LOUISE PENNY’S

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”

In the US, it’s Thanksgiving week – this Thursday is Thanksgiving day. This is basically a harvest feast day, but has greater significance here in the US than it did for us in Canada while I lived there. This signals the opening of “the holiday season” – people often put up Christmas lights and trees the day after Thanksgiving, or that weekend, at least, and after this, it will be Christmas, Christmas, all the way.

We are Turkey people here in my household, by decree of the cook, hahaha. My husband would be so happy if we had ham on Christmas, but I insist it must be turkey, even though we just had it for Thanksgiving. These days, at least I usually just make it a turkey breast, so it doesn’t last for more than a few days. It’s always just the two of us.

For the Jane Austen Society, we always have a special meeting in mid-December to celebrate Jane’s birthday as well as Christmas and we have a large and elaborate pot-luck, with everyone bringing treats, both savory and sweet. This is where I often will make my fanciest dish. I’m considering making a big trifle this year, as we’ll be at someone’s home, so it will be easier to serve than otherwise, and I have a gorgeous glass bowl to make it in. It’s all about appearances, of course, hahaha. Otherwise, the only Christmassy thing I do is shortbread cookies, which I only make at this time of year, lest we grow too used to eating nothing but shortbread, hahaha.

Not easy I know Julie. How is everyone coping with the upcoming Holiday season? My brother asked me today what we were doing. I need to get my head around that. I did buy a cooking magazine with Christmas recipes. I am thinking whole BBQed snapper sounds great. Might send my brother to the fish markets Christmas Eve. That is one of their busiest days, along with Holy Thursday, and the place is usually jammed. Not my idea of fun but the boys can handle it.

I wonder what Louise has in store for us with the next book. I love what she said on Facebook about the first chapters dragging their knuckles, those are the hardest to get right for me. You want it to be exciting or interesting and ready to drag people in.

I just finished reading Elizabeth George’s latest. It is a weighty tome and it is a long way into the book before a murder occurs. She kept me reading though but weaving the characters’ tales along and keeping you guessing but it was a little long.

The Internet and 24 hour news has brought every evil act into our lives. Evil acts always existed but we were not aware of their volume before. Imagine if we had the same access to information during WW2. It would have been even more horrifically present in every moment. We need downtime from the horror. Switch it all off and find a spot in the sun, or enjoy the rain or the wind or the snow. Surround yourself with things and people that bring you joy. It is not to shut out a harsh reality that does exist but to remind ourselves that beautiful realities also exist all the time.

The Nature of the Beast has ever more relevance now. Evil is always in our midst, as the gun was hidden in Three Pines. It doesn’t stop good ness growing up around it.

Indeed – if I could live as graciously as Louise, I’d count myself very well satisfied. I, too, think kindness is the key. I may be close to having to stop watching the news, as I think between it, and Facebook, everywhere I turn there is hatred. I can’t live like that. Every act of kindness will heal and soothe me, I know, and the world is full of kind people I must remember that.

Hi Cathryne! Thinking of you. And everyone.

My way to survive at the moment is to remember a small mantra…every act of kindness!

That’s it. Every act of kindness, no matter how small, lights a light in the darkness and joins us together against the forces that drive us apart. A smile for a stranger, letting someone go ahead of you in a queue, hold open a door, compliment a friend. You may not think it makes a difference but I have had my whole day changed by a simple courtesy. Kindness and care are the antidotes to hatred. That is why we live Louise and the same mantra will get us through this as well.

There is no doubt the whole world has been stunned by the events of the last week. I can understand the feeling of retreat especially in the face of a harsh winter. It’s not a bad idea to catch our collective breath but I think it will be alright. In some ways the events have brought the world together with new resolve. Like Barbara pointed out, the world has been here before. We just need to find the moments of peace and instants of laughter and stretch them further than we have before.

I think we’re all so quiet as we face the lull after TNOTB and the idea of the long winter coming. El Nino is plotting a particularly wicked winter for us, I’m afraid. In the east, it seems to have started already, and I know that we are expecting lower temps and higher winds than normal over on the west coast. I think that to some degree, at least, I have been affected by the increased threat of terrorist attacks and the seemingly endless ways people have of expressing hatred. If ever there was a time for us all to stand together, it’s now, but we seem to be cracking apart… It gives me great heartache as I see it, and makes me want to withdraw somewhat.

Always happy to see that Louise is chugging along – she amazes me. Her cheer in the face of hardship gives me great hope.

Is everyone ok??

Just saw on Louise’s website that she has finished the first draft of the next book. Hopefully we will see the final soon!

Thoughtful as always Barbara. It is hard to know how to resolve the issues that face the world without sinking into the mire at times like these. I liked your historical comparisons. Remember, it may have looked like the end of times to those in the path of rampaging armies in the past, just as it must look that way to Syrians today but the world moved forward and onwards even so. Times are scary as they were in 2001, but do not lose hope.

It is good to see Louise and Michael in their new home. Thank goodness they have the love and care of family and friends. It must certainly ease a difficult process.

Cathryne, I have thought of you often in the past weeks. I also went back to the reread and read many posts again. I hope you can sense our concern, support and caring. While, we can not really take on any of the stress… we would if we could. Whenever any of us visit the Bistro for a respite, we can always review what has been said earlier. I think that is wonderful. The words of encouragement are as meaningful as they were the first time we read them.
Prayers are said for you. I care. We care.

After visiting the Bistro many times in the last few days, I’m going to try to write.

Paris. I saw the horrific news on my home page. Then to the Bistro where Anna had posted not to view the news. Thanks for the thought and concern. I watched a news conference by Obama earlier today. He was in Turkey. I agree that stopping people who are willing to blow themselves up to kill others are hard to stop. I think we just have to be more cautious. It is heartbreaking to think that perhaps we must turn deserving people away from freedom and safety but that may be the outcome. We must try to protect our homeland and ourselves. If we allow them to destroy the US, who else will be able to stand against them and try to save civilization. As I do at times like these, I have given much thought to the views and ideas of others as to end times or the destruction of the world as we know it. I have thought of the way people must have felt when the Goths, Visigoths, Vikings, Mongols and others ran rampart over Europe. All must have seemed lost for the villages and towns as they fell under attack. It was the end for many.
The accomplishments of mankind are awe inspiring. The Arts and the Sciences. Everything. Yet, how to guard against mad men bent on destruction and still reach out to those who need help ? I am thankful such decisions and responsibilities are not mine and I pray for guidance and wisdom for those whose duty it is.

Ooop – I forgot to give you some links to places for stays, Anna. The ones I found were on Etsy – short stays or half-stays are basically like a very stiff bra. I got that because it laces in front, so I can put it on myself – anything that requires someone else was not really looked at, hahaha. I expect that the long stays or full stays would be even more supportive, though – especially of my back. And I did find some of those that fastened up the front. They are not inexpensive, but considering the materials and the work, I think they’re worth it. If something is sold out, you can usually message the person to see if they’re taking any custom orders.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/68872772/sale-18th-century-half-boned-stays
http://tinyurl.com/nz78eb8
http://www.maggiemayfashions.com/regencystays.html
http://tinyurl.com/pkv2bck

That last one is the ones I bought, but I found that the straps were too short – yet I was sure I’d given her my correct measurements. My dressmaker fixed them for me by putting an elastic strap on their place. So I would choose the kind that have the ties on the straps next time, so I can adjust them. I’m still thinking of getting the short stays with petticoat attached…

They recommend wearing a chemise under these (to prevent any chafing), like they did in regency times. My chemise came up too high in the back – I didn’t like people being able to see it, though that’s definitely a Regency look. Anyway – I wear a cotton tank top under mine, and that works great.

I agree, Anna – Paris still seems shocking to me. I don’t know if it’s because it’s Paris, or because the culmination of terror events in the past week has been so much, and the cumulative effect is that there is a growing sense that there must be some way to stop this. I think we’ll see some more shocking things in the next few weeks. I’m almost ready to stop watching the news, as it’s so depressing. Our national news that we watch has been, for about a year now, ending its show with a “feel good” story, but I’m so cynical now that most of the time I feel like they are not newsworthy…

I would so love to get together… Hovey Manoir would be lovely, but even if we had to make it somewhere else, it would be so welcome…

Mmmmm…..I need to explore the idea of the stays. Any websites I can look at that sell them Julie?

The TV has had nothing but Paris for 24 hours and yet it is still unbelievably shocking. I watch with trepidation and solidarity. We are one world.

After Cathryne’s mention of her imagined conversations with us I spent the night pondering how we could all get together at Hovey Manoir. It must be possible. An autumn sometime I hope.

Paris. I don’t even have words. This is still all so hard to believe that our world has changed so. I’m set enough in my ways now, that visiting other countries seems far beyond my reach, as the world seems such a dangerous place these days. Another day, I’ll feel differently, but today… I’m very grateful for my warm and comfortable home, and that I have a place like the Bistro to come to.

Cathryne, I am so sorry for all the overwhelming things that are going on for you right now, but so happy you can take solace in imagined conversations here in the Bistro. Now, if I say something stupid in one of those conversations, pay me no mind, right? That would be just like me, hahaha.

Anna – sounds like the poor dog is having the worst of it, but visits will, no doubt, make the transition easier for both him(?) and your dad. I’ve never heard of a cup of tea and a slice – does that mean pie? Whatever it is, it sounds like a lovely place. They really are a far cry from what kinds of places were available even a short while ago, aren’t they? You can probably all thank us baby boomers for that – we had to make sure they were ready for us, hahaha.

I laughed at your description of your sewing adventures – sounds like me – I don’t even do hems – just roll up the waistband if things are too long. (Hey, it worked in school!) I can embellish things to beat the band, but the original sewing – not so much… I hope you are able to come up with something for Erin. I know it sounds strange, but the stays that go under the 19th C. costumes are so comfortable and supportive, it’s not funny. They also don’t allow you to slouch, so are very good for your posture, which is good for the dresses…

Dear Cathryne, I understand completely when it is just too hard to post but we are thinking of you all the time. We can the dog to visit whenever we want. I hope to do so tomorrow. It has been a big day for other emotional reasons. It does seem ongoing but nothing compared to our French friends.

Sitting with you in the Bistro with a hor chocolate and calming thoughts. Sending love to all but especially you Cathryne. Thank you for mustering the strength to write. Xxx

Oh Anna, hot chocolate and scrabble for your dad! It made me so happy to read that. I hope he continues to settle in well. Can you take your dog to visit? When my dad was in his last months and bedridden, I was allowed to bring his dog to visit every day. It was the highlight of the day for both. When my mom was in the hospital recently, a social worker came in with her little dog hanging over her shoulder. I ran out and asked if she would come into Mom’s room and she petted and petted the dog with delight. I thought of Linda Maday who, I think, takes her therapy dogs to visit.
I just haven’t had words to share the hard times with my mom right now, but they are very much like those described by Anna, Millie, Barbara and others in the Bistro, even early in the reread, before the Bistro. I know it is part of the human condition. I have had many conversations with you all in my mind, and that helps amazingly! Also reading Louise’s so wise and sincere sharing of her joys and challenges. I love to hear what pleasure she gets in going Three Pines. I started over listening to the books and they keep me from feeling overwhelmed, in a place where kindness exists. And, wonderful, so thought-provoking writing.
Thanks for the support, I feel it even though posting seems too hard right now. Congratulations on the wonderful things you are doing! I love reading about them.

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