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”

So many posts today – how wonderful! Cathryne, so nice to see you, and Nancy! It’s great to see you, too. I think you are right, of course, Nancy, that we’d all like to be Louise’s best friend (or did you say that she would ours? Is there a difference? I feel sure there is, somehow. But I know what you mean.) The one thing I do worry about for Louise is that she has so many of us admirers and is so open with herself, that many people already think they “know” her, and I could see people descending on her when she least expects it. I especially worry since we have known the name of the village she moved to… I know that’s silly, but there you are.

I heard her speak (but couldn’t meet her) two years ago – or was it three? For The Long Way Home. Because I’d already bought my book elsewhere I couldn’t get it signed, so I just enjoyed the talk and then went on my way, gazing wistfully at the hundreds of people lined up to meet her and get their books signed. Next time she’s in this area (though I’m actually hoping, for her sake, that that’s years and years from now, because it will mean that Michael is still at home and doing well enough for her to not want to leave. I worry about this, too.) She is such a humorous speaker – and so self-deprecating that she immediately seems to be speaking just “to you”.

It’s always a joy to see your words Cathryne. There are absolutely times when I do not have the words and even then I visit here and ‘listen’ even if I can’t speak. Sitting quietly in undemanding company is restorative.
Don’t you love those moments when the light and the essence is just right. And they are just moments but the beauty lingers. Your description is joyous.
I have only passed through San Diego but Pete sings its praises. He has spent some time there. I am sure I will visit!
My favourite music from West Wing was Sanvean: I am your Shadow. It’s a haunting piece by Lisa Gerrard and used most effectively behind a montage of scenes when Zoe Barlett has been kidnapped and the Bartletts attend a mass. And of course Jeff Buckley singing Hallelujah in Posse Comitatus. It is the combination of the story, the imagery and the music that adds so much more emotion to already emotional pieces.

Millie, so good to hear from you. I liked what you said,”Help in the form of just feeling part of this group is OK even when life is difficult at the moment and I’m not up to chatting”. I believe Anna said once that she “didn’t have the words” to post for a few days or so, when she knew her mom was going to have move ing a care facility. I hope I’m being accurate. I do think sometimes that I don’t have the words and it’s OK. A chance to comment on something unrelated can be nice, though.

We loved West Wing too, and the music they included was masterfully chosen.
I’m not a big fan of Hemingway and would love to have been able to set Ruth and her poetry on him! And Rosa.

I love what you said about true friends being happy for any minute they spend with you, Anna. I had lunch with a longtime friend the other day and it was as if we took up the conversation where we left off, relaxing and restoring.

I was surprised by joy today driving home from needed, mind numbing shopping. There is a lovely old tall bridge in Balboa Park, connecting a cityish area with museums, the Old Globe Theatre, and gardens. I drove under the bridge on a freeway and the late afternoon sun was breathtaking shining through the large, tall arches. San Diego is a beautiful place. If only it would RAIN!

Heeellllllooooo Nancy! How nice to see you. Of course you want to meet her and be her best friend because she is a lovely inspirational woman and who doesn’t want people like that for friends. I am very glad that Louise has given me all of you in her stead. I suspect she has as big a social circle as she can deal with right now.
I definitely have it on my list to be at one of her events next year. Pete had a great time and Louise was generous with hers. It must be exhausting to do all of that travel and talking and meeting so many new people. I am grateful she does it but I do hope she is an extrovert and draws lots of energy from such things. I would be wiped out!
One thing I have learned from moving a lot is that true friends are happy for any minute they spend with you no matter how long that is or much time there is between those minutes. It makes for a very relaxing relationship.

Hi Everyone!

It’s Friday and tomorrow, Saturday, is when Louise is appearing at Costco in Colchester, Vt to sign books. Oh how I’d love to be there. We often visit that store on our trips to Montpelier…however..it is usually extremely busy. I hope that there have been arrangements made to aid in parking and traffic flow because it can be a zoo even on an ordinary day. With Louise there I don’t even like to think about it. I know. I’m a coward. Paul, please tell me someone has taken care of this?? (Maybe buses from Shaws parking lot across the road??)

I keep telling myself that I met her years ago when she interviewed the End Of Your Life Bookclub guy at McGill so I should be happy and let others enjoy meeting her. But secretly I’d still like to be her best friend. How about the rest of you? Anna? Millie? Julie? Sigh.

It’s been a long day and I’m too tired to even try to wrap my brain around your questions, Anna. But I do have the energy to thank you, Barbara and Julie and anyone else who silently welcomed me ‘back’, made me laugh and enjoy the warmth of ‘belonging’. Laughter. a priceless gift. 🙂

I am a great West Wing fan as it is cleverly written and superbly acted. It has humour and drama and depth. Like Louise.
You are correct about Hemmingway sounding less hopeful. I thought he was harsh….hence the Ruth less comment. But is he right? Do we all have to be broken? Can we get through life dented but not fractured? Are we really stronger afterwards? What if you keep braking in the same place?

Anna – you are the cleverest person to be able to tie such things together… Are you watching West Wing to get ready for Washington? Have you ever seen Born Yesterday with Judy Holliday? I think it’s 1950 – here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PI8jeq6VOiI This is the movie I’d watch before visiting DC. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Judy was so very wonderful! The more I watch it, the more I enjoy it – especially the gin playing scene.

Anyway – how cool that you made that connection. Hemingway’s thoughts somehow have less hope than Louise’s, though, and seem prophetic, don’t they? The thing that’s amazing about Louise is the hope she conveys through everything, and when you see even a glimpse of her everyday life, and know how she is constantly “surprised by joy”, it’s inspiring.

Oh, Millie, there are tears in my eyes. I’m the original “heart on her sleeve” girl – people could crush me in an instant, and some have. Luckily, I do rise from the rubble – I must be a Phoenix, haha. Here in the bistro, I feel that we have all signed on for kindness and understanding. Of all the places in the world, here is where I know I will be made to feel welcome and understood. I know it’s not really a “place”, but it definitely feels like it. And it IS a community. Please don’t stay away on account of feeling like you have nothing positive to say on this or that occasion. Someone here WILL have something positive and it’s bound to be just what you need to hear. Okay, now I hear Norah Jones singing “Come away with me”, so I must have reached my limit of trite for the day. (and in my first post!)

Ah Millie….so true. We rail against change, all of us and yet it is an everyday event. I so understand what you are saying and I think we have all been there. Isn’t it lovely that Bistro itself doesn’t change. The warmth and comfort are always there. Louise created Three Pines as the place to go when we want to be kind. The Bistro is the place to go when we need kindness. I am glad you are here.

Thank you Paul for the link. Just what I needed. There’s been a lot of stress in my life this year (again) and just when I thought it was safe to dive back into the waters of a more social life and share the warmth of the Bistro, more emotional sharks appeared this week. When stressed, I can’t eat anything but soup and French bread so finding a new soup recipe is just the encouragement I needed to stay involved here and venture past my front door in search of yellow peas. 🙂

But besides that, there was a line from the blog about Myrna talking to Gamache about living a still life that shook my core: ” stunted growth … an aversion to interior change that allows evil to flourish in one’s soul.” Not that I believe evil is flourishing in my soul but a deep sadness was certainly settling in. If not depression, certainly the inability to find joy in each day. Or, as Gamache tells Peter at the end of Trick of the Light, to expect a miracle everyday. I certainly didn’t feel I could offer anything positive. Even worse, I had forgotten the cardinal rules of:
I’m sorry.
I was wrong.
I need help.
I don’t know.
Sorry I didn’t participate more.
Wrong to think if I shared my thoughts they would come out with a negative, off putting twist.
Help in the form of just feeling part of this group is OK even when life is difficult at the moment and I’m not up to chatting.
And most important, I really ‘don’t know’ what to do sometimes with the seemingly endless turmoil and ‘inner change’ these past four years have demanded of me…

Thank you Paul for this place of refuge and To All for keeping the fire of comfort going.

Anna, you are a master of tying strings together. But I don’t see it so much as ruthless rather echoes of Gamache repeating often that we can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven with the added twist of ‘we must die before we are reborn’. Not necessarily physically but parts of our ego? The monkey mind that is constantly beating us up with negative self talk, self abuse. Like, “Your not good enough,” till we face a situation where we feel broken after dealing with whatever we just had to face. We feel broken because we had to change our self image. The world keeps changing and so must we, but the ego fights to keep the status quo tooth and nail. Which has led me to my next post. I wrote it right after seeing the link but was hesitant to post. But what the heck.

The point I was going to make was, “Can you imagine the hell it must be to live a long life without embracing change?”

I was following Paul’s link, which made me think about How the Light Gets In (the first book the blogger read), and an old episode of West Wing begins. How are the two related you may well ask?
I had the lines from Leonard Cohen’s Anthem playing in my head:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

And against that l had Martin Sheen quoting Hemmingway from a Farewell to Arms:

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.

We must break to survive and indeed be stronger. Tempered by life as it were. What interests me is Hemmingway’s fate for those who will not break. Sounds ruthless (is that Freudian?).

I enjoyed that, Paul – I hope she is going to do other books, too. Just as I enjoy the thoughtful posts on The Night is a Strawberry, looking at the books through food is a very satisfying way to go about it all…

An excellent read Paul. Thank you. Its always interesting to hear what others think of Louise, particularly those who came to Three Pines so far into the series. Not surprised that it was the food that bought her back!!

I agree Peg. Similarities in the prickly way they interact with the world…..reject before it rejects you.
I spoke only briefly to Pete so didn’t get a big debrief on the book launch. He said it was really good, as you would expect, and that he found it interesting to hear about the discipline Louise brings to writing. As she was a journalist she is used to being disciplined with writing. At the beginning she sets herself a 200 a day word count and increases it as she moves forward. 200 words…sometimes we write almost that much in a post!
Hopefully I can talk more to Pete tomorrow as I was at an appointment with Dad after he had finished his evening our down times didn’t really intersect.

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