The year is 1894. It’s an hour before the opening ceremonies of Quebec’s first free public library, Pettes Memorial. A whole community of volunteers are here to make this night an extravaganza that will go down in the history books. They have just enough time to rehearse the speeches and songs, make sure the library looks perfect, chill the champagne and smear the hors d’ouvres with duck paté. There is a lot riding on this. If the wealthy and influential don’t support the library, it will never succeed. Tonight must be flawless. No mistakes and certainly no murders!
Thus begins Laura Teasdale’s new play, If Books Could Kill, coming in July! It’s a murder mystery comedy based on the real events on the night of the library’s opening, with Teasdale’s mix of community in-jokes and historical irreverence.
It’s all part of much larger campaign to build an extension on the now 128-year-old landmark. In an unprecedented decision, two of the town’s cultural pillars, the Library and Knowlton Players partnered up to present this fundraising celebration.
As a staunch supporter of Pettes Library, Louise Penny has in many ways been spearheading the massive fundraising efforts. But now in an astounding show of generosity Louise Penny has agreed to take a part in the play! This boosts the visibility of the library’s campaign through the roof and creates incredible excitement for her fans near and far.
Writer Laura Teasdale says, “I remember years ago, when I first learned about the amazing Narcissa Pettes, I thought she deserved a play. She was so strong, intelligent and brave. What a trailblazer! She moved mountains to establish this library, and then graciously dedicated all her work to her dear husband. I have just been waiting for an excuse to write her into a play. Now here is Louise Penny, another trailblazing woman, who also wants to do something incredible for the community in honor of her late husband, Michael Whitehead. The parallels between the two women are so obvious and so touching. Who better to play the grand dame Narcissa Pettes than Louise Penny herself? I wrote with such delight knowing not only would I get to see Narcissa come to life, but I would have the perfect person to portray her!
Teasdale had great pleasure researching the script and had a lot of help from the Pettes family descendants. Dierdre Crandall was especially generous and shared her Mom (Kathryn Crandall’s) personal family journals and patiently answered questions about who was who and what they were truly like. The characters are real. The plot of the play follows the actual program of the opening ceremony of the actual library in March of 1894. These were very influential figures in the early years of Knowlton and it is fun to make them larger than life and have a little fun with them. It is full of quirky and downright hilarious characters to be played by our favorite Knowlton Players and some great musicians recreating the music from the actual event as well.
On Saturday evening July 9, Pettes Memorial Library will be hosting a fundraising gala performance. Before the show the audience will be offered Prosecco and hors d’oeuvres. They will have a chance to meet Louise Penny during the reception. Louise has also graciously agreed to sign her books brought by audience members.
There are four shows in all.
There will be performances on Saturday, July 9 and Sunday, July 10, both at 2 p.m. as well as an evening performance on Sunday, July 10, and at 7 p.m. Tickets for these shows are $20 each.
The gala will take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 9. Tickets for this special event are $80 each.
Tickets can be purchased online at
or go to pettes.ca and click on the show’s poster.
For more information or to purchase tickets offline, call Brome Lake Books at: 450 242-2242.