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.

3,656 replies on “The Bistro”

I wasn’t familiar with the poem. I read it and numerous analyses. When I read it, I didn’t think of WWI. To me, it was as if it had just been written or at least in the last 5 years or so. I saw the beast creeping toward Bethlehem and the birthplace of Christianity as well as the heart of Judaism. I hesitated until now to post this but it was my reaction.
While it was written long ago, as a post WWI poem, it spoke of today to me.
The Nature of the Beast is the behavior we expected… with a negative connotation.

Another author I really like is Laurie King and her series on Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell (his wife). That series is set early in the 20th century (I want to say late 20’s – late enough that Russell’s entire family is killed in a car accident). In one of the books, the action is set in Jerusalem, and has to do with impending war in the “middle east”. Another thing I love is the Barney Miller TV show. In one episode, a man has been holed up away from the world in a rooftop apartment in New York (rent-controlled, of course). He’s brought in to the station and he asks Wojo what’s new in the world. Wojo says that there’s trouble in the middle east, that the cubs still haven’t won the world series… the man looks like it’s all old news. Finally Wojo says – “Oh – they invented a new gum that won’t stick to dentures”. That was all he could think of, haha.

At any rate – I guess we’ve gotten so used to trouble “slouching toward Bethlehem” for so long, that it doesn’t seem like anything new. But I think we are now seeing such an upsurge of the anger spilling out towards the west, that it seems new and urgent to us. Of course, it IS urgent, though we always seem to have the same old ways of reacting…

I’ve been away for a long weekend – a beach house in Oregon with friends, and wasn’t it fun? We stitched, and talked and laughed, and had a lovely time. Still and all, I’m kind of glad to be home now and for the foreseeable future! All this travel wears on me these days, and I’m glad to be snug at home as the winter drears set in.

I see we have no new discussion – so maybe we can get another thread going.

How do you interpret the book’s title? Ruth quotes from Yeats’s poem The Second Coming: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last/Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born.” What is the beast? In the poem? In the book? What do those lines mean to you?

I had not been thinking of it this way at all, but of course, mostly because I didn’t know this poem. I love the sound of the “slouches towards Bethlehem”. I love the way Louise uses poetry throughout her books – I learn a lot from it, and from these discussions.

In my mind, the title “The Nature of the Beast”, just meant what that phrase normally means. When someone says “that’s the nature of the beast” to me, I just think – oh, that’s the way this or that normally acts – it’s to be expected. I liked it as a play on words, of course, with “Beast” having a double-meaning in this case. I’d no idea about the poem. But – to think about it this way, the beast has been slouching toward Three Pines for a very long time. The gun was sitting there, inevitably to be found at some time, and then, maybe, Fleming would have his chance… I still feel him, looming over the future – I just know he will find another way… He is evil incarnate to me. And he is the danger – the beast.

Congratulations on the 25 th Julie but amazing to the 53rd Barbara!! I wouldn’t be trying the dinner trick for 25 plates let alone 53.
It has been quiet here lately but I think it is a busy time of year. I haven’t much to report. Editing in process…much harder than writing the draft.
Millie has been very successful in getting her mother to the book fair. Her mum has been feted at the fete if you will. I think it has been a total whirl and blur but hopefully Millie will fill us all in when it is done. Millie has had support for her own book. Fingers crossed she is able to get on and do that so she can take it to the next fair this time next year.
I see it has snowed at Louise’s and there may be a cool winter ahead for Barbara but warmer possibly for you Julie. Let me as I am praying for snow in Whistler!

Things seem to have quieted down quite a bit – haven’t gone over to look at the questions section since I’ve been home, as I hit the ground running, lots to do and handle. I’m one of the program chairs of the local JASNA group, and we had a meeting Sunday that I was handling on my own, due to illness and other unforeseen circumstances, so I had to get myself together for that. Later this week, I’m off to a stitching retreat at a friend’s beach house, with a group of girlfriends – that will be fun, but also lots to organize around that, packing (again), and lots to do. After that, my time becomes my own again, haha.

Today is Vern’s and my 25th wedding anniversary, and I got the crazy notion that I was going to make us a special dinner with 25 dishes (not 25 courses, thank heavens, hahaha) – so it will be all small bites of tasty things. But lots of planning, and the timing of travel has meant it has to be put off for another two weeks, as there will be lots of prep involved. I love to do this sort of thing – but of course, it’s a big load of work to do. Still, it should be lots of fun.

So – I’m going to head over and see what’s happening, if anything, in the book discussion, and will check in here at the bistro, of course, every day until I’m off on my next trip.

Congrats on the 25th. Sounds like a great idea with the food but lots of work. We’ve been married 53 years so no way.
You are in a busy stretch. The Beach house trip sounds wonderful. I don’t stitch but love the beach when it is cold and breezy.

As I finish book two and start on book three, I totally appreciate the difficulties any ongoing story creates. When you start the people and the characters don’t exist, how can you know where the road will go. I just wrote a paragraph with no concept of why I was writing it. Turns out it completed the paragraph below that I didn’t even know was incomplete. For me writing is very much a subconscious process. I don’t know how much LP plans out here story arcs but if you work organically like I do, then the planning is more geographic than set out like a road map.

The whole process sounds fascinating, Anna. I love to hear how you work, and so pleased for you that the first draft is in place! Yipee!

Hi everyone. It is great to hear good news and nice things happening. I am so glad the whole trip went as well as the dress Julie. We need things that lift us and renew us.

I heard from Millie briefly and she is doing fabulously but exhausted without much time on her hands. Can’t wait until she drops by and tells all.

It was could to see you pop in Cathryne. I am thinking of you all the time.

Thanks for asking after my mum and dad Barbara. It’s such an up and down time for them. We thought we had escaped the nasty bugs but dad has been quite ill for the last week. Mum has a very painful hip but smiles more when the analgesia is timed correctly. I hope Sam and his brother have a good visit.

It’s funny Julie but I can hear you bouncing with enthusiasm after your conference. We do need the energy of being with likeminded others to keep us going. I certainly use you all as inspiration.

Book two is done, first draft took 31 days. It had to as that was the time I had before it was back to the more complex life I have when my daughter is at school. The trick is that it leads to book three so guess where my head is right now and there is so much editing to do! I shall plug away and hopefully have something to share in a few months or less.

In a warm spell here. I wonder what El Niño will bring for us all as it gets stronger!

Thank you all for all your good wishes. The conference was so wonderful, brought me home filled with enthusiasm for Austen and everything Regency!

Anna, I’m excited to hear that you are working on the next book – wonderful news! I can’t wait to hear about all the characters from The Cove… I think it’s time for a re-read for me.

I felt sorry for Louise, as well, when I thought to myself – how could she possibly know in book one that there would even BE a book 2, let alone that by book 8 or 9, she’d need the village to be completely cut off from the cyber-world? I know you have to think ahead, but that’s crazy!

Barbara, I hope you’re feeling better. If the weather has gotten better, that’s probably helped a lot!

Millie – can’t wait to hear about your trip with your Mother, and all the wonderful things you’ve done and seen!

Julie, your dress is beautiful. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. An opportunity to be with other Austen fans, see everyone’s outfits and get in some sight seeing. Thanks for sharing with us.
Can’t wait to hear of Millie’s adventures. What a special time for Mother and Daughter.
Anna, how are your parents ? My husband and his brother will visit their mother later today.

Oh Julie, I’ve been thinking about you and hoping you had a wonderful time. Love the picture, thanks for posting it! Beautiful from head to toe.

I’m baa-ack! I had the best time – Kentucky is a gorgeous state, the countryside is so beautiful! I took a paddleboat ride down the Ohio river one night, and a drive out to a Shaker village the next day, and was just blown away! Everything was so fun – I saw so many beautiful gowns and hats and gorgeous costumes of all kinds. The speakers were great, and it was all a wonderful time! As promised here’s a pic of me in my gown: https://picasaweb.google.com/116634764800697602903/InstantUpload#6206026334764781234

I was posing with an internet friend that I got to meet – she writes Regency inspired books. She is the pretty young thing in the red gown – that bump in the back of her dress is actually where her train is caught up for ease of movement – very clever! I take terrible pictures, but the dress is shown to good effect. It was a lovely evening! I’ll have more pics to post soon – but I had promised so many people that I’d send out a picture of the gown, that I figured I’d better get it up fast.

Hope the Jane Austen event went really well Julie. I saw your comment about the mobiles in Stiil Life. That had passed me by. I feel a little sorry for LP. It can’t be easy keeping track of the multitude of details across the whole series. I am finding that difficult having written just one and a draft!

How are you Barbara? I hope the sun is shining.

Cathryne, are you ok??

Thinking of everyone as the year tumbles to a close. I can’t believe how fast time is traveling!

Dear Barbara, we have seen video of the floods which are really dreadful. Once the water does recede then the damage is revealed. Good to so many people chipping in to help.
Erin loved her trip and is excited by the challenges of school. We are trying to make the next 12 months more fun and less stress but that is not easy. The HSC is a stressful time, it started yesterday for this years class. I still have nightmares about mine!

The rain has stopped for the most part. Many locals went to help in South Carolina. The cleanup will mean hard work. So many small pond dams failed. There have been reports for years on the need for repairs to them. Most schools have reopened today. Summerville, SC, one of my favorite small towns, had streets and curbing wash away.
3,ooo words a day. You have been using this time very well. Inspiration and opportunity together.
Imagine a cottage for writing. I have often thought how wonderful it would be to have a retreat. Mine would be for reading and enjoying being alone with my thoughts. For me, alone means with my dog(s) and cat. I would also need a kitchenette for snacks, coffee and tea. I even drew plans for one once ( just an amateur sketching ).
I hope Erin enjoyed her travels….so enriching.
Louise has not only given us wonderful novels but inspired us in our daily lives. I am so thankful for her example
Happy Thanksgiving to our Canadian friends.

I hope everyone is ok where ever they are. It is a clear sunny day through my window as spring paints the world vibrant green.
I read your comments over at the Reading group guide Barbara. I will give it all some more thought but I am a bit immersed in my draft at the moment.
I want to finish it before a return to the school run and teen diversions next week. I have seen the last four weeks without such things as my gift of time to write and set myself the task of 3000 words a day…you have to have a goal. I am close to achieving that which is down to Louise and her inspiration and the support I have had from family. I can’t tell you how many cups of tea I have required to keep going. Kudos to hubby this weekend.
Has the rain stopped in the South Barbara? Friends in BC are telling me that it is warm and wet there….not what I wanted to hear. Roll on snow.

I have writer’s cottage envy! When I get to a difficult part in my novel, or when I just thing it is a load of codswallop, I go and find a Louise Penny video to watch. She is so sensible and generous with her discussion of the process. Then I saw this, a video in which she shows her writing space. I want…snow and all.


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.

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.

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