LOUISE PENNY’S

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.

Discussion on “The Bistro”

Hi, to all. Sylvia, I’ve recently read 3 Peter Robinson novels and started a third yesterday. I did not know of him until he was mentioned here. I am really enjoying them. It is always exciting to begin reading a new author when there are so many books already written. My Librarian friends joke about how I read through so many years of work in such a short time. I like that I can see the writer and the characters grow deeper and richer. I am enjoying the descriptions of Yorkshire as I found the landscape very interesting too.

Don’t worry Sylvia, we love Canada. We will be in Whistler on Monday as a matter of fact! The plan is to do a road trip across Canada at some point. Obviously Autumn is a better time to travel distances than mid winter by the sound of things. I hope you are staying warm. Parts of Australia were 46 C and more the other day. That’s nearly 90 C difference between temperatures in different parts of our worlds. Whew!

I am glad to hear everything went well across Christmas especially that you were safe traveling. With the weather reports it was looking scary there for a while.

I was saying before I have Hovey Manor and the Townships on the wish list and my husband wants to show us Halifax and St Johns where he has been before. I sure hope we have enough chance to get around and all the things we want.

Glad you are ok Julie. The landslips look scary.

I know what you are saying about books. I am the same. I see. I buy. I love browsing in stores though, an experience I don’t get online. And I still love holding books in my hand.

Anna, I agree about browsing in book stores – I do it whenever I’m near one – and often come out with something I had no idea I wanted, hahaha. But the call to see what I wanted would find me not being able to think of a thing!

Hi everyone, Happy New Year!! I’ve just come back to the Bistro and enjoyed the conversations. If anyone asks me a question about what I want or what I think, my mind immediately goes blank!!

With the stormy weather at Christmas, I stayed home and enjoyed reading the latest Peter Robinson book, and it was a good one! Then I went with my goodies to my stepson’s for Boxing Day and came home that night. It was a fine clear day on Boxing Day, with the nasty weather all passed out of our area. Right now we are in a deep freeze, expected to be about -40 Celsius with the windchill. I’m staying home!

Anna, it’s really interesting and exciting that you are coming over to North America. I hope you’ll get a chance to see a lot of places – there’s lots to see! Perhaps you can get to Canada too. The distances are huge, but there’s so much beauty!

All the best to everyone in 2015!

Thank you, Anna! We are lucky in that we’re situated in a place that seldom has any flooding. People in our area, for some very odd reason, decided to put regular soil on top of clay soil when building housing developments. Since many are on hills, when the ground gets saturated (as it often does in the winter), the “good” soil slides right off the clay soil. I’d have thought that engineers might have anticipated that, but it appears not. At any rate, so far, none of the slides have been in Seattle proper (though I’m sure that time will come yet). But some of the outlying communities, I think, have also clear-cut trees to make way for the developments, and that has meant that slides are even more likely. It’s very sad to think of how many people lose their homes every year, and I’m not sure what insurance can or will do for them. It’s heartbreaking to see the pictures of these homes, and know how devastating it is for the people in that community.

So glad you don’t need your arm twisted to visit Seattle! 😀 Our Seahawks are doing very well the past two years, and at times in the fall and early winter, it’s all anyone talks about here. When we went to see the Christmas ships this year, one yacht was all decked out in Seahawk colors and a 12th Man theme – the cheers from the restaurant were deafening!

I would be the same if anyone called me from a bookstore to see what I wanted. My problem is the second I think I might want something, I get online and buy it. There isn’t the “wanting” phase anymore, which probably means I miss out on the anticipation of reading something new.

Thanks Nancy. Will do. Is all well with you?

In a nod to our earlier foodie conversation I have thrown the ham bone in a pot with requisite vegetables and herbs. Smells like the bistro might. I am checking our ski destination website for the snow to fully induce the right feeling of the moment.

My dear husband is standing in a bookstore texting me to see if I want anything! I can’t think of any suggestions. How dire is that!

Hi Anna (and all). Have been enjoying all the conversation but of course I perked up when you said you had no new suggestions for reading. I doubt if you can get her books in the bookstores any more (she died a few years ago) but on Amazon you might look for Eleanor Taylor Bland mysteries. The first one is Dead Time. I love her books and have collected them all. Her detective is a black woman named Marti MacAlister who would fit in quite well in the Bistro. Check her out and you won’t be disappointed.

Wow Barbara, that is a meal after my daughter’s heart. She loves all meat but bacon and pork are standout favourites! We have pork roast almost weekly because she loves it so much! I shall have to make a version of that meal our New Years dish.

I am proud of your husband too for buying books. I have kind of run out of books so am looking around for options. I would like to get the audion books of LPs. That is a good idea for the plane!

Julie, I have often considered the idea of a meal plan and have even tried it for the same reasons. Then I find the weather changes and it’s too hot or too cold for what I had planned. We can go from summer to winter in a day here!

You don’t have to convince me about Seattle, I love the place. I have been there a few times, albeit briefly on each occasion. We even did the Underground tour. I am also a Seahawks supporter so go team!

I shall look out for the film you suggested, I like that idea. I don’t know what Uni Erin will go too. It will depend on how well she goes at school and the various entry requirements and whether she does the SATs. Some Unis need the SATs and a couple don’t. The last two years of high school here are pretty intense and culminate in state based exams. Not sure I need her worrying about SATs on top of that! Anyway we are working on it. It’s early days in the planning process.

Ah, good for you, Barbara! One of these days I will have to get the recorded books, too, as now I really have a hankering to hear Gamache’s voice! And so glad you got books for Christmas! Your food sounds so mouthwatering – I am drooling up here in the corner. I have so gotten into a rut where I ask my husband what he wants for dinner, because I haven’t got a clue what I will make, and he always just says “whatever you want to fix”. Well, the point is that I don’t know what I want, hahaha. I realized that I don’t mind cooking at all – but I very much mind trying to figure out what I’m going to cook. So I did a very odd thing – I made up a month’s worth of menus – no night the same within a 31 day month, and I intend to follow that blueprint. No more decisions to make – plus, shopping is easier, because I know what I will need for the next weeks! So far, of course, we’re only 5 days into it, but so far, so good. I find I’m almost looking forward to making dinner, because I know what I’ll do – silly of me, but there you go.

Anna – I vote for your coming for a visit to Seattle – even in summer, it’s usually not very warm, hahahaha. To me, it’s paradise, because it never gets very hot or very cold. That said, every year there are a few days that break that rule – especially hot summer days. Once it’s over 80, I’m uncomfortable, and over 90 and I’m miserable! We get quite a few over 80 days, and once in awhile hotter than that. But for the most part, we have glorious summers and falls, and cold and rainy winters and springs. Which University is your daughter going to go to? You’ll be in the Washington DC area, I take it? I think that would be a wonderful place to live. Almost as nice as New York City, which is my favorite city in the world. If I were going to go to Washington, I’d watch the film “Born Yesterday” (the original, 1950 one with Judy Holliday and Broderick Crawford) and get together a list of places to go and things to do from that. So much of my understanding of places and events comes from movies and books, hahaha. When my husband and I did visit New York City, he was amazed that I knew what to do – where things were, etc., even that I knew that every neighborhood had cute little restaurants that were absolutely worth checking into, and that they were very affordable. I’d been waiting for that first trip for a lifetime, it seemed, and New York did NOT disappoint. I expect Washington will be like that, too.

The traditional southern New Years meal is Blackeye peas, collards (a green leafy vegetable) cooked with smoked hog jowl (similar to bacon or streak-a-lean), rice, baked sweet potatoes or sweet potato casserole, baked pork loin or some other pork dish. Pecan pie or sweet potato pie for dessert if sweet potatoes aren’t served with the meal. Cooked tomatoes and corn bread are also served. It is a treat because we don’t eat so much pork other times. Even the tomatoes are seasoned with bacon grease. Not very healthy.
At last, I have the recording of Bury Your Dead by Ralph Cosham. What a treasure. He was as good as some of you said. Sad to think he won’t be reading LP’s future books. I don’t think I mentioned that we enjoyed the licorice pipes and gave some to friends.
I’ve read the first two Peter Robinson books and have requested the next three from the Library. They’re good.
I did get books from my husband for Christmas. I’m proud of him.

Strange but it is rainy here too in a very dull overcast way. Better than the heat we have had though so I can’t complain. It’s just hard to be motivated when it looks so dull.
It is time for our tree to come down too but I have to wait for my daughter to do that in a couple of days as she is away.
Our time in the States will be limited to two or three years but it is interesting that it has cropped up now when I “know” people over there. At least I can ask questions and not feel like a complete tourist on arrival. I wish to be a traveller and a resident, like the distinction we made between readers and fans. Readers implies a more considered outlook I feel as does travelers. Tourists are often viewed with a tolerant disdain!
I am putting together my wish list f travel destinations. Do feel free to contribute suggestions. I am not sure exactly how much travel we will get in as my husband will be working and Erin will be in University at some point I imagine depending on when we arrive. Cooler destinations are preferred or cooler times to travel! Looking at the weather over there, it is pretty cool across the country right now.
Stay safe all. Good idea for the soup Barbara. Pea and ham is a standard over here but I do a ham and vegetable with white beans that I like. Ok, now I am hungry. I shall peruse the cookbooks I received for Christmas and see what can be done.

Hi, We are having a quiet rainy Sunday afternoon here. Perfect for making ham soup from the Christmas ham leftovers. It also fits with my plan to try to empty out the freezer. It’s like a treasure hunt when I delve into the disorganized assortment of whatever is in there. I’m trying to “get organized”……again. Only one large job remains and the putting away of Christmas will be complete. The Christmas poinsettias must be brought in from the family graves and stored away.
I hope everyone had a Blessed Christmas and Happy Holiday Season. Cathryne, I’m so glad your husband was able to be home. Anna, I hope your mother was able to enjoy some of the happiness, closeness and loving spirit of the season.
I can’t believe you will be coming to our shores Anna! We welcome you and your family to North America. You said you had taken a road trip across the USA . That is some I have always thought would be so interesting. The landscape, people and history varies so much.
Your post of Dec 22nd describing the bistro was beautiful. I was reminded of sitting in the glow of the fireplace and quietly enjoying the Christmas trees of long, long go. As you said the firelight reflected on the ornaments. Ours were beautiful and delicate ones made between the Wars in Germany. I don’t know what happened to them. Probably discarded for more “Modern” ones. Must be stylish, you know. I would love to have just one of them now.
More later—-soup needs attention and my leg has gone to sleep from the weight of Petey sleeping across it.

We are big Newsroom fans too Julie. We have seen all three seasons and I daresay they will be bought on DVD or Apple TV to rewatch extensively. I love the version of Thats How I got to Memphis in the final episode.

Aaron Sorkin is an amazing writer but not loved by TV execs it seems. That is why he left after season four of West Wing too. He understand that the audience is so much smarter than TV developers think, that people like smart TV, they want to be challenged, they like to think. I also like that he uses real actors and not just TV personalities in his performances.

There are some interesting videos on YouTube of West Wing and Newsroom cast members talking at different events about the shows. I am not sure Aaron Sorkin would be the easiest person to work with but perhaps because he is so passionate about what he does.

I hope the New Year is bringing piece to all.

I agree – he probably would be difficult, but the results are so good! We love the music from the last few episodes, too. “Ave Maria” is given such beautiful treatment for the wedding, and “Shenandoah” for the second-to-last episode, as well as “How I Got to Memphis”. My hubby is always on YouTube looking for these songs and so we have been listening to them while we are at our computers for weeks now. So beautiful. Some people have a real knack for weaving music into a story – we think that Nora Ephron was wonderful at that, too. The soundtracks for her movies are great!

Back to humdrum for us tomorrow – time to take down the Christmas decorations and begin the long slog through the cold and rainy months here. (Seems like I don’t mind them so much on the run up to Christmas, but afterwards, it seems like such a long time before we can reasonably expect anything fun. And this is with me with several fun trips planned this year!

Delightful scene you paint Julie! And Barbara what is a traditional Southern New Years feast? That sounds like something I am going to have to experience. It may well be that we will be living in the States come next New year, well at least my husband will and we will join a few months later. In preparation we have learnt the position of all states and are working on their capitals. I used to know them because my husband and I did a road trip across the U.S. years ago and made sure we knew them all but I am rusty.

Thanks to people I have got to know in the Bistro, the prospect of the move is a touch less daunting. I will be relying on you all to prepare me for the change.

It is bright and hot down here as the New Year takes hold. A far cry from the snow and chill which I see covers much of the Northern hemisphere. Mind you, we are looking forward to the all of that. I look forward to a few days time when I will be snuggled by a fire sipping a mocha and thinking I am in the Bistro. Much better than sitting in front of a fan though I dare say some of you would swap.

In additional preparation for our move to Washington, we have been bingewatching, one of the words of 2014, The West Wing. I am not sure if there are fans among this crowd but it does remind me of Louise’s heart and writing. Both are filled with a hope and idealism against the struggle of life’s darker moments. They both contain acts which are more stage drama than anything else, where the humanity reaches out and touches you.

West Wing has been criticized for its idealism but in truth ideals are what we strive for. The hope in shows like WW and in books like LPs are what lifts us from our own lives. To imagine that there are better ways to act, better people to be, is what inspires us to be those people and act that way. Hope is never bad. Striving is what makes failing acceptable.

My resolution for the new year is to believe I can be more than I am today.

Anna – I didn’t realize you might be moving to the ‘States! You will be a very welcome addition. The West Wing is one of my favorite shows – written by my very favorite TV writer – Aaron Sorkin! His latest – The Newsroom – was the smartest show I have ever seen – and touched my heart profoundly. He has his finger on the pulse of what’s wrong with the US today – and how those who would fix it need to be idealistic to a ridiculous degree. It was roundly criticized from all sides because we don’t like to be reminded that we could and ought to do better. To my mind, it’s the smartest thing on television. It’s not on TV anymore, though, and I think Mr. Sorkin was so stung by the last round of criticism that he has avowed not to work in television again. His movies are much more critically acclaimed, and, of course, there is much more money to be made in movies. Unfortunately, TV is the medium in which he shone, in my opinion. His movies are “okay” – his TV was groundbreaking! Ah well – if you get a chance to watch The Newsroom, do it. You can practically bingewatch it in a day, as there were only three seasons, the first two 10 episodes long and the third 6 episodes.

I would switch places for someplace a tad warmer than here, but really, I don’t have it very bad here in the Pacific Northwest. We have just had a run of cold, clear days, but cold here means just a few degrees above freezing in the daytime and a few degrees below freezing in the night. The sun has been very welcome, and has helped me to kickstart my resolution to walk every day, rain or shine. As you know, it’s always easier to do that when it shines! 😀

Hope all are well and happy…

Yes, Happy New Year! I can see everyone now – Gabri baking, while nursing a hangover, Ruth rapping her cane on the floor extra hard, as she tries not to spill her vase, which still has some of Clara’s scotch in it, and the fire burning cheerfully, while we wait for our French Toast…. Our group huddles together and TALKS THINGS OVER…

HAPPY NEW YEAR ! A picture of fireworks over the Sydney Opera House is on the front page of the local paper and it is already Jan 2nd there. Must go and cook my part of our traditional Southern New Year’s meal as it is 9:18 AM here.
I pray 2015 will be a better year for all people of good will. I am so glad that 2014 brought us The Bistro.

Merry Christmas to you all and the blessing of whichever season you celebrate. I have been very grateful to travel with you over the last few months. I hope the journey is long.
Peace for the coming year and rest for those who need it.

Merry Christmas! It is 7:14 AM here. I wish the blessings of Christmas for all here in the Bistro and out. You are a special group of peoploe. Just think, last Christmas we didn’t know each other. Memories of Christmasses past fill my mind. I hope everyone has a special day. Good thoughts to all.

6:05 a.m. on the U.S. Pacific Northwest coast. Barbara, I loved that special touch of inclusiveness in your message. Not all fans of LP might visit the Bistro, but we have been much blessed and bound together in heart and spirit by her extraordinary books. She is truly a dear soul and has given us many precious “gifts that cannot be wrapped”.

Thank you all for the kind thoughts and prayers for Mum. She was much better in the last two days so. It is working. Now that is a great gifts for Christmas! Well done

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