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.
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.
3,639 replies on “The Bistro”
Julie and Anna, Your discussion of murder on a tour bus was really a laugh. I’ve been on day trips where I would have been tempted to lend a hand. The most unpleasant/annoying people have been on trips with the Senior Group from our Church. That really surprised me. The longer trips with groups from some of the other Senior Groups we belong to have always been most agreeable. Perhaps the fact that they are through professional travel agencies has something to do with it. Maybe people are better behaved then than when it is just “us” travelling on the Church bus.
Hi Neva, Please join in whenever you want. Our postings are all over, especially after we have discussed the latest book to death.
Before this group, I was mainly speed reader. I was always so anxious to find out what was next in the plot that I didn’t notice some of the more subtle themes. This group finds everything. Louise Penny’s books are worthy of much discussion as they are rich in language and observations.
Not all novels inspire the reader to delve further and learn more.
I envy you being able to jump in and do the historic research, Anna. I often get bogged down and can’t do that kind of reading unless I’m “in the mood”… it would be nice to be a little more able to read whatever you need to do.
I’m still burrowing in at home, though this Sunday we have a Jane Austen meeting that I have organized, so that will necessitate my getting outside of the house for more than just groceries or lab tests, hahaha. It will be Valentine’s Day, and our topic is “Fallen Women in Jane Austen”, so it should be quite lively! I’m making up a bunch of vintage Valentines like we used to do in school many years ago to give everyone at the meeting. I hope they don’t think it’s cheesy, I’m just looking to give people a little lift. As you might imagine, our meetings are 99% female – there are three men in the group (and they are never all there at the same time), and once in awhile, two women bring their husbands – again not at the same time, so any meeting might have one lone male. They must be brave souls, even though we don’t bite, hahaha. I don’t think I could persuade my hubby to come in a million years.
I have two other meetings coming up this year that I’m really beginning to get excited about. The first will be in June, and will be based on the food served at The Netherfield Ball… a group of us will each make one dish as close to Regency authenticity as we can get without a big strain of resources, and we will talk about what the original recipe might have been as well as how we made accommodations in our version.
The second is the August meeting, which is to be a discussion of the book Emma. As you might remember, there is a big scene in the book during a picnic at box hill, so I want the food for that one to be the Box Hill picnic and combine the strawberries of the strawberry-picking party at Donwell Abbey!
The October meeting will also be very interesting – the speaker will be talking about rat catching and all the different ways that rats were used to make money in Austen’s times (I understand that you paid the rat catcher to get rid of rats in your home, then he would take those rats and sell them to people who used them to bait dogs in dog-fights, or something like that) – very resourceful, those Georgians… as you might imagine, here is another chance to match the food with the theme – lots of cheese-based items, and I understand the wife of the speaker has a few things like candies shaped like mice, etc. that she will bring. I’m thinking that I will make something like this: http://tinyurl.com/jodm8uy which are basically hard-boiled eggs. I think it will be a lot of fun!
Julie, those hard boiled egg mice are hilarious!! Wouldn’t that be something to serve to grandchildren? Makes me think of the dessert that a friend told me about. Maybe you’ve made it. It’s called “Dirt” and is basically chocolate pudding with chocolate cookie crumbs on top and gummy worms sticking out.
I’ve enjoyed hearing about your Jane Austen group. I have three favorites and don’t really pay attention to her other books (sorry). I love Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. Another interesting thing (to me anyway) is that I’ve met a nice young woman whose father teaches classes on Jane Austen in China. I guess that’s why they’re called classics.
Sorry, I’m rambling. I have enjoyed reading everyone’s posts. My best wishes to all.
Nancy, great to hear from you. The first time I saw “Dirt” , I thought What is this ? It is popular at Halloween celebrations here. A friend’s great-granddaughter had “Dirt” as her Birthday cake !
Loved the mention of classes on Jane Austen being taught in China. The classics are forever, I hope.
Nancy – how nice to see you! Yes, I think those mice would be perfect for kids! I’ve been thinking how I can let people know what they are… one thought was to turn one over and put little feet sticking up in the air, but that might be beyond my capabilities as a food artist, hahaha. I will probably put a sign saying “Rats! Nope – deviled eggs!”
I love the three Jane Austen books you’ve mentioned very much, but in the past year (as Jane’s books are celebrating 200 years since publication (each year a new one or two for a little while there), I’ve read blogs that have thoroughly discussed Mansfield Park (still my least favorite, but I do have a new appreciation for it after all the discussion).
Emma is the subject being discussed now – much is always made of the fact that Jane wrote a letter in which she described the character Emma as someone no-one could much like except herself. Yet, I find Emma very likable and well-meaning, if not yet mature enough to understand a few basic things… but as in most of Jane Austen’s books, she learns over time. One of the things I like most about her books is that her characters learn and change with time during the books.
Persuasion is my very favorite – I think this is Jane Austen at her masterful peak and had she lived, her books would have been more like this. The writing is exquisite and she skewers characters with one quill while exalting some with her other quill… Sense and Sensibility is another fave – who can’t love the juxtaposition of Marianne and Elinor? I do find Edward Farrars to be a bit of a drip, though, and can’t help but wish that Elinor had married Colonel Brandon instead.
Northanger Abbey will likely be the next book discussed, though it and Persuasion were both published in 1816, Northanger came first. It’s such a departure from her other books – her acerbic look at Gothic novels, but also her defense of the novel as an art form… All in all, not a bad foray at all… Still, I’m glad her last work (Persuasion) was so strong and wonderful.
As we see movies being made now of her unfinished works and her childhood writings, we begin to see how much people are longing for more from her. I guess that’s good – they say always leave them wanting more, but when it cannot be, it’s a bittersweet thing. Of course, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is making a big splash – as you might imagine people are of one camp or another. I, myself, am not interested, though I may watch it when I can do so for free, hahaha.
I had a look at the blog Julie….it made me hungry! I do love that food is such a part of the Three Pines life. People who love food and books have warm hearts I think.
I have been rather lost in my research lately which has necessitated lots of reading and some furious scribbling. I have dived into history and it has taken me in some interesting directions. I must be careful not to get lost in the past but it really does help one understand the present.
How is everyone? Sending you all happy thoughts.
Hi, Neva – welcome to the Bistro! You’ll have noticed we’re not really talking about Louise’s books right now, but please, don’t let that put you off. We will definitely talk (ad nauseum) about any of Louise’s books at any time – you’ll notice that there are 71 pages of discussion here – which means that we’ve talked and talked about the books. We are definitely NOT talked out, though, so please, do ask questions. I see that Anna has assured you that Ruth is not dead. The only other time I can think of that you might have thought anything like that was in the first book – Still Life, in which Jane dies, and Jane and Ruth are close friends, along with Timmer (or at least, if they weren’t all friends, they were all of a generation and in a small town like Three Pines, that would automatically throw them together. I wonder if you aren’t remembering some other book that you might have read at some point – I do that, all the time. Mix up different books and authors.
Please jump in and start any discussion you like – we’ll be here! And if you feel like it, you can browse through earlier discussions to see what we all thought about the earlier books. I envy you, still having one unread – they’re like wonderful pastries, but rare, as we only get one a year. When I think how I gobbled them down the first time around! I’m thankful for the re-read, as I got to savor them more.
Speaking of pastries, have people been following along with The Night is a Strawberry blog? I love it – there’s always an imaginative recipe meant to evoke one of the items in a book but also a thoughtful book discussion. The last one, with brownie tartlets, was inspired! If you haven’t found it yet, just google The Night is a Strawberry. I promise you won’t be sorry.
Hi Neva. Welcome.
Be assured that Ruth did not die although I am wracking my brain to figure out why you may have thought that. A number of older women walked into the snow in a previous book and there were fatalities. Could it be you thought Ruth was part of that group? Whatever it was, Ruth is alive and acerbic as ever. She is becoming a little more frail as is to be expected but her spirit is strong!
Lucky you just starting on The Nature of the Beast. I hope you enjoy. We are all looking forward to Louise’s latest coming on August 30th, A Great Reckoning.
Please ask any questions or make any comments. We are a friendly bunch who love to chat about the books…..or anything else while we wait for the next one.
Hello. I’m new to the group, but I have a question: I have read all the previous books, and have just started The Nature of the Beast, and I’m confused. I would swear that Ruth died in a previous book but here she is again. Am I misremembering? Thank you.
Thank goodness Millie. You managed to lower your blood pressure despite the stress of needing surgery and the worry of needing to lower your BP to get to surgery. That is wicked meditating. Que sera sera does get me through some bad days I have to say.
Now that you have the dates try to relax and enjoy the prospect of clearer vision rather than the process of how that is going to happen. Keep your eyes on the prize as it were and not on the road you have to travel. Glad you have been able to post despite the difficult of seeing! It’s always good to have you in the Bistro.
I did it! Lowered my blood pressure enough to get surgery dates. Barbara, I used meditation, sang “Que será, será. Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. Que será, será.” Called on all the guardian angels, saints and beings of light who might even remotely know and love me and even my namesake for help. Slowed my breathing… You name it. Even thanked my body for the eyes I have which only need a little tweaking. Thank you Barbara, Anna and Julie for your encouragement, positive thoughts, your stories of accepting what is and, well, everything. And thanks to the quiet ones too who don’t post much but are part of this incredible group. 🙂
Surgery on left eye Feb 22nd. On right eye, March 11th. I should be in great shape to read Louise’s next book come August. I’ll keep you posted but for now it’s like trying to write underwater. Could be worse! 🙂 Love and blessings.
Millie, how wonderful. I’m sending you hugs and best thoughts. Raising prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude.
Millie – that’s great news! Good for you – you will be all done before I could even get in to be “evaluated”. That’s what they say the surgeon is going to do, but if he thinks he’s going to tell me I don’t need the surgery, he’s got another think coming, as my mother used to say! So glad you got the blood pressure under control! Que sera, sera – now I’ll be singing that all day long, hahaha. As I recall, the song was a central theme in the remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much (not really a remake, as the two films don’t resemble each other at all, except both are familiar as Hitchcock’s usual kinds of plots – lots of foreign intrigue). Hitchcock is one of my favorite directors, even though I know he was, really, quite a horrible man. Brilliant, but horrible and petty, haha.
Speaking of Louise…what do we think. Firstly : A Great Reckoning. It does seem to imply someone gets a deserved comeuppance. A past sin come home to roost? But what of the killer? Shall we be sympathetic to their past hurts or have they been twisted into a Gollum like parody of themselves, intent only on fulfilling their aim of revenge?
Pure speculation of course but my first thoughts on the book.
Secondly….once again primarily a Three Pines event. Unusual as they are often interspersed with a novel away and the last was in Three Pines. Still working on developing what is going to happen to Gamache? Or has he a new job and it involves Three Pines?
Dad can’t seem to get that simple measures like new glasses won’t help and doesn’t like the ophthalmologist because he told him the truth. Ugh.
Feel free to complain Julie because it is frustrating. At least you are doing your best to manage and understand the difficulties.
All in all not a bad day here. Sunny and a bit muggy. Elders not too bad…apart from dads eyes which I rinsed with saline as hay fever is having an effect. Now I really need to get on with this book. I am finding it hard to get down to writing after seeing the elders as that is a bit draining but Louise does it so I need to be stronger.
I have a whole backstory which covers several generations for one character that I need to write down. I probably don’t need to put it all in the book but I need it to understand what is going on. It is really interesting but needs some historical research so I have done lots of back reading. That is contributing to my novel but pages are not being written so it feels like progress is slow.
I read all you comments Barbara. Glaucoma runs in our family along with macular degeneration and cataracts. I have it all before me!
I love cookbooks. I am looking to jazz up my healthy repertoire as everyone wants to drop a few kilos except Erin who needs to put some on. She eats all the time but uses the energy growing. Perhaps if I didn’t feed her…..
Anna, both my parents had macular degeneration and I swore that I wouldn’t be like my mother, who seemed surprised and hurt by the fact that she couldn’t see well every day of her life for the last five years of it. I swore I’d adjust, not worry about the things I couldn’t do anymore and do the things I COULD still do. About three years before she died, the doctors sent her to a School for the Blind-sponsored course to learn some coping mechanisms, and got her a speaking clock, etc. She had a phone with buttons each almost the size of a small cellphone, which also helped a lot. So I intend to move along with things, but not until I have to. The big difference, I hope, is that I won’t whine about it. (I hope).
I just love seeing so many people in the Bistro. I want to reply to many posts so I am going back a page and post under reply. Please check. Not that my words are so interesting, but that I want to share. I’ll post later today.
Hi, to Catheryne. I hope things are going smoothly for you. I always look to see if you have posted.
Caring thoughts to all.
For you Millie 8 am is virtually the middle of the night. Interesting side effect. Wonder if it will persist. I do feel for you and Julie and your eyes. It is so hard not being able to see well enough to do the things we love. Dad is in that boat and it is contributing to his misery lately. I am on my way there as soon as the soup is done. May you both find success with your eye surgeons.
My arm is much better Julie. I found the neck pillow I had made a wonderful arm rest and hubby bought me Tylenol at the airport which really helped. The flight from Vancouver to Sydney is notoriously bumpy and take off was no exception. After the meal I feel asleep, the plane left after midnight, and missed the worst of the turbulence fortunately. Erin said it kept bouncing her off the seat even though she had a seatbelt on. Perhaps not tightened snugly across her hips as she was lying with her legs across her parents and boy are they long legs.
I like the dementor analogy Millie. I know people like that. They walk into the room and the energy disappears. Bizarre.
Great title Julie. Mystery Commander Extraordinaire. Bet that comes with a smashing hat. Lots of gold braid I imagine. I can see Paul sitting by the fire with his hat and a liquorice pipe espousing the challenges of marketing while we sit around with our Three Pines mugs steaming with cafe au lait nodding and tutting in sympathy. I did see a number of comments on Louise’s FB page excited about a reread so have a think about that one Commander. I am not sure I need to do a whole reread nor do I think I have anything worthy to say but there are people out there who may not have heard of the reread and bookclub, hard though that is to believe. I am always shocked when I find people who haven’t heard of Louise! Peter’s ski instructor hadn’t and she was from the same province. He set her straight.
Murder on a tour bus Julie? Wow that does present opportunities. Perhaps it has a restroom on board or poison in the victims water bottle. I know. The victim always puts ice in their opaque water bottle from the motel fridge…some have ice trays. Only the murderer takes advantage of this and adds an ice cube with the poison frozen in the middle. It doesn’t take effect until after it melts allowing the victim to be seen sipping from the water bottle for some time before dying throwing off the whole murder timeline so everyone thinks the bottle was poisoned while on the bus and it was actually done before they got on.
Ooooh – I like that idea a lot, Anna! The ice cube I mean. It reminds me a bit of one of the last murders in Breaking Bad – when there was a woman who was a big pain about only using Splenda (in the yellow packets) instead of whatever’s in the blue and pink packets of sweetener. She meets the murderer for a cup of tea and he has gotten there early and taken all but one packet of the yellow stuff away. The one he leaves, he puts in front of himself, and just as she is looking for a sweetener, he goes to take it, and she grabs it from him and puts it in her tea, thereby poisoning herself, as he has doctored that one. It was kind of poetic justice in a way. Loved that series, even though he was pure evil by the end of it.
How bizarre people, I wrote my last comment in a rush, I was stirring my soup. I now have to go and devour everyone’s comments that I didn’t even see. Hello everyone!!
Ok, I finally got the newsletter and she calls you a genius Paul. I feel somewhat mollified and feel I can go on with my day in a better frame of mind.
What a welcome, Julie. I finally read the Feb newsletter. It does say Paul is also “the genius responsible for, among other things, the virtual bistro.” Handsome and a genius! 🙂 We are truly grateful.
Anna, I think Marketing is very important (especially now that I’ve tried my hand at marketing a book), but I have no objection to an even more grand title! Paul Hochman, Mystery Commander Extraordinaire! Whatever they call you, Paul, we appreciate all you do for us.
I’m glad your Dad is doing better!
I love the new title – need to live with it a bit to conjure up what’s coming. I feel there was some unfinished business from the last book that we might see this time…
Mystery Commander has a nice ring to it!
Mystery Commander it is then. Has a nice sideline that it is abbreviated MC which is also a fitting part of your role as Master of Ceremonies!
I like it! 😀
Quick catch, Anna. Mystery Commander to MC. I cast my vote for it too.
Barbara – I can’t imagine giving a dog an inhaler – poor Petey – what did he ever do to deserve this? I can hear him thinking it all over now, and deciding that you’ve all gone crazy. He’s okay to humor you once a day, but not more than that!
I wish I could send my hubby shopping – he just never gets the right things. He can be depended on if it’s bread and milk, but not beyond that. No worries though – I have been enjoying figuring out what I’m willing to pay a little premium for to have it delivered. After all, besides my time and energy, there’s the cost of running the car and the cost to the planet as well!
I’ll have to look out for Jeri Westerson. I do love Janet Evanovich – I remember once reading that Stephen King thought she was so bad she ought to be taken out and flogged, or some such thing. Then again, I don’t think I could read very many of his books, hahaha. Though really only because many of them are too creepy, not because I don’t think he’s a good writer. Still, I thought it was a very un-gracious thing to say!
Stephen King’s books scare me. too. I only read them during the day. I just can’t watch the movies based on his books. I don’t like to be frightened although studies show that many people do. I thought his comment about Evanovich’s writing was unprofessional at least. I certainly enjoy them.
Sam does well shopping but he buys too many sweets at the grocery. He’ll stop by and buy pie, cakes and cookies all on his own.
Anna! My heart just fell when I read that not only did the lurgy carry on terribly, but then you fell and hurt your arm! I could feel it throbbing all the way home on the airplane! What a rotten couple of bits of luck to spoil your beautiful holiday. I hope you were able to find SOME fun… I hate being sick when I’m away from home as it is, but to not be able to do what you came so far for, must have been torture!
So glad your Mum is doing well, but of course, just as that goes well, you have a problem with your Dad’s care. It’s so not fair! I hope he’s soon on the mend and more comfortable. The pooch, too!
I’m so glad you’re still working on the books – can’t wait to read the second one. And you’re already working on the third! Hallelujah! I would love to have been in that discussion of murder scenes. I’ve always thought it would be fun to write something about a murder on a tour bus… It’s close to a closed room mystery, as you have a very limited number of suspects and some interesting logistics to play with. Of course, that’s as far as I get, hahaha.
Hopefully, things will calm down a bit for you now, and you can carry on…