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.

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For me, reference of the worst was coming was a signpost that another struggle for Gamache would be unraveling soon. But the reference of snow angels gave me hope that he would also find goodness and kindness.

Hello all. It’s been a busy few weeks with birthdays but I get a week’s reprieve before it starts again, so taking advantage of free time to pop in with greetings and just a few comments.

I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who can’t bring myself to reread (actually relisten) to TNOTB. At first I thought it was the new narrator, but Julie, you phrased my feelings perfectly. Barbara, I too think this is my new favorite.

I remembered Notre Dame de Roof Trusses and the Cruelest Month as soon as I saw the name, but didn’t want to stop listening to the book, as I did party prep, to look up the page. Thanks Cathryne for the location. I remember it being a very funny scene I’d like to revisit.

My take on as why Gamache didn’t tell Beauvoir more… Gamache trusted only Isabelle and Jean-Guy with the information of wanting the four cadets to go to Three Pines. And what does John-Guy do in a meeting with the Deputy Commissioner? He mentions the cadets at ‘the village’, then gives Gamache an apologetic look. Neither Gamache nor Isabelle answer Gelinas questions about what village but try to change the topic.

That would certainly give me pause to give Jean-Guy more information that could slip out at a most inopportune time. Not out of mistrust or a desire to protect JG, but more because JG has been through a lot and is only weeks away from becoming a father – another life changing experience that distracts the mind. Louise even hints at this when she has JG thinking ‘darn pregnancy’ (as if he was the one pregnant) is causing his discomfort.

Also, why on Earth would Isabelle take Gelinas to Three Pines so quickly after the cadets and Gamache arrived there. Surely she could have come up with a stall tactic. Then she let’s Gelinas take over the investigation during meetings. Gamache expressly told her she must prevent that. Yet she remains quiet while Gelinas makes accusation after accusation that Gamache is guilty of more and more things. Gelinas is supposed to watch, not take over… I can almost see Gamache coming to the conclusion that perhaps it’s best to keep things close to his vest. I loved the thoughts going through Isabelle’s mind when she meets the mayor: he wasn’t at all as she imagined but then realized Gamache hadn’t described him physically, only his character… It made me realize how much I ‘fill in’ when reading.

Louise gave me lots of reasons why Gamache acts the way he does in this book… and as Anna said, the exigencies of this story demand it be told as it was. I certainly would not have felt the power of the climactic scene with Brebeuf had Gamache been throwing out hints along the way simply to bring Isabel and JG up to date. But it took days of pondering for me to realize a big theme is “don’t believe everything you think”. So telling the story in a way that keeps the other’s in the dark shows everyone, even RM, thinking the wrong thing…

All that said, “don’t believe everything I thought.” Just my personal mental ramblings. It’s only what I got from this story and I loved it.

Barbara – thanks for pointing out the link to the reading questions – I hadn’t noticed them there before… so here’s the first one: “The worst was coming. But so was the best. The snow angels were coming,” Gamache reflects in the first chapter. Aside from evoking the chill of November, what expectations do these lines raise about the story to come?

I barely remember this “snow angels” reference – and a description of the children outside making them. And, of course, I think we’re supposed to think of something more sinister. Angel of Death comes to mind, though I’m not quite sure why – maybe because snow marks the beginning of winter, when the vegetation dies… the circle of life, Hakuna Matata… oh – sorry, slipped into a trough of clichés there… It’s slippery in the winter!

In general, the idea of making snow angels is a happy, comforting memory of childhood – but I wonder if, by also putting it at the end of the day (I think it was twilight) and “The worst was coming”, we aren’t supposed to be a little frightened of whoever the snow angels are. Beyond that, I’m stumped, but I know you guys will figure it out for me…

Thank you, Cathryne – I was just so sure I’d heard of it somewhere. I almost feel like it must be true, if Louise has used it twice – and yet, of course, there’s nothing on the internet (which as we know is all-knowing and all-seeing) hahaha. You CAN, however, find out about Roof Trusses in Notre Dame in Paris, or – get this, Roof Trusses in a place called Notre Dame de Ham!

I am so glad you did.
Gamache is such an interesting character but I feel we still have a lot to learn about how he thinks and feels. Jean Guy has been laid bare to us in many ways especially through his battle with addiction. There is a lot more vulnerability to Armand than is easily recognisable at first and he manages that through controlling and protecting. But in some ways that makes him even more vulnerable.

Anna, I looked it up when I was reading AGR because I was sure the name had been mentioned in an earlier book. I have all the books on kindle as well as in hardback so I can find parts when I want to. It’s one of the best things about kindle!

Thanks Cathryne! Brilliant work. Did you remember that or have you been detectiving! New word, roll with it. Either way, well done you!

Anna and Julie, I like your ideas about why Gamache behaved as he did and I need to think about them further. It has seemed like a key question, starting early in the book.

Hi, Anna and Julie. Yes, the town called, Notre-Dame-de-Roof-Trusses is mentioned in The Cruelest Month, pp. 78-79. Gamache and Beauvoir pass through it as they drive to Hazel’s home.

That makes sense, Anna. I’d forgotten that he definitely kept people in the dark in HTLGI to make sure that whatever punishment there might be for this only came to him. He COULD have been wanting to make sure that Isabel had “plausible deniability”. I think it really was a mistake not to warn Beauvoir, and I wonder how many times he can be hurt by feeling that Gamache doesn’t trust him, before he begins to put a distance between himself and Gamache… Still – it’s a very good point about Brebeuf – it was so personal and painful, I can see that it would be difficult. There was a point made that he had only talked to Reine-Marie about his parents’ death (and probably how his friend helped him) once, in all the time they’d been together. It must still be too painful. Okay, I feel better about this now. Of course, it’s so easy to see after the fact, hahahaha.

I had talked about magic and Three Pines earlier. This was from the imagery of the cadets when they first came to Three Pines. They were sure there was nothing there – nothing on their GPS, etc., and then they climb a hill, and just as they crest it, they feel they are falling into blackness – and then, like magic, the village opens up before them. Later on, Gamache notices headlights pointed toward the sky as a second car crests the hill, and the light seems to hang in the sky for minute, then disappears, as the car obviously turned around and left. This really struck a cord with me. It’s been there all along – the town that isn’t on any map. The unknown child who put it on the map in the schoolroom – marking it, not “Three Pines”, but “Home” – the retreat to safety for Gamache to the village in HTLGI… and of course, that wonderful stained glass window, which has been a part of every single book. I love how this mystery and magic are explained, and yet, how it’s still magic, right down to the mapmaker leaving a clue for her son in case he came home… So lovely.

Now – didn’t we hear about “Roof Trusses” in another book? I could swear I remember it, and it can’t be because it’s a real town, because I looked, hahahaha. There are some strange names, and the name of the town AFTER it was renamed is very close – Our Lady of Sorrow is how I would have translated the name of the town in the book… Notre Dame des Sept Doleurs (Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows) is the name of a real town in Quebec. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs,_Quebec

I too have pondered why Gamache behaved as he did, beyond the exigencies of the storyline, and there are a few thoughts. With Brebouf, it was a very deep and personal disappointment he suffered with this man. I can imagine he found the whole story too hard to discuss with anyone much as it reinvigorated the grief for his parents. Brebouf redeemed him then, I think he hoped to offers redemption in return, knew at a visceral level that it might fail but retained enough hope to try.
Gamache is also still very much in the fortress mindset he developed as he tried to save the department when secrecy was paramount to protect his friends and work his plans. He gambled very much on that ploy. Has he forgotten how to open up now and invite his colleagues in or are they still people he seeks to protect at all costs. It is very human to turn a strength into a weakness….the desire to protect can lead to isolation.
Armand has been accused of being arrogant by his detractors. I don’t think he means to be, I don’t believe he acts for self aggrandizement but out of true fear at times.it is not the same thing. I do agree Julie that he made a mistake and he should have asked for help but I can imagine the psychological factors that worked against him.

Oh, goodie – let’s do it then! I think you are right about the gore factor – though that’s never been WHY I read mysteries, I do expect it to be part of some books, and I can handle it. I don’t go looking for it, however, and it certainly wouldn’t upset me if it wasn’t there, hahaha. I hadn’t thought, either, Cathryne, as you so astutely point out – why say “two GAY men” instead of just “two men”? There’s an agenda there…

So let’s get right to it. For me, while this isn’t quite my new favorite, I thought it was a fantastic book, and I enjoyed it more than the last one. Actually, I think the true evil of the bad guy in the last one made it hard for me to read again, while I know I’ll be reading this one again soon!

In general though, I’m a bit mystified as to why Gamache doesn’t share his burdens more? If he’d told Isabel and Beauvoir what he was doing and why, it would have been easier to flush out The Duke and perhaps have avoided not only his death, but maybe even his coercion of the students to play Russian roulette. At least I hope so. I found it actually, kind of frustrating that he didn’t tell Isabel that he was asking for the RCMP Commissioner (whose name I’ve already forgotten) and why. She could easily have been some help in that regard. And for Beauvoir (and even Reine-Marie!) not to understand why Brebeuf was there? Obviously, the remnants of their friendship is something that both men feel deeply and there’s the push me-pull-you of the emotions, but if Beauvoir had just known, he could have been more watchful..

All that aside – we needed the things to happen as they did to move the story forward, and perhaps Louise wasn’t willing to have all three of them not be able to stop the murder and the abuse of the cadets from happening…

Anyway – for me that’s the first big thing. I’m still in the “Gamache! What were you thinking?” mode, hahaha.

I think the murder when it fit the story line. I have never needed the crime to take place at the beginning of a novel. I think that is more for the gore and blood readers too.
Many other people are mentioned when their appearance takes the story line forward. Too many people entering and leaving in every chapter becomes too “busy” for me. The main characters have a purpose . All writers are not for all readers. I do not enjoy, and so don’t read some authors that my friends consider favorites.
LP writes carefully crafted novels that educate, inform, entertain and enthrall. All readers do not seek all of those qualities. No harm, no foul. Just further proof that people differ.
This week I read Ryhs Bowen’s latest. Always a fun read. Interesting bits of English-Irish
history as the book was placed primarily in Ireland.
As I said earlier, AGR is now my favorite LP book.
I think we can discuss it as spoilers are on other sites.
Hi,to all.

May your tent be free of tigers! Absolutely. Unless they are really tame protective sorts that keep even more aggressive creatures at bay.
I think it is ok to talk now Julie. There are far more spoilers from other sources like Amazon.

I agree Cathryne. I too find it interesting to read dissenting opinions and then ponder why someone doesn’t like the book. It helps me clarify why I do. Because we love the people of Three Pines we are happy to hear about them murder or not. For the same reason I happy whenever anyone post here whatever it is they have to say. Always happy to connect with friends. But then the world of Three Pines means so much more to us than a novel. If you are just looking for a book to read with some action in it then perhaps Three Pines is a disappointment. Similarly disappointing for those seeking random gore and violence!
I do wonder if Louise will expand the population of Three Pines. That is not so easy to do. New people upset the balance a bit and we have been wary of strangers.

Oh no, I lost a post! I’ll try again.
I have had fun reading all the Amazon reader reviews of AGR. I like reading the observations of the other readers in the community, even ones I don’t agree with. I found the one complaining about the village only being populated by women and two gay men to be untrue and incredibly dismissive. As Jiulie pointed out, Armand lives in Three Pines and, in fact, he spends quite a bit of time there in this book. Billy (I’ve forgotten his last name) plowed the snowy roads and M. Belevoe was called in to help answer a question about the village’s history. We know many other men who live in or near the village and they are present at the special occasion toward the end of the book.
But, MOSTLY, why say two”gay” men instead of two men???

Oh, Anna – this is full of interesting tidbits. You are right about the Chinese curse – I certainly prefer “may your tent be free of tigers”… I haven’t read any reviews except “professional” ones – hadn’t thought at all that now there are only gay men and women. Of course, it’s not true – it’s just that these are pretty much the only characters we interact with. In my mind, we kind of see Three Pines through Clara’s eyes much of the time, and these are her friends. She isn’t going to go out and get new men friends just because Peter’s gone. Maybe precisely because Peter’s gone, she is not close to men right now. And, of course, Gamache is neither female nor gay, but I take their point. Doesn’t bother me a bit, hahaha. I didn’t find the first bit slow or boring – I wonder if that comes mostly from people who haven’t read the others? Or from those who, for whatever reason, still believe all these are fictional people instead of real ones? Once you’re really vested in the village and the people, how can what they are doing (and especially the danger they’re in) not be interesting? I’m kind of champing at the bit to talk about the book… Paul – what do you say we set Monday, Sept. 19 as the start date for the discussion?

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