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. Anna says:

    There is fortunately an unending supply of tissues and hugs in the Bistro!!

    Putting things into isolated words without the body language makes communication so tough at times. That’s what makes being a writer really tricky. Although there are enough challenges in communicating even when you can see a person!

    I was thinking about some of the things you said Barbara. It is enormously tricky to develop our identity if we feel troubled by what it is in our racial, community or family history, especially if that means we have trouble feeling proud of who we are. In Louise’s books it is so interesting to see the Franco and Anglo identities and the struggle to hold onto them. In writing my book for whatever reasons, I kept thinking about the German identity and the struggle to live with a past that included Nazism. To be Catholic is no picnic either….the Inquisition, the Irish troubles, the lack of inclusiveness! Whatever history we have I bet we can find things that are hard to reconcile with who we are now as individuals. And yet we deserve to proud of the beings we are. I see nothing but kindness and acceptance and love in this community…..misunderstandings are just part and parcel of being human people!

    • Julie says:

      Amen. I can’t help but think of how difficult it is to navigate the waters these days – we have a real crisis of race going on right now in the US – to the point where I feel like we have had a new horrific event every day for weeks! But I also think of my best friend, Becky, who is married to a man whose parents are very proud that their children are 100% Chinese blood… Becky’s daughter has had many issues, mostly with how she is perceived, and Becky was shocked to find that Natalie was angst-ridden in part because she is identified as “Asian” by her peers. These kinds of things are heartbreaking to hear and to deal with, and I’m so sad to see it.

      I didn’t grow up in America, but I love it here. I love Americans, though I don’t always love how some of them act. I still believe we can find a way through it all… We all just need to keep talking…

      • Anna says:

        Julie it is heartbreaking when we can’t figure out that who we are as a person trumps external features. I think identity is important but it is also the source of so much angst.

        In reality a lot of problems arise when those who struggle with their own identity seek to strengthen it, not by working out who they are, but by stigmatizing what they determine they are not. It actually has nothing much to do with colour, race, culture, religion, etc. they simply pick an identifiable feature and demonize it to make themselves feel stronger. Kids do it in the playground. I don’t like so and so because she wears glasses or he eats smelly sandwiches!

        It’s important to work out who we are and be comfortable and happy with it, warts and all, or else we may be tempted to belittle someone else to make ourselves feel better. I do hope Natalie can learn to be comfortable with who she is, because she can’t be anyone else, and then it won’t matter what other people think. It’s hard though, when the desire to be different comes from the ideas of some of the people who should accept her no matter what.

        Hug yourself and hug your family and learn to say, what I am is better than ok!

  2. Anna says:

    Out of curiosity Barbara is it ok if I ask how long your family has been in the US? I am fascinated by such history. We Australians love history but for all of us, non indigenous, if you go back further than 1788 our history is from somewhere else.

    As I said before, no one has really been in Australia that long except the Indigenous population who have been here 40-60 000 years! As a nation Australia has only been around since 1901, before that it was six separate colonies. By that reasoning my maternal grandparents were not born in Australia as they were born before Federation. They were born in New South Wales.

    That is one of the reasons ANZAC Day is so important to Australians and New Zealanders. The military who fought in WW1 fought for very new nations (NZ was very nearly an Australian state by the way). Gallipoli was a battle where our new nations were tested in the fire. Even though they lost, they found honour. A lot of our national pride derives from that loss….do you find that odd? I like it. I like that we are defined as much by our attitude to our failures than our successes. The battle may have been lost at Gallipoli but the soldiers found pride in how they faced the battle.

    I think some one else quoted Rudyard Kipling’s If before. That whole poem speaks to identity.

  3. Millie says:

    Thanks for the link, Anna. It had been some time since I had read If. The first time, was shortly after my husband asked my dad for my hand in marriage. He brought me a big poster of If but hand wrote, you’ll be a woman, my spouse. He must have seen my struggles with sense of identity. I didn’t see that connection till you pointed it out here.

    I like how Kermit the Frog put it, “it’s hard being green…”

  4. Anna says:

    Or any other colour!

    • Millie says:

      True! There’s a tiny frog that only thrives in Puerto Rico. No bigger than a thumb and they make a distinctive sound at night that I like. It’s almost transparent. and I’ve seen brown frogs or are they toads? So many fascinating creatures in nature.

  5. Anna says:

    We have some very bright coloured frogs. Pretty but can’t be great for hiding from predators.

  6. Barbara H. Johnson says:

    Paul, Will there a website for the discussion of The Nature of the Beast ? Thanks.

  7. Barbara H. Johnson says:

    Leaving the Bistro for now. Will probably join in discussion of The Nature of the Beast and will definitely follow the site on book locals This has been the most interesting group I have ever observed. I doubt I’m the only one who thinks that. Good thoughts and best wishes to all.

  8. Anna says:

    Sorry to hear that Barbara. Maybe you will pop by later. We always love your company and I had so any questions to ask you about things.

    Visiting with my mum. The horrible thing about Alzheimer’s is the slow dissolution of identity. Hard to hold on to who you are and where you belong when you lose your memories. Our memories connect us to the world.

    I was watching a show called Forever. You may know it about a fellow who can’t die. The episode was all about family trees and trying to find our broader connection to the world.

    I wonder if we will find out more about Ruth’s history and connections in the next book. How we will we feel if we get to know her better. Some of our interest in her is her mystique.

  9. Cathryne Spencer says:

    I’ll miss you too, Barbara, but the locale discussion will gather excitement as it goes along, I think. I’m looking forward to the journey. The places have been so important in each book and fascinating.
    Anna, is your mom calmer in her new world now? Has she made any friends, connections? I think about you and your family and especially your mom often.
    Yes, Ruth. I’m hoping we get to have a look in her basement in August! I don’t see how someone who wrote the poetry that she has written can become less interesting without the mystique, but we will see.
    I’ve just finished the new Donna Leon book and it’s been a real pleasure.
    Nancy, I’ve read all the Steven Haville Posadas books now except the last one. I’ve enjoyed each one so much. I’m so glad you recommended them; I knew nothing about them.

    • Nancy Miller says:

      Cathryne, I’m so glad you enjoyed his books. I’ve been doing a re-read before the new book and am embarrassed to relate that I had filled in my collection but missed reading one of them! I was sure that I had borrowed it from the library but it turns out that it was totally new to me. What a delightful surprise (although still embarrassing since it’s been sitting on my shelf for at least a year). We have books sent to friends in Vermont and then pick them up when visiting. Have just returned from there tonight with the newest release.

      • Anna says:

        Not embarrassing Nancy. I think it’s fabulous to find an unread treasure on the bookshelf! Easy to do when you buy as many books as we do!

        • Julie says:

          Oh, yes – like finding a $20 bill in your pocket when you put on your spring coat for the first time of the season!

  10. Cathryne Spencer says:

    Or, Anna, I’m wondering if what you were saying was that loss of identity keeps one from making new connections.

  11. Anna says:

    Thank you for asking and thank you for thinking of us Cathryne. You are sweet.

    Mum is calmer but bored and lonely. The last few weeks haven’t been great but she was ok today. Not sure she really knew who I was though.

    It is hard for her to make new connections as there is little common base for the dementia patients. In her area most have lost a lot of their language and Mum struggles with word finding. But it is hard to have a conversation when she is not sure of who she is and who we are. No wonder she is desperate for her Mum and a sure connection.

    • Julie says:

      Oh, Anna – that’s got to be hard to figure out how to handle – I mean – your Mum needs to be somewhere where they have the expertise needed for someone with dementia, but that means that the other patients will be similarly afflicted, so communication would be so difficult. There was something I saw recently that had a program whereby college students were given free living spaces in an assisted living place – as long as they interacted with their senior neighbors at least so many hours per week. I think that was a brilliant idea – it helped the students, and I feel sure it helped the seniors to have young people around to talk with, play games with, etc. I think something like that would be excellent for anyone in a nursing home situation.

      My darling stepdaughter (who died about a year ago, now) had MS which deteriorated very rapidly. By the age of 45, she had lost her speech to such an extent as very few could understand her, and she had to be tied into her wheelchair so she wouldn’t fall out. Of course, she needed to be in a nursing home, and yet, she didn’t want to leave her fairly small town, which meant that the only place she could be was otherwise filled with the elderly, and she had nothing in common with them. It was sad to see her parked there with nothing to keep her mind occupied. Her boyfriend came to see her several times a week, and he took her home every weekend, but she really needed so much care. They had tried to find in-home care, but couldn’t. One of the problems with living in such a small place, but she didn’t want to leave her boyfriends, which I understand, of course. It’s so hard to know the best course of action, but Laurie was in charge the entire time. We did what she wanted, because even though she had such difficulty communicating because her body wouldn’t obey her, she was the same person inside – you could tell she was in there, so of course, she made her own decisions…

  12. Millie says:

    Hello dear ones, my Chiro & physio take huge chunks of my time but I’m looking forward to reading more of the many great topics offered to ponder. But just had to share this. Louise’s next book’s cover.
    WOW! It beckons one to enter and explore, while alarms are going off simultaneously to be cautious. Brilliant!

    • Julie says:

      Oh, even more, it reminds me of The Brutal Telling, which, though not my favorite, keeps coming back to me as one of the most compelling of the stories… It’s one where everything seemed to get turned on its ear, for one thing… I don’t know how I can wait, hahaha.

  13. Diane S says:

    Hello All!!! It seems not to many people know about this blog section so for newbies it reads as a private discussion. But, I’m jumping in and have just alerted a couple of people of my “find”. LOL! I only read the last 3 pages so will just say I watched the first season of “Abby”. Tried season 2, but like some said the cattiness was a big turn off and I wasn’t impressed with the acting (except M Smith) and never went back. It will never replace UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS.

    • Julie says:

      Hi, Diane – welcome! We started out about a year ago, discussing all the books during a “re-read” while we waited for the release of The Long Way Home. Then we discussed that book when it came out. By that time, a small core of us had gotten so envigorated by our discussions that we didn’t want to “let it go” – so by the generous graces of Paul Hochman and Minotaur Books, we were able to hang around the Bistro and talk about whatever we wanted while we waited for “Nature of the Beast”. But we do NOT want to be exclusive of anyone. Please jump in, and you’ll find that there’s a seat in the Bistro with your name on it. Anytime anyone would like to steer discussion back to the books, we’ll be happy to chime in, I’m sure. Meantime, our imaginations have run wild, we’ve gotten to know each other, and day-to-day issues have taken over somewhat. One of our member (Anna) has just published her first novel, and it’s a smasher! And another (Millie) is working on hers. Both inspired by Louise. So jump on in – the water’s fine! (not F.I.N.E.) :D

      • Millie says:

        LOL, Julie. I had heard of the definition of F.I.N.E. decades ago, but the E. stood for ‘Emotional’ rather than ‘Egotistical’… That definition describes me oh so well some days, ‘alas’! ;-)

  14. Cathryne Spencer says:

    I love the book cover! Does anyone recognise the plant life?

    • Millie says:

      Not a clue, unfortunately. But there does seem to be a tree branch in the right hand side and a tiny hint of a flower on the left. I thought, “How very like Louise to insert right on the cover a hint of life, of hope, of kindness even in the most foreboding of places.
      I hope this doesn’t sound too silly, but a childhood song popped into my head when I noticed the flower: “I’m a lonely little petunia in an onion patch.” Perhaps silly, but it also speaks to that entire discussion about sense of identity.
      Labels are, unfortunately sometimes, the shorthand of the brain or mind to quickly identify things. And here we are trying to identify the foliage on the cover. This group does amaze.

  15. Millie says:

    Hello Diane S and welcome. Goodness, the last 3 pages are not indicative at all of what ‘The Bistro” is usually like. So glad you took a chance anyway. The warmth and support I’ve found here like my own ‘Balm of Giliad’ and once, I likened The Bistro to our own ‘Garden of Cosmic Speculation’. Yes, our topics run all over the place. Wherever anyone chooses to go while we twiddle our thumbs waiting for TNOTB!
    Have you read all the books in the series? I don’t want to give away any spoilers if you haven’t.

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