LOUISE PENNY’S

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.

Discussion on “The Bistro”

Hello, everyone – I would love further discussion on any topic of any book. They all tie together so well, that I do think some of the grander themes (grander, just in that they span more than one book) would be great. Given that, I can’t think of anything right now, hahahaha.

I have been reading the “new” Poirot – written with the approval of Agatha Christie’s family. I’m a little more than halfway through and I have to say that I am enjoying it very much. The author has found Poirot’s voice, which is lovely. The story, too, is worthy of Christie. I’ve been immersing myself in the Miss Marple teleplays on Acorn, as I have just a one-month subscription – gotten for Still Life – and I want to make the most of it. I’m watching Geraldine McEwan right now, though I do think that Joan Hickson was the most “Marple-y”. The latest ones with Julia McKenzie seem to have moved furthest off the mark to me. Neither of the latter two are bad, by any means, but they do seem to play a little fast and loose with the plots.

All that said, I’m enjoying the watching immensely. I watch and stitch (so mostly listen) in the afternoons when I can.

In general, how do you feel about modern interpretations of some of the past masters? And especially, new books with characters made famous by those past masters? It is very difficult to speak in the right voice in these books, and people manage it with more or less accuracy, it seems to me. As a Jane Austen fan, I’ve seen and read a great many “continuations” of Pride and Prejudice, including PD James’ “Death Comes to Pemberly”. In most cases, the writers fail to capture the right tone and language. Some of my favorites, though are Stephanie Barron’s series, which might be entitled something along the lines of “The Unpleasantness at Norland Park”, where murder is reduced to an unpleasant inconvenience for most of the characters. They give me a laugh!

Good morning to all. Yesterday was a great day as we attended our high school reunion. It is always a joy to see people we don’t see otherwise. Our graduating class was over 500. We never really knew everyone. All the classes from the 50’s are welcome. I told them that the Heritage Room of the local library needed yearbooks from the 40’s and 50’s. Honestly, you would have thought I was asking for their first born child. I think some are planning to be buried with theirs. LOL. We have already given ours (same years) as well as copies from our Junior college ( now a 4 yr with Masters and Phds offered). We also gave our Jr and Sr years from Georgia. I should have told them that they could visit their books whenever they wanted.
I’ve read through most posts from Still Life. Good comments from people who haven’t written lately, too. I hope we can discuss some of the points again in light of the entire series. Please, if anyone has a topic you want further discussion on, from any book, just bring it up. I hope all will join in with a topic or comments. Everyone’s view is important. We have such diversity that we can bring to the discussions.

To Millie: I am sorry to hear about your hip. I do understand how repetitive or prolonged “mis-positioning” can lead to issues. Bad posture at the computer and desk played a large role in my neck and general spine arthritis issues. A few things helped me out a lot and I thought that I’d pass them along. First, I had to learn how important it was to relax when I was in pain. Tension (for me, starting in my jaw), drew the bones together, reducing space that was already reduced because of inflammation….increasing the pain. Lying on the floor on my back on a yoga mat and concentrating on slow breathing was key. I even slept like that when I was dealing with spasms. Second, yoga was a godsend. Not the crazy position kind – just gentle stretch and twists and then hang forward from hips. Everything clicks back into position. Finally, pilates has been very helpful to get small muscles working properly to give proper support. It has also been about working on articulating each joint in the spine and opening up shoulders and hips. A year later, I have almost no episodes of spasm or unbearable pain.

Anna and Millie: I admire your strength along your journey with loved ones. Remember to care for yourselves. Grieve when you need to. And keep breathing. Prayers sent your way that it will get easier.

All great advice Kim. Especially during times of stress it is so easy to have overactive muscle groups pulling us in the wrong direction, so to speak. I have been trying to exercise gently and I like your suggestions.

Thank you for your kind thoughts, it means so much.

Acupuncture helps, too. I have an acupuncturist who works wonders with my neck down to the derriere when I have been abusing my body with too much time reading, watching TV, and being at the computer.

Anna, I too have experienced “well a lot lonely”… I think I know what you mean without you having to explain it.

Your daughter sounds like a delight, you are so lucky to have her. And thank your sweet husband for his best wishes. Enjoy your weekend with him. My husband travels also. I know how precious that time together is. Tho I remember you saying that even when apart you are still connected. Yes. Know that too. And the glory of relaxing and allowing others to take charge for a while. Soon enough I’ll have to be the strong once again. Jump back into that hurricane… I hope you continue to allow yourself the grace to, as Clara says, ‘get on with your life’.

Stop by the Bistro to catch your breath, write when you can. Things have a way of sorting themselves out if we just let them…

When you asked, “Wonder how Clara will do it?” I thought she would be able to paint again if she doesn’t forget the joy. If she doesn’t stop loving. Loved Reine Marie’s quoting Nietzsche, “We love life, not because we are used to living, but because we are used to loving.”

As Barbara so kindly told us, The sun will shine again! In the meantime, I send you my love. You have become a dear friend although we have never met. The miracle of books and the internet and risking reaching out past the clouds and past the loneliness. 🙂
Thank you Paul.

Thank you Millie for saying I am a dear friend. I couldn’t wish for a higher compliment. And I feel the same about you and our Bistro companions.

Barbara, you are always so warm and kind as well. I hope things are ok in your spot of the world and you have seen the sun shine too.

The sun has been shining here, it is a beautiful day but life for Mum is so very hard it makes it difficult to appreciate fully the joy of the day.

I keep thinking about chiaroscuro and the light and the dark. Night is always an interesting time. It can wrap around you like a cloak and hold you safe until morning. Or it can stretch forever and feel cold and lonely. Pain is so hard at night because there are so few boundaries to the world in darkness. Pain can also feel overwhelming as though it will go on forever.

There is no doubt that the way we see everything can change. We can choose to let the dark enfold us in comfort, or let our imaginations expand in the limitless night or cringe against the fears which loom larger in the dark.

The light can equally be good or frightening. It’s lovely to sit in the sun but the glare can hurt our eyes. The light can limit our thinking by shining on too many distractions. Or equally it can show us the way home.

Trying to make the choice to see more good and less bad in everything. Thank you all for the support and help to keep going forward.

My 5-year-old granddaughter has a sudden interest in (or concentration on?) death. I want very badly to find the moment to talk with her about that because she came into my life when I was much older (now almost 78). I, too, think about death, but would tell her what I think is true: our bodies go away, but our spirits stay with you always in your heart.

Thank you, Barbara, for the reminder that the sun will shine again. I was thinking last night of just what you said, how quickly I’m seeing ‘that entire generation’ going… Not that no other Aunts or Uncles had died before. But most passed while in the middle of doing what they loved. One much older Uncle passed away while on a chartered fishing boat out at sea having the time of his life! Quick heart attack and gone. What is so painful now is the agony of watching the ‘younger’ ones resuscitated from stokes or whatever to only live in pain, without memory, scared…

I’ve lived where there were earth quakes and where there were hurricanes – the hurricanes were much harder on the nerves. The last three years have felt like living in a hurricane of emotions and I’m so tired…

And so grateful for the good thoughts…

Anna and Millie, My heart reaches out to both of you. I can say with certainty that the sun will shine again when the dark clouds pass…and they will. Condolences, Millie, on the loss of your Aunt. I remember as one by one they left. That entire generation gone.
Anna, I love the image of your daughter sleeping on her dog. Mine were such a help to me during all the bad times of my life. Glad to hear you were able to write some.
Good thoughts to you both.

Not sleeping very soundly so thought I’d stop in the Bistro to see if you had popped in, Anna. It didn’t even occur to me how your dad might be dealing with all this. You, dear soul, have so much on your hands right now…

Thank you for your company. It’s comforting and appreciated. Time to stare at the fire and try to relax sipping tea with a cookie with chocolate. Chocolate is supposed to make one feel good. I’ll take the help with no thought to calories. :-/

Sharing a box of tissues with you and counting my blessings, I find that helps.

There are no calories in the Bistro Millie. Isn’t that joyous!

It really does help to have your company. It can be a bit lonely, well a lot lonely at times even tough many people are trying to help.

The fire is so comforting tonight tough. I am sure it’s sharing it with friends.

Speaking of counting our blessings, my darling daughter is home from her school camp. She talked for hours about all the fun she had then fell fast asleep wrapped around her dog. Too cute and so good to have her home. My husband is home for the weekend. He said to tell you Millie, that he is very sorry about your Aunt and he sends you his best.

I finally wrote something tonite after being unable to generate any new thoughts for my book. I have the beginning, the end and half the middle but it’s been hard to concentrate. Have to keep trying. Life can’t stop completely even if that is how it feels.

Wonder how Clara will do it? Will she be able to paint? Will her paintings change from her experience? She was already good at laying the emotion bare on the canvas. My emotion is too close to draw on it for inspiration.

So true, Anna. Things can turn out better than we thought.Thanks for the reminder.
I think my ramblings helped distract me. Found out today that my mom’s sister passed on. Finally, after 10 months of being in a coma. The family can rest now…

Sending thoughts of peace to you, your family and your mum. May everything turn out for the highest good for all.
Big hug.

Oh Millie, so sad to hear about your Aunt even though it is a release. Big hugs to you. Too. It has been a big day here….again. Spending hours with Mum but staff are trying hard. Just on a quick break to check on dad.

I will back to sit in the Bistro later and I will be thinking of you and me by the fire shedding a few tears in our cups of tea. Have to work out how to find liquorice pipes….the need is strong.

Oh, so much to comment on – you all inspire me to think so much! I don’t think I’ve ever “thought” my way through a book so much as this last Gamache! First have many errands to run, though, so will just say that Anna, I, too, am sending good thoughts and feelings your way – I hope you get a chance to sit by the fire in the bistro and “just be” for a little while.

Thank you so much Millie and Julie and everyone, for taking the time to think of me and send good thoughts.

So tough here I find I can think of nothing but Mum. Getting ready to go see her again. She wasn’t well yesterday but hoping it was just fatigue.

I keep thinking about good intentions going wrong……scary. But then things can also turn out better than we hope…..like the book club and The Bistro.

I have been planning for ages to contact the bookstore and order mugs to maybe be delivered to our hotel in Whistler as a late Christmas present. Keep forgetting to do that so thanks for the reminder ladies.

Hope the pain is easing Millie.

Anna, sending you warm, comforting thoughts – sit by the glowing fire place of the Bistro, take deep breaths and feel cared for and loved. You are, you know… 🙂

Cathyrne, yes! Barbara is in for a treat with the audio. 🙂

Your comment that, “Peter was living Ruth’s nightmare (what she loved would disappear), and so was Professor Massey” came in just as I was re-listening and came across a filling out of Annie’s character which I missed before.
…”She was constructed from, and for, happiness. But it had taken Annie Gamache a long while to find it. To trust it.
And even now, in the still summer night, part of her feared it would be taken away… she knew the real threat to her happiness came not from the dot in the distance, but from looking for it. Expecting it. Waiting for it. And in some cases, creating it.”… Chapter 4, p.22.

As I wrote this out, I was recalling that the last thing Peter paints in Three Pines is a dot on the canvas… It sure gives me lots to think about.

Barbara, thinking about ‘good intentions gone awry,’ some more I realized that we don’t really need to wait for the next book. TLWH is full of good intentions that didn’t turn out as expected – for the characters in it and for us, the readers.

Reine Marie starts with ‘good intention’ towards the moth but realizes it must ‘do its thing’ and turns the light back on.

I too have started to read all the comments from this book. So many great ones I hope we all discuss further, starting with KB’s comment: “We usually associate “light” with “good”, and maybe it is. For the moth battering itself against the light, though, it is obviously not a good thing. Or is it too much of a good thing.”…

Rereading this reminded me of my feeble attempt to apply the concept of Yin Yang to this story. Yin is the feminine, the creative, but it is the dark with the light center. Yang is the masculine, the light with the dark center, it turns the potential of Yin’s creativity and creates it into ‘reality’ which ‘inspires’ Yin…

In many ways this reminds me of the way the brain works. Left hemisphere is the analytical, the side which sees parts and organizes them (Jean Guy loving making lists and his markers come to mind). Right hemisphere is the creative, the side which sees the whole in the parts (Gamache and Chartrand while viewing the Gagnon painting and brought almost to tears come to mind).

But is one ‘good and the other ‘bad’? They just are what they are, I think. The trick is to maintain balance, as you said above, Barbara. To not judge oneself so harshly that creativity is stifled. To not stay in a state of ‘potential’ so long that nothing is created. Again, an over-simplification, but the best I can do…

Reading of Ralph Cosham’s death last week reminded me that I have never heard the audiobooks he did of the series. They received such good comments from you folks that I requested Bury Your Dead be sent to my branch library. I am looking forward to hearing it.

Yes, Millie, Peter was living Ruth’s nightmare (what she loved would disappear), and so was Professor Massey.

Julie, “gobsmacked” is a great word isn’t it. I LOL every time I read it. Just never found the opportunity to use it.

I’m thinking of rereading all the posts starting from the very beginning. I think there may be unmined gold…for me at least. It will take a long time as so many activities come up in the Fall and keep me away from my laptop. I’ll post any comments here and reference the source.

Millie, I’ve been thinking of your comment “where good intentions stir things up” concerning future books. Poor Nichol to have such a well intentioned act go so dreadfully wrong. I agree, we will see more of this idea of good intentions gone wrong. After all, it is a sad fact of reality.
Friends and I have discussed that programs and ideas we advocated later turned into something no one foresaw. We have tried to determine at just what point everything went wrong. The best we have determined is that much is like a see-saw. At first everything is balanced. Changes, sometimes almost minute, occur and suddenly—Bang. Unbalanced.

Cathryne, Thanks for telling us about the vive Gamache mugs. A must have. I have already put a mug and a tote on my wish list for Christmas.

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