Louise Penny, Lab Girl and Manchester By the Sea

Calli learns how to play Gin Rummy.

Calli learns how to play Gin Rummy.

No, the three have nothing to do with each other.  But that’s what’s on my mind and so that’s what I wrote.  And the photo above has nothing to do with the books and movie but I just loved it.  The kids in Texas play on their iPads whenever they are allowed “screen time” but they play a lot of card games when we’re around.

First, Louise Penny.  I discovered her a few years ago when I read A Beautiful Mystery and liked it a lot.  I went on to read her books that came out after that one but never, until last week, backtracked to her first Gamache book. So many books, so little time…no time to go back to the beginning, I thought.  Better just to move on.

But Jerry and I were driving to Texas and we needed some books we both could enjoy  And Jerry had never read any of Penny’s books.  So it made sense to download the first three and I’m so glad I did.  It made the trip pure pleasure…even in the midst of near blizzard conditions in Dallas (okay, we turned the book off then so I could concentrate on the road).  Honestly, getting to know the villagers of Three Pines as Armand Gamache got to know them and getting to know Gamache and Reine Marie, Jean Guy and Isabelle Lacoste was pure delight.  And that bistro with food to die for that made me think of Croissant and Company here in Venice, warm and welcoming, a safe place to be.  I want to go to Three Pines, stay in the bed and breakfast, eat in the local bistro and check out Myrna’s bookstore. It reminded me of the time when Jerry and I stopped in Crisfield, Maryland on our way to the Outer Banks one year because I had fallen in love with Cynthia Voigt’s books about Dicey Tillerman.  We stopped in the visitor center where I started asking questions about landmarks in her books and the woman gently said, “You do know Dicey isn’t real, don’t you?”  Yes, I did but no, I didn’t.  I wanted to find her house way out on a dirt road close to the bay so that the fastest way into town was by boat and drive by the junior high where Dicey first met the people who would become lifelong friends.  I know it’s fiction but I truly wish it weren’t.

I used to think Louise Penny’s books were good…now, I KNOW they’re spectacular.

And I just finished reading Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.   Lovely book, a treasure.  I left her book with new eyes…I mean I like plants.  I love trees and anything green.  But when I read this book I realized how miraculous our plant world really is.  Hard to explain.  But this book makes you stand in awe of every tree in your yard.

And the movie…Manchester By the Sea.  I saw La La Land and it was delightful, as I said.  And I left smiling.  Manchester by the Sea, on the other hand, broke my heart.  All I knew before I went was that it was about a guy who had to go back to his home town to take care of his teenage nephew after his father had died and, for some reason, he had left his home town hoping NEVER to return.  Anyway, Jerry and I saw it yesterday and it’s unbelievably sad but also breathtaking.  And honest. And beautiful.  And, if I were handing out Oscars, poor La La Land would have to step aside.  Manchester would get them all.

So lots of good “stuff ” out there these days.  And not enough time for it all.  Busy days ahead.  I’m going to DC for the Women’s March with my good friend, Martha and then heading back to Texas for Declan’s and Calli’s birthdays, a checkup at MD Anderson and a visit with my sister, Anne and her husband.  Jerry will meet me in Texas. And we’ll be home (hopefully for awhile) in early February.

Love to all…and maybe 2017 turn out to be a good year for all of us. 41rsfhqs1dl-_sx334_bo1204203200_ 81vegsp28l


12 thoughts on “Louise Penny, Lab Girl and Manchester By the Sea

  1. Happy new year to you and Jerry as well. I hope it brings all the good things you wish for yourselves.

    After seeing la la land (it was okay), we saw Manchester…excellent but just so very sad…Oscar definite. Now go see Fences. Well worth the admission price

    • And Hidden Figures..Erin took the girls. Said it was great.

      • Barbara Greenberg

        I went to see Hidden Figures with my daughter and granddaughter (Ellen and Sophie) and we were emotionally moved by this untold piece of American history. We always rate films on the “Greenberg” five point scale. We said it went off our scale..too high to rate a mere five! Sophie and I had seen LaLaLand a few hours prior and we both rated it 4.5. I think it will receive Oscar nods (as its theme is so valuable to the academy. One would hope that Hidden Figures is also nominated for at least the historical significance it portrays for out country on so many levels! Loved the acting, costumes, iconic cars..too.
        ❤Glad you mentioned Louise Penny…I just love her characters….and discovered her when I moved back Tucson. Thanks for your continued sharing…love you and this blog! Happy New Year dear friend!

  2. Mary,
    We are on the same page!! I have read all of Louise Penny’s mysteries and feel the same way that you do. I also loved Lab Girl. Didn’t you just feel that Hope and Bill were fated to meet? Can you imagine either one of their lives without the other one in it? What an amazing partnership and friendship! Finally, I, too, thought that Manchester by the Sea was so powerful. Just finished Do Not Say We Have Nothing, sad but terrific. Have you read A Gentleman in Moscow? Delightful!!

  3. Oh my goodness…you’re leading a busy but fulfilling life. The way to keep young! Love the picture!

    Sent from my iPad


  4. Susie Zavodnyik

    I love THREE PINES!!!! When we were in Canada I searched for it! I get Louise Penny’s newsletter each month . She writes so well . I feel like I suffered through her husbands death with her and have heard her struggle .
    Manchester touched me, and I can’t let go of it.

  5. Hope to see you in DC…where the weather prediction is for partly cloudy and low 50’s. Woohoo!

  6. Deirdre Christman

    I always wanted to visit Crisfied. Dicey was real to me too. When I taught 7th grade, my students made a newspaper out of the events in Homecoming- and a map. I loved The Beautiful Mystery. Haven’t read all of Louise Penny;s books, but I do like her. I guess I need to read Lab Girl. I’m with you on Manchester By the Sea; what an achievement! Even the cinematography was gorgeous!

  7. Wendie Highsmith

    Mary-Loved the photo. I doubt I will see you in Washington on Saturday but you never know. Will be quite an event!

    We have seen Manchester and also Fences and Arrival. Loved them both for different reasons. Great performances by the actors.

    Hidden Figures and LaLa Land on next.

    Take good care!

    Love, Wendie

  8. Good morning Mary, you are definitely my book reviewer….love it! I do have to disagree with you
    about Manchester tho…so depressing! You go girlfriend….going to the March is fantastic…you’ll have to blog all about your experiences! And then you’re off to Texas…..what a traveler…I am jealous…kinda! I still feel I’m on vacation right here!😀 Safe travels my friend!

  9. Loved Manchester By The Sea too! Casey Afleck was amazing! It was incredible the way they wove in humor with such sadness. Good luck at the March! I want to hear all about it!

  10. Louise penny loves in Madison and spoke To our group a few years ago. We love her & her characters. They’re real, righ!? Cynthia Voigt new to me. Not for long Have serious headache today and now. Had good poisoning last week. Yuck yuck!!

    Going to Denver and costa Rica feb 5-20. More when I feel better. Love your writing. Thoughts. Feelings. Love you. Still miss kate too much. She was on this feb bd trip with me. Now dtr kate going with me. Lu

    Sent from my iPhone


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