The Bistro

The Bistro

The Bistro Banner
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.

3,660 replies on “The Bistro”

Today is “knee day for Sam. Changed the time of surgery yet again. Nothing to eat or drink since midnight and surgery will not be before 1:15 but we must be there at 12:15. The Bear is growling.
Anna. I laughed at your question about the sofa. We have worn it out. The first ever to reach that status. My dogs were so bad about attacking the furniture in the family room especially during thunder storms. Most furniture was recovered once and then trashed and the unharmed pieces went to Salvation Army. Petey (current darling) and Precious who preceded him does/did not chew. Petey did chew two magazine racks when we first got him. I was so glad he did not attack two of Grandmother’s end tables which were promptly moved to the LR with the others. My dogs never bothered books. Good thing with book cases in every room except bedroom and bath. A sister-in-law once remarked she guessed I would put a bookcase in the bathrooms next. I almost did just for spite but the humidity would have damaged them.
Off to Hospital now. Good thoughts and Peace and Calm to all.

I know! I’m very excited that it really looks like I’m getting a map! I actually filled this in when I placed my pre-order, so hopefully, that means I’m definitely on the list… Maybe I should do it again, “just in cases”.


Bistro friends, check out LP’s Facebook post of about 4 hours ago. A glimpse of the Three Pines map and a sign up page for those who preordered that includes one’s address.
Hurry Julie! lol
I thought a few people would win one in a drawing. Completely confused but delighted. Keeping my fingers crossed for the members of the Bistro. Good luck to all.

I’m taking a moment for a few pleasant, relaxing deep breaths in the Bistro before going forward with my tricky day. Eyes closed, friends coming and going, so nice.
Now, before I jump back into reality, I want to say that I enjoyed today’s excerpt; it was not in the Amazon pages. Loving a chance to get to know M. Belliveau better.
Thanks for the safe, lovely place, Bistro friends!

Sending you hugs and good thoughts Cathryne. I don’t know why your world is tricky today but I can empathise completely. It is good to have the Bistro to spend a couple of minutes and breathe. I will be thinking of you.

There was an article in the media a couple of days ago but the current cult of decluttering and how it is a good thing. I think we appreciate what we have so much more when it isn’t buried under a pile of things we don’t need. I need to take myself in hand and get rid of my piles of magazines. Books are another story. I think we have discussed that before.
By the way Barbara, I just saw Jason Day won the U.S. PGA. An emotional moment for him!

I just saw the news when I turned the Laptop on. A record of 20 under par. I feared the vertigo might continue to be a serious problem but luckily that did not prove to be.
We made a list of items we need to move around in the house. It seems that if we get rid of one sofa, that will allow for a series of other moves that will allow for a major declutter. At least we have a plan.
Sam’s arthroscopy to repair the meniscus of his left knee will be Thursday. Therapy starts Tues. of next week. If he heals as well as he did 2 1/2 years ago, he will be back to normal in 3 weeks.
Sam read GSAW. We haven’t discussed it yet. The first fiction he has read in decades. He reads, just not fiction.

It is great you have a plan! That is where it starts. Is there a home for the sofa to go to or is it on its way out?
I hope Sam’s arthroscopy goes well. Knees are a bother when they don’t work as well as they should. I am working hard building up mine for my holiday in January. Just finished paying it off. It is so important to have something to look forward to.
I wonder what Sam will think of the book. I seem to recall his parents had the more “rigid” ideas? The idea of thinking for yourself and not going along blindly with what others think and how hard that can be might resonate for him.

Anna, “rigid” what a tactful way to say what they are. He doesn’t seem to want to say anuthing except to comment on the “fit” Jean Louise threw. He says she just would not hush and let them explain. I think the story to him is that of a daughter/niece behaving in a disrespectful manner.
At least he read it.
Our local news coverage is still focusing on Day. Not just the TV stations but the paper as well. He is mentioned on the editorial praise, section A and the sports section. I had not realized he had overcome so much in addition to the vertigo.
Skiing must be a very freeing experience. I enjoy seeing it on TV as the skiers soar through the air and down mountain sides. WOW.

Julie, your post on decluttering is spot on. My house is a mess. My husband is severely limited as to his ability as a hyandyman. That coupled with his OCD which causes him to take forever with the yard eats up his time. No, we do not have a pretty yard as I assumed we would when we bought the house in 1969. As I have written, the first 5 months of this year were spent preping and then finishing the ” remove old storage shed and erect new one” project. I have done about all I can in the house to declutter but it isn’t noticeable as I can not clear out or move his things. A friend and I were discussing clutter and she was inspired to work some in her house. They have lived in that house a few years longer than we have been in ours.
I like your ideas. I, too, have lumber stacked in the corner of one room and his tool boxes piled around. I’m resolved that I will move them. I wish we had a basement and a real attic. I have no desire to clean either because of the mess. I had thought of the same solution as you with a cleaning service. He didn’t like it but I need to do it because of my copd and emotional problems. But first, I have to really declutter.
I’m writing this at my Sister’s because my laptop crashed yesterday. I had ignored signs of a problem for several months. Husband has it at Best Buy.
Your post has given me inspiration to tackle the “MESS”.

Barbara, it really IS a good thing and if you have COPD, you have a legitimate medical reason why you shouldn’t be doing housework. I know that there are even services cropping up all over these days to help with the moving of big piles of “stuff” here and there, and I know that, should the time come that we have to leave this house, and even hubby thinks so, then I will just call them. He has been in this house for close to 50 years now and the basement is a place I’d happily just set a match to and walk away from, so I’ll be happy to call someone else to just take it all away. Since I don’t have kids, and my husband’s daughter lives very far away, there will be no family to clear things out after we’re gone. When my mother died, she had only lived in her assisted living facility about 8 years, and the whole family had come from all over to help clear things out of the house she’d been in with my father for years and years. Even so, when she died, there was lots of stuff – this time, instead of going through it all, my brother called 1-800-Got-Junk, and got rid of all the little junky things, and we left the apartment furnished so another senior who didn’t have furniture could move right in. So much simpler, and it really started me thinking about simple solutions for us.

After I’d done the first big de-clutter, I have felt great, but it’s time to do another layer – I think you can’t get rid of EVERYTHING all at once – we just not wired that way. But now, I’m ready to go a little deeper… just need to find the energy, hahaha.

Millie, I think that letter really got me wondering what this new book is about! It’s all I can do now to wait, and yet, I know that the book will appear on my Kindle while I’m out of town, at midnight one night, and I’ll probably be up half the night reading it, hahahaha. I am getting very excited! I don’t know if many of you have read The Hangman – it’s a novella by Louise done for an adult literacy campaign, so written in rather more simple language than the usual. It is a Gamache mystery and takes place in Three Pines, and a couple of the Three Pines regulars are in it, but it’s not really a part of the series. You miss nothing by not reading it, except a good read! I found it very good – and I’m sure it was an interesting challenge for Louise. In it, there is mention of a book which has won the Arthur Ellis Award for mystery writers. As the story goes along it comes out that Arthur Ellis was a pseudonym for Canada’s first official hangman. I had to start looking things up – this was, indeed, the name used by Canada’s first official hangman, and later was used by at least one other person with the same job. I remember that Canada voted to lose the death penalty before I was old enough to vote, so it would have been, perhaps, the mid to late ’60’s. I think, before that, it had been a long time since anyone had been put to death, and I’m not sure hanging was still the way it was done, considering how inhumane it is. At any rate – there is, indeed, a Crime Writer’s Award (in fact, a series of them) with his name on it, and the award itself is a riot – you have to go look at it, as it’s a tad macabre.

Of course, this is an award that Louise has won – for Still Life – Best First Novel, and for Best Crime Novel – Bury Your Dead.

The author who had won the award in the story is Barbara Fradkin – a real Canadian writer with a long list of novels available. Her detective is Detective Green of the Ottawa Police in Canada. I’m just now getting into the first novel and enjoying it very much. (I had to have something to read before TNOTB comes out). I really like how, as you read Louise’s books, so many things she puts out there are real – you need to be close to google while you read, hahaha.

I hope it’s OK I’m posting a link to a letter from Louise to the readers just in case some got caught in a spam filter. It was sent by email from Minotaur Books but the link is to view from a web browser. It is such a great insight into her creative process and worth reading. I hope it works

I am waiting with great anticipation for the new book…am planning to revisit in September as a pleasant fall trip. Quebec has always been a favorite destination and one reason for my love of the Gamache series…it is splendid to re-explore a part of my past through the adventures of its characters…Salut!

Dawna, Have a great time as I know you will. If I get to take one more trip, it will be to Quebec, I hope.

Loved hearing about your decluttering Julie! Well done. I am sure you feel lighter for it.

Calm and hugs to you Millie. Strong emotions flowing around here too. Always good to catch my breath at the Bistro. It’s also freezing ao I am imaging a warm place by the fire with coffee and croissants.

Good thoughts to all.

Peg, I’m glad you tried again! It feels like Christmas in August! What a wonderful surprise. I loved the pages made available and found the book so easy to get into. I’m going to reread the pages now. So much happened, so much to think about.

Thanks Cathryne for the nudge to check out the Amazon site. I don’t remember a ‘Look Inside’ being available before a book’s publication date. What a gift indeed. I read it last night. Just the mental distraction I needed.

And I certainly do imagine myself in a quiet corner of the Bistro quite often. Sometimes out back, by the Bella Bella. “So completely yourself”… Thank you for reminding me of the importance of that.

Oh, I’m married to an engineer also. I really could relate to your description of their way of seeing the world, their way of being.

My “Look Inside” feature wasn’t working. It was a Java problem I’ve had before. Reloaded Java and it’s okay now. I’m up to page 75. Pretty intense!

Jan, very good instructions, thanks!
40 to 50 pages from the first several chapters of TNOTB are available to read on “Look Inside,” then “First Pages,” on Amazon, everyone. Jan’s directions are much better than mine from last night.
And “HOLY MOLY” says it all!

Millie, glad to see your post, but sorry about all the emotional pulls and needs right now. It helps to just have the Bistro to go to mentally, I think, even when we can’t post. I hope you are imagining yourself there sometimes, so comfortable, so peaceful, so safe, so completely yourself.
I’m glad you included Louise’s musings about order and calm because I loved that too, as well as her other recent postings on the subject. I’ve been really trying to act accordingly and have been taking advantage of my husband’s willingness to remove what we don’t need to the proper places (charities, waste management sites, family members, neighbors, trash). Also, jobs–cats to the vet!

When I went to take a look at the Amazon site, I noticed that there were missing pages (at least looking only at page numbers), so I decided not to read it. The Big Chill is one of my favorite movies, okay, not something to take to a desert island, but up there in what I would watch again. 😀 In it, there is a scene in which one guy comes into a room where another is watching an old movie. On the TV screen, there are about ten men wearing suits and fedora hats, the way they used to do in all those old movies (and probably in real life, hahaha). The guy who’s just come into the room says, “Who’s he?”, “What’s going on?” and “What just happened?” The other guy says, “I think the man in the hat did something bad.”, but this is not enough for the first guy, who continues to ask questions, frustrating the fellow watching TV. He finally says, “Sometimes, you just have to let art wash over you.” This has become my mantra when I don’t know what’s happening in a movie or TV show, and also when I DO know what’s going on, but my poor hubby is struggling to keep up and asks a lot of questions that I can tell will be answered in due time. I say to him: “Sometimes, you just have to let art wash over you.” This is what I’m doing here – I don’t want to know things before I’m supposed to know them, so will wait (even though it’s impatiently) for the whole book. Maybe this is just another example of not looking too closely, so you can’t see how the magic works…

Here’s a link to an excerpt of Chapter 1 from Louise’s site for those having difficulty navigating Amazon.

Sorry I have not been as active here as I had hoped, especially with regards to the Ruth Filter. I loved reading the other views and speculations. Just lots of sad news about aging relatives. Trying to comfort those I can and dealing with my own emotions about it all makes it hard for me to delve into Ruth’s pain right now.

I would like to add here a few sentences from one of Louise’s recent Facebook posts. Reading it with a ‘Millie Filter’ was most helpful because I struggle trying to multi-task and it just doesn’t work for me. (See Kim, you aren’t alone reading with your own filter!)

“As much as I’d like to think I’m a free spirit, I am not. I like order. Order is calm. Calm is peace. Peace is happiness. Oddly, the more order I have, the easier it is to handle unexpected events because I’m not already overwhelmed.”

Calm, peace and happiness to all my Bistro friends.

Millie – so sorry life is pulling you thither and yon. It’s difficult, and, indeed, does change your filter, so makes it hard to look with a Ruth filter, indeed. I love the “calm and order” post, too. It makes perfect sense to me. About a year ago, I was really feeling the need for order – I felt like I was living in perfect chaos, I had so much clutter in my house. Our house has been in a constant state of renovation since I moved into it 25 years ago – my husband, who is very handy, does it all himself, and for quite awhile, made good, though slow progress, fitting it around working. Then, when he retired, we got quite a bit done – probably about 75% – and then health changes have required him to slow down. He KNOWS, intellectually, that he can’t do these things anymore, but he can’t bring himself to hire someone to do it. He grew up in the depression, and it is just hardwired into him that there are things you don’t hire other people to do for you. But it was all driving me crazy, as each room had tools, pieces of lumber, etc. piled in corners, as though each was a job-site that someone had stepped away from for a few minutes. Every room had a pile of stuff in it. I found it so discouraging to even bother to clean. So I finally decided what I could do about it. I went through the whole house and pulled together all tools, and put them together in one place in the basement. Then I gathered together all building materials and put them together in a closet. Then, I went through all of the things that I’d been putting off – setting up a room as a walk-in closet (I’d bought all the shelving/hanging poles). I went through all my clothes and sent a lot of things to Goodwill. I de-cluttered every room and got the whole house “tidy” – though not necessarily clean. Tidy I find easy – clean, not so much, hahaha. Then I called a cleaning service and had them come in to give me an estimate. After a first big, deep, clean, I’m now on a schedule where they come in and clean every two weeks, and my house is never messy or dirty anymore. Yes, we have walls that have half the wallpaper scraped off them (in that closet room), but I’ve decided not to see that. I feel so much more serene. I don’t feel guilty about it anymore. I’m not embarrassed to have people come over, even if they “drop in”. The discipline that having the cleaners come means that I have to keep it tidy, or they can’t vacuum around the clutter very well. So it’s always tidy, and it’s always clean. I wish I’d done it years before. The funny thing is, even though my husband doesn’t mind that I have someone come in to do what I ought to be doing, he still can’t do that for “his” jobs, so our yard is awful, and all those projects remain half-done. But I have found my peaceful, calm place, so it’s all good, hahaha.

I’ve wondered so long about licorice pipes. I’m assuming they are candy novelties but could someone please give me a better description. I’m American in southern Illinois, far removed from Three Pines area, & we have no licorice pipes down here.

Dalene, I can’t think of another example of the use of the name, either, but I will keep looking and thinking.

And now, a MAJOR TREAT, a PRESENT to reward great patience. Go to Amazon and, for those who would like to, you can read many of the “first pages” of TNOTB! I stumbled upon it and I’m about halfway through the offered pages. Going back now!

On the Amazon LP book site, click on the image of TNOTB book cover until you get to Look Inside. Click on that.


I’ve been reading Betty for years, Peg, and never noticed it was set in Canada. I did notice the coloring book – very cutting edge – or should that be “coloring” edge…

Millie – thank you for sharing your thoughts on the re-read with a Ruth filter. You have pointed out what I remember from Still Life and more. I know that I read Ruth and Clara with “Kim” filters. My pattern is to muddle along with a fairly even keel until there is too much stress in my life or something comes along that makes me question my talents, capabilities and values. At that point, it takes everything in me to sit on deep insecurities and fears around not being (good) enough and anger, resentment, envy and ugliness come out through the cracks.

Ruth seems to be the opposite. The bitterness is front and centre – covering up caring, sensitivity and compassion – until something comes along that causes fear or pain and then the goodness comes out. The alcohol is a wall to protect her so she doesn’t care too much because people she loved (parents? other family?) hurt her. How? Ridiculing her talents? Failing to protect her from predators? Or just complimenting others while seemingly failing to appreciate her?

I have wondered whether the old murder has anything to do with the lumberjack. And whether the resentment was based on Jane taking the lumberjack or (more likely) fear that the lumberjack would take Jane away. I can hardly wait until the 25th to see how the murder tells Ruth’s story.

Kim – what an interesting take on it. I haven’t really thought about the lumberjack in that way before – that he had a bigger role in Ruth’s development than it seems at first glance… and speaking of lumberjacks, I’m just now reading The Cruellest Month, which has lots to say about things that may be relevant in TNOTB. For one, Gilles, who used to be a lumberjack, but now is always in the woods, communing with the trees he used to murder… who will maybe be there in the woods when whatever is going to happen, happens? And what made him change overnight, so that he could suddenly hear the trees scream? I can relate to that so well, because when I first started to garden, I grew some plants from seeds, and there comes a time when you are supposed to thin out the seedlings. I felt like could hear them screaming when I pulled them out of the soil. I hated that, hahaha.

I have also just finished the dinner party scene where Gamache has asked Clara to invite Jeanne (the witch), and she has reminded everyone of Ruth’s poem about a witch, which, to paraphrase, says something like – they hanged me because I had blue eyes, owned my own farm, and had a sure-fire cure for warts. And breasts. Very powerful – and describing a real woman who was burned in Connecticut, I believe, though her name escapes me now. Anyway – in the discussion around it, she explains that people like Ruth, Myrna, Clara, are the crones of the village – the keepers of the wisdom.

Another theme is introduced – “The Book of Magical Places” – which we know is relevant to TLWH and The Garden Of Cosmic Speculation. This is a book that Gamache is reading as he tries to figure things out – a book he found in the old Hadley House.

Millie – your Ruth filter musings have been so helpful to me. I still struggle a bit with Ruth, because even though I know she has a loving and kind heart, I also know that I would have a hard time being around her. One of the things I think about Ruth is that she must have been an ultra-sensitive person who internalized every slight and magnified it to gargantuan proportions. I know a little something about that..

I have tried to write about the time of GSAW as I was 20 in 1960 but I don’t seem to be able to gather my thoughts or express them. GSAW was very disturbing to me. It brought to mind the struggle it was for all concerned. I have wondered what it would have been like to have lived in another country where the social problems were not so pervasive. My world was ripped apart with my Mother’s death 4 years previously( after a lengthy illness). Then anger, rage and hate seemed to flare across the land. Bold harsh headlines on every newspaper and the TV filled with the contorted faces of men and women of both races as they screamed their views and beliefs. Some how the Country I loved so very dearly survived only to be split by the Vietnam War and later by riots and still we struggle today. We can not alter history no matter how hard we wish. Neither our personal history nor the history of our Nation.

I think you just expressed your thoughts most eloquently Barbara. What a difficult time it must be for you to think about let alone write about. The turmoil of a young girl losing her mother against the turmoil of a nation….very poignant indeed.

I just finished reading Killing Kennedy about the assassination of JFK. Another interesting perspective of the events of the early 1960’s including a small sideline, the Civil Rights movement as it related to the Kennedy’s.

You can’t change the past, that is so true. But we can appreciate its impact on the present. We can do our best to understand it so we can make better progress.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.