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 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.

Oh, goodie – something to discuss! I have just been reading in the latest, someone new to us all observing someone we all know (I know that sounds cryptic but I think you know what I mean). The description given – because the person observing doesn’t know the other character – helps to establish a known character for those who haven’t read any of the books so far. I think she does that each time – has us looking at the group of Three Piners from an outsider’s viewpoint, and thereby is able to introduce the characters to other characters as well as to new readers. She doesn’t go into much backstory unless it’s really important for this story, and even then, she does it in a natural way – such as so-and-so’s hands no longer shake, but the limp is still visible when tired – the last vestige of the debacle he’d gone through a few years ago. Later still, one character is remembering what another character did for him as he lay dying – so he thought… things like that, which seem so natural, must be very difficult to work into the story, but help new readers feel that they know enough to understand certain things.

What a great question, Anna. One that will require some thought on my part before venturing a response…

Hello ‘Bistro Bunnies’ – that is so funny, but I have a hard time seeing Paul as a bunny, more a penguin in a glorious tuxedo . All kidding aside, thanks Paul for this place of refuge, caring and belonging. And thank you to all who kept the embers glowing and the teapot full. I really needed some ‘alone time’ to come to grips with more deaths in my family, only this year from my own generation, as well as seeing my own mom’s rapid decline… I didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer but I’m FINE now and so happy to be back. (The first time I heard FINE the “E” stood for Emotional and that’s how I think of it…)

I gave myself the deadline of this book’s publication as a lifeline back to being ME without the fear, negativity, depression, tears and all the blah that comes with grieving. To help me through this bump in my road, hubby bought me a laptop when he realized I couldn’t bring myself to sit at the desktop (which I had gotten right before my dad passed away) and every weekend that it hasn’t been hot as an oven, or lately raining, he’s taken me to Universal Studios since I turn into a little girl full of joy and smiles there – well, at least the Harry Potter areas. For those of you who remember… He really is my knight in shining “armoire”!

Speaking of rain… the Atlantic storms have brought much needed showers to our little neck of the woods but no ‘storms’. We’ve been very lucky this year in that regard even though the really long time residents say it’s been the hottest summer they can remember and I have a 96 year old neighbor! She’s still as sharp as a tack, still drives and only needs reading glasses, and is the most positive, uncomplaining person I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. She’s been a life line and role model for me also – getting older doesn’t have to mean decline or loneliness and certainly not boredom!

Well, I best sign off before I bore you all with more rambling. Sending love and positive thoughts to all and get well wishes to those not feeling well. It was a blessing to me to feel your positive thoughts and I thank you for them. Many ((((( hugs )))))

(((((((Millie))))))) I’m so sorry you’ve been going through so much. How smart of you, though, to put a deadline on it! Those sorts of things, somehow, “magically” do what they’re meant to do – “Let me wallow for awhile, but I WILL stop on such and such a date” – even when it doesn’t happen perfectly, you begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. (Shiver) – tunnels lately have me scared – we’re (“we” being Seattle) currently digging an underwater tunnel to route traffic through at the waterfront area, rather than the bridge that was there before, which was badly damaged in an earthquake some time ago. Now, I don’t know about you – but the idea of having all that water rush into the tunnel during an earthquake, rather than having my car fall off the bridge during an earthquake, is not exactly an improvement to me! Of course, so far, the dig has taken twice as long and cost twice as much as usual, AND the resulting shaking of the ground to do the digging has caused a lot of damage in the buildings above-ground). Why, oh why, isn’t the easiest and most straightforward way the one chosen? It seems to silly to me, when you could just have surface streets near the waterfront, and put the highway on the outskirts of the city, routing through traffic away from us, rather than THROUGH us… We already have a “ring road” type of alternative quite far inland, and if they would widen that freeway, and require all trucks that were not going INTO Seattle to use it and not I-5, there’d be such gains… for everyone, including the truckers, who regularly get snarled up in Seattle traffic. But NO – we need this monstrosity. How I got to be ranting about the tunnel here is beyond me, hahaha – but I guess it’s just the thought of them now kind of fills me with dread. I just KNOW there’s going to be a bad accident during the digging, or shortly after it opens, and it all seems so needless. So – ya cheered up yet, Millie? Where did I go wrong? (shakes her head and sighs)

I love that your husband was wise enough to get the laptop for you – it makes you mobile and “lighter” in so many ways… I find myself using my tablet so much these days, that I know when the time comes to replace my honking big desktop, it will be with a full-sized computer type laptop that can come apart and be a tablet OR a laptop. If all I did was connect with friends, and had no files or work of any kind on it, I’d even opt for just a really good tablet with a keyboard accessory. I do find I don’t like writing anything of any length on the tablet, and I still feel too silly to just “speak” what I want to write – maybe I should just get over that!

Glad the rains haven’t brought you too much in the way of storms and disastrous weather, Millie. I watch the news every night and just wonder how much can the land withstand? We might have to start building arks…

I love the idea you mentioned of giving us the backstory of the newcomers – it helps to illuminate everything, yet doesn’t drag the action down at all, does it? More and more, I am in awe of Louise’s writing – so substantial and thoughtful. I can’t imagine how she has all this in her head – this story that I’m now about half-way through – seems to be something that was thought out long ago in the grand scheme of Three Pines.

Anna – I like the idea, too, of the skewing of established characters by changing their perspectives or ours because of something that happens to/with that character. It all just seems to be so natural, yet I know that kind of writing has to be carefully drafted and thought out. All so cool.

Now that I’m further into the story, I’m still wondering what on earth Gamache was thinking – I hope he is redeemed in the end. I also have a theory about one of the new characters, but won’t mention it until later, as it would be a definite spoiler if it’s right, and of course, will expose me as an idiot if it’s wrong… hee hee. I think it’s too late to disguise that.

I was thinking, as something to discuss, a topic we have touched on before but it is relevant with the current book:
I came to discover Louise with Bury your Dead which had a couple of different story arcs in the background including the events that left Gamache scarred and shaken Olivier in prison, yet I never felt lost despite not having read the previous books.
What techniques does Louise use to incorporate the backstory while maintains the forward flow of the storyline?

What a lovely lady Julie! I so enjoy hearing happy tales of people being genuinely kind. Then when I strike nasty people I have a store of examples of the world being a generous place to overcome the negativity! We must never underestimate the power of caring even when there is nothing we can actually do because just knowing someone would like to help is really uplifting.
Back in the city at yet another University open day. This one was infinitely more successful than last. Lots of lovely people in evidence and Erin feeling very happy. We found a couple of her friends and the kids went off and we parental S sat around and had coffee and checked out accommodation options. Fingers crossed and kind thoughts people. I think she has her heart set on this place and particularly one college to live in. It could be good if it works.

Wouldn’t it be funny if the Hobo spider carried a little bundle on a stick? I can just see it. As for the spider bite itself, however, I can skip that, thank you very much! Shudder….

Yikes, Anna! I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad’s leg – but love that he got help so fast AND that the lady at the clinic was so concerned. I don’t know why but attitude goes so far. When I had forgotten my carry-on at the airport a few weeks ago, the ticketing agent I dealt with was so very concerned for me. She could see that I was visibly upset, and she came around and gave me a hug, and asked me to check back with her if there was anything at all she could do. Later on, she came and found me in the airport lobby (Seattle airport is not small) to see if there was anything she could do. At that time, I was on the phone with my husband, and so couldn’t talk to her but assured her it looked like all was going to be okay. I told my husband how very wonderful she’d been, and he asked “what did she do for you?”, and really, all I could say was “nothing – but she was WILLING to do whatever, and was so concerned and nice!” It wasn’t that there was anything she COULD do, but the fact that she was concerned for me went so far in calming me down and making me feel like it would be okay…

Great dream Barbara! I think it is lovely to have comforting dreams of any kind….duck or dog! And blackberries in any form should combat infection. Did the blackberry wine contribute to the dream do you think….
Love the name Hobo spiderJulie, but I don’t want to meet one. Do they carry their possessions in a knotted handkerchief?
Hello Cathryne and Peg. Did you get to the appointment Cathryne?
I was supposed to take Dad to have his pacemaker check yesterday but we had a problem. Dad tore open his leg getting into the wheelchair. Not a little skin tear but a full laceration. There was a pool of blood a foot across on the carpet. When I rang to cancel the appointment at the clinic the lovely lady was more concerned to check that I was ok and Dad was ok. She asked if we needed help, could she do anything? So nice. We were lucky the singing surgeon was on hand and the leg was cleaned and sutured and dressed before you could blink. It is a worry though as he is at risk of major complications. Sigh. He has been in the wars!
As you can imagine my rereading has ground to a halt but I am reading to discuss anytime.

I think Henri would be in my dreams before Rosa, although she would be a close second. Touching an animal is so soothing.

Well, the spiders in this part of the country are not usually venomous, though I’ve just gone to look and see if we have any at all, and we do have three and I feel sure I’ve seen a Hobo spider in our house! I just killed it, as it just looked like a big spider to me – never thinking… The bite of it is horrendous-looking! I love your dream, Barbara – what a peaceful and lovely thing to dream about! I find it interesting to see who is holding Rosa in any given scenario – I think that she is a peace-giver to whomever has her. Good for you, Cathryne and Anna, to be re-reading (or listening) already. I’m sure I’m missing things…

Jennifer – welcome! The discussion will surely be here – we have figured (and I’m sure Paul is thinking this, too) that we need at least a couple of weeks to have given everyone time to have read it. I know some of you fast readers have already finished, but I’m very slow, and of course, some people still have to get their copy of the book, so it will likely be in about 2 weeks from this past Monday – or whenever Paul says. Paul is the Minotaur Publishing rep who runs the site for us, and he is likely going to make sure there is a FB announcement, etc. that draws readers in for a very full group for discussion. What you find here right now, are the ne’er do wells who hang around in between books and talk about any and everything.

Oh, Barbara, I love your dream, and the details, perfect! I hope you are feeling better each day, so sorry about the antibiotic side effects. Adding insult to injury!

I have finished reading AGR and now I’m happily listening to the audible version.
i found it astonishing, wonderful, amazing, as good as I hoped. Second time through the book mines even more gold.

I have to go out, I’m late to appt.

Interesting to see the Julie and Anna mentioned spiders. I had not even thought of them until a friend called Tues. night and told of their battle with them in their bedroom. We searched the room, behind bed and other furniture. We didn’t see any or any signs of them.
Anna, I had forgotten about the symptoms of sepsis even though the Dr. said it may have gone into sepsis without treatment.
Julie, love the B&B idea. Yesterday, Sam said that his mother always said Blackberry juice was good for infection. I ate a slice of blackberry pie and felt guilt free. I might add that I have blackberry wine in the cabinet. I keep it on hand for cooking and sipping.
Hi, Jennifer. I think the discussion will be here. All info about the discussion will be here for sure. Looking forward to it.
I had a short dream the other night. Sitting on the bench in the square in Three Pines and holding Rosa in my lap. She wore a small shawl over her back. I could feel the warmth from her body and her breathing. No one else in sight. It was early morning. So peaceful.

We will discuss the new book Jennifer. We are just giving people a chance to read it so they aren’t caught up with spoilers inadvertently. Quite a few of us have read it so we are just chatting while we wait. It’s a fabulous read although Julie and I are waiting to talk about how on eart Gamache thought what he did was a good idea, without saying what made us question him! Please join in. We are happy to talk about all things Three Pine. Did you enjoy the book….without giving anything too much away yet?

Oh dear Barbara…cellulitis is nasty. Is it getting better with the antibiotics?? Please be careful because nausea and shaking can be signs of sepsis as well as side effects of the medication. Not said to worry you, I just want you to be alert. If the redness and swelling are improving then it’s likely to be the medication causing the problems. Wish I could be there to help you!

So very pleased that the computer will be set up properly soon and you have that out of the way. So proud of you getting your laptop. And the book will come and we can have a lovely natter. Did Carol order it for you? What kindness. Hopefully by the time it arrives you will be feeling better and able to enjoy everything.

Spider bites Julie! Eek. I killed a deadly female funnel web in our garden a couple of weeks ago. Spiders in this country are so nasty. Could well be though but Barbara’s reaction is a horrid one. I am glad you are reading happily. I had to devour in the end as I just couldn’t see where the time was going to come from otherwise. Had Dad to the doctor yesterday, went well, pacemaker check today and need to get him to the optometrist. He is so heavy and the whole process is exhausting even with my friend helping. I was in bed and sound asleep within two hours of getting home.
I will try and reread AGR…

((((((((Barbara))))))) I’m so sorry to hear about the cellulitis. I wonder if it could have been spider bites? Vern gets them really bad this time of year as the spiders start to “come in for the winter”… they seem to love him and leave me alone, but his bites are always big and itchy and swollen. Not that mosquitoes don’t get into people’s houses… but the reaction seems like too much. Whereas, depending on the spider, they can be bad. I hope the antibiotics knock it out in one go. Certainly seems like they’re knocking you out! Go, read, be calm, drink tea, or a big vaseful of bourbon with a branch stuck in it! 😀 and feel better… So happy that your book will be there soon! Then you can fret about whatever it was that Gamache was thinking along with Anna and me! Glad to hear the laptop is here, too. Good news – by the time we’re discussing the book, you’ll be an old hand on it!

Anna, to me, Three Pines is so real you can taste it, hahaha. Of course, that might just be all the wonderful food they have. Very early in there’s a plate of scrambled eggs with brie that had me salivating!

Wow Anna, you really gobbled up the book. I can imagine Julie, It keeps calling “Just one more page”. So tempting.
Much news. Carol told me this AM that my copy of AGR is on the way. I was going to send Sam to buy me a copy in a few days or so. Glad I didn’t.
My typing is very poor this morning as I have to make corrections to almost every word. That is because I am somewhat shakey as I have been taking high doses of an antibiotic since Sun. I woke up with bites all over my upper left arm on Sat. but by Sunday was in real trouble. Cellulitis. Had a regular appt. with primary Dr. for Mon. but went to one of the hospital’s Prompt Care offices on Sun. We all thought mosquito bites. I had scratched them and bacteria had entered the broken skin. That has always been a problem. First time to have such a serious reaction. The antibiotic has made me very ill. Again standard reaction. I wonder if the4y were really mosquito bites. I have been nowhere outdoors or unusual.
Good news. New laptop arrived yesterday. Will be set up by Geek squad next Tues afternoon.
Can’t wait to start reading. The distraction will be good for me.
Best to all.

Aw Peg. Somehow it’s worse knowing she is so close and you can’t get there. I asked Pete to say hi from The Bistro if he gets a chance.
Exactly Julie? No spoilers but seriously Gamache?! We will have to discuss that in a couple of weeks. Suffice to say it is a great mix of all things Three Pines and some new people and places that keep the story fresh and interesting. Louise’s amazing ability to paint a scene for the senses and the heart is in full swing so you don’t so much read the book as float along beside the characters immersed in the world she has given us.
There is no doubt Three Pines is a real place. We all make it real.

And so we do, Paul. The Bistro has become so very important to me, and I think to a number of us. Even as we sit and wait. But the waiting is over, hallelujah!

I got my copy at midnight – said I would read one chapter. I’m on chapter 7, but I AM going to try to make it last a little longer, hahaha. I usually don’t read in the daytime, and will try to keep to that. Have plenty to do to keep me busy, but it’s calling, oh, it’s calling. I was at first so happy to read some things I’d been hoping would happen, and then the story got going and I am thinking – Gamache! What are you thinking????!!!! So, of course… no spoilers, I promise.

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