How the Light Gets In
Reading Group Discussion Guide
1. Louise Penny has said that Three Pines isn't just the setting for How the Light Gets In; it is a main character and plays a pivotal role. How do you view that character and that role?
2. The title is taken from a verse in Leonard Cohen's “Anthem”:
Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There’s a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
What meaning do these lyrics have in the story—and perhaps in your own experience?
3. We meet Constance Ouellet only briefly, at the start of this novel, yet by the end we understand a great deal about her life. What do you make of that life? How about Audrey Villeneuve's?
4. How do you view the relationship between Gamache and Beauvoir throughout the book? What do you ultimately think of both men?
5. On her website, Louise says, “If you take only one thing away from any of my books I'd like it to be this: Goodness exists.” How is goodness manifested in this book? What about evil?
6. On page 124, we are told that the birth “was a miracle, but it was also a mess.” What else, in the novel and in life, can be described in that way?
7. On page 200, “Chief Inspector Gamache walked over to one of the maps of Québec tacked to a wall. He smiled. Someone had placed a tiny dot south of Montréal….Written there, in a small perfect hand, was one word. Home. It was the only map in existence that showed the village of Three Pines.” What does this passage—and the concept of home—mean to you?
8. Page 236 describes “the stained-glass window made after the Great War, showing bright young soldiers walking forward. Not with brave faces. They were filled with fear. But still they advanced.” What does this image, along with the events in the novel, say about courage?
9. If you have read any (or all) of Louise's previous novels, what changes have you seen in the characters and in the books themselves?
10. Many readers have said that they wish they could move to Three Pines. Do you feel that way? What appeals to you (or does not) about the place and the people there?
11. If there was another chapter, after the end of this book, what would happen in it?