As a Biblio-filia, I have the geeky habit of making literary pilgrimages. Some of these trips turn out better than others, I admit. My fall trip to Tarrytown, New York with another booky friend to visit the haunts of Washington Irving, author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow? Super! Dragging my husband to Haworth, Yorkshire to see the home of the Brontes? Well, let’s just say we had a good long walk on the moor.
There’s a new literary pilgrimage that I am putting on my to-do list this year. Tours Voir Quebec (http://www.toursvoirquebec.com/en/old-quebec-tours/bury-your-dead) in Québec City has put together a walking tour that features the settings in the novel Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny. Penny writes the critically acclaimed Inspector Gamache series, a mystery series that starts with the novel Still Life, published in 2007. The series has a total of eight books, and the ninth will be published this summer.
Most of Penny’s mysteries have been set in the fictional village of Three Pines, an Anglophone village in the Canadian province of Québec. Other books have been located in other fictional locations – a remote monastery in her most recent novel, The Beautiful Mystery, and a spectacular, old fashioned resort hotel in A Rule Against Murder. The novel Bury Your Dead is the only novel, to date, that is set in a real place.
And the real place is Québec City, which Penny describes in attractive, comforting detail. Inspector Gamache is recuperating from an injury at the home of an old friend and colleague in Québec City. As part of his recuperation, Gamache indulges his passion for historical research in the Québec Literary and Historical Society, a fantastic library established to preserve the history of the English people of Québec. Gamache and his friend sip cafe au lait at cafes, Gamache takes walks with his dog in the narrow streets of Québec City, and through the entire novel we see the facade of the Chateau Frontenac, Québec City’s landmark hotel.
I have started pricing train tickets, and hotels in Quebec City… hopefully I will make it there soon.
If you are a fan of the mystery genre, I highly recommend Penny’s novels. Her characters are memorably written and her descriptions of settings are exceptionally vivid and emotionally evocative. The main detective character, Armand Gamache, is a gentle, honorable man with a fascinating backstory. Penny’s website is also one of the best author websites I have ever explored. You can find out the series order, learn how to pronounce the French in the books, and get publishing information. Visit Louise Penny’s website at: http://www.louisepenny.com.