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”

Barbara, I didn’t know you did so many different kinds of tours – I bet that was a wonderful job – a great way to meet people and stay “in touch”… all the while, regaling them with stories of your city! I’d love to do something like that (only no walking tours for me anymore – but still…).

A few pages back I said I would try to find information on what the Surete thought of the books. Tried but no results.
LP’s Facebook this AM was cute. She was off to speak to young school children about writing and hoped that she didn’t bore them. Not likely. Interacting with children was so much fun to me whether giving them walking tours, city tours, Museum tours , tours of the Harris House or speaking in the classroom.

Julie, Good catch. Of course, I never thought of it, but yes, the odds are that it would have happened. The incident could have been portrayed as a “suicide”. The others would have helped move the body, etc. or the person could just disappear.

Finished with my reread, and I’m amazed at how many things I’d remembered wrong, or just hadn’t remembered. I had it in my mind that Amelia’s father had gone to jail for his drunk driving offense, but he’d had a suspended sentence, and gone on to a good life where he married and had a child. I’d thought somehow her mother had died young, or left them to become a junkie, and that was why she was so troubled but I see no evidence of that at all. In fact, I don’t see that her mother is not still alive and with her father – she’s just not mentioned at all. I had thought that the one really far gone cadet – Jacques – had flunked out – instead, he graduated, and Beauvoir seemed to be mentoring him. I also thought that the cadets had solved the mystery of the map, but they took it as far as they could go, but Gamache is the one who realized that Antoine Turcotte had never existed and that a village widow, whose name was Valois, had taken the name to make maps. She had taken the village off the map only temporarily, because she couldn’t bear to see the words “Three Pines”. Her three boys, who had been killed in the war, each planted one (to replace the first ones that had died). She intended to come back, and put the name back on the maps, but couldn’t because she died. The map has to have been put “in the window” by the town’s people after she died so that if any of the boys had happened to survive, they’d find her grave, even if they came back after everyone who knew had died. Of course, no good reason was shown why they were so mysterious about it – the clues were really obscure. The last one, that led them to the grave, could only be seen for what it was, from the pulpit. Still, a lovely little mystery, full of magic.

Now this brings me to Mary’s question from a few pages back. What would LeDuc have done if someone had actually killed himself playing Russian Roulette? With the silencer, of course, nobody would know if they managed to get the body and all trace of the blood out of there. But that’s pretty hard to do, and I can’t believe some one of the other cadets wouldn’t have said something (except, of course, it’s possible that only the cadet and LeDuc were there – he sometimes did it with a group and sometimes with just one student). But the odds must be pretty high that if you did this regularly (let’s say weekly) for years, SOMEONE would die, or be hurt, if they were holding the gun not quite right and only managed to graze themselves. And I don’t see any way for LeDuc to have been sure that nobody would die – so… I am going to go out on a limb and say that one or two must have, and just “disappeared” in that community that before Gamache would have closed ranks to any outside interference.

I used the word magic today Barbara to describe my day skiing on the mountain. It seemed magic because it was perfect and perfect doesn’t normally show up in my life all that often. Three Pines is pretty close to perfect so that may be why it seems magical…a beautiful place with interesting and caring people, great food and peace. I think that is something I found on the mountain too…peace. It was sunshine and snow and freedom from television and news broadcasts. Three Pines has that too. A sense of being isolated from the concerns of the world and an emphasis on simpler things.
So many good things to think about Julie. I think I remember that Louise didn’t have the story arc at the beginning but surprisingly early she knew where HTLGI would go. I can’t imagine the current storylines developed until much much later. Maybe she always knew Annie and Jean Guy would marry, but did she know about the addiction? I suspect she had an idea that Gamache would grow beyond his initial role as she has talked many times about how Poirot was a character that did not grow and change and Agatha Christie tired of him. That is one of the great things about Three Pines, the characters do evolve but not so far that we lose touch with their essential being.

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.

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?

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.

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