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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.

3,650 replies on “The Bistro”

Anna, Miss Fisher’s Mysteries program last night was about Christmas in July. I had never heard of it and rushed to the internet to search. When “Christmas in July” is used here ( USA), it refers to “sales” or the gathering of items to be distributed to the underprivileged at Christmas. Of course we in the Southern USA don’t have white Christmases.

Sylvia I wasn’t trying to imply Olivia was mean, perish the thought, with my comment he would only serve gluten free if he liked you. It was this sudden image of Francouer coming in and wanting gluten free and Olivier exacting his revenge!!

Anna, I loved the way Olivier handled Francoeur! He’s a whole different case! Evil personified! I think I will always have an aversion to anyone whose first name is Sylvain because I will always think of the evil Francoeur.

Luckily, I’ve never met a Silvain – and of course, now, I hope I never do. I don’t think I could hide my feelings, hahaha.

Hello newcomers! It’s delightful to have you with us in The Bistro! We Three-Piners have had so much fun discussing these wonderful books and the growth in characters, etc. I hope you’ll enjoy it all as much as we do.

As far as gluten-free goes, I think that if someone needed gluten-free foods, Olivier would be happy to supply them. I don’t believe he would do so only if he liked you; I think he is a much better host than that! So don’t worry about gluten-free, Paxton, I’m sure it will be there for you!

Like Julie, I was a bit annoyed at Jean-Guy in the early days, but realizing how much he cared for and looked up to Armand, I came to love him too. And then in The Beautiful Mystery, things fell apart and then went from bad to worse in How the Light Gets In – until the last chapter. That was such a huge relief, I cried along with him and Armand as they watched Reine-Marie escort Annie down the aisle. We have all got so involved with the characters and what has happened to them that we have shed many tears at various places in the stories. They don’t seem fictional to me, but more like someone is telling me the latest happenings about mutual friends.

Mary, I believe there are many sweet villages like Three Pines in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Those states are mainly small towns and villages, like my beloved New Brunswick, Canada. I don’t know enough about any of them to say if they are really like Three Pines, but I think there’s a closeness among people in small towns and villages that doesn’t exist in big cities.

Does anyone know if when Louise started this series she knew the plot lines for her first 4 books? If this was asked and answered already I apologize. And is there a huge chart or map that keeps track of all the characters as they evolve? Agent Nichol certainly changes, and since Armand was to her home and met her father, why is she still so prickly?

Interesting questions Susan. We have pondered whether Louise knew. There are links somewhere to various interview she has given and I think she had an idea for her continuing arc but how much detail she had for various plot lines, I am not sure. I know this was discussed so others might remember more clearly.

I will try and find the links for you to the interviews.

I am not aware of a chart as you describe. Interestingly, there is a feature on some Kindle Books that is called X-ray that tells you about the characters. It doesn’t seem to be active on my copies of LPs books

Hi Susan, I think Yvette Nichol is prickly because that’s the way she has always been – a reaction to life at home, mainly, I think. She is still young enough to overcome it, however, and I believe Isabelle Lacoste could help her to do so. Isabelle has the patience needed for such a task, and she’ll need every bit of it with Yvette. At the same time, Yvette may work much better with a woman.

Susan, I was lucky enough to be able to see Louise speak here in the Seattle area, and someone asked how far ahead she had planned things, especially as pertaining to the Arnot case. She said that when she first started, she had researched quite a bit and found that prospective publishers want you to have not one, but at least two books written before they will consider publishing you (or, at least the ones she found out about). So she had worked out a lot of what would happen very early on, and then when the time came for another book, she could dip into her drawer and see what still had to be developed. She also said she left “clues” or “seeds” of new ideas for books in the current book, and she’d go back and develop one or some of those, and sometimes, she found she’d left a seed, but couldn’t find a way to develop it so it was left to wither and die… But the story arc for the Arnot case, I believe, was fully developed by the third book, and she just had to write the stories around it. That’s to the best of my recollection, so if I’ve got it wrong, of course, please don’t shoot me, hahaha.

At the suggestion of my wife, who has read every book, I started reading the Gamache series late last year in the order published. While I am a “newbie” and have a lot of catching up to do, I am thoroughly enjoying each mystery. The reason? I like the writing style of authors who paint vivid pictures of characters and settings that in my mind’s eye feel as familiar as my family and neighbourhood. I love the twists and turns, character personalities, descriptions of the settings, and how several themes are woven together to solve the mystery. I enjoy reading Halifax author Anne Emery’s Collins-Burke mysteries so reading the stories by Louise Penny perfectly expands my page-turning reading enjoyment. And now, on to Bury Your Dead – appropriate for Halloween!

Hi Michael. I think you cite most of the exact same reasons so many of us love Louise’s books.

I haven’t heard of the series you mention. I will have to have a look. We were discussing what other books we could read while waiting for our next hit of LP.

I envy you, as you are still exploring the Gamache series for the first time. Bury Your Dead was my entry into the series. It is a favourite.

Just a word of warning, careful what you read here as there is an assumption all books have been read and we don’t want to spoil anything for you. It’s a great journey you are on!

Julie, Words that sound like what they mean are wonderful. “Popinjay” is certainly one and very appropriate for Beauvoir’s manner of dressing in the earlier books. I do love words.

Brilliant word Barbara.

So nice to see new faces, figuratively of course. While so much was discussed in the re reads, if anyone did not see them I am sure we are more than happy to go over any ground. After all, those who did have had time to think and digest and new insights are always being generated.

As Barbara said, all opinions are welcome. Many people found the last book a departure from form for several characters. That was challenging for some and exciting for others. We had become so used to our Three Pine friends. Did we type cast them?

Characters that are so well drawn and engaging become our friends and we do depend on them doing certain things. Which is not to say that they can’t grow and change and surprise us. How often have real life friends caused you dissonance when their behaviour did not match your expectations?

I’m wondering–after reading all the glowing comments about The Long Way Home–whether anyone else found the book disappointing. I did. I thought both Armand and Clara behaved quite uncharacteristically throughout and for no reason I could see. I thought the plot was kind of contrived. I’m hoping for better in the next of Louise’s novels. Previously each novel– I thought–was brilliant and they got more brilliant and deep until we got to The Long Way Home. I don’t know if this is a space to say uncomplimentary things, but now I’ve gone and done it.

Susan, We do not all agree on the books. It is enlightening to see opposing opinions and the reasons for them. Although a devoted reader of the series, I was disappointed in TLWH. I was quite outspoken in the discussion of the book as I was appalled at Clara’s behavior. It will never be my favorite book, but I anxiously await Book 11.
This IS the place to express your feelings and ideas about the books. If you go back and read the posts for TLWH and The Beautiful Mystery, you will see some spirited discussions.
Just join in when you wish…The Bistro is always open.

Welcome, everyone – so happy to have some new faces here, around the fire at the Bistro! I love hearing people’s favorite character and why. While I’m completely in love with Armand, it’s Jean Guy who I feel is probably my “favorite”. He has grown so much, been through so much, and I’m so happy he’s in a good place now. He really had me worried in How the Light Gets In, so it’s been a relief to see how well he’s doing now.

I love the books, especially the characters and settings. I’d like to live in a community like Three Pines, can anyone recommend any in the Northeast United States?

Mary, isn’t the idea that there might be a place so wonderful that we could really live, something magical? I don’t know of any, but I do know that there are lots of small towns and villages all over that would probably be very much like it. I’ve always wanted to live in a place with a “village green” – that people would use as a communal “back yard”. I love to see Ruth take her beer walk every day at five to the bench on the green. I’m sure that many of her poems were born there.

Mary, I would love to visit the Northeast USA. Particularly in Autumn.

I would be curious to know if anyone does live in a place like Three Pines. To me it is the ideal but I can imagine it might not be to every ones taste. My Aunt lives in a small town, though bigger than Three Pines. The positives are she is well known, well cared for especially now she is widowed, and it is not far to the shops or church. It is not small enough that there is the same communal existence that our Three Piners enjoy, the Bistro, the sharing of regular meals.

Anna – funny you should mention the pros and cons of living in a village. I had some friends who lived in a very small town that I went to visit. We stayed up till all hours talking. In the morning, no less than 5 people called to say they noticed the lights on late and was someone sick? I found that incredibly intrusive, hahaha. If I’d known the people, I might have found it endearing, but I remember being kind of creeped out about it. I mean, how’s a person ever going to move a body in a wheelbarrow and leave it in the vestibule of another inn if everyone’s watching all the time?

Spoiler re book 10. I wonder if Clara will begin to think that if she had not gone looking for Peter, he might have made it home.

Cora, we had a big discussion on that point – I’m one who really wonders if this will gnaw at Clara. You can see that I’m fully vested in these characters – they’re very real to me, and I find myself worrying about them more and more, hahaha.

Welcome and Hi to Daryl and Paxton. Glad to have you join us here at the Bistro. We truly enjoy reading and learning together. We are from different backgrounds and are multinational.
You might like to read the posts for this site from the beginning if you haven’t. Not from the beginning of the reread, although I am. The books are even better with the addition of other’s insights.
Again, Welcome!

Now that is an interesting question. My first thought was that of course, Olivier would serve gluten free………then I thought, only if he likes you!

Hello, Anna,

It’s so hard to pick a favorite. I like Armand Gamache best because he is so strong and good in every aspect in spite of, or perhaps partly because of, all the misery and horror he has witnessed. He respects humanity. Yet I love Clara for her sweetness, her artistry, her kindness, and her wonderfully useless super power of managing to ever be smeared with paint or food. And I love Ruth for her poetry and ferocious insight. I want to share cocoa and cookies with Myrna; eat at the bistro and gossip with Gabri and Olivier; research my Québécois maternal ancestry with Reine-Marie; and practice archery with Jean Guy.

Who is your favorite character?

Like you I find it hard to pick. Reine-Marie seems so elegant and so in love with Armand, who of course I also adore. I have to love Myrna. I too am surrounded by books and love the thought of plopping in her bookshop for cocoa and a long chat.

I am glad it is hard to pick a true favourite really. It means the characters are all uniquely interesting and people I want to spend time with. Jean Guy is growing on me but he was a little annoying at first with his obsession with his looks and we have all had different feelings toward poor Agent Nichol. I like the growing relationship between Ruth and Jean Guy, they soften each others edges.

Clara used to be more of a favourite but I am waiting to see how the changes for her play out. There is a new Clara now and I want to see how comfortable she is in her new skin.

Thank you for creating The Bistro for those of us who wished they lived in Three Pines as physically as we do spiritually. The Inspector Gamache series is the most intelligent, uplifting, generous, and insightful series I have ever read. I love and greatly appreciate the emphases on light, love, friendships, courage, and hope. I love feeling welcomed and as though there were a house waiting for me in Three Pines. And I love that there is this wonderful place to talk about the series. I am looking forward to reading all of the posts.

My daughter has been invited to go trick or treating. I can’t imagine it will be a big deal as there isn’t that many people who get involved.

I had Christmas lunch catered from a local cafe one year. It was so good as I could relax on the day. Of course we don’t do Turkey in our house, some do. Christmas lunch usually involves ham and a hot dish for me. Hot meal could be rolled pork, roast lamb or a BBQ. Lots of people do seafood and prawns are a big hit, hot or cold. The fish markets do a roaring trade at Easter and Christmas.
We don’t have Thanksgiving obviously. Australia Day isn’t quite the same thing but a big event and usually the excuse for a BBQ. Not that we need an excuse.
Our BBQ isn’t Southern BBQ Barbara.

Sylvia, I just re-read your post re Halloween. Sounds like your neighborhood is very popular. We used to have carloads of children dropped off at our house (first in the subdivision) and the drivers would then park in the schoolyard and wait for them. We’re not that popular now.
You mentioned Thanksgiving which has been on my mind this week. Can’t decide what to cook. Will probably do the traditional but really would prefer something else. Is there a traditional menu in Canada like our turkey and dressing ? Christmas comes about a month afterwards for us with much the same menu. I’d rather eat at a restaurant for either or both meals.

What a good idea that is, Anna! Let us know what you think. I think I would tend to factor in what I know now by having read ahead, that I wouldn’t be able to notice… that’s badly worded – hmmmm – I think by now that I have a pretty full understanding of each character and I couldn’t go back and see the things they do and say in the first book without being informed by what is still to come, if you know what I mean. I’ll be very interested to know what you notice. Of course, off the top of my head, I do think that you’ll notice that Beauvoir is almost a little popinjay in his refusal to wear warm, unstylish clothes, and he is amazed, as I recall, at how well Gamache looks in his warm coat and boots.

…. and now that I think of it – that was in the second book, not the first. The first is labor day weekend I think – so not quite so cold! 😀

Julie, the first book takes place at Thanksgiving, which is the 2nd Monday in October in Canada. A gorgeous time of year, with the brilliant fall colours!

Barbara, yes, we most definitely have the turkey and all the trimmings! And pumpkin pie for dessert!

I got my Halloween treats bought and packaged up in little snack bags – it makes it much easier to hand them out. So I’m already for Friday night. I enjoy it, and find that the kids are usually very polite. Some people here do more decorating for Halloween than they do for Christmas. This Saturday night we’ll be putting our clocks back to Standard Time, so it will be dark soon after 5 o’clock – shudder! Once that happens, we start to get ready for Christmas. I bake several batches of shortbread cookies and send them to family who live away from here and then take some when I go visiting friends and family here.

Anna, I really like the idea of re-reading Still Life and The Long Way Home side by side and get a sense of the development of the characters. Knowing them all so much better now, we will probably read more into them. When we first read Still Life, we were meeting them all for the first time. It will be interesting to see if our first impressions of them hold true now, or if we’ll think they weren’t as we saw them then at all. The beauty of a series like this is that characters sort of unfold bit by bit. Perhaps when Louise wrote Still Life, she didn’t know what her characters would become. I’m sure they’ve developed themselves to some extent. Are your characters doing that? You mentioned that one of them was bursting to tell her story – they really do come alive, don’t they! Louise’s have certainly come alive for us! They are our friends, and we who love them have also become friends, bonded by our love for them. If feels strange to speak about the books and characters to someone who hasn’t read them and doesn’t know them. It makes me want to hurry to The Bistro!

Sylvia, there is one piece of advice I keep reading from books on writing that I have ignored. That is to know your characters inside and out before you write. My characters just do their own thing. I am constantly being surprised, and that is the joy of the discovery for me. As long as the cheeky monsters stay true to character and internally consistent, then it works for me.

I write the story for the characters. I am just along for the ride. The whole thought of plotting and planning for them doesn’t happen. They just tell me what to write. I might have mentioned before that there is a whole sub plot in my novel that was revealed to me by surprise comments from one of the characters.

That is probably one of the reasons I want to read the first and last books. I want to see how the characters have grown for LP.

Happy Halloween to all who celebrate.

How is everyone?

I am thinking about reading the first and last LP books side by side to see how marked the progression is in character development and the way the books read. Of course, still madly editing my own book in the spare moments in life but one can not live on editing alone.

I can’t see any of us protesting being stuck in a bookstore! Although I think we would have been better provisioned!
Thank you Barbara for permission to share. My daughter is currently in a private school. She has been to both, 6 school, changes in all because of various moves. Most of primary was in public schools.

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