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”

Today’s paper carried the story of the social media campaign to aid those fearing reprisals yesterday. I was very touched by the thoughtfulness and caring that showed. I am sure the problems of the last few weeks here in the US are known to the world. I understand peaceful protests but do not understand violence. The violence frightens me and I feel fear of my fellow citizens. Good thoughts to those everywhere who seek peace and safety for all.

It was very sad to wake up this morning and see that two people had died. One was a Mum of three children known to my brother in law. The other was the store manager who died a hero saving lives.

The gunman was a madman who was well known for sending abusive mail to defence force personnel who served in the Middle East and then murdering his wife. He was seeking fame for himself. He was a criminal. We will win if we refuse to be divided and terrorized.

The best thing that came out of yesterday was a social media campaign in support of any Muslims who felt frightened by reprisals, that other Australians would ride with them on public transport or give them a ride. Sad that anyone would feel threatened by reprisals but so good to see kindness and caring come from a bad situation.

We must all remember that every act of kindness is a blow against terrorism.

I am always so saddened by these acts. We do seem to get a lot of them in the US, and in Seattle, we have more than our fair share. We are often only drawn to see them when there has been a death, either at their own or the police’s hands. By then, it’s far too late to stop anything from happening. We have an epidemic, I believe here in the US. Support for mental illness has been withdrawn over the past years – budgets lowered, and people left to fare for themselves instead of getting the help they need. We’ve had at least three deaths in the past year in Seattle which would have been avoided if the “perpetrator” had received the mental health care they were asking for. I believe they get desperate. It’s a very sad situation.

I know this person didn’t necessarily seek help, as the insane don’t always know what’s wrong. I do think it’s wonderful that people have responded by recognizing this was one sick individual and not a systemic thing.

Thank you Barbara for the kind thoughts.. It is an ongoing situation. Just arrived home from work to see three people have been released? Or escaped? A number of people at work know the shop well, they work in buildings next door but aren’t there today. We live a couple of hours away. My husband lives in the city during the week so hopefully he will get back home ok. It’s a bizarre situation. Hope everyone is safe!

Anna and Barbara, such a scary situation!! I have heard the news at 6 pm our time and it’s over, but three people were killed, including the gunman, and several injured including one of the policemen. Some hostages did manage to escape, and in the end he let them go, or else they got out at the end. There seems an awful lot of these sort of situations. Barbara, you’ve had a lot in the US. I don’t understand why people get the mindset to do something like that, or why seemingly ordinary young people get converted to this radical extremism. It’s getting so they don’t need to come over here from the Middle East to attack us, but just use home-grown converts. Then no one knows where or who they are until they strike. It’s a weird and scary world, but we can’t live our lives in constant fear – that lets them win – but we have to just carry on as usual.

Anna, Just heard about the hostage situation in Sydney on our 11PM news. So sorry. Our news station just interviewed a man about the situation. His name is Stephen Sander and he is locked in his office building across the street from the shop. His mother lives here in Augusta and she called one of our local TV stations. Modern communications are amazing. I hope the situation can be ended without loss of life or harm to the police or the hostages.

I so want to go back to Jane’s house and experience it again and anew. I hope Louise Penny is keeping it in her back pocket or has taken it out and included it in the new book.

Thank you all for the suggestions of other authors’ works to investigate during “the long wait”. Does anyone else wonder what happened to Jane’s house? I know that she willed it to Clara, but have I missed reference to it? I’m not sure that anyone would be comfortable staying in the living gallery, but I can’t imagine that it has been left sad and alone.

Hello there Kim! Yet another reading suggestion for you. Perhaps some of our LP fans may remember the classic Ellery Queen series. So refreshing to re-discover one of those books at our local library annual used book sales last month: Calamity Town. Rather delightful for someone who might enjoy how skillfully – and rather slyly- the authors weave in the clues for a thoughtful reader to untangle. Rather a fun read overall! (Because I succeeded on this one? – not bad for someone flirting with the approaching age of 80 -years young. Quite a challenge too.)

Prayers for the safety of all folks experiencing the terrible situation in Australia today.

Thanks Jan for the reminder of Ellery Queen. I’ll check the Library and see what they have. When is JP’s next book due? I don’t remember just now if a date has been announced. The sooner the better.

Sylvia, sounds like you have both done very well. I know Australia Post has invested heavily in parcel sorting and delivery services in the last couple of years. They are trying to wind back letter delivery as it is not cost effective but online shoppers are supporting parcels in a big way.

It is raining and 13 degrees today. It iAs been raining with big storms for two weeks but it was hot and the lady two days the temp has plummeted. I see there are big storms across various parts of America and England. Stay safe everyone.

Hi Barbara. I haven’t read any of Rhys Bowens work but will look. We have quite a few Iinspector Banks but haven’t read them for a while.

I am in no way ready for Christmas despite a couple of dedicated shopping trips. I did find a new cook book I was going to wrap and put under the tree for me but the recipes were too tasty. Made Honey roast chicken with spicy potatoes last night which was great. The cold weather means it is slow roasted lamb tonight. I just popped it in the oven. It’s a bit of prep with the spice rub and a mix of ingredients in the oven bag but house smells Christmassy. The cloves and cinnamon in the spice rub are a big contributor I think!

Good luck with the Christmas prep everyone!

Anna, we have just had a major storm that dumped about two feet of snow on northern New Brunswick and as much rain in the south as we normally get in the whole month of December, but in one day! Huge flooding problems! I’m on a hill and keeping warm and dry.

I’m on my way with Christmas preps now. I just packed up a box of gifts and shortbreads for one of my sons, but I still have three more to go. I have a meeting Saturday morning and we’re having a potluck supper with our congregation on Sunday evening, so it doesn’t leave me much time to get my packing and shipping done. After that, I have a lot to prepare for local family and friends, but at least I don’t have to cook Christmas dinner! I go to my stepson’s about an hour and a half away, and I don’t mind driving down there. It depends on the weather just how I time my trip. I usually go Christmas Eve and come home Boxing Day, but it varies. By that time, I’m quite ready to be pampered and well fed!!

Anna, there’s a new Peter Robinson Alan Banks book that came out in October. I pre-ordered it, but when it arrived I was busy with other stuff I had to read to discuss, so I didn’t dare open the box! Then I’ve got into Christmas work, so I’m saving the new book for Boxing Day! It’s called Abattoir Blues, but I have no idea what the title means. I have read them all up to this one. I think this one is about the 22nd. He’s been very prolific!

LP mentioned on Facebook that her friend Rhys Bowen has written a children’s book with her daughter. Bowen’s series about Lady Georgie, 34th in line to the English throne are a fun read. She also writes another series I have not read yet. They are on the ever growing list.
I read the second of Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks novels, A Dedicated Man. Several scenes reminded me Gamache’s warmth and caring for the victim. I really enjoyed it and plan to read them all. None of the libraries in our system had a copy of the first book. I tried one of the Evan Evan novels but no go. I didn’t find the idea of almost everyone named Evan funny.
Started writing Christmas cards today, bought the ham and really must force myself to the Mall. My sister’s gift can come from only one store and it is in the mall. I order as much as I can on line or shop the smaller local businesses when possible.

Barbara, I have never heard of Rhys Bowen, but her books do sound fun – especially to an English girl like me! I’ll keep an eye out for them. And I have enjoyed the Peter Robinson books as I loved the Yorkshire Dales so much. He has some very dramatic endings! I really like Alan Banks, and in the later books he has a delightful Jamaican girl who is a lot of fun. She reminds me of Myrna, but she’s much younger. I hope you enjoy them.

Barbara, the idea of several characters with the name Evan reminded me of a hilarious piece by Dr. Seuss called “The 23 Daves”. It’s about a mother who had 23 sons and she named them all Dave, and then he goes into a wonderful list of all sorts of other names she could have called them. If you remember reading it to your kids, it was in the book The Sneetches and Other Stories. You can imagine what happened when Mom called them into supper. She just opened the door and yelled “Dave” and then they ran her over as they rushed into the house! That man had a marvellous sense of humour!

Oh Yes. Dr. Seuss. I’m going to the children’s section at the library and check it out. The Librarians joke about my choice of books. They say eclectic but they mean weird I think. They are a special group to me. They are animal lovers as well as readers so that gives us much in common.

Anna, on another topic, we were talking about parcels getting to and from Australia. My parcel got to my daughter in just over a week! It would take longer than that to get it across this country! Also her parcel to me arrived yesterday and she mailed it shortly after I mailed hers. I reckon we have both done well this year! Now I have to get ready to ship my parcels to the rest of my kids in Ontario and a granddaughter out west. Shortbreads are made and packed for them, so now it’s just wrapping the other gifts and finding the right box to ship them in. I send them on the bus and they get there very quickly. But there are so many things to do this time of year! I haven’t got cards done yet, except a few to relatives in England, and Christmas is only two weeks away!

We’ve been having a severe rain storm, probably flooding, but at least we don’t have to shovel it! I think it will be done by tomorrow.

I agree Julie. All good things take time. Louise has a very loyal following and it keeps growing as we introduce our friends to her fabulous books.

I too am grateful for this cozy space!

Looks like Louise came sixth in the Goodreads which was won by Mr Mercedes from Stephen King. That won narrowly from The Silkworm. It is simply a popularity contest. All it tells us is that more people have heard of these books. We need to keep spreading the word!

Anna – you are right! Of course, Louise (with the help of Paul and his crew) are doing a fine job. She told of the first book being published and thinking that she and Michael should be getting ready for a “book tour”. When her publisher (I think this was the English publisher) said that there was no point, as nobody knew about the book yet, she and Michael decided to do it on their own. She definitely said it was a “lesson in humility”. When you’ve just published this wonderful book, but nobody’s had a chance to read it and love it and want to meet you yet, nobody shows up to the book signings… It’s a very different story now – standing room only in really large venues – it’s not like she could go to a little tiny bookstore now – the place would be overrun! So it takes time… but Louise will soon be there – the books are too good to not give her her place in history!

Thank you, Paul, for always being there in the background! And thanks for setting up this cozy place where we can drop in whenever we get a chance. It’s something special to look forward to at the end of my day!

Hi Karen, it’s nice to hear from you! I think if we all put our posts at the very end, then we would have to explain what we were responding to, so it’s easier to reply to the one we want to comment on. I think the best way to find the later posts is to look at the dates, as Anna suggested. I just look at the last page, I don’t attempt to go through them all. It’s so nice to be able to come in here into the cozy Bistro; it’s always warm and welcoming!

The best way I found was to just scroll through looking at the dates of the posts. Usually the most recent is at the end but sometimes the conversation has moved forward and I go back to reply.

Every time I sign on I see that there have been more comments, but have no way of knowing where the new ones appear. Is there some way to tag them so I can follow new posts?

Hi, Karen, at one time, we were posting at the end and mentioning the name of the person we were responding to. I’m not sure I always do that, however.

Oh! I just looked at the link for the terrible storm in Queensland! How awful. The ice storm we had last Feb. was very destructive but nothing like this. Our problem was mainly from the many old trees falling and taking electric , phone and cable lines down. The newer Subdivisions have buried utilities but the older ones along with the city do not.
Last week 4 very large, old trees fell when a heavy rainstorm and high winds struck less than 3/4 of a mile from us. The ice storm damaged the trees and now more will fall with each storm.
I hope the clean-up will run smoothly in Queensland. The emergency services and the local, state and federal agencies involved here seemed to be at odds with each other….As was to be expected.

From what I saw on the news the clean up moved quickly. The Army cleared the roads while other emergency services were able to support those with damaged homes. We are pretty lucky in that each state has an Emergency Managment centre that coordinates the response to crises and we have a few. We also have a volunteer organisation called the SES, State Emergency Service, and they answer calls to put tarps on any damaged roof, cut up fallen trees etc. They are an amazing volunteer group. Think the fire brigade in Three Pines. Actually they are like our rural fire service, also volunteers.

We are having storms where I live all week. They started about 3 pm yesterday with loads of thunder and lightning. Then at 11 pm I was awoken by the loudest crack of thunder and continuous noise and light. I have never heard anything like it. The thunder did not stop at any time. I am sure I will have to include it in a book sometime.


Nice and warm in here. We had a wonderful, chaotic thanksgiving. It snowed the day before and we got a couple inches.

I’ve been working many hours. Was suppose to work today(Saturday ) but was sick in bed all day. Sore throat and very blah. I must go into work tomorrow. Won’t be off again till Thursday.

So sad about PD James. I finally read a book of hers last month. Did Penny’s book make it? I voted all 3 rounds for it!

How is everyone? I confess I did not read through every posting since my last visit. Too daunting. Sorry!

My grand daughter helped me decorate the house for christmas. Next Saturday we chop down our tree!

Take care. Blessings to all!!

Hi Lizzy. Sorry you haven’t been well. I hope you are feeling better.
I haven’t heard what the finl results were on the Good reads competition.

My daughter spent the day putting up the tree today. I can’t believe that Christmas is so close. I can not imagine being ready.

Hi Lizzy. Hope you are much better today. You have been on my mind. Missed your posts but realize life is hectic. I mostly stop by and read only.
Anna and Lizzy, you have a head start on me with decorations. I did get Mother’s antique vase out last week. Now to get my branch for the bourbon and branch arrangement. Christmas tree lots opened Thurs. So I can get a branch or I might just use an artificial one. I wish I could have a live tree, but asthma stopped that years ago.
I hope the destructive weather lets up . Many areas have had it so bad.
Hi to all.

Hi Barbara,
Of course you must do Bourbon and branch!! Try to resist sipping from the vase until Christmas if you can. I am sure the flavoura will be better developed by then. Of course, if you use an artificial branch I am not sure how it will taste…..

Sorry to hear your area has been suffering with the storms. It seems a particularly bad time all around the world. Fingers crossed for a more settled month.

Hope you are improving Lizzy.

The whole storm came out of nowhere and left everybody stunned. We have had some bizarre wether in the last little while. It was fortunate in that one that injuries were minor as it hit early evening. Certainly the damage was tremendous.

Sad news today with the death of PD James. I know there are readers of her novels in the Bistro. She was 94.

I do wish all a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope everyone spend time with someone they love.

I just got to the Bistro, late at night! So sorry to have missed wishing my US friends a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope it was happy! Will you all be off to do your Christmas shopping tomorrow at the Black Friday sales? And why is it “Black” Friday? I associate “Black” with a stock market crash!

Anna, do you have celebrations at this time of year in Australia? In my part of the world, we got to stay home because we had a snow storm last night and into today. It was a nor’easter; I’m not quite sure where it originated, but it brought a lot of snow to the New England coastal states and up the Bay of Fundy into New Brunswick. It was mostly rain in Nova Scotia.
Sorry to hear about PD James; she will be missed.

We don’t have a Thanksgiving equivalent at this time of year. We are gearing up for Christmas and the end of the school year. Our school year is the same as the calender year so the big summer break is Dec to January. It’s not long by American standards. Most kids have 6 weeks off. Private schools tend to break up in the next couple of weeks, next Thursday for us, so they get a bit longer. Public schools finish just before Christmas. Most schools go back on or around Jan 27 as Jan 26 is Australia Day.

Hard to describe Australia Day. It commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 at Port Jackson in what is now Sydney. It is a time of BBQs and picnics. Not the same as Thanksgiving, more of a community celebration, maybe like Fourth of July? It has been controversial as for the Indigenous population that is the day they were invaded so tricky to navigate in some respects.

It is extreme weather everywhere. We had a burst of very hot weather and then the heater back on last night. There have been bad fires in some states and poor Queensland has been battered by storms. Brisbane received extensive damage yesterday.

We are watching the storms across North America. Please all stay safe.

I always wonder about Black Friday as a shopping day too! We have the Boxing Day sales.

Anna -Australia Day sounds a bit like the Fourth of July, but also a bit like Columbus Day for us. Columbus Day (the second Monday in October) is controversial here as it signifies when native Americans were over-run by the Europeans, and basically wiped out, or herded onto ever smaller pieces of land. Attempts to mollify the native American faction by re-naming the day, always manages to upset the Italian American community. And, of course, these days, it’s nothing but a big shopping day, and not a real holiday at all. It’s a federal holiday, so banks, schoold and post offices are closed, but not much else, and it seems to start the rush for sales for the Christmas season…

Columbus Day sounds similar for controversy and 4th July for methods of celebration, although no veterans marches that day. Our veterans all march on ANZAC day which is a more somber occasion. It is very interesting, the similarities and the differences in what we commemorate and how and what it reveals about national psyches. Australia Day is relaxed and ANZAC Day is sad and somber but both have aspects of Fourth of July. There is an essay of comparison there I am sure.

Sylvia, I think it’s Black Friday because merchants hope for enough profit to put them firmly in the black for the year! No citation to back that theory, though.

Sylvia – the story I’ve heard about why they call it Black Friday is that this is the day of the year when many stores finally use black ink (instead of red, signifying that they are still losing money for the year) to record their finances. I think it’s a bit of a stretch to think that very many of the stores don’t make money until this late in the year, but a poor Christmas season CAN break a store!

Personally, I wouldn’t be caught dead in that kind of crowd, and I don’t really think the deals are so wonderful that it could entice me. I usually do my Christmas shopping at the computer these days, and have them gift-wrapped and delivered. So civilized… and why I feel so sorry for the residents of Three Pines with their dial-up connection. Of course – they get a lot in return…

Thanks Julie and Barbara, for the explanation of “Black” Friday. Yes, it is a bit hard to believe that the retailers have been in the red up to now, and one massive shopping season can put them in the black and give them a profitable year. But Christmas is the main shopping season, where masses of people want to give gifts to friends and family at the one time.

Happy Thanksgiving to all US folks. The very bright sunlight is pouring across the patio and on the lovely assorted leaves that almost cover the grass. The variety of colors is amazing. It is cool and very windy but not cold. We never know if we will need winter or fall clothes for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
I stop by several times a day.
Hi to all. I thought of listing all the people who used to post regularly but feared I might omit someone in error.
Good thoughts to all.

Happy Thanksgiving to US people, and happy day to all. We are bit more relaxed now, with posting. I know several people are re-re-reading the novels, and I will so enjoy a further discussion of those. I stop by once a day now, when I first open up my computer, just to see what’s up.

Thinking of Thanksgiving makes me recall the wonderful meals held at Peter and Clara’s home. I know there was one which was a dish that Peter’s family used to make, apparently (and now that we know them, I can’t imagine it!), which had the turkey, gravy, stuffing, and maybe potatoes all smooshed together into a casserole, which apparently looked absolutely awful but tasted divine! I should go back and find that and give it a try.

It actually may have have been me who mentioned it. I remember we had a previous discussion on houses. As Julie reminds us they are a well described feature in LPs books. I think it is one of the many things that attract us to her novels, the characters live in places we enjoy and want to visit. We are drawn to the comfort of the Bistro and the the B and B and the homes. These are not palaces but places with heart and soul that are an extension of the character. Both people and places are a big draw card in these stories.

Do you find that is true in other books you read? I think the ones I return to often have that feature. Perhaps books without well drawn places of comfort are harder to reside in!

Well, Peter Robinson’s books describe well where his chief character, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, lives in the later novels after his wife, Sandra, has left him. He buys a cottage in a hamlet a short walk away from a village outside the bigger town, Eastvale, where he works. One of the criminals broke in and put date rape drug in his favourite whiskey, and then visited him in the evening. When Alan drank his Laphroeg, he started to get woozie, then he lost control of his muscles and couldn’t stand up, let alone walk, and the criminal then set fire to the cottage. Luckily, his assistant, Annie Cabott, came by and rescued him. Anyway, after he recovered, he rebuilt the cottage and that’s very well described as well. It’s his oasis of peace when the pressures of work get to him, so the reader enjoys visiting him there. But the same detail is not extended to other characters’ homes.

In How the Light Gets In, the description of Jean-Guy’s apartment in Montreal and the state it’s in gives the reader a very clear idea of his state of mind. He’s just about at rock bottom then and it’s heartbreaking! I love the old-fashioned comfortableness of Emilie’s home with the Gamaches now living in it. We haven’t heard that they have done anything with it, but just enjoy it as it is.

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