LOUISE PENNY’S

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Join us here in The Bistro for a discussion on the entire Gamache series. Feel free to ask or answer any questions about any of the books or the series as a whole.

3,649 replies on “The Bistro”

I’ve read this series through MANY MANY times (at least five), and I love it so much. In a couple of months, my book club will have our annual holiday party, and our theme this year will be Three Pines (past years have been Harry Potter and Little Women.) We go all out for these parties in the decor and ESPECIALLY the food. I know there is the Nature of the Feast cookbook, but I wondered if anyone out there has compiled a list of all the food mentioned in the series?? I’m definitely going to do a re-read soon, so I may try to compile my own, but don’t want to do the work if someone else already has!

I’d love any ideas/suggestions for this holiday party! Let me know!!

Are there any of the Three Pines visits in Quebec? We were hoping to go and do a few of the book tours of a few books but I do not see the page for the hotel reservations and to book some tours of each book location

I’m currently in the middle of “A Rule Against Murder” (#4, I’m reading the books in order) and I’m really torn about Peter Morrow. I didn’t think much of him in the first book, but I thought he might grow on me over time. However I find that I like him less with each book. I want to like him because Clara loves him so much, but I just can’t figure him out! Currently, I’m feeling he is much more shallow than I originally envisioned him to be, and he certainly has the capacity to be cruel at times. So what made Clara fall and stay in love with him?!
I love this series so much, it’s the best thing I’ve found in a long time. I do believe that Ms. Penny has created him this way on purpose, and I’m sure there’s a reason that will be revealed later in the series.
No spoilers please! But I’m curious what other people think of Peter. Feel free to share your thoughts!

Hi Chris … there’s no understanding artists of any kind. Obviously Peter has a few redeeming qualities that Clara sees. Keep on reading dear one. Louise has and does give us ‘jewels’ in this series.

Not a comment on the books, other than to say I have enjoyed them all and saw Three Pines on Prime. My question is , I cannot find the Three Pines vacation in Quebec anymore. Have they stopped doing the tours of each book’s sites? We were hoping to plan a week in Quebec and “do” a couple of the book site tours.

Julie Hunter, and the person who insisrs that Gamache is not Quebecois — he is a francophone but he learned English at Cambridge as a student, so speaks beautifully correct English

Just finished reading “A World of Curiosities,” and am at the end of binge reading the Gamache books. I know I’m coming late to the party… my brother in law told me about this series just this past November, and then I found out all my friends have been reading these books for years and no one told me! I have absolutely loved these books not just for the mysteries, but for the wisdom, love, and depth of character I have found here. Wow….thank you, Louise, for writing such heartfelt books……

ADVICE NEEDED
As I am new to the world of Three Pines–A World of Curiosities was my first Penny book–I am trying to get familiar with the people and their stories. My library doesn’t have all the books so, when I set out to learn more, I had to sort of start in the middle with How The Light Gets In. While I’m enjoying the reading, I am confused by some of the backstories. For example, Armand and John-Guy appear to be the same ages in all the books, despite several years having passed between them. And, in The Nature of the Beast I found John Fleming, the villain in the latest book, but he was “in his seventies,” which is much older than in A World of Curiosities. So, should I just read each book as a stand-alone, enjoying the story and liking the people rather than trying to make all the books connect?

Hello Leah.
Enjoy the books first off. I started a year or so ago with “How the Light Gets In” as before her collaboration with Hillary Clinton in “State of Terror” I had not heard of Louise Penny, but ‘fell in love’ with her wonderful characters and her writing. I’ve since caught up with the series, which took awhile. Enjoy the people as they are as in the previous books there are always references to previous stories. Since you found “The Bistro” this lovely site, you can catch-up too.

Thanks Marilyn! I do, indeed, love the characters and I am glad I found the Bistro! Also, there are summaries of all the books I can’t find in the library on the website, so I can at least get some basic information. But as I read the books, I struggle with things like the ages of people never changing, even though years pass, and the backstories of some recurring characters changing from one book to another. This may be because I’m more accustomed to reading traditional police procedurals where the details are critical to the story. It seems like for the Three Pines stories, I should just let this kind of thing go, not over think it, and focus on the relationships. Would that be your thought?

Hi Leah. Can understand the ‘difficulty’ after dealing with precise details. Your last sentence give you a good answer. Don’t over think ^ enjoy your time in Three Pines. It’s a lovely place where time can just meld. Plus, Louise always gives a bit history in her stories too. Hope this helps 🙂

Laurel, I’ve read the whole series. All through Digital loans from several libraries I belong to. If there was a long hold wait for the books I would take out the audiobooks….not my first choice but really well read!
My opinion is read them in order, as it really coalesces the stories and the time thing makes more sense. Gemache thinks of Jean-Guy as a son, which…

You can ask your library to get the books on inter library loan. Many libraries have them and will loan them to your library.

I would start again from the first book Still Life and go from there. That way you get to watch the characters grow and the relationships emerge. The relationship between Gamache and Beauvoir starts out slowly as Beauvoir was not in a good position when Gamache rescued him,so to speak,from the job he was detailed to.
Enjoy!

Hello, Leah.

If you cannot find the books in order at your library, you may want to download an
e-book app from your library. I was able to get each book in order, using Libby, and it truly helped with the development of both characters and subplots.

I suggest trying to read the Gamache series in order. If your library can get them on demand it will be helpful in understanding charactors back stories. Clara, for instance, has a deep sorrow in her life that is alluded to in a future book. To know the story helps understanding of her spirit.

Hi, You can find some books at archive.org. Looks like they don’t have the whole series, but they list The Brutal Telling, A Beautiful Mystery and A Better Man, if you don’t mind reading on a device. If your library can’t borrow them for you from their partners, it’s better than nothing.
I found my first Louise Penny in The Brutal Telling. After a few chapters, I realized it was part of a series and stopped where I was to go back to the beginning. I love her style, and her humor, and Three Pines is theoretically not far from where I live, so the seasons, weather, and some of the traditions are familiar to me, which makes it even better! It’s such a great series and I hope there’s many more books to come!

I would definitely recommend to read them in order if you can get hold of the books. Even though they are enjoyably as standalone books, you might spoil some surprises you might have had otherwise.

I was so looking forward to seeing the Gamache series come to life and agree it was a bit dark. For me, the music only added to that- much too dark. Also missed the center of the village. The Bistro was off by itself. The balance of the camaraderie and children playing in the snow was missed. I am also rereading the books – they are where l go when l need an escape. I’d like to think l could live there above my quilting and handwork shop. Though l would be in Myrna’s book store or the Bistro and never get anything else done.

I first read Bury Your Dead, because it was set in Quebec City, the home of my heart. Took 2 weeks to approach the last two chapters as I had no wish to part with beloved friends, I had found that book in a thrift shop that I prowled daily for possible treasures, such is life in a town without a book store. Partway into the book as Gamache and Henri wandered the Plains in the early hours of the morning with a tennis ball for company, I found myself searching internet sites for other books by Louise Penny. Her books, her characterisations, her settings, are addictive and I had to have them.
A brilliant grandfather raised me to appreciate books. He taught me to read by the time I was three and I am ever in his debt. His intent was to save my grandmother’s nerves (I swear that I watched where I put my feet so as to stay off of them, but reading was the best solution; dolls and picture books being of no interest to this scattergrace).By five I was reading Kipling and Shute, would that Penny had been writing then!
As they were playing their frantic game of tennis on the snow swept field I used to wander I found a sire where I could order nine of their creator’s books, except that I already had the one. I placed my order then and there and read on. Who needed sleep?
As dawn approached so did the end of the book but it would be at least 2 weeks until the new books arrived. I placed a bookmark, leashed the dog and went for a walk, perchance to daydream about a new friend and his dog. Never imagining the wonders to come.

Having read all but the latest book of the Gamache series, I could hardly contain my excitement when the series appeared on Amazon. The series did not disappoint! Although many seem disappointed that the depth of character development isn’t in the series, that is always the case when putting any novel on film. However, watching with my husband, who had not read the series, I realized the complexity of the plot came through well. His reaction was, “You did a great job in your selection! This plot is complex and really holds my interest.” I can’t wait for more to come so the depth of characters can come through just as Gamache’s deep love for his wife comes through at the end of the series.

I think the greater incorporation in indigenous peoples in the films was a great addition to Penny’s work.
Tantoo Cardinal is her own genius.
And Myrna as a black woman not huge in a caftan is good for her character.

A World of Curiosities disappointed me. I love the Three Pines novels, and I really looked forward to this one. However:
The plot was so elaborate that it strained credulity. At the same time, I had little trouble solving both mysteries presented.
Harriet as a character was also hard to believe. Her loyalties were too easily swayed. The same was true for me for Fiona.
Maybe my major disappointment was that the story featured the type of villain I least like. I’ll say no more for those who have not read it yet.
I hope Penny writes another Three Pines novel. I sorely missed visiting the little village I’ve come to love.

Terri,
I was also disappointed in “The World of Curiosities” and the implausible plotting. Included in that implausibility is that she used the exact same method of escape from the exact same prison for Arnot in “How the Light Gets In.” It was a little more reasonable then because the Surete leadership that was masterminding the plot. I still enjoy the individual characters and the positive relationships they represent. I do struggle with the fact that Gamache has been in his mid-50s and Jean-Guy in his mid-30s since the series began, forcing the LP to more or less erase early backstories. That said, it is still fun to drop in on Three Pines and its quirky people.

I too was soooo disappointed in this last book. There were so many inconsistencies. Fiona has been a part of their life for the last 10 years and this is the first time she is mentioned??? Then there is the comparison that Fiona and Annie are close in age and they aren’t. Now everyone can understand Billy? Glad to see I am not the only one who thought this. If I have to hear one more time how BIG Myrna is I am going to scream. We have always known this, but if you are going to go woke on a number of subjects which this book does then knock it off on the heavy set people. Not sure why we had to incorporate the story of the massacre at École Polytechnique de Montréal in Montreal, Quebec. It didn’t really add anything but her opinion on gun control to the story. I felt that Harriet was a total flake of a character and was not necessary at all. And last but not least is the idea that the monster could escape a heavily guarded prison and live in Three Pines and no one know it is just ridiculous. I hope she can get her act together for the next novel. I love this series, but if I have to have stuff crammed down my throat then I will have to give it up.

For years, I always look forward to getting the new Louise Penny novel and reading it feels like wrapping myself in a warm blanket. But there were three things in A World of Curiosities that just made me want to throw it out the window.

First, what you said about Fiona, where has she been all this time.?!?

Two, According to Armand Fiona and Annie are the same age. Fiona is 13, Jean-Guy maybe a young agent but he’s got to be at least in his mid 20’s in this book- I just couldn’t get the math out of my head? How old was Annie when they met?

Finally, Louise Penny seems to be sensitive to many current issues so how she and/or her editor left a line describing a young BLACK woman holding a branch to protect herself as the “missing link” in the book is beyond me. At best it’s thoughtless, at worst it’s casual racism but at the end of the day it’s also bad writing, in a book with stories of exiled witches why not compare her to one of them. Why the missing link???

This is one I will not be recommending, and honestly not sure if I’ll be picking up the next the thought of which makes me a little sad.

I am 3/4 of the way through World of Curiosities and have a couple of questions. One, when did Armand begin to understand Billy Williams? Everyone else knew what he was saying, but in this book, Armand speaks with Billy often and understands him perfectly. Second question, I thought I remembered in The Madness of Crowds that Jerome (Theresa’s husband) was suffering from dementia. In this book, he seems perfectly fine. What did I miss?

You may be thinking of the Chancellor’s husband, in the Madness of Crowds.I also noticed that Armand understood Billy perfectly, with no explanation as to how that happened, but I’m glad it did!

I am a fan of Three Pines! Episodes one and two had me concerned, but three and four? Thoroughly enjoyed. Is there a lot that is different than the books? Of course. But I am willing to separate the two and be able to enjoy both! While there are some things that just seem wrong in the series (a flat level road into Three Pines?! just to name one thing right off that felt wrong. Lol!) grace is given because our Ms Penny isn’t writing the script. I also think Alfred Molina as Gamache is perfect! I’m excited to see how he develops as well.

I, too, was concerned over episodes one and two, but I was hooked after that.
One must have a willing suspension of disbelief when watching; it’s not worthwhile to compare the books with the series as there are many differences. But the setting is close enough, especially the Hadley house and the Bistro. The least successful bit of casting may be Myrna–she is not much like Penny’s character. I like that Isabel is played by an indigenous woman.
The addition of a second layer of plot, that of the missing indigenous women and of the children who attended St. Anthony’s, adds interest and depth.

I did find Gamache’s lack of an accent disconcerting at first, particularly when he is with Beauvoir, but I’m used to it now. He captures Gamache’s tendency for quiet deliberation and his big heart. The use of symbols, such as birds (bluejays), is effective and adds to the sometimes eerie tone.
I hope they renew the series.

I have read all of the Inspector Gamach books, some of them twice, and I finished “ A World of Curiosities” last night. I absolutely loved it. Possibly my favorite. This town and these. characters have become as familiar and comfortable as old friends. That being said I watched the first two episodes of Three Pines with great anticipation. I’m sorry to say I was very disappointed. I just could not relate at all to the characters as I have come to know them. Jean-Guy seems too old, Clara too young and too put together, and sadly, Gamache just didn’t feel right to me. I think Ruth was the one character who actually depicted the character from the book. I may watch the next episodes when the are releases to try to be fair and give this a second chance but probably not. I might be better off letting all these wonderful friends continue to live on inside my head in the way I already know and love them

Kathleen, I totally agree with you. Since reading “Still Life” many years ago and all the of the Three Pines novels afterwards, the people of Three Pines Village are set in my mind’s eye. And that is how I will always see them. I will stick with the books (I own them all) and will not watch the series. And if there is ever another movie (I sincerely hope not) I do not plan to watch. I believe Louise herself has said there will not be another movie…..being disappointed in the first and only. Sometimes a novel should remain just that…..a book of characters that one can see in their own imagination…..and not be made into moving pictures that are bound to disappoint. I’m very much looking forward to owning “A World of Curiosities”. 🙂

I just finished A World of Curiosities today. I have now read all 18. I am hesitant to watch the TV series because I see all the characters from 3 Pines as my friends. I know what they look like & how there are in my mind, why watch sombody’ else’s rendition of them. I am curious though in the last book, which of the early books has Gamache examining the woman’s body in the lake water & which book does Gamache ream out Jean-Guy over what he said about her.

I feel the same. I’ve read all the books and adore the characters. I have my own mental pictures about what they & 3 Pines looks like. I likely wo t watch the TV show just because I don’t want to lose that 😜.
Additionally, I think Louise Penny is such a beautiful, kind, humble human. That makes her books even better, imho.

Hi Sharon,
I can understand you not being interested in the tv series or the movie, but wishing there never were another? So many people enjoyed them. And you can just ignore them.

I agree with most of what you said. I do like Alfred Molina as Gamache, though. Jean-Guy looks like he’s almost the same age as Gamache; Clara and Peter are too young. Clara does not have the paint and food crumbs in messy hair, which she is know for in the books. Neither the town in general, nor the Bistro look anything like I pictured (but I guess that’s a personal thing.) I also do not understand why the writers who adapt these stories feel they can do a better job than the original. I understand that some things work better for a limited time presentation, but there are things that left me scratching my head as to why they were changed. I don’t want to mention them, because they might be spoilers. All that being said, I am actually enjoying the series.

I agree with your opinion of the Clara actor, Peter as well. Pictured him more stoic and put together, not modern. Alfred Molina, I like as Gamache. Close to my vision of him. Ruth is pretty good as well. Myrna is no where near what I pictured. I have read the series three times and love all of the books. Still have World of Curiosities in its box. Waiting for all the holiday madness to be over so I can sit and relax while reading it. There’s a lot of character development in the books that is a challenge to show in a live version. Having decided to stop comparing the series to the books, I can now just enjoy each episode for itself. I found myself enjoying the series more after the first 2 episodes. Takes some getting used to seeing it instead of imagining it.

I put the date on my calendar so as not to forget the opening of the film last Friday then settled down with my drink to watch. I was worried about the portrayal of Inspector Gamache but that gentleman nailed it! And Ruth was terrific! I watched you, Louise, on the Today Show and that made the film all the more meaningful. As a non-fiction author writing my first novel, I was so encouraged when you said the first draft is always crap! That’s about how I feel about my first draft of the novel! But an author’s best friend is the red pencil! Thank you for all your wonderful books and the many happy hours you’ve given so many of us.

I had marked Friday on my calendar to watch the premier of Three Pines. I was so concerned about the character of Gamache, but that gentleman nailed it! And Ruth was terrific. How wonderful to see all these characters come to life and to see Three Pines village portrayed so beautifully. I watched you, Louise, on the Today Show and that just added to the enjoyment of the films. As a non-fiction writer, now writing my first novel, I loved it when you said the first draft is always crap! That’s about what I feel on my first draft just completed. Gave me comfort to hear you say it!.

For me the beauty of Louise Penny’s books are: they contain many levels of interest; they have extremely well crafted characters; and the location, Three Pines is a dreamy place to live. Through her books I get to know some very funky, weird, fascinating people. I step into their lives, witness their interactions and I come to care about them. I love the village of Three Pines. It is a mysterious place, almost a Brigadoon. It is both a fairy tale village and a real place at the same time. Before each new book is released, I wonder which character(s) and Three Pines itself, how will they be altered by the new mystery? I am saying what I love about Louise Penny’s books because I found very little of it in the TV show. All the characters appeared as nothing more than cardboard cutouts of themselves. Camera shots of Three Pines could have been any flat suburb with powerlines in the snowbelt. Nothing special about it. I think the depth of Louise Penny’s books would be better represented in a mini -series, as in Downton Abbey, the Crown etc. I was entertained by the TV show but did not love it, like I do her books.

I watched THREE PINES on Amazon Prime Friday night. I loved it and hope there will be a second season. I wish they would have shown the personalities of the characters a little more in depth; but all in all, it was excellent. As someone who has read all of Louise Penny’s books, I have found myself getting to know all the characters and looking forward in each new book to visiting Three Pines and catching up with each of them. I love Ruth and her duck; she is priceless. Inspector Gamache is what all detectives should be like, caring. Looking forward to 2023’s book.

Just watched THREE PINES. Think it was superb.Molina seems to grow into Gamache’s skin. Actually, all of the cast seems to be bespoke. Poor Nathaniel Parker does not deserve all of the criticism. If you pretend that you know nothing about the series, and view it as a stand-alone
flick, it is enjoyable. How many episodes will there be and how often will they air? Worse than waiting for the next book!

Overall, a disappointment. Gamache and Jean Guy the best casting. After that, the acting was just not up to par. Alfred Molina very, very good.
I have waited patiently for this series. I will finish it, of course, but even the Bistrot was a disappointment. General agreement from all my “bookie” friends.
Having said all that, I cannot imagine what it would have taken to get this to the small screen.
6 more episodes to go. We’ll see.

I loved the Gamache books from the beginning and have read all but the newest at least twice. And I loved the first two episodes of Three Pines. So interesting to see how the characters are represented. Molina is great as Gamache! Looking forward to the remaining episodes and YES to another season!!!

I enjoyed Louise in person in Ann Arbor, MI last night, then went home and watched the first two episodes on Prime. It’s going to take awhile to acclimate to these actors as the characters. Molina is very good!

I haven’t watched 3 pines but I’ll start today. One thing though I know before I even watch it – the literary style of penny could never perfectly translate to the screen – few authors put you into the ‘scene’ as does this author. and the …whimsy?
All the nuances? I just don’t think a screen version could possibly be as good as what penny pulls from our minds with her words. But yep – I’m gonna go watch….

One of Penny’s great strengths causes the same problems for me. I devour whodunits, but most authors give very slight visual physical descriptions that are forgettable and add very little to the story. But Penny describes not only Gamache and Beauvoir so brilliantly, but all her characters, so that actors are a visual jolt. Even Molina does not have a body with the bulk and solidity so much a part of who Gamache IS.

I used to read when things got quiet on the night shift via audiobook, (bad wyes). I really enjoyed it but then I retired & couldn’t find the time or enough interest, with so much else (living) to do. I didn’t think I missed it, but someone turned me on to the Gamache 3 Pines mysteries. I fell, hook, line & sinker!

Between November & Februaryi read them all, in order. Then,😱, I ran out, and have been waiting for the next one. I am afraid. I feel like an addict who was for ed to go cold turkey. I know I will love it when I read it, but even if I read it twice, the day will come when I will turn the last page, and then ….
It’s too long a wait.
What if Ms Penny takes a sabbatical, or decides to give up writing altogether???
Arrggghhhhh!

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