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 Buck says:

    The Case of the Disappearing Hyphen: First, it was Jean Guy – later, he was Jean-Guy. For one more book, he was Jean Guy, and since then, I think the hyphen has stuck. Same with Reine Marie, who in this book is Reine-Marie, and now I don’t remember when that happened, or if she always had the hyphen. But it’s one of those funny little continuity things that I notice and can’t help but muse about. Such a little thing.

    Names and getting them right have always been important to me. Perhaps it’s because my middle name (which all my family uses exclusively) is Lynda, and the “special spelling” just doesn’t stick for some people. Like my older brother – he and his wife have never spelled my name correctly, nor have any of their 37 children (okay – it’s only 4, but they seem to be everywhere, and they’ve all had at least four each, hahaha) Cathryne – I feel somehow that you can relate to that! :D

    Maybe it stems from my first day at school. Up until then, my entire life (five whole years!), my name had been Lynda. But my mother enrolled me in school as Julie. Julie was her name, too, and they called me Lynda so as not to get us mixed up. As the teacher called out the roll, she got to Julie, and Julie didn’t answer. I was looking all over, wondering why this “Julie person” didn’t answer, and then the teacher came up to me and told me that she meant me! But, my name’s Lynda! And so my dual personality started, hahaha. I think everyone is a little different within their first family dynamic, but since I have a name for the person who grew up with them, that’s different from my “public” name, it’s very weird. Or maybe it’s just me.

  2. Anna says:

    Names are important and interesting. My family has a habit of shortening everything…it is very Australian to shorten or add a ‘y’ or ‘i.e.’ to the ends of words. Hence afternoon becomes arvo, breakfast is brekkie etc. Its hard to shorten Anna but I get called An or Annie. Not Ann or Anne. My mother is Ann. That explains why Erin is shorted to E in our house. I think we are just lazy.
    I did wonder about the hyphens Julie, or should we call you Lynda (!), and I am still not sure whether they should be there or not. How about we go with JG and RM?!
    I wonder what will happen to the cadets. Do you think we shall continue to see them? I do worry about the rot that has already escaped the Academy into the system and I am not totally confident that it can be eliminated. I suspect it will fester and rise again in some form or another. But then almost all institutions have the problem of being used by the nefarious seeking power and influence, as that is where power lies. Maintaining a positive culture is the only way to minimise that but culture change is hard. Will Gamache stay at the Academy or ind someone else to take the reins? I suspect the latter. JG is only there on temporary assignment and I suspect there other places for Gamache to be useful. It will be interesting indeed but one of Louise’s great strengths is making characters grow.

  3. LP’s Facebook post yesterday was interesting discussing the temptation to edit rather than push forward writing. That is a real problem for me in my feeble attempts . Of course, progress slows down or stops when a writer gives in to the urge to edit too much.
    Yes, I think Gamache will leave the Academy. There is still much to do to reduce the fallout from the evil that was instilled in many cadets. I hope the cadets in AGR show up again if not in the next book then later.
    Julie, thanks for the laughs. Names are so important. It must be annoying to have people misspell your name. It’s as if they can’t take the time to spell it correctly. Sam’s brother is named George Calvin and he has always been Calvin to the family. At work, he was always George. It was almost as if he had two personalities. I was always Barbara. Never Barb or Bobbie or anything else. Except I was always Bob to Daddy.
    Sometimes, a person would wonder what dialect Carol and I were speaking as Daddy’s family used a type of Shorthand that you had to know the story behind or it would make no sense or someone might think us very backward. These are the types of things that bind families even closer, I think.
    I had noticed the Disappearing Hyphen too, Julie and wondered.
    Sorry, I haven’t gotten into the reread yet.

  4. vince bosso says:

    Thanks to all for replies. AGR is quite a book, and so is LP.
    I never thought of law enforcement like she describes, and wonder how law enforcement responds to her stories. Certainly, loyalty and compassion stand out. But LP as a storyteller so wonderfully brings us into their world too.
    Forgiveness is a challenge also, yet there needs to be some way out of a cycle of revenge,as Canadian Ralph Williams once described so masterly about Oresteia:
    May I always be “en pointe,” (when it is needed only!)

  5. Julie Buck says:

    Hi again, Vince. I think that forgiveness is something that runs through the books – certainly Olivier finding it in himself to forgive Gamache for sending him to jail, the other villagers forgiving Olivier comes to mind immediately. I know there are other instances throughout – in fact, in some ways, the “twisted root” that grows into evil in some of her murderers comes from either not being able to forgive, or not being forgiven. I know, intellectually, that forgiveness is a blessing not just to those who have been forgiven, but at least as much, and maybe more for the person who forgives. Yet I always wonder in my mind if I could manage it. My personality tends to hold onto grudges… to nurse them along until they are really bothering me. Sure, I can see that forgiving would be a letting go of something that’s not good for me, yet, still… it’s not easy, I’m sure. When I think of the forgiveness shown by the families of the people killed in the church in Charleston, I realize that those are very good people. I would still be far too angry. Revenge would be out of the question for me, or someone like me, but a good old-fashioned grudge… that’s

    Vince, I hadn’t thought before of what police feel about Louise’s stories – I wonder now myself. Of course, Gamache is so real and yet so good a person, that I doubt any would quarrel with how he’s portrayed, but the corruption – I wonder… The Surete, especially, must have to be able to tell themselves – “it’s fiction”…

  6. Hi, Julie and Vince. A couple of years ago, I tried to find comments made by the Surete. I had no success. I tried various questions and search engines but had no success. I just had an idea.
    I’ll see what I can find and get back.

  7. Anna says:

    Thanks for the link Vince. I really enjoyed the video and it gave me lots of ideas but I need to watch it again as I was interrupted in my thoughts tonight. It really ties in well with the book and the concept of justice was interesting. It took me back to studying Oedipus Rex at school. Similar themes.

  8. vince bosso says:

    Thanks again to Julie, Anna, and Barbara.
    Sometimes forgiveness seems a lot to be asked for. Yet, Gamache’s character is so amazing, because he acknowledges his own mistakes, and he treats others better because he owns his own imperfection. I admire that, and see the spiritual wisdom in avoiding a cycle of revenge. Nonetheless, Gamache somehow continues to pursue accountability/responsibility issues, which do not let others off the hook. He asks something of them upon being forgiven. That is the maturity & wisdom which comes from Louise’ vision, and what I cherise the most about her work, and the character she has created, with his wonderful interactions with so many people. How does she do it?

  9. Anna says:

    I think Louise draws a lot on her experience of being an alcoholic and so she knows what it means to acknowledge your own failingscand being careful how you judge others. To fail is to be human but we all struggle with wanting to be better people.
    Gamache has the amazing ability to see goodness in others, not without also seeing their faults, and being able to give them the space and encouragement to grow and be stronger. He is a true leader in that regard.
    His fault seems to be when he forgets to rely on that strength in others and to plan alone without their help and input. We have heard wonderful discussion about why that might be and Armand’s desire to protect. Loss makes us cling to what remains and I agree that losing his parents would certainly create such a desire to keep safe those he holds dear. But being overprotective makes others weaker and less able to care for themselves.

  10. Donald Kendall says:

    I am a relatively new reader of Louise Penny’s amazing Armand Gamache novels, and I have created a hashtag (#VisitThreePines2017) for my 2017 Reading Challenge. Since Louise Penny has 12 books this seems like the perfect year to dive in (or re-read) all twelve beginning in January with Still Life. I will be posting to facebook with the hashtag and I hope other fans will join in the #VisitThreePines2017 Reading Challenge….twelve books, twelve months!!

  11. Anna says:

    Welcome and good luck with the reading challenge Donald! It certainly is a good idea to read them all through from the beginning. That is how this Bistro came to be. A few years ago, in 2014, when there were less than 12 books, we read one a month until the the then latest was released. If you and your friends want to, you can find reading group questions and the discussions that took place at the time in the archive. Just click on each book in the list of Louise’s novels near the top of the page.
    Since then we stalwarts hang around in The Bistro chatting until the next book comes along. Some of us Facebook and some don’t but I think you have a wonderful idea. Pop in here any time and chat and let us know how it is going for the non Facebookers.
    You are lucky to be new to Louise in a way. It is an exciting adventure to become a Three Piner!

  12. Welcome to the world of Three Pines, Donald. Do let us know how it goes as I don’t Facebook. We really enjoyed the reread and from it came this site.
    I’ve been a fan since the publication of Still Life and am so glad we have the Bistro.

  13. Julie Buck says:

    Hi, Donald – welcome to the Bistro! We’d love to have you stop in at the end of every book and give us your thoughts on the books. I tried to find where on FB you were, but found your personal page, and found places where the #VisitThreePines2017 was mentioned, but searching for #VisitThreePines2017 brought me nuthin. Admittedly, I still don’t understand hashtags – I had thought they were Twitter and not FB, so haven’t bothered with them. I don’t do Twitter. I can hardly keep up with all my computer activity now, hahaha.

  14. Julie Buck says:

    Hi, everyone. It’s been awhile since we’ve talked some about AGR, and as I’ve continued with my re-read there are a couple of things I like to muse about. The first, is the incidents of “magic” in Three Pines. For one thing (and this is not only in AGR, but in all the books), the people who live there have a different “vision” than others. They are people who have found Three Pines by accident (I think now that Jane and Timmer are gone (which happened in the first book), only Ruth and M. Beliveau are long-time residents – both, perhaps, having grown up there. Everyone else seems to have stumbled upon the village while heading somewhere else, but once they “saw” the village, they stayed. Because they loved it. Almost from the first, Gamache knew he would live there – you can see it in his heart. This is so very evocative of “Brigadoon” for me. Three Pines is not on any map, cannot be “found” when looking for it – only by accident, or by following someone there (which happens in AGR). Not only do the cadets follow Gamache, but so does some other mysterious person (later we learn that it is Charpentier). But the glow of the mystery car’s headlights as the hill into town is ascended, and then the car is turned around and the headlights disappear, is very magical in its description.

    Another piece of magic is the detail in the stained glass window that nobody noticed until now. And yet, that window was looked at – closely – by so many, and certainly by Gamache and his team, as they had never seen anything like it before.

    Last, of course, is the map – it’s discovery in the wall (why put it in the wall?) and its subsequent dumping into a cedar chest full of other papers, only to be discovered now. Why now? We’ve all marveled at the idea that Three Pines doesn’t appear on any map (and that you can’t communicate with it – no GPS knows its coordinates, no cell towers bring phone, and no buried cables bring high-speed internet, not to mention cable or satellite TV. Dial-up. Even I would turn my nose up at that, now, hahaha. Why? Why is Three Pines “off the map and off the grid”? It certainly helped in How the Light Gets In – they needed to disappear at least for a time, and Three Pines allowed them to. Just as, in its history, Three Pines had been a place of refuge for those escaping peril from the south, now it provided refuge for those escaping from Montreal.

    It’s hard to believe all this nuance was seen by Louise throughout, but, except for the very first book, when I can certainly imagine she had not really brought all of Three Pines to life yet, certain “rules” applied – no cell phones, no internet, no notation on any map. In HTLGI, they are using the schoolhouse as a “headquarters” for their internet activity, and they see a map of the area, with Three Pines noted in some childish hand, with simply… “home”.

    Last, is Roof Trusses. This, to me, is wonderful. By naming the town Roof Trusses, Turcotte was able to put something on the orienteering map for her son to find – but also, that no-one else would see as anything but a mistake.

    All of these things add up to magic to me. Do you see it too, or am I being too sentimental?

  15. Julie, the books have the same feeling for me too. I like your mention of Brigadoon as it has the same other worldly feeling. I don’t think LP had everything planned when she started writing, but how masterfully she has pulled it all together is remarkable. I remember that scene in HTLGI. Just simply “home”. That is Three Pines. The home the human heart seeks and the reality of there being no directions. No maps to where we will find that Home. That place of security, acceptance and the true feeling of belonging and being a part of a group. A diverse group but one that will accept you as you are and in return ask only that each of them be accepted as he or she is.
    Yes, there is that sense of magic. Why Magic? Because that is the word that we sometimes use when we can not fully explain the whys and wherefores of matters.

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