Good ReadsThe Legacy of Louise Penny and Her #1 Fan

The Legacy of Louise Penny and Her #1 Fan

The Legacy of Louise Penny and Her #1 Fan

Feature photo curtsey of Nycole Veilleux


Louise Penny is writer and journalist but she is also much more than that.

“She is passionate, generous and has a human warmth that makes you fall in love with her.” These are the words of Nycole Veilleux when I asked her to describe Louise. Worth clarifying, Veilleux is the number one fan of Louise’s books as well as a talented artist herself.

Louise is a simple woman, hardworking and grateful to her life. She takes care of her four golden retrievers and is an admirer of her late husband, Michael, who greatly supported her writing. She knows what is important on this earth.

Louise and Michael were a couple that displayed a type of relationship that we just don't see very often. They shared support, love, understanding, fellowship, and complicity. It was a romantic and intellectual love. This true love and mutual admiration is even displayed on a plaque in New York's Central Park.

She is also an example of living life to its fullest. Louise started writing later in life when she had experience and wisdom. Penny’s books have been published in 30 countries, and they have been translated into 23 languages. Her books take readers on a journey through real Canadian Science Fiction. 

She has penned many well-known books such as Still Life, A Fatal Grace/Dead Cold, The Cruelest Month, A Rule Against Murder/The Murder Stone, The Brutal Telling, Bury Your Dead, A Trick of the Light, The Beautiful Mystery, How the Light Gets In, The Long Way Home, The Nature of the Beast, and A Great Reckoning. Glass Houses is her most recent.

In Glass Houses a mysterious figure appears in Three Pines one cold November day. Armand Gamache and the rest of the villagers are at first curious, then wary, and finally, they watch an unmoving figure as a pall settles over their pretty Québec village. Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Sûreté du Québec, knows something is seriously wrong. Through rain and sleet, the figure stands unmoving, staring ahead. There's accusation on the village green. Gamache knows there must be a purpose behind this odd act.

Interestingly, Armand Gamache was the result of the inspiration that Louise had in her husband, Michael. He was a “kindly, thoughtful, generous man of courage and integrity who both loved and accepted love,” says Penny.

Glass Houses is dedicated to her assistant with who Louise Penny has a good relationship. She is not an employee; she is a valued friend. As Nycole would tell you, "she is the real Louise Penny!"

Every year Louise does her book tour through Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.  However, one of her most famous book tour events is the annual pre-launch party in Knowlton, Quebec.

But, why is Knowlton so interesting and important for Penny and her fans? Veilleux says “it is a picturesque village in the Eastern Townships. It is one of the prettiest towns in Quebec. Even more, this village is part of the Inspector Gamache's Three Pines friendly family.”

Knowlton was the perfect place chosen by the author to develop her story. It's a place that inspires, that has magic and history. It can become, perhaps, as timeless as Louise’s works. Nycole describes it as "a heaven, a place of dreams, wonderful but mysterious."

This place is so relevant that the writer precisely invited the Clinton family – her friends- to the Townships in Knowlton since Hillary Clinton has repeatedly mentioned being a fan of Penny's Inspector Gamache series.They were exploring the beautiful area, enjoying the sights, relaxing, talking and exchanging thoughts while the writer was showing them some places that she mentions in her books.

There are enough reasons to be captivated with Louise Penny and her books. Nycole Veilleux told us a little more about how started her connection with Penny's Inspector Gamache series.

Ottawa Life: What kind of books do you like to read?

Nycole Veilleux: I love to read! I read about everything I can put in my hands. I like to read novels, biographies, history, everything!

How did you find out about Louise Penny's work?

It was a pure coincidence. I was in (a book store), and I saw her third book called The Cruelest Month. What attracted me the most was the cover. Then, I took a look at the book. I bought it, I read it, and I fell in love. I had to buy the previous books.

Why did you fall in love with her books?

I fell in love with Louise Penny's books because of the story, the way she writes, the way she describes things. I do not know; I just had a feeling, I knew that something was happening. There was a connection.

Could you tell us how is she as a person?

She makes you laugh, she is very friendly. She treats you like her friend, like if she already knew you, and you have the feeling that you know her too. She is very patient, and she likes people. Louise and her assistant are beautiful people!

What is the fundamental difference you see between her's and other authors that you have read?

You can feel at home. The way she writes makes you feel comfortable. It is a feeling of being welcomed by the story, by her, by words and letters. I cannot talk about other writers, but this is how she makes me feel, as a person and through her books. Her books always have something new. You may know the story, but you are not able to predict what will happen.

How has been your experience traveling to the annual book in Knowlton?

I always promised myself I was going to attend to her annual book signing when she began her tour, regardless what happened. Four years ago, I started traveling to Knowlton where Louise Penny, every year, holds her event. For me, this is like being in heaven!

Could you tell us why the place where she signs her books is so interesting?

I had never been in Knowlton. I knew the area because my sister lives nearby and we had talked about that place where the story unfolds in Three Pines. In fact, I was looking for more about this place in her books. But my first time exceeded all my expectations! I swear to God! When you leave the highway and you go down to get to Knowlton, it is something that you cannot describe. I almost cried when I was there. This place is magical.

Why would you recommend Louise Penny's books to our readers?

I would recommend Louise Penny because whoever buys her book will get stuck in such a story. A high-quality story, written with love and passion for all readers. She has much to teach us. You will forget your life, your work when you are reading her books. Everything happens in Canada. It is an interesting, beautiful and relaxing story. I am so proud of her work!

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