Gamache Series Open Discussion

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.

Paul Hochman

Discussion on “Gamache Series Open Discussion

  1. Julie, I think you are exactly right that this characteristic of Gamache’s goes directly back to the death of his parents. It was like a lightning bolt with no storm, no way to foresee, it affected Gamache’s view of the world from that moment on. It makes me think of the books Thinking Fast and Slow and Undoing. I’ve only read about them and watched interviews with the authors, but they were fascinating. Our brains do crazy things to try to make sense of our world and experiences and, especially, control them, even trying to go back and “undo.”

    • vince bosso says:

      I did not know if you saw my reply, but I again wanted to thank you.
      Here is the reply:
      VINCE BOSSO says:
      January 4, 2017 at 8:07 am
      Thank you so much. I kept wondering if there was someone other than Gelinas, or that somehow Brebeuf had spun or twisted his way out of it.Very good! I also looked for “Roland”.

  2. Julie Buck says:

    Thanks, Vince – I didn’t see that. This site does some funny things – if you try to reply to a post, instead of the “general” reply at the bottom, it takes you back to page 1. Sometimes, if you do the “general” reply at the bottom, it somehow “knows” what you’re replying to, and puts the reply there… all very spooky, if you ask me, hahaha.

    Yes, there was so much internal turmoil with almost all our characters, and they didn’t all say what they were thinking, so we were left to infer a lot. Stick around, Vince – we do intend to discuss the whole book.

  3. Hi Vince, I was going to start rereading AGR but the weather predictions upset my plans and sent me to stay with my sister for the duration. I didn’t bring the book with me as I knew I would get too involved with the book and be poor company. You know how it is. One page then another and then another chapter has gone by.
    Back to AGR when the weather clears, I hope. The Library has been holding a book for me since Wed. Must get it on Mon. if possible.

  4. Anna says:

    Do you think Brebeuf’s final action was in character?

  5. Julie Buck says:

    Interesting, Anna. I started my re-read last night – and there were a couple of things that stood out for me. I’ll deal with this one, first, as it speaks to your question. Immediately after Gamache decides to take Amelia Choquet as a cadet, he tells Reine Marie that he is going to see Brebeuf (though we don’t find that out right away – he just says he’s going to “the Gaspé” and we find out when they get there). Reine Marie knows this could be trouble, so she says “I’m going with you”. As they drive up, and Brebeuf realizes who it is, he wonders if Gamache has come to kill him. He really seems to think that might be a possibility. I think that Gamache’s decision to see Brebeuf stems directly from realizing who Amelia is. Brebeuf is inextricably intertwined with his memory of the last time he saw his parents. Brebeuf was there to help him, to be the stronger one. I think it’s a spur-of-the-moment decision to bring Brebeuf in to help him root out the evil now… OR… he wonders if Brebeuf has been a part of the evil within the academy, and wants him close to watch him. So…. jumping ahead – given that both of them have history with Brebeuf being the stronger one – the “protector” – that this has colored their entire lives together as friends and then as enemies, I do kind of think it’s in character. He has been poisoned, or ruined, by the rot in Sûreté, and probably can’t be saved, so the sacrifice seems appropriate to me. Would a “real” person do that? I don’t know – I guess these days when you see people doing all kinds of unspeakably horrific things, I find it easier to believe. People lose their way – some make it out and some don’t. (boy, that sounds cynical, which is unlike me – must be about to have “one of those days”, hahahaha.

  6. Julie Buck says:

    The other thing I was struck by as I started the re-read, is that it took Gamache some time to realize who Amelia is, and once he does, he immediately decides to accept her application. Why? Out of magnanimity, or a need to “keep your enemies close”? Is it tied to the decision to bring Brebeuf back? It’s certainly tied in proximity – but I don’t know if the reasoning is similar for both “appointments”.

  7. Anna says:

    I don’t think Gamache ever saw Amelia as an enemy. I think he was always offering a life raft to her. She wasn’t thought of when her father killed Armand’s parents. Perhaps the memories she roused did lead him to Brebeuf though..that is an interesting thought.

  8. Anna says:

    Hey Nancy…how are you? We haven’t heard from you and I just want to check that you are ok?? Is it freezing up there? We have had a little taste but thanks to our experience and shopping in Quebec we were will prepared for the winter chill. Enjoyed it even, except for the wind which is a bit vicious.

    • Nancy says:

      Hi Anna,
      I’m okay and yes, it’s cold. Mostly we have to be careful of the icy sidewalks. They do put down abrasives but there are lots of places that are still very icy. I’m talking about parking lots and private drives. We went to church this morning and then out to eat. The church lot and sidewalk were icy but negotiable…and the same at the restaurant. Just had to be careful. We just got back from Vermont. Our friends’s driveway is a sheet of ice…and they just got some new “yak-tracks” to help them walk on it. We had a lovely time relaxing in front of their wood stove.

      Did you see the video of all the vehicles colliding on the hill downtown on Dec 5..??? Type in “Montreal pile up on ice” and there will be references to it. I don’t know how to give you the link but I just found it through doing that. I guess it’s gone viral. It’s slow motion and I doubt anyone was hurt but it sure is crazy to watch. That was a good day to stay home!

      Now I’m thinking of going downstairs to work on a jigsaw puzzle. Stay warm everyone!

      • Anna says:

        We saw that video back in Australia Nancy. It was spectacular. Yes, pavements are icy in parts despite the grit even here. We are learning to tread carefully with small discrete steps.
        I love jigsaws. Jigsaws by the fire would be fun.

  9. I think Brebouf’s final action is completely in character. I don’t think he is the strong one and he knows it. He knows he let his best friend down and he knows Gamache understands who he is, maybe even forgives him, but does Not trust him. He thinks Gamache has come to shoot him when G. comes to the Gaspe because he feels he deserves to be killed. Michel hates himself for hating and envying Armand for much of their lives. He hates Gamache for being a happy, contented, ethical man, no matter what difficulties his life has contained.

    Every time Armand and Michel have a conversation in AGR and start to fall into an old rhythm of friendship, Michel takes or makes a moment to throw in a passive-aggressive hurtful tone, look, or words, oh so innocently, like a dagger. We hate the person we have wronged, especially the beloved person we have wronged, the person who has not wronged us.

    Michel can’t force his friend to kill him so he finally comes up with what he can do to: 1. Continue to look like Armand’s savior. 2. Destroy Armand by killing himself to save Armand. He gets to destroy himself and Armand at the same time, while pretending to be a hero.

    I believe that Gamache realized very early (pp. 10-11) of AGR who Amelia Choquet was. “It wasn’t her first name he was reacting to. It was her last. …grabbing the file off the floor, he opened it. Scanning down the pathetically scant information. Then he closed it, his hand trembling.” He went down to the basement to the very back of the back room and took out the small box. He opened it and “confirmed it. Choquet.” He knew. And he changed the dot once more, to green. I didn’t know, I was clueless! But he knew.

    I hope this makes some sense and I hope anyone who disagrees will jump in because I like having to think harder about this wonderful book, and question myself. I find myself in such a mental muddle too often these days with my mom and my husband in unpredictable, poor health. I have enjoyed focusing on Louise’s writing as she moved along characters and plot so carefully, so discreetly, herding me this way and that without my even knowing it.

    Duty calls!

  10. Anna says:

    Cathryne, I think your ides are wonderful and en pointe! I like how you capture Brebeuf’s nature and hating the one we have wronged. So true as they are a constant reminder of our baser nature. That is why asking for forgiveness is so important so we can move on as much as an acknowledgment of what we have done wrong. Sounds selfish to be forgiven but isn’t that the grace that is imparted by the wronged person?
    You definitely hit the nail on the head…Brebeuf gets to destroy himself and Armand while being a hero. Truly selfish and destructive at the same time. So important to remember that living with what he had done is much harder than the path he chose. In some way Amelia’s father is the counterpoint to that…after what must have been an awful start to his life, he has gone on and has a family. Do we know why Amelia took the path she did? At any rate she reconciles with her father. Living and progressing versus self destructing.
    Life sounds ever challenging for you Cathryne. I was just saying today that it is amazing to me to have days which aren’t built around the needs of my parents. That feels selfish and somewhat unanchored as opposed to adrift. So strange to have time to devote to other things. And the energy…
    I do hope you have some time for you Cathryne.

  11. Nancy, I keep wanting to let you know that you, your husband and your family have been in my heart every day since you shared your son’s death. The pictures of where he lived are incredibly beautiful and I think of them every time I think of you all. What a wonderfully place he chose to live.
    I’m so glad that you were willing to get out to visit friends, it sounds lovely and wise.

    • Nancy says:

      Thank you Catheryne. I empathize with Anna’s statement just before your post when she says it feels strange to have “days which aren’t built around the needs of my parents.” Well, I can say that it feels strange to have days which aren’t built around the needs of our son. Constant need for money or emotional support or other support. And now to discover lies and wonder how much was true, how much was fantasy. We’ll never really know. I guess we mourn for the child he was and the man we always hoped he would become.

  12. Beautifully said, Nancy.

  13. Anna says:

    Hear hear

  14. Julie Buck says:

    Nancy – I have nothing I can add to what’s been said, but feel the need to give you a hug! ((((((((Nancy))))))))

  15. Julie Buck says:

    Cathryne – how beautifully you put it! I think you are exactly right. It’s odd – I read the book really fast the first time because – you know – it’s new and you want to devour it. So even though I only let myself have a little bit at a time, to try to savor it, I don’t think I read it as thoughtfully as I might have – because there are so many things I didn’t notice or forgot. Of course, a lot of that is Louise’s brilliance – things that, now that you KNOW, you realize are important, but they didn’t seem so at the time.

    As for Amelia – you’re right, Anna – he never thought of her as an enemy – I was more thinking just how painful a reminder she might be. But, I think, with his great big heart, he saw someone who, even on paper, seemed so troubled. I think maybe he could see, or at least imagine, that it may be because of the accident that she is troubled. In that, her father, coming out of prison, no doubt would have a hard time fitting back into society, and of course, the home life would not be good. I think for much of her childhood, it was just Amelia and her father, and she loved him very much. I also think that maybe her mother abandoned them? Or maybe died of a drug overdose? (see what I mean about not reading carefully?) Something in the mother’s background I think haunted Amelia, and made her think she wasn’t worth saving. I loved that the reason she had applied was seeing LaCoste on television and finding someone she wanted to emulate. In that sense, she saved herself, as you can see by the end of the book that she’s going to be okay.

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