeed, visit the Abbey – on a Sunday morning for the Eucharist service.  We stayed one night at the Manoir Hovey upon which Ms. Penny modeled her Manoir Bellechasse of The Murder Stone and and and.,.

Our one cautionary note to wannabe trekkers – plan early!  We made our reservations a full two months in advance and, even so, couldn’t always find accommodations in the same place.  Bottom line:  Did we find Three Pines?  You bet!

1 Comment

  1. Jean Stamper

    What a fun idea. It sounds like a wonderful trip.

    Reply

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