Sana Khan
Sana Khan asked:

do you have to read all the books from the beginning of the series to know what's going on?

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Marilyn I would say yes. I first listened to one of the later ones on tape -- and found it confusing. I then ignored my friend's raving about her until I finally picked up number one and fell madly in love with the series.
✨Susan✨ Yes, it should be read from the beginning, not only to know what's going on but to also fall in love with the wonderful, multi dimensional characters. All the books are great!
Alice Start with the first book, Still Life. These are wonderful to listen to if you can.
Linda Definitely read them in order. Louise Penny had a plan for the books, it seems, long before she wrote them, and there is a thread running through them that needs to be followed in order. Amazing books and wonderful characters that develop as you read until you definitely fall in love with them!
Tam's Literary Adventures Each book can be read individually as she gives a synopsis at the beginning of each of them, but they really are better reading from the start. Character development and themes deepen with each book. I started with one in the middle of the series per recommendation of a friend and liked it so much I went back to the beginning of the series and was glad I did.
LeAnne You won't get nearly as much out of the stories if you don't start at the beginning.
Sylvia O They don't have to be read in order, but will probably be more enjoyable (and make more sense) if they are. However - this is a series to be savored, not to be binge-read. There are certain quirks and eccentricities in both the characters and the writing that could affect your enjoyment of the books if you fast-forward your way through. (as I did ;) )
Beth absolutely! read them in order! While each can stand on its own, the underlying mystery that runs throughout the first 9 novels, only makes sense if you read them in order.
Dolly I started with her third Armand Gamache novel and liked it so much I began at the beginning of the series and have read them in order since. I think it helps your understanding of each book to know the background of the characters (learned from prior books). But any of her books could be a stand-alone. They're just better read in sequence. I have loved them all.
Rosemary Burrows Yes, you need to read her books In order. I didn't at first and ended up going back and reading them in order, even re-reading the ones I gad read out of order.
Bliss I started several books in and realized that there was a big back story so I started from the beginning. It didn't damage my enjoyment of that first book, though. I do suggest that the last 4 should be read in sequence because they are tied together with a series of events and the effects on the characters. I think it makes more sense that way, although the most recent, A Long Way Home, is a little less dependent on those events.
Martine I had to read the first six slightly out of sequence as I borrowed them from a library and read them as they became available. I was able to read the remaining ones in sequence and, it is true that each new story brings a new dimension in character development. Each book reminds me why I love this author so much. I said in a different forum that I feel like I am renewing a friendship with a lost friend when I read any books from this series.
Marilyn Not at all, though it is fun to see how the back stories progress. I read "How the Light Gets In" first and just loved it, so read the rest...mostly in order.
Jennifer Mcgown I didn't, but it makes reading them a richer experience. I read the 10th book first and then started at the beginning and I enjoy the journey the characters are on with me ( they do change throughout and you learn more of their pasts also).
Kellie This is the only one I've read. I'm going back to start at 1, but not because I have to, but because I want to. So, I would say "no" to answer your question.
Alison this is the first one I've read, and the answer is No, it just makes you want to read the others to find out what happened!
Maureen Opper I'd say yes.
Susan Crane Yes, absolutely
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