Series: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #10
Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published: August 26, 2014 by Minotaur Books
Literary Awards: Anthony Award Nominee for Best Novel (2015), Agatha Award Nominee for Best Contemporary Novel (2014), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Mystery & Thriller (2014)
Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache are happily retired, with their dog Henri, to the village of Three Pines, Québec. Armand is on a gradual journey toward healing after the violent events he has survived. His longtime friend Clara Morrow is puzzled by his habit of sitting each morning, on the same bench, studying a particular book — he is always on the same page.
Clara needs Armand’s help finding her estranged husband Peter, who did not return — as promised — one year after their separation. With his former second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, Armand leaves his hard-earned sanctuary and accompanies Clara and her best friend Myrna Landers on a journey with an uncertain destination, seeking Peter.
Their search seems to point in many directions. During his year away from Three Pines, Peter visited various places, including Paris, Italy, and Scotland. To find him, Armand, Jean-Guy, Clara, and Myrna must discover why he chose these particular destinations and solve multiple riddles along the way. Their quest eventually leads them up the St. Lawrence River, during a violent storm, to the Lower North Shore and Charlevoix, seeking a strange and possibly sinister artists’ retreat.
I had high expectations for this novel, and I was not disappointed. It is resplendent with Louise Penny’s deft plotting, multifaceted characters, and gorgeous prose. As always, her intelligence, eclectic knowledge, and boundless curiosity about the world shine. We explore several fascinating places throughout the world, along with art, poetry, history, and other topics, all of which are integral to the story. This is also a psychologically complex novel, exploring love, jealousy, anger, alienation, guilt, and redemption.
It was fascinating to see the continuing growth of Clara, a character I have always liked, and the profound changes in Peter, whom I never liked. Clara is an engaging character: intelligent, creative, and flawed. I’ve found her to be affectionate, loyal, sometimes fragile, and surprisingly self-centered at times.
Penny is also well known for the vibrant sense of place she creates in her novels. The turbulent voyage up the St. Lawrence River is possibly my favorite setting so far. It is incredibly vivid and delightfully atmospheric.
I highly recommend The Long Way home to fiction lovers — it will not appeal exclusively to mystery buffs. Penny’s flair for storytelling, compassionate eye for her complex, flawed characters, and love of art, poetry, and history are what made this series a solid favorite.