Louise Penny’s appearance at McIntyre books last fall was simply a great time for everyone. My husband and I arrived early and met friends for lunch in Fearrington Village. We were in the bookstore an hour in advance of her appearance and already people were finding seats. There were over 200 people in attendance, many of whom were pressed against the glass front of the store a long way from the speaker.
She began her talk by taking a photo of the group, which I found rather endearing.
That word could describe Louise Penny herself; she makes an instant connection with her audience, and is funny and self-deprecating. She talked for about an hour, fielding questions for the last fifteen minutes or so. The bookstore, which is pretty small, did a great job of traffic management in getting those of us who wanted copies autographed into a fast-moving line.
I discovered, in conversing with line-mates, that the woman ahead of me was a branch librarian in the Henrico County library system, and that I had been in her branch within the previous year. That was definitely a long drive for her and her husband. When we got to the front, we told Ms. Penny we were both librarians, and she told me, “Librarians are my heroes!” Not too hard to guess, since Inspector Gamache’s wife is a librarian, but it was great to hear.
Later, while we were having coffee in an adjacent shop, in she walked by herself, bought a soft drink, and waved to the four of us just as if we were old friends. That’s the secret of Louise Penny’s success in large part—she sees herself as an ordinary person.
About the book, How the Light Gets In. You may have already read it, since this post is so long in coming. If you have not, however, suffice it to say it is clearly her best book and well worth reading. I think it’s helpful to read her last several books leading up to it, so you have the setting and the characters straight in your mind. This book is definitely a culminating volume.
Finally, this wonderful author just won the Order of Canada, one of their nation’s highest honors, given to those who have made an exceptional contribution to Canada or Canadians.

We are just out of view to the left.

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