LOUISE PENNY’S

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”

You probably know more about the Boeing plant than I do, Anna! I know they are making their expansion plans, but I also feel like they are not getting the orders to justify it, so don’t really know how that’s all going to work out. Since the headquarters for Boeing moved to Chicago a few years ago, we don’t get every little thing reported to us as if it’s breaking news any more, which is good, because we didn’t REALLY need to know every time someone sneezed on the assembly line, hahaha.

Weather here seems just like the normal fall weather right now. They have us bracing for “the storm of the century” starting later today, and who knows? Every fifth time they do that, it does turn out to be a bad storm. But we are used to the strong winds here. Still – in 2006, the rain came down so fast that the streets flooded as we were driving home, and we turned a corner and drove into a deep puddle and totaled the car, because water was brought up into the air intake valve and seized the engine! Later that night, the high winds came, and blew down our fence. We heard it in the middle of the night. My already bummed husband looked out the window and said – “The fence blew down and fell on top of the other car.” In the morning, it turned out it had fallen the other way, so we only had one car that wouldn’t go, which was good. But of course, it was MY car – his was a Triumph sports car that was very unreliable. He’d often drive it somewhere and then have to call me to come get him and bring his tools, so he could fix it to limp home in.

When I first moved here, the first November, Vern was out of town, and the high winds came and apparently, an old, unused floating bridge broke free of its moorings and was floating quickly toward the new bridge, and would cause a lot of damage if it hit it, so the air force had been dispatched to bomb it before it could get too close to the other bridge. I must admit, I wondered, at that point, what kind of place this was, hahaha. Luckily, the main reason it broke free, also sank it before it came to that. They had cut big holes in the pontoons, which let water in when the wind was high and formed waves – that caused it to be heavier than usual and break away, but as it floated, the waves continued to fill the hollow pontoons and it eventually sank. Luckily, Lake Washington is a very deep lake and the bridge didn’t bother any boating traffic. They’ve left it down there as a “wildlife refuge”, whatever that is supposed to mean, hahaha. They had apparently cut the holes in the first place, to store waste from the grinding down of the surface of the bridge (they had intended to resurface it and use it for one-way traffic). The environmentalists said they couldn’t let that waste go in the lake, so they put it in the pontoons. The holes were cut too low, and the weight from the waste caused the pontoons to sink a little lower anyway, and so the waves just filled them up with water. You sometimes wonder how any of these people got these jobs. Now, instead of a little waste in the water, we have the whole bridge, hahaha.

We are not expecting that kind of wind this time, though.

Absolutely Julie. I could see the practical but for her it was all about the emotional release. Erin is at math tutoring today. Time to switch gears. She does have one more English exam for extension but it is a couple of weeks away.
Just watching a documentary on building the new Boeing plans Julie. Wow. The factory is big enough to have all of Disneyland inside. It has roads and a fire department and seven coffee shops inside. Wow.
How is the weather Julie? It’s snowing on Whistler mountain and I saw strong winds predicted for the West coast and Washington state. Stay safe.

What a good idea to burn her notes! Especially since you are paring down for moving, it’s not like she’d be keeping them anyway, and what a good way to get rid of the pent up anxiety!

Having survived English exam number two, I am watching Erin burn her class notes. Its a symbolic moment of purging. Lucky its cool enough to have a fire. Very soothing.

Thanks Barbara. I know typing…crossed fingers makes typing tricky, as if it were hard enough already! I look forward to being welcomed. I will be here all the time with questions I am sure.
Great image Julie but you haven’t missed the real drama…that will be getting the results and we will be in the US for that. Anyway exam number two is and hour away. Less anxiety today. Maybe resigned to her fate….

Wowee – I missed the whole drama! So sorry! I, too, thought of Monet, however, I had a picture of him, with his beret, his palette, and brushes, approaching… with an exam rolled up sticking out of a pocket in his smock! (not that I have any idea what Monet looked like, of course!) I hope it went well, and continues to (which, of course, it will! ) Hang in there, Erin!

Thank you Peg and Cathryne. Feeling much calmer now number one is out of the way. Second English paper tomorrow morning. Relax fingers but be ready to go again 0900 our time.
You made me laugh Cathryne, which I needed, describing the art exam. Very Three Pines of you! I saw a Monet exhibition n Canberra a few years ago. Good fun!
Did I mention our flights are booked? I will be living Stateside in two months….less!

Moment, not Monet! Got it! When I read the post my mind tried to imagine an art exam! I like the idea of analyzing a Monet painting, the real thing, of course, for an exam. Well, moving on…fingers crossed, powerful calm thoughts coming for you, Peter, and Erin at exam time. It’s her chance to shine, to show off a bit!

Could you all cross your fingers and think calming thoughts as Erin’s final state exams start today. She, and 77000 other students, will be all sweaty palmed this morning. Actually she has been quite calm but there may be butterflies as the Monet approaches in three hours. The exams go for three weeks and a bit so feel free to uncross the fingers periodically!!

Oh, don’t we all wish we lived where time was just what we needed it to be! I seem to always be in “catch up” mode… Yes, Millie – I see the gratitude that Jamie feels, and of course, that he never brutalizes Jamie in any way, unlike the Randall character. It WAS hard to read that part – and I will admit that I’ve only read these books once, and I’m pleased that, to a certain extent, the story line that bores me has been relegated to a side-route… I was reminded a lot of the plot points and other things by watching the TV series, which is very well done. And if you thought it was hard to READ the rape scene, it’s even harder to watch. And you are quite right – it’s a complete shredding of Jamie as a person – his whole being was broken, and had to be put back together again as best he could. Still, there was something in the idea that now he understood John Gray’s love BECAUSE of what Jack Randall had done to him – that’s in there for me, somehow, and maybe I’m putting it in and it came from my mind, not Diana Gabaldon’s. But it just seems to me not to be part of Jamie’s story… Small thing, and hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the rest of the books. Though I haven’t read them all by any stretch – on some level, they’re so big that they’re hard to hold while lying in bed, hahaha.

Julie, the character whose name you couldn’t remember was John Gray. Interesting view on that subplot. What I took from it was that Jammie felt a love born of gratitude towards John for offering to care for Jammie’s son and also the many times he helped his daughter, Briana. There was even mention of John Gray not wanting to risk his friendship with Jammie by making any sexual advances towards him.

I found the detailed description of Black Jack Randall’s torture of Jamie very hard to read. It was more than rape, it was meant to physically and brutally break the body and soul.

Anna, I have bookmarks to skip over that entire section. I too can’t stomach brutally and prefer character driven stories where if there is murder it’s not detailed.

Cathryn, I noticed the book you mentioned was number six in the series. Did you read the previous five?

Barbara, I haven’t forgotten your kind words of welcome. There’s so much more I’d like to comment on but that’s all I can do for now. Have to get ready for an eye appointment. Wish I lived where time was fluid like in Three Pines.

I had a look Millie. Always new medical advances bringing hope to someone thank goodness.
Interesting discussion about the role of female authors and nurturing. I love that Louise makes it ok to write about kindness, although balanced by darkness. It gave me permission to not follow the trend of brutality in so so many books. I couldn’t face reading them let alone writing one although I used to. I got tired of nastiness, there is too much of it around. So while there was a serial killer in The Cove he was kind of a background threat not the main focus of the novel really.
I have read loads of thrillers, crime novels, spy novels etc and what I look for now is characters I like and want to know more about and obviously I am not alone. I read Girl on a Train and my comment on finishing was that I felt nothing much for the characters even though the plot was ok. It was a major best seller so I gues there are plenty of people who were either content with that kind of book or read it out of curiosity like me.
I don’t know if it is just female authors that create sanctuaries but it certainly isn’t a feature of many books.

Oh, that’s really interesting, Anna. I read Girl on a Train and I liked it, mostly because of the convolutions of the plot. But I must say that I agree that I didn’t care about the characters. And really, when I think about it from that point of view, I SHOULD have cared, at least about the girl on the train! It was one of those books that I enjoyed while reading and then promptly forgot – and would never think of reading again. It’s often been compared to Gone Girl, but beyond the word “Girl”, I’m not so sure about that, either, hahaha. It was just a sales hook, I think. Gone Girl had a very involving plot, and of course, you CARED about the characters, but didn’t like them. Either of the main characters. Interesting way to think about this…

Millie – thank you for the article – that’s very encouraging, indeed. One of my doctors had told me there was an exciting new therapy being developed – maybe this is what he was talking about. I love that my doctors are aware of what’s the latest news.

It’s funny what you say about Diana Gabaldon. I love some aspects of her books, but the thing I got bored with was the whole side story of homosexual love between Jamie and a person (whose name I can’t remember), supposedly coming from his rape by “Black Jack Randall”. I don’t understand how you get any good thing coming from rape, and find the whole sub-story to be there for titillation’s sake, and not worth my time.

Julie, very interesting. Women are the nurturers. We try to create safe havens for our family and friends so it makes sense to me that some female authors would do the same for their readers. Except Diana Gabaldon – her prose is beautiful but must admit her detailed description of how the revolutionary war affected the main characters got very tiring for me.

So is it the generation, or the writer? Thanks for something to ponder as we clean up the yards of palm fronds. 😉

What great news, Millie – safe and sound, all of you, including your homes! As I was reading Anna’s note about the Bistro being a haven from all the “real” in the world, I was reminded of something that Jane Austen scholars talk about quite a lot. The fact that there is never any mention of war (beyond a vague reference such as the “bounty” in Persuasion, and the presence of officers encamped nearby, but never in any danger of having to fight in Pride and Prejudice) in her books, yet the Napoleonic wars were going on all the time she was writing her books which are always assumed to be set in her present. We often wonder if women were shielded from it all, but in reality, Jane had at least two brothers who were sailors and involved in fighting, and Jane corresponded with both during their service and was more than informed on what was going on. Did she want to create a safe haven for her heroines? I’d like to think so.

Thanks Anna. I’m right there with you about our ever-safe haven. But we’re home safe, the house is safe and sound, and have power and water. Very strict building codes here for which I’m very grateful. I’d love to write more but I’m so tired… More tomorrow. Blessings and love to all.

Thank goodness Millie that you and your whole family, including your son, are safe. I am very glad you evacuated and even more glad that you can return. Fingers crossed for a life that returns to some sense of normality as soon as possible.
Hasn’t it been a crazy year. So many ups and downs and life twisting events. I am so glad that when the world goes pear shaped the Bistro is always an oasis of peace and calm. Something to be said for a virtual place that can never be affected by storms or hardships, where the fire never goes out and the refreshments neverending. I wasn’t one for living in virtual spaces before but this one is a blessing. The best thing is, no matter where you are in the world, your friends are right with you.

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