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:

    The bit with Clara was that she was trying to paint Peter’s portrait and she was struggling. Towards the end of the book she is trying to paint and Ruth comes to see her and asks why she is stuck. Is she waiting to be saved, to be forgiven, for Peter to tell her she can finally move on.
    Ruth quotes the old line “Who hurt you once, so far beyond repair” and she explains to Clara that Ruth hurt herself. Suddenly, Clara understands why she is stuck. She puts the portrait of Peter away and starts to paint the portrait of the person who hurt her. She expunged her pent up emotions into the work when she realises the source of her doubts and fears and guilt are herself. None can hurt us so badly as we who know where to push.
    That was Clara’s revelation, that moment, so for me not an evolution so much as an understanding that clicks into place.

  2. Anna says:

    I have noticed the comments on the reading guide site tend to be letters to Louise. Hard to know where to discuss the questions It was a bit of a bother jumping back and forth until I just opened two windows…doh.

    I like thinking about Reine-Marie. I know we talk about her a bit. I like that she is a strong character in her own right, not just an attachement to Armand. She compliments him delightfully. They are both so calm. Where do you think Annie gets her feistiness from?

  3. Julie says:

    Thank you, Anna – I had completely forgotten that – but I agree – that’s a moment’s realization, and I think, a moment that Clara already had the wherewithal to reach on her own. That is, it would have happened sooner or later, but luckily for Clara, Ruth was able to spur it on faster. I think Ruth being able to make this confession and get rid of a little of her guilt will be the beginning of some healing for her. I hope so, anyway. She’s been carrying a lot of guilt for a very long time. I hope Beauvoir can help her with that – so far, she’s always helped him – it’s time he helped her. In a way, he already has – he was talking with her when he got her to “confess” where she sent Fleming, and what she did next. Just the confession has been good for her, but I hope he can help her to see that it wasn’t really her fault…

    In my re-read of Still Life, I keep coming across things that make me smile a bit. First of all, everyone’s cell phone works. I couldn’t help but smile and wonder when Louise realized she was later going to need Three Pines to be more cut off from the rest of the world?

    And we’ve had a glimpse of Vincent “The Asshole Saint” Gilbert in that Gamache and Myrna discuss his book “Being” in their first conversation. Love finding little tidbits that eluded me not only the first time I read them, but also the second…

  4. Julie says:

    I think Annie has a combination of both Gamache and Reine-Marie’s best (or worst?) traits. She has a quick intelligence, which I think they both have, great compassion, or she couldn’t have waited for Jean Guy to get his act together, and she gets that from Reine-Marie. Her stubbornness – I think that’s from Reine-Marie, though in the mother, it’s shown more as the strength to last through goodness knows what, and her sense of right and wrong, which is needed for feistiness, comes from her father, along with her unwillingness to turn away from an injustice. I love that Gamache used to sing the Lion Sleeps Tonight to Annie, that she is symbolized by a lion, and that Laurent sang that song, too. I think it was a comforting thing for them – a reminder of when they were safe and in their father’s arms.

    • Nancy says:

      Annie and Jean-Guy have become my favorite characters. From the very beginning we have known JG is uptight, has a closed door in his psyche. OF course it is that he loves Annie. It has taken several books before it all came to light. Then he finds out he was her first crush. He was in the depths of hell for sure, and when he came to the light, she took him back. I think they will be a successful couple. Can’t wait for Baby Beauvoir. That may take 2 more books!! I love this series.

  5. Julie, The shooting in Roseburg was chilling. It seems that we hold our breath hoping it will not happen again but knowing it will. Too many people are missing obvious clues. Parents, teachers, and friends must notice something is wrong with these people. These people could not have passed as normal. I hate to put more on educators but if they were better trained to spot the disturbed student maybe these incidents could be avoided. Parents and relatives hesitate to “cause trouble”. Although, some teachers and relatives have been ignored when they tried to alert authorities to a problem. Maybe a nation wide program to educate the public would help.
    Sympathies to all.

  6. The fourth week of cloudy days with the sun shinning for less than five minutes when it pops out a few times day. Fighting to control the depression. I have reread many of the warm and caring posts here in the Bistro. What a special group. Thanks.

    Aiken County, just across the river from us, had much damage over the weekend. South Carolina is experiencing emergency situations over most of the state. Columbia is in dire straits with hospitals and USC without water. Myrtle Beach, which depends on tourism, is also heavily damaged. The high winds that were expected over the weekend all the way from the coast inland to us did not occur. After all the rain, the wind would have brought down trees. The ice storm in 2013 cleared many of the older and weaker trees, but there are still many very large trees all around. Our utility lines are above ground in all of the city and much of the county. More recently built areas have underground lines but the trunk lines are above ground and power is lost when they go down.
    Good thoughts and hugs to you.

  7. Julie says:

    Barbara – Seasonal Affect Disorder is very common around here, of course, because our winters are so gray. When it happens in other parts of the country, it must be disorienting at the least. We don’t realize how important sunlight is to our well-being. I know there are lights you can buy – and saw one at Costco the other day for about $60, which is a good price, I think, if it works. I don’t know if it would help you or not, but I know that this kind of weather really takes a toll. I know lots of people think it’s silly, but I actually noticed a big difference in my husband after I painted our walls yellow. It seems to simulate the sun to a degree, and he weathers the winters much better now. For some reason, I’ve not been affected by the gray days, but he was depressed all winter for years, though, thankfully, not as bad as lots of people.

  8. Julie says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on Roseburg, Barbara. I couldn’t agree more that if a number of people had simply said what they’d noticed about this young man, it could have been avoided. We’ve been programmed to mind our own business a little too much, I think, and we have to get out of that mentality a bit. It’s okay to step over the line to help someone, and especially to help avert a disaster like this.

  9. Anna says:

    Julie, I only just read your post on Roseburg. I am sorry it has affected you so closely but yes I can well understand how frustrating it must be. It is a curious form of government when the Preisdent is so hamstrung by Congress that he can’t make changes that he wants to and would be sorely needed. I feel fortunate that our government was able to come together on the issue and make a difference when we had the tragedy at Port Arthur. It can be done but the structure of your government, the interpretation of the Constitution, and the NRA mean it will have to come from the people not from the President. I think he would enact a law tomorrow if he could. The fact that he can’t is frustrating indeed.
    We have gun problems here but since 1996 they have declined dramatically. As have suicides by gun. While mental health care is important, as we have seen many of the instigators of gun crime don’t come to the notice of the mental health system.

    Barbara, I have been following the destructive rains and I am sending thoughts and prayers to the those affected. I agree with Julie about the right kind of light. Phototherapy is effective in alleviating SAD, seasonal affective disorder. It’s very real but there is help available so please look into that. I will hunt up a reference for you. You are doing a great job looking for things to help while the rain falls.

    • Julie says:

      Anna – I think some of my frustration comes from having come from a different country. One where it is much more difficult to get guns. Not impossible, and such shootings are not completely unheard of, but you never hear of someone having an arsenal of guns at home, each having been gotten legally. Surely, if there were more roadblocks in the way, some of these people would give up trying to get guns.

      I know the president can’t do anything alone, and the NRA is so very powerful a gun lobby that it boggles my mind. I almost think we need some kind of government reform that bans accepting gifts from such lobbyists before we can have gun control reform. If it didn’t come after Sandy Hook, I can only assume that people don’t care enough to make it happen at all. I know there are some – many – who care deeply, but so many vocal others who only care that they not have their right to arm themselves to the teeth infringed. Crazy. And crazy me for letting it make me crazy!

      I also agree that mental health care is important, but that alone, won’t solve the problem. So many crimes are committed by people who do not meet any legal or other definition of mental illness. Having guns be that much more difficult to get is the bigger issue, and I worry that so many politicians turn it all into rhetoric by citing the mental health care aspect, and taking the discussion down a different road.

      I think you’re right, Anna, that this president would do it tomorrow if he could. And part of me thinks that he’s a very smart man. Maybe smart enough to get this done in the time he has left, if he really makes that the main issue he cares about. What a great legacy that would be for him to leave – not only having brought in good health care for all citizens, but also to have made the country safer by reforming the gun laws. During his “lame duck” time, I think that Mr. Obama has already decided he will not worry about not offending people, and will do more of what he really wants to do. I wish he would take up this cause with a vengeance.

    • Thanks for the link. I have an appt. with the ophthalmologist Thurs. and will ask about the light box and my eyes. Later this month I’ll see the Internist and discuss it. I had known about but let it go. I do things like that.
      Today was beautiful. The sun was bright all day. Yipee !

  10. Anna says:

    Love your comments on Reine-Marie and the things you are digging out from Still Life Julie.

  11. Julie says:

    I’m off first thing in the morning for my Jane Austen event so I won’t be posting until I come back – which isn’t til next Tuesday night! I picked up my dress this afternoon, and it’s just perfect – wait until you see pictures! I will be posting an album of my adventures so all my friends can see, so will send a link when that’s up. Fun! Til then, stay safe, away from the mad weather and cozy in the Bistro…

  12. Have fun Julie. I can’t wait to see your pictures.
    Thanks for mentioning SAD. A friend gave her daughter a lamp a few years ago. She did get some help from it. I’ll check on it.

  13. Anna says:

    Have a great time Julie. Looking forward to the photos!

    Glad the sun is shining for you Barbara. We have the opposite. After several very hot days we are back to cold and drizzle. I don’t mind. I see it as an excuse to be cosy and finish writing my book. Getting close. Louise posted a link to an interview she did on cbc radio. It was a very timely reminder of things she has said before but helpful for me to rehear. Writing is for me and that I shouldn’t be trying to write the greatest novel in the world or I will never finish it.

    • Anna, How exciting ! Your second novel. Further adventures of the characters in the Cove ? I’m happy for you . You are a well rounded person, quite intelligent, loving and caring to your family and others and now using your talents to write. You remind me of LP in many ways. One day, we may be a part of your discussion group.
      Love the comment about the greatest novel. A local author told me she had to realize she wasn’t trying to write the Great American Novel just her book. She had a problem trying to get it perfect.
      Write away. Looking forward to reading it.

  14. Anna says:

    Yep, the characters of The Cove are being heard again. What amazing compliments you pay me Barbara. Comparing me to LP is high praise indeed!!! I thank you for the warm glow it gives. She is a wonderful role model, although I can well imagine Louise laughing madly at the thought.

    Definitely not writing the great anything novel, just transcribing a story the characters wish to tell. It is very interesting the directions they are taking. New locations and new characters, as well as new insights into some familiar ones. Bit of mystery to boot.

    Working hard to get the first draft done so I can start shaping the mud I am throwing onto the wheel.

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