Friday, December 16, 2011

Louise Penny

Louise Penny - anyone familiar with her work?

I just completed THE BRUTAL TELLING. Hated it at first, but kept going because it was a gift from DD2 for my birthday. That's a clue right there, I can read a book I like in a day or two. This one took two weeks.

I hated the idle chit chat of the villagers. I detested the introduction of so many characters, and how they interfered with the story. I did not like how she portrayed the small village, nestled into the woods, and how the villagers avoided the forest. Having grown up in a small village nestled in the woods, many of the points were implausible. But I plodded on, a scene here, a chapter there, and waded through it. Not much action, just a lot of idle chit chat.

This is a book I would have put back on the shelf fifteen seconds after opening it. But I knew DD2 would ask me about it, so there was no turning back.

Then a strange thing happened. As I progressed into the story, the village began to open, and I became interested in the villagers. What I earlier dismissed as idle chit chat became important to me. That's when I realized the story wasn't about the murder, it was about the people.

I'm always about the story, and confess a weakness on character portrayal. I can tell you what they look like, smell like, and walk like, but I haven't yet developed the skills to portray the rich tapestry of thought and emotion that Louise Penny has accomplished. THE BRUTAL TELLING is an MFA in character development. Give it a try, if you haven't already.