The Bistro

The Bistro

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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.

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How about Clara’s art? The way everyone was bothered because it all seemed so unfinished, and then the tiny spot of love seen in the eyes – I found that very profound, too. Just that tiny spark of whatever each person loved most. So interesting that she still has surprises in store for everyone…

Michael, the archangel – yes, no wondering where he came from! Not being religious at all, these are some of the things that I don’t get to feel in the same way as others do. Yet, I am very much attuned to what the Universe (for want of a better word) tries to teach me some days. Other days, of course, I’m quite oblivious! I’ve always thought of Michael as a mischievous angel, and that he came to Ruth to talk things over was a masterstroke! In fact, I think that was one of John Travolta’s best roles – after he’d had his “comeback” in Pulp Fiction. He played Michael very well, I thought – full of fun, but a little dark, and definitely irreverent.

Oh, yes, I had and have a really hard time sometimes, with the way Gamache skirts the law. I understand why he did it, but was it right? Was it the only way? I’d not heard of “burning one’s ships” before – that was a revelation to me. (such an inadequate education!) I have an even harder time with how he keeps people in the dark – this time, it was the Crown, whom he had enlisted, knowing he could possibly end his career, ruin his reputation, and STILL didn’t level with him. These are hard things to me. I trust Gamache to do the “right” thing, but is it always the ONLY right thing? Could there be another way?

Corruption all around you is bound to make you suspicious of everyone, of course. But it still seems a bit high-handed to me. There are times when I have to remind myself that “it’s only a book – it’s only a book”…

Barbara, I agree about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I think that because we have used that terrible, terrible weapon, we seem almost ready to use it again… Einstein said he didn’t know what weapons would be used in WWIII, but that WWIV would be fought with sticks and stones. We seem so close to that apocalypse sometimes now, that it’s frightening to ponder. And when we dropped the bombs over Japan, did we set the stage for today – have we always remembered it’s in our back pocket? I used to think that because it was used once, it would never be used again, but I’m no longer so sure.

To go back to the book – the children playing on the green, falling as if they’d been killed and staying on the ground, not knowing what to do… that image haunts me. You can’t “unknow” that kind of horror.

Ruth’s rough edges have been worn a little, and I love that. I think it’s after she had confronted some of her own demons in The Nature of the Beast – and she seems softer somehow. But I think you’re right, Anna – smaller, too. Perhaps it’s aging, but perhaps it’s change. She no longer needs to be “on guard” quite as much. That the paramedic could think of her as a kindly grandmother – first I laughed, but then I knew that she really did feel that. In some ways, Ruth is the purest character. There’s perhaps some pretense as she protects herself from life’s slings and arrows, but for the most part, we see her.

I don’t think there is a problem with your ethics Barbara. It is a very similar question. What price the sacrifice? Particularly if the gambles had not paid off…for the Allies or for Gamache. History looks favourably upon the winner who really does get write the narrative while the critics have a lot to so about the losers. Which is not to diminish the atrocities committed during WW2. I am guessing the families of the addicts who died would have a very different opinion from the ones that were saved.

I am uneasy with the way Gamache set up the capture of the drug lords. The drugs that were allowed to freely enter the US caused much suffering. Yes, in the end it paid off for the future….for all the people who would not become addicts as the drug traffic was stopped.
But what about those who did become addicted when the drugs were so abundant ? Lives destroyed and crimes committed against people by addicts. I have always had guilt about the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan by my country. Yes, I have read and heard discussions that many American lives were saved and that I would have cheered the bombings if a loved one had been in the US military. I still think of those Japanese civilians who suffered as well as all who died.
My idea of right and wrong, ethics, just doesn’t allow for much leeway.
The ending of the book was excellent and I am already wondering about the next book.

Thanks for the opening gambit Julie and hi Paul. We do think of you often. Must plan my next trip to NY around a coffee near the Flatiron.
I agree with the heat Barbara…similar to DC dripping humidity.
I also agree with you Julie, the villain was not a massive surprise, although the back story was less obvious. But for me the true interest in the book is always the moral dimension.
The challenge with Gamache, and with any leader, is when they step beyond the bounds and constraints of the law under which they operate. Gamache has skirted along this line before, arguing for the greater good as his justification. Is it? What happens to the sanctity and the power of the court if one man can decide which laws it is necessary to follow and which laws it is ok to break?
It is purely coincidental that I am reading the Impossible Presidency-a history of the office of the President. It is fascinating on one hand and scary on the other, to see how the role of the President of the USA evolved as the Constitution was a tad light on in detailing what the office was to be. At various times Presidents have taken it upon themselves to break rules and conventions and often for monumental reasons. I am reading about Lincoln and he ended slavery singlehandedly, without Congress when the President isn’t supposed to actually make laws.
Gamache is very like Lincoln in lots of ways…his clarity of speech, his common touch and connection with people and his belief in something bigger than himself. But Gamache is subject to the law….or is he?
I did love Ruth and her strength is amazing but she seems to be shrinking physically. I think Louise has captured the ageing of Ruth impeccably. Her capacity to develop her characters and their natural evolution is a real feature of Louise’s writing. Did any of the characters surprise you in their development or lack of it in this book?
I am beginning to feel that Three Pines is not quite the sanctuary that it used to be. The finale was yet another shattering event in that tight community. Does that reflect the world at large at the moment…nowhere seems very safe, be it from natural disasters, cyber threats or threats of war?
The theme of the Angel Michael was a lovely one from Louise. I don’t think we need to debate how that came about. We need Angels in our lives. Apart from Paul (yes you are one) do we all have the feeling that our lives have Angels that appear when we need them most?
I hope all are safe out there, particularly Millie in Florida. You may not have power yet Millie but we have our fingers crossed for you.

Another wonderful book, but of course it would be. The ending really surprised me and my eyes were filling with tears when Ruth went back in to Lacosta. I’ll grab my book for a quick refresher and get back for a more in depth discussion.
The terribly hot courtroom made me think of our summer here in Georgia.

Paul Hochman – I know I’ve been a very slow reader, and with hurricanes and earthquakes blasting everyone from all angles, maybe nobody feels like discussing the book… but I wonder if people are maybe waiting for you to declare the Bistro open for discussions? Or for some questions to get us started?

When I was lucky enough to meet Louise on her book tour this time, I told her that our little group (the die-hards) have taken to calling ourselves “Paul Hochman’s Bistro Bunnies”, and she was going to tell you – I’m hoping we didn’t offend?

Or is it just so busy that you barely have time to type each book before it heads out the door? Whatever it is, we are here when ready, and would love to get a discussion going. I COULD discuss it all by myself, but nobody really wants that, hahaha.

Okay – I think if I’ve read the book everyone else must be finished, too, because I’m the slowest reader in the world… so let’s begin the discussion! First of all, of course, I love, love, loved this book!

I liked the back and forth of the winter/summer and arrest/trial juxtaposition. For me, it kept the climax tantalizingly put off. For some, I know, that kind of writing is maddening. My husband doesn’t like it, because he gets confused as to what happened when, but I thought this was really quite clear and easy to follow. Bits of information were given out slowly, so we started to get a picture of what was happening and who was doing it.

In the last couple of chapters, I threw caution to the wind and read fast – I found it to be one of the most exciting climaxes – right up there with How the Light Gets In! So exciting, and so interesting how everyone maneuvered their loved ones around. Ruth surprised and didn’t surprise, if you know what I mean. I know that she really does kind of love Beauvoir, and she really watched what he did and tried to make some sense of it. When she came back into the Bistro and stuck by Lacoste, I was really moved. I loved that the paramedic thought she was Lacoste’s grandmother. Who else would do what she’d done?

As for who the culprit was, I was surprised – I’m trying to not give too much away in case anyone is still reading, so I won’t say just yet who I thought the culprit was.

These are my main overall thoughts about the book as a whole. What did you think?

That’s a great reward, Pat! Can’t wait to start talking about the book… after everyone’s had a chance to read it, of course!

It’s here! On my Kindle! Had to get up with a sick dog and after the cleanup I found it waiting for me. Some reward! Good dog!!

Hahah – me, too, Barbara! Next week I’ll be telling all about Louise’s appearance here in Seattle!

Hi, Catherine. There are a few of us “die hards” who have been keeping up this spot, waiting for the next book. We talk in between times of all kinds of things, and there are several of them who loved Ralph Cosham’s narration, and miss him, sorely. Of course, what can you do? Those were some very big shoes to fill. Interestingly, as we waited, a few of us started reading an old mystery series – Mrs. Pollifax – and a couple of our people have said how wonderful the narrator is, and how much it adds to their enjoyment. This list is really quiet right now, but please do come back after the book is out when we will be talking up a storm!

I have re-read this series several times. I have started with audio books and I listened to the 3 Pines audio books until Mr. Cosham’s sad death. I must say there are many things I miss when I read. Perhaps I read too fast or just don’t stop to think and enjoy the writing – Ms. Penny’s skills are even more evident in the audio format. Unfortunately, I have tried several times to listen to the new narrator, but I really dislike him. I guess I will just have to re-read the last three books and one to be released this month more carefully to really appreciate the books. Do other readers in this blog find that listening to a well written book enhances your enjoyment of it?

Was there a pronunciation guide for the names of the French names of charcters? I thought I saw one once on here, but now I cannot find it?

Oh, I don’t know, Barbara – I could see that being at least one thread, though there would probably be more layers and meanings the deeper you dug…

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