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.

3,650 replies on “The Bistro”

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.

Lizzy, Your comment about the Licorice pipe from an old fashioned store reminded me of Mast General Store. I checked their site—Licorice pipes en route. I’ll be able to enjoy a pipe while here at the Bistro.

I too love these books. Read the first one on holiday in Canada in 2013 and I have now read the full canon and just got no 18. If ThreePines were a real place I would retire there from Scotland where I live. The characters are so real and the setting idyllic. Looking forward to seeing Alfred Molina tomorrow. Thank you Louise

Hi Julie, glad you like the idea of always adding a comment / reply at the bottom and referencing either Person / time post or just the comment.

With regards to walking on a slanted ‘floor’, obviously it didn’t occur to me either. :-/ But I was told it’s a common problem with runners or people who walk outside. Be sure if it’s slanted to return on the same side…

When I first wrote about it I had thought of mentioning how strange it seemed to find out that what I thought was a ‘good’ thing to do could instead be harmful in terms of the series. But other thoughts bumped there way to the front. Look at all the damage that Nichol did by releasing the video… Her intention was good. Outcome for Jean Guy – disastrous.

There’s an annoying little voice in my head that keeps whispering that in future books we may find other instances where good intentions stir things up in unexpected ways.

As for “the French idea that even children drink wine at meals…” It not just a French idea, tho I see your point about the characters are French Canadian. I have family members who live scattered around the world. We all drank wine with our meal as children – a splash of wine with carbonated water, no ice. Interestingly, where I spent my teen years, there were no “I’m 21 and can drink now” drunkenness. The ‘cool’ thing was to know when to stop. Is the law of not being allowed to drink anything until 21 a ‘good intention’ that backfired? No idea…

Millie – several of the things you said really startled me. First of all – that you could do such damage to your hip simply by always walking the same way on a slanted floor – it makes sense in retrospect, but I’d never have thought it. Here’s where I get to use one of my favorite words – I’m gobsmacked!

“I started to love TLWH from the beginning because Gamache had to do his ‘physio’ too. It did strike me odd tho that he has no more trouble walking once out of Three Pines…” – I hadn’t thought of that at all – and they walked all around that little town, and at the end, to the top of the hill to find where Peter was, at Norman’s cabin. He was doing well, but I wouldn’t have thought it was that well, hahaha (I constantly get Norman and Massey mixed up, because I have it firmly planted in my brain – “Massey good” “Norman no-good”! Have had to go back and correct a lot – so if I get them mixed up somewhere in here, I mean the other way around…

“And I was really surprised that Jean Guy was going to AA meetings! I thought he was only addicted to the pills…” – I think that a lot of addicts stay away from alcohol and go to AA meetings, because alcohol becomes a trigger for other things. It IS a drug in lots of ways, and I think it’s just safer for him to stay away from everything. My step-daughter is an addict and goes to NA, but also to AA – I think the “original” is a good place for people to learn the basics. And, of course, LP might have simply meant a “12-step program” and AA meetings becomes like “Kleenex”, or “Coke” – it’s what you call everything of a kind.

“I must admit my jaw dropped when I would read that the inspectors were having a beer at lunch while ‘on duty’. Is this OK in Canada or just the world of Three Pines?” – I was surprised about that, too. I think regular police officers (in uniform) would be in big trouble in Canada if they drank on duty – but this is the first I ever heard of any police doing that. It may stem from the French idea that even children drink wine at meals… but I think if something bad happened, it could be a big problem.

Hi Julie, I hadn’t thought about the police having a beer with their lunch – I didn’t even notice it. These, of course, are not regular policemen on a beat, but solving crimes after the fact. They don’t drink enough to get drunk, but still it is surprising.

Julie, with reference to the detectives having a beer with lunch; my grandpa always had a beer with lunch and another with dinner. He said “It’s food. Made with grain and puts hair on your chest.” I was well past legal drinking age before I had my first beer!
My husband and I spent 4 years in Europe with the RCAF in the early 60’s and found the practice of having a glass of wine with dinner to be very pleasant. In our early 80’s now and it’s still very nice!
Anna, you will love the Three Pines mugs! We’ve had ours for years and are wonderful for cafe’ au lait and hot chocolate. I sit in front of the fire with mine and pretend i’m In the bistro.

Millie – I like the idea of knowing for sure that the latest comments are at the end. I, for one, applaud this approach!

Lynne – I think you expressed yourself beautifully – far more eloquently than I ever do! I love that the poem was written for Peter, and that it also helped Jean Guy so much.

Linda, I got shivers reading the poem in its entirety. Clara DID, indeed, pick Peter up and guide him into paradise – home… So moving. I don’t know why I didn’t realize it was the same poem while reading the book – I loved the whole sequence of Jean Guy trying not to read the little scraps of paper, and finally, of him struggling to put them in order (who knows WHAT those crazy Anglos might think is the right order?) As I recall, there was a lion there, as well – Annie… All so connected. And so beautiful!

Yes, I thought about Annie and how “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” put her to sleep in her infancy, as Armand drove his little lion around in the car.

Thank you Cathryne, I missed that posting. I should go back and read them all. I’m sure I missed others. And I think you’re both right. Maybe Brian and the judge can help Gamache come to terms with his own parents’ death? Chartrand is certainly too young. Someone 10 years older than Gamache…

I was captivated by the books from the beginning. I read a review of Still Life and couldn’t wait to read it. Mystery and Quebec ….What else could I want ? Tourism ads had alerted me to the beauty and uniqueness of the City and Provence years before. I have been to Canada a few times and love it and the people. The cities are so clean …. at least where I have been. No litter, which is a pet peeve of mine as my rants to the newspaper and calls to local government offices will attest. My trips have always been to Ontario as all the tours that originate in this area have somewhere in Ontario as the destination.
Reading the wonderful descriptions of Quebec make me feel I am there .

Barbara and Millie, re Jean-Guy attending AA meetings, there’s a very good post from Lynne about that in the TLWH discussion, chapters 31-41, p. 4, ninth post up from bottom. Sounds like a treasure clue!

Cathryne, Thanks for the info. I just went back and read the posting. I don’t even remember reading it before. Must have skipped it……probably along with others.
I was repeating the location of the post aloud too myself when my husband asked what game. I was playing. LOL

Lynne, I found the reference to ‘nightmares’ I was looking for. Chapter 31, starts at the bottom of page 277. Ruth speaking on the phone to Gamache about Peter:
She sounded as tho she was telling a ghost story. A horrible, haunting tale, of the things she herself most feared. Not that a monster would appear, but that what she loved would disappear.
Peter Morrow was living her nightmare. All their nightmares.

That made me pause, and cry a bit when I first read it. Not for Peter, or even Ruth (tho I hope she remains in Three Pines for a long time!!!) but for myself, for my family, for everyone. Don’t we all, at some point(s) in our lives, fear that what (who) we love will disappear? And it’s not just as we get ‘elderly’ – love the idea of avoiding the ‘o’ word. 😉

This is a perfect example of why, I think, Ms Penny’s books are best sellers: she touches upon universal topics. I sometimes wonder if readers are enjoying including, in their reading list, escaping to a place where kindness exists.

Anna, I sure do look at the ‘Pain’ as a part of healing. And it IS getting old, but there’s progress. Though I must say I giggled at Barbara’s ‘therapy can be such a PAIN’! Yep!

There’s a saying in Spanish that roughly translates to: ‘there isn’t one ‘bad’ thing that doesn’t come to us for a good reason.’ I must say now ‘I was wrong’. Didn’t break ribs, fracture is the correct term and it makes a huge difference. I don’t care what language, when I’m hurting ‘Medical Speak’ is just noise. And ribs are OK now.

Now for the ‘good’ that came of this… X-Rays showed one hip was higher than the other. For the twelve years we’ve lived here I walked a lot clockwise around the pool thinking I was getting good exercise. Well, pool deck is tilted down away from pool. At the same angle as my current hips!

I had gotten to where I couldn’t understand why simple things were leaving me in such pain. Now I know. So I figure it took 12 years to get this way, it’s going to take more than a few days to reverse the ‘damage’. And I’m working hard at it. Thru tears sometimes. There! Now, you blessed souls are updated on my physical state. But let’s change the subject for a while cause I know you care but soon I won’t just derail the topic, it’ll be a full train wreck! 😉

I started to love TLWH from the beginning because Gamache had to do his ‘physio’ too. It did strike me odd tho that he has no more trouble walking once out of Three Pines…

And I was really surprised that Jean Guy was going to AA meetings! I thought he was only addicted to the pills…

I must admit my jaw droped when I would read that the inspectors were having a beer at lunch while ‘on duty’. Is this OK in Canada or just the world of Three Pines?

I do. Escaping to where kindness exists is one of my favourite things about these books. But also the universal themes. The idea of loved ones disappearing is a bit too close to home though.

Millie, you will have to walk counterclockwise around the pool for a while! Kidding stick to the physical therapy.

My first LP was Bury Your Dead. What drew me in was the blurb on the back. Who could resist a shivering city and crackling cold ancient walls and the promise of an old library. But what totally locked me in was the first page. In a couple of paragraphs there was action and intrigue and Gamache whose compassion and care was writ large from the first moment. I wanted to follow him into danger and see what would develop. What a talent to hook the reader from the first lines.

I think I had an advantage starting my journey to Three Pines in the middle as the characters were already more solidly evolved, the story was at an action moment. I went straight back and started at the beginning and I don’t think I suffered at all from that entry point. I heard LP talk about this in one of the videos as someone asked what would be a good starting book other than the first. I think this one was.

Don’t know why I wanted to mention that now but I was thinking about how fast I was drawn in to the world of LP and the importance of first pages when attracting readers. This was one of the most engaging I have seen and it was the character as much as the story that caught my attention.

That has happened to me too. Some of my posts don’t “stick” to where I think they will and it sounds like I’m singing, “What do you do with a drunken sailor?”

My entry point was “The Beautiful Mystery”. The descriptions of light, rainbows, when darkness was expected… Jean Guy’s humor… just captivated me. Actually it was in Audio version and it begins with Gregorian Chants. I love them. Took me back – oh never mind, long story – sheepish grin… The ending was so sad to me. I had to read the series from the beginning. Yet knowing what was to come only heightened my appreciation of the books.

I wish I had been able to participate in all the rereads… I love how “The Bistro” is “the Garden of Three Pines Speculation”. 😀

I was surprised to read that Jean Guy went AA too. I have read that people addicted to drugs were not really welcome in AA and Narcotics Anonymous was organized for them. The addictions differ even though there are commonalities.

“Sometimes when I resist a change, shifting my perspective by one small notch makes everything fall into place.”

Brilliant Cathryne…that is to be my motto or mantra! So well said.

Cathryne & Anna, I like Gamache’s “The mind is its own place. We can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven.” It IS all about perspective, isn’t it? And that thought led to this one, Gamache talking to Nichol: “Life is choice.” It amazes me the number of different nuances that each person brings to the discussion of even the same scene. Our life experiences predisposition us to view the same thing in a particular way. That’s the beauty of this group. We get to see other perspectives. None is right or wrong. Just different. All expand our mind.

Millie, those two quotes have totally stuck with me since I read them. Life is choice and our interpretation is crucial to how we face each day.

I am not sure if you see your pain as a healing process, it can be hard to think that because pain messes with our heads, but it is. I am trying to see the good each day but it doesn’t stop the other thoughts.

We have been keen to elevate Peter positively in this book and focus on his growth and goodness

Cathryne, one of my sister-in-law’s says I have ‘Shiny Book Syndrome’. A book in my hands / or earphones for the audio and the outside world ceases to exist. I’m in 7th heaven. The genre doesn’t matter as long as I find the topic of interest, or fall in love with an author’s writing style. Words are a form of magic for me. Metaphors, analogies… they make my neurons fire with joy. Only certain pieces of music do that for me. But the right combination of words… every time. 🙂

Millie, that’s why I love the poetry in these books!! But some music does it for me too. I particularly love the music of Bach.

I have been rereading posts from the beginning of the discussion and I am amazed, so perceptive and beautifully expressed. I hope some readers who were initially disappointed in TLWH have or will read those posts. Sometimes when I resist a change, shifting my perspective by one small notch makes everything fall into place.
Meg, a phrase you used has been making me smile since I read it, “shiny drugstore books.” I can’t walk past shiny drugstore/grocery store/airport books without being pulled aside. Perfect description!

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