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”

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.

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.

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!

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!!

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.

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?

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.

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.

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”…

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!)

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.

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.

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! 😀

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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!

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