Tuesday, 7 September 2010
Cloudy, rainy, cold - then sunny, hot and humid. Canada, eh? temps 15-28
Had a quite amazing day. Found out after only 4 days on sale En plein coeur is on the bestseller list.
And, if you're wondering who the man holding En plein coeur in the photo is, it's Jean Gamache - the man who was the initial inspiration for Armand! Eight years ago Michael and I were going to England for a wedding and Michael needed a new suit. Someone suggested this tailor in Grandy - Jean Gamache. I was just beginning to write Still Life and struggling with who the main character was, even his name was unclear. Off we went to the tailor - and there he was. Partly it was his physical appearance that inspired me - but mostly it was his character. Thoughtful, courteous in an old world way, with deep brown eyes that were many things, but mostly kind.
As you know, many others contributed characteristics, including Michael, my husband, but meeting Monsieur Gamache was the breakthrough. And as a homage to the man I used his last name.
I can't tell you how desperately moving it was to go there today to present him with a signed copy of the first book out in French. And he was still kindly and cheerful, intelligent and courteous.
Before that, earlier in the day, Michael and I had visited Louise and Jacques in the hospital. We'd talked about prayer the last time we visited, and the prayer of St Francis in particular. So Michael printed out a few copies and we sat around Jacques' bed, holding hands, while Louise read it, in English then in French. And then we all took turns talking about what it means to us.
As Louise said, reading it with jacques, at that time, gave each word of the beautiful prayer a significance and power it hadn't had for us before. Like most people, we all saw it was inspired. As a stunning example of grace. As well as a practical blueprint to how to live a happy life. But saying the words with Jacques, especially the last line, sent electricity through all of us. Not of fear or discomfort. But of power. And, oddly, calm.
It was a very beautiful time.
Louise was asked by CBC Radio's The Current to talk about her experience right now, losing the man she loves. You can hear the interview tomorrow morning on the national radio programme....or it will be available on their website later. It's in a larger package examining euthanasia - a big debate these days in Quebec.