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”

I’m just so pleased that Pete met Louise – the picture you sent us was amazing, Anna. I’m curious to hear what he thought of her talk, etc., and to know what she wrote to you… you must be all excited.

Well, the last half went in one gulp! I got to the point where I couldn’t not find out the next thing, it was just too hard! Finished at four this morning! (to be fair, I didn’t start until 1) Amazing and wonderful, and awful! I can’t wait to start talking about it… Paul – do you want to promote a start day and see if you get any new “takers”? Or should we just figure out among ourselves when to start? I think we need to give it a bit more time yet, of course – people have to had time to have the books mail-ordered to them, and then to read it at a normal pace, I think.

Pete met Louise! Great news.
To be honest I really doubt mosquitos but can’t find signs of anything else.
One thing about AGR, the humor was great. Especially the phone call. It reminded me of when automated calls can not understand my accent.
Petey is at vet. Seems to be gastritis. Carol’s b’day celebration will be tomorrow. Just her and Sam and me anyway. She doesn’t want us to leave Petey after we pick him up at 11:30.

Barbara, do you mean Lacoste’s phone call to the gun company? That one sounded like some of my incoming calls. People from my own state can be hard to understand, especially since so many have poor cell phone connections.

So far I haven’t seen any reference to Agent Nicol, I hope she hasn’t been forgotten.

And I love how Clara’s puppy Leo is referred to as the little lion.

Pleased about the improvement Barbara but curious about the source. Are you back to thinking mosquitos?
Computers always have a settling in phase but yay that it is there and working.
Worrying about giving things away is why I went back to reading Bury Your Dead and using it to think about AGR and Louise’s writing in general.

Excited to hear what you have to say about magic and light Julie!
Just had email from Pete from Louise’s DC book launch event. Very keen to hear all about it when it finishes.

My left arm is almost well. “Bites” appeared on my right arm over weekend. Upper arm just like left arm. I didn’t develop cellulitis this time. The itching was intense as before but I used ice packs to cool it down. No problem last night or today. Appearance is much better.
Computer up and going. Have had a few problems but always do at first.
I’d better not comment on AGR as I just know I’ll slip and put in a spoiler. I still can’t believe how it came together.

Started an answer, and then clicked the wrong thing and closed the window – silly girl. Anyway – I will continue to read at my own speed, Anna, as I don’t seem to have any others, hahaha. I am aware of speeding up as I get closer to knowing what’s happening here… the next chapter beckons far more strongly now… I think you’re right about our imaginations being better than the movies so we can construct our own villages (we can even call them “Roof Trusses” if we want – and I want to get back to that idea in awhile)… One of the things I’ve noticed more in this book than in others, though it’s there in the others, too, is the “magical” quality of Three Pines – a Brigadoon quality about it. There’s something about a place that you have to almost slow down and not care if you get anywhere to find… And something about light – don’t let me forget that when we start to discuss…
I hope your day got back on track, Anna. Can’t wait to be discussing…

I started to write about 12 hours ago and my day was interrupted. But what I was going to say…please read at exactly your own pace Julie. Ignore the rest of us who just couldn’t help but gobble the book in one sitting. We have at least a year…sadly….until the next one appears and there is plenty of time to fill with our chatter.
As much as I love the map, and I think you so much for sending it to me Julie, I have my own map of Three Pines. Isn’t that the joy of books over movies? You are free to create the world according to you.
Barbara, are you feeling better? I am glad the floods were not too bad and that the rain was more welcome than worrisome. Good luck with the new computer. I totally agree with what you said…every thread fitted, none were forced.
My thoughts today were revolving around he complexity of Louise’s characters and her exploration of the descent of ‘man’ (meaning all humans) from goodness to despair. We saw this with Jean Guy and with Gamache’s best friend. Is it greed, despair, fear, hurt or a creeping evil that destroys us? When does sadness and badness morph into evil? I think we have talked about this before but this book brings it up and I am curious again.

Ohhhh – now I feel like the odd man out because I’ve been parceling the book out a bit at a time. I’m still only a little more than halfway through – and so enjoying it! I agree, Louise is an expert craftswoman – what she has “brought round” from earlier bits and pieces, and the way she gives you just enough information to make you think but not enough to show her hand is tantalizing! I have my own way of thinking of the village, and where people live and it doesn’t jibe exactly with the map from last year… but I have it up where I can see it from my computer station and I look at it from time to time – maybe I need to add some things… I’ve seriously been thinking of coloring it again… just bits – that have been important in the book. Now I’m wondering if I need to add a few things, too…

Hi to Millie. You have been thought of every day you have been away. I’m so sorry this has been such a bad year for you. Sort of like 2010 was for me. I reached a point where I was afraid to check the obits each morning and was frightened when the phone rang.
You are so wise. You have now taught me the idea of setting a date for returning to the world. Thank you dear friend.
Welcome back and I look forward to your thoughts and insights on AGR.
I watched the weather reports to see how Hermine was affecting your area.
Good thoughts and prayers for happiness to you.

I read AGR after it came midafternoon on Sat. I finished it at 1:04 Sun AM. It was all I had hoped it would be and so much more. I had to stop reading to eat with Sam and then watched a 30min TV show so that he wouldn’t feel left out.
I had stayed with sister from Fri AM till Sat. The weather reports kept warning of high winds from Hermine. After a tree fell and crushed her storage building and fence two months ago, she was uneasy. We were most fortunate. Massive flooding in low lying area didn’t occur. Only a few low spots were flooded. The rain was slow and steady for many hours but not a destructive downpour.The rain was very welcome as the hot, dry summer had taken its toll.
I can not say enough about AGR. So many loose ends were tied up and in such clever, thoughtful ways. It is now my favorite LP book because even more than the previous books, her planning, many books back, was obvious. The way one thread tied into another and they into another was beautiful. Everything fit..nothing was forced. It is one of the best crafted novels I have ever read. I am still amazed. I don’t remember when I last enjoyed reading a book and feeling such joy at the end. When one new character appeared, I thought What, Why? Finally, all became clear. How skillful. I can hardly wait till we can start discussing it. I had to erase 5 or 6 sentences in this post as I kept thinking of comments I wanted to make.
Tomorrow afternoon my laptop will be set up. I might stay up all night.

Almost a short prologue
Flashes of memory
Discussions with other characters
Letters to Gamache

They are all ways Louise introduces backstory in the first two chapters of Bury Your Dead. She is careful. There are no long slabs of what happened before but tantalizing glimpses and vignettes. It draws you in, ignites the curiosity and propels you forward. Sigh. She is very very good at her craft.

I didn’t actually refer to the map directly but I did have to think about the placement of houses. I have kind of reverted to a melded version of Three Pines, mine and the maps.
Elucidating backstory without interrupting the flow is a talent of Louise’s. I am still amazed that when I read Bury Your Dead I felt so comfortable even though there was a lot that was happening that related to previous books. I didn’t feel alienated.
Weaving connections is another ability in evidence in Louise’s books. This was so essential in How the Light Gets In and is drawn upon in her latest novel. Some authors tie threads together clumsily but I never feel that with Louise. When you compare how Louise does this with other authors you know, does Louise do it more naturally (or am I just happily biased) why is that so?

I love your computer analogy, Anna. Its been like that and a GPS system stuck on ‘recalculating’ for long enough… But I had to find my way back to joy. Im so glad I promised I’d be back when the book was released or it might have taken me longer, a lot longer to greet the world without expecting to hurt beyond words.

You nailed it when you said, “When we are hurt we almost expect to be hurt more and our world view is tainted by that fear and expectation of the worst.” But I had forgotten how many different ways Jean Guy has seen the village and how many different ways we have seen him, thanks for the reminder and the warm welcome back.

Now I’m tempted to do a quick re-read of Still Life and actually notice how LP weaves backstory into her first novel. I don’t remember that topic ever being discussed in Lit classes when I attended school – you know, with the dinosaurs… 😉

By the way, am I the only one who has had to refer to last year’s map of Three Pines?

So very lovely to see you Millie. I am sorry you have had a difficult time although very grateful you have a caring husband in Mike who knew what to do. I hope you have been able to reboot the system after shutdown. Sometimes that is the only thing to do when overwhelmed. May each day be brighter and less onerous than the last. We are never bored to hear from you, not ever.
Well done Julie. Excellent observation. The use of the ‘newcomer’ to bring a fresh perspective and reveal what is already known is one technique Louise uses across her novels. I like how often the newcomer sees negativity where we see delight. A reminder that our emotions alter our view of the world. When we are hurt we almost expect to be hurt more and our world view is tainted by that fear and expectation of the worst. Gabri might appear overbea int instead of friendl, we might see the closeness of the villagers as exclusive rather than welcoming.
Jean Guy saw everything and reremembered the world very differently through the haze of addiction.

That’s a brilliant observation, Julie. My thoughts were focused in an entirely different direction: how Louise is a master of giving the backstory of new characters that are introduced. Present time action stops while the new character remembers something then action continues without missing a beat is one I admire tremendously.

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