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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”

Thanks for the history on the tickets Julie. I think Luna Park in Sydney must have had a similar system at one time. It just sounds familiar.

I love the sound of the dress and the cloak. Erin had a dress velvet cloak with a hood once. I do love hooded cloaks! Don’t worry at all about the scar on her chest…its a badge of survival and besides no one is going to comment even if they do see it. Have the dress made that makes you feel most comfortable and beautiful whatever that form is.

The history of France during the war is interesting and I think there is a lot that is unknown. Certainly the background history of the Jewish people being rounded up is true. The way humans turn on each other is so bizarre. It keeps happening because we seem to have the most amazing capacity for evil right there alongside our capacity to be kind and thoughtful.

Anna – I’m thinking some of red, though maybe something more in the dark burgundy area… the cloak will be a long, red riding hood style cloak with generous hood – and while I’d love red-red, I think it should “go with” the dress, so it probably will, hahaha. The dress will be silk, while the cloak will be velvet, and I already feel special just thinking about it, hahaha. My dressmaker doesn’t want to measure me til I have my corset, which I’ve ordered on the internet – as it apparently “changes everything”. I can’t decide if I’m looking forward to that, or not. I’ve normally gone for a higher neckline, as I had open heart surgery years ago and have a scar running down the center of my chest. As I’ve kind of “played with” how it will look with the corset, I realize that the scar disappears into the cleavage, so I might just be able to have an authentic neckline! That will be interesting for me, as I’m so used to the high necklines, hahaha. I’ll be sure to tell all about it, and perhaps show a picture when it’s all done.

The film sounds very difficult to watch. I had no idea that Jewish people were rounded up in France. I’ve seen so very much about the Holocaust, but nothing about that. It would, indeed, be difficult to see and think about. I’m usually the one in my house who is saying “We SHOULD watch this”, while my husband says he doesn’t feel comfortable… more and more, I do feel, that maybe watching these kinds of things as my “entertainment” isn’t quite right, but I also think it’s not good to turn a blind eye. I asked my parents once if they knew what was going on in Germany at the time. My mother said – “yes, everyone knew”. My father toed the company line, with “no – we had no idea”. If you knew my parents you’d see how that illustrates almost everything about them, hahaha. Good for you and your daughter for not looking away, Anna!

A silk gown and a velvet cloak! How elegant indeed. I can’t wait to see a picture of you in such finery.
Even if the scar doesn’t hide in the cleavage, wear the neckline you want.
Talk of a scar from open heart surgery reminds me of when Daddy had his in 1981. A group of his friends and friends of friends( all male) arrived and immediately surrounded his bed and opened their shirts. Everyone had the scar ! I had no idea the surgery was so prevalent. Given the history of men smoking heavily and our diet it was no wonder. I know surgery can be needed even in people who are nonsmokers and don’t eat a diet heavy in fried meat, but I do think that those factors contributed to such a large number from such a small area.
Like Anna said, the scar is a sign of survival.

I hope you are feeling better Barbara. Asthma can be really messed up in the stormy season. Be careful.

Julie, the ball gown idea sounds fabulous! If it was me it would be a deep red….or would that make me a scarlet woman!! Love to hear more as you progress the plan. I think I remember tickets at Disneyland….would they have still been the case in 1989? It just rang a bell when you talked about A and E tickets. It’s always a challenge to avoid looking too hard at the Magic. It’s like when you see how movies are made and the next movie all you can see are the effects. Ugh.

I watched a very confronting film with my daughter last night called Sarah’s Key about the rounding up of Jewish people by the French in WW 2. I didn’t wAnt to keep watching but Erin made me. It was well made and we are still talking about it today while she makes waffles with strawberries. But it was challenging!

Anna – I understand the tickets were no longer used after 1982, and really, were being phased out in the late 70’s as they also sold an “unlimited ticket”. The phrase “E-ticket ride” crept into the lexicon, though, and you still hear it used once in awhile. It refers to something really special. In 1989, you would have heard a lot about the old ticket books, though, I’m sure.

The Asthma is much better today. I have what will be the last appointment with the pulmonologist who has done so much to improve my quality of life. He is taking a teaching position in another state. I had so much confidence in him. My previous pulmonologist really did very little to help me or try different methods of treatment.

It’s so hard to lose a good doctor. I’ve had that happen to me twice – docs I really had a lot of confidence in, moved on to other things. Especially my cardiologist, was so helpful to me and so empathetic. The “new” guy (five years now) turned out to actually be a better doctor, though he has zero “bedside manner”. You take the good with the bad, and in the end, it all works out, I guess.

How very interesting about the theatre experience, and “they bcome the character” and it “IS real”… the comment about the price you pay for getting too close resonated with me because of an experience I had one of the first times I went to Disneyland. I was an adult – just married for the first time, and my then-husband’s family lived in San Diego, so it was an easy trip to Disneyland for the day, and we took it often the first few years, whenever we visited them. I loved everything about Disneyland – back then, you still had books of tickets, with very few “E” tickets, and lots and lots of A’s and B’s. The E tickets were precious and needed for the top level rides and attractions. The Pirates of the Caribbean (long before Johnny Depp thought about donning the eye-liner) was a favorite of mine – I was completely enchanted in it all – from the first boat ride through the bayou outside the Blue Bayou restaurant, to the cannon-fire between the ships. The second time I went through, I paid close attention – I wanted to see “how they did it” for some of the things, and of course, when I did, I saw. It ruined it for me. I immediately wished I’d been able to suspend disbelief throughout the ride. I still do. But it taught me a valuable lesson about letting magic be magic… leave it alone, and don’t look too closely.

Hello Bistro friends. Where do I begin? With a thank you for asking about me sounds perfect. I’m doing well, just busier than I’ve been in years. It’s actually a good thing. But I’ve missed you all so a pop-in was certainly in order. And I’ve visited the real places. Adore the library of the Lit & His… It was brighter than I imagined. I really need to stop equating cold with dark…

To those facing caring for a parent [Anna, Cathryne, Barbara, Jan? and anyone else I’ve forgotten or who hasn’t mentioned it] my heartfelt prayers and positive thoughts to you every day. I wish strength, peace and moments of joy through the turmoil of emotions and upheaval of schedules.

For those who have been ill, my sympathy and glad to hear you are in the mends, Julie. No fun being sick in summer. Getting over a severe allergy attack turned sinus infection myself.

Lots going on here. We have a new roof. Right before the rainy season. No more leaks. Yay! New flooring goes in the room most affected later this week. Getting it completely empty was a challenge but progress is worth a stuffy nose and a bit of exhaustion. Boxes are being emptied, cleaned up and contents stored. What keeps me going is that every day I get closer to being able to sit at my computer. For now, my notebook and pen are close at hand. I did find a book on ‘my’ Pope written only a few years ago. I can read that one. It’s just finding the energy for it all that’s a challenge. The good news is I find more every day.

I’m surviving the remaining mess and the blahs of it by listening to Louise’s entire series. I put bookmarks on sections about Ruth I found in HTLGI. So many interspersed within the major plot I missed them before. But they offer such insight into Ruth. I have another busy day tomorrow but I’ll write them out here as soon as the worker bees are done repairing my hive if not sooner.

I will say that I didn’t think of anyone specifically in the chair in the theatre. Maybe because of all those years involved with community theatre I related fully to the experience of which Louise wrote, rather than on the person. It’s true, get up close or go ‘backstage’ and nothing is ‘real’. There was a running joke of “how does it look from row F?” It is only someone not involved with theatre who would think it was the price to pay for getting too close. (I paraphrase.) Could be Armand or Jean-Guy or??? For the actors, producers, even backstage people, the moment the actors walk on stage, with their costumes, the make-up, the lighting and sound, it IS real. They become the character they are portraying in the setting and time period created for them. It is a form of magic that happens inside all those people first. Then they make it real for a time for the audience as well.

My big question was to whom did theatre relate? Laurent, Ruth or the murderer? I’m so looking forward to this book.

HI, Millie! I’ve missed you and hoped that a busy time was keeping you away and not sickness.
Great to hear that the work on your house is progressing. My husband has had a project underway since Jan. A terrible looking storage building that once was cute. Sam has obsessive-compulsive behavior. He will spend hours on something that shows little or no difference. I become very stressed at the waste of time and effort. I know not to upset him by commenting. I sound off when I’m visiting my sister each weekend and when we talk on the phone if he is not around. The new building is up and another building( looks like a little cottage) is being sorted out. We are finding things I hadn’t seen in years as well as some neither of us remember. Maybe we will both have things straightened out soon.
You found a book on your Pope! Great. Is it fiction? I hope it is historical with sources cited.
That would help.
Your sentence beginning “They become the character” and the next truly speak of “How It All Happens”.
I have always thought that I have missed an important experience not having the theater as a part of my life.
So glad we heard from you.

Thanks for your thoughts Cathryne. I took my daughter with me to see mum today and that was so much better. Mum loves seeing her. She is a good girl and has been great with everything. She was with me the day dad was admitted to hospital and it looked like he well might die. She sat beside him holding his hand even though the whole thing was very confronting.

Our dog has been a good companion too. She was left home a lot alone when dad was in hospital and she was very confused. She has been all over dad since he came home.

Sounds like you have quite the challenge with your mum too. Sending you lots of supportive thoughts and wishes. I didn’t have my tantrum. I have started exercising when I can as a way to use up the adrenaline and stress. It helps with the waistline too. I do like cooking, as long as I am not exhausted. I have to be a bit careful that I don’t overcompensate with food. Trying to be healthy but have to take dads needs into account, he can’t eat everything any more.

I agree that the names tend to reflect the different perceptions of maturity with Armand and Jean Guy. It will be interesting to see if Jean Guy can step up and grow up a bit. He has a way to go with self awareness and control. I would like to see that.

Yes Anna, I was thinking about the contrast between Gamache and Jean-Guy today too. Even their names. Armand sounds so grown up and steady, Jean-Guy sounds like a child’s name to me. Maybe I’m just influenced by knowing so much about both of them by now!

Anna, I’m sorry to hear about your parents’ problems, which then affect you so much. I have been identifying with your “melt down tantrum” without having to actually have one myself. So much easier to have one by proxy, if you don’t mind my sharing yours. It takes too much energy to do it myself and it can be painful! My mom has been doing as your dad has, with similar results.
I think your idea of cooking nice foods to tempt your dad is great. I hope you enjoy cooking. My mom enjoys her favorite foods very much and it’s a way to help her that she really likes. My husband is wonderful about driving around to pick up exactly the groceries that we need. I hate shopping so I am grateful beyond words.
My thoughts are with you at this hard, too hard, time. I hope you can find more help and support. I think our societies are trying to figure out how to offer support to families as we go along and the needs become more and more apparent. But the need is outpacing the insights into the problems. Still, sometimes we and they (our parents) are surprised by joy!
I hope your darling daughter is happy and well and providing some much-needed hugs and smiles. And your dog! Our two cats are a help and a source of peace and calm.

Hi Barbara. I have come to loathe the heat. I know what you mean about the thunderstorms. I used to love them but they seem to be getting much more powerful. I am just watching the US news and seeing the tornados in Detroit and Michigan. It has been a bad storm season. My sister had Tropical storm Bill causing more rain, not what they needed in Texas.

I did wonder if you had noticed Jason Day’s latest performance. Vertigo is horrible. I was amazed he was able to come back and play so well. Very proud of him.

I am not a big fan of coconut Julie although I love coconut milk in curries! Antibiotics certainly do knock the gut around. Just be gentle with yourself and eat simple food that “feels right” to you. Then get back to the massages and hair appointments. What is the ball gown for….a big event?

Interesting thoughts about Jean Guy and the new book. He is quite the complicated character isn’t he? Not always easy to predict which way he might go. A contrast to Gamache’s steadiness, although no less complex.

Anna, the ball gown is a period-piece fo wear to the Jane Austen Society. In the fall there is a big meeting of all the different regions, and people come from all over the US and Canada. On the Saturday night, there is a ball, and since most everyone dresses for it, I wanted to, too. I have a nice day dress, but need a ball gown now. I’ve been talking with a local seamstress who makes beautiful costumes, and she wants to have a preliminary meeting to discuss style and fabrics, and would like me to bring swatches of the kinds of fabrics I would like to have. I have to admit, I’m excited about it.

Oh, Julie. Please, tell us all about your gown when it is done. What about your hair? Will your usual hairdresser do your hair for the ball? Will you use a wig or hair pieces ? How exciting!
I just love the idea of dressing up in period clothing. The primary attraction of Downton Abbey
is the clothing and then the set designs.
What a fascinating group you all are. This has really perked me up. I needed it after a severe asthma attack this AM.
Once more, Thanks to the Bistro.

Barbara – my hair is short-short, so it won’t be “done” – I’ve thought about wigs or hairpieces, but I think I’ll opt for a turban-style cap like this: http://www.festiveattyre.com/2014/06/regency-turban-cap-tutorial.html and see what can be done to curl my bangs… I could see getting some false hair to peek out from it… a long curl escaping or some such…

I am very excited about getting the ballgown done – the woman who will be doing it is a professional, and her clothes are wonderful – a couple of my friends go to her and recommended her. She does all kinds of costumes, and some of the things I’ve seen of hers are wonderful. I’m kind of leaning toward a full outfit with a cloak as well…

I agree, Barbara – Downton Abbey is half for the clothes, and half to see my favorite characters. Hugh Bonneville has been a favorite actor for awhile – since Notting Hill, where he was very funny. And of course, the bantering between The Dowager Countess and Mrs. Crawley. The clothes are to die for, and the young girls look so beautiful in them.

I’m so sorry to hear about your asthma – when the air quality is not good, it can be a real challenge if you already have difficulty breathing well. I hope you are past it now, and all is well.

The turban looks like a very good idea. It doesn’t look impossibly difficult. Though I don’t know that I could make it. Just don’t sew.
Thanks for a fun time this afternoon. I watched the dances listed on the Jane Austen Society website for the Ball in Oct. Looked like so much fun. Thanks for sharing.

Well, that would be the final indiginity for Beauvoir, wouldn’t it? Covered in mosquitos and no-see-ums! They used to plague me in the summers, especially when I was a child (was probably sweeter then, hahaha) I hadn’t thought it would be anyone but Gamache on the stage, but it does make sense that it is Beauvoir. Since Bury Your Dead, and especially, TLWH, I think he’s very much come to think of Three Pines as a warm and welcoming place, so it would be very disconcerting to go back and have to investigate – especially if he has to investigate Ruth. She was so perfect when she watched the video with Jean Guy… my heart went out to him and Gamache as they each watched the tape at the same time, and each with a trusted friend… I’m sure it helped. Gamache’s quiet “Thank you… for not leaving me.” to Emile was heart-rendering. They’d had a real rift open up just hours before when it came out that Emile had lied to Armand, twice. I thought at first, that this was going to completely tear their friendship apart, and was so pleased to see that they were able to get past it, mostly because Gamache thought that just this one thing was not enough to undo the years and years of trust. A lesson I could learn, if I would.

Anna, I’m so sorry to hear that things have been so tough with your parents. I know just what you mean about not having the energy for a panic attack – you’ll have to schedule one when it quiets down a bit. I hope that time comes soon, and that by then, there will no longer be the need…

My stomach is better – I have tried yogurt, but unfortunately, the taste is so bad to me, that it wouldn’t be any help. My friend has also said coconut is good for that – another thing I hate the taste of! My husband thought it might just be after-effects of a very strong antibiotic, and of course, it could… at any rate, it seems to be behind me now, and I can continue to recover some equilibrium. I’ve had to cancel hair and massage appointments (neither of which I can afford to miss, haha), so will have to go about getting those back on the books, as well as starting out to find some fabrics for my ball gown, which has been put on hold for far too long!

Barbara, on June 4 you said, regarding the last quote from TNTB, “Is it Gamache sitting on the stage or someone else?” I read that but didn’t take it in. I assumed it was Gamache, but when I went back and read the quote again, I realized that you were right. It doesn’t say who “He” is. Now I think it’s Beauvoir, leading an investigation in Three Pines. If so, I can see that being very hard for him. What about his relationship with Ruth, especially?

Of course, Beauvoir would be involved. Although Ruth cares for him, I don’t think she would take kindly to him investigating her. Poor Beauvoir. There is an old time saying about someone being cursed at so badly that not even a fly would light on him. Maybe at last there will be the benefit of keeping the mosquitos and “no see ums” off him.

Hi Cathryne and everyone. Yes it has been draining here. Dad has been naughty and had a fall last week. It was just sheer stupidity as he was doing something he shouldn’t but it set things back a bit. He is improved now and I have a physio starting this week to do some home visits and help get him stronger. His eyesight has deteriorated with the illness and that is making him grumpy. And Mum has been having panic attacks. I would have one too but I don’t have the energy!

The days are very cool here at the moment but lovely when the sun shines, crisp and sweet. I am doing lots of cooking and trying to soothe dad with nice meals. I agree with Julie that all the food, especially against a snowy backdrop, in BYD was enough to make my stomach growl. I am sure I gained kilos rereading that!

I hope your stomach has settled Julie. There have been a few bugs go through here and dads hasn’t been the same since the antibiotics. Maybe some good yoghurt would help you both. I shall get onto that.

I am very much looking forward to TNOTB. When it becomes available maybe I will have a mini holiday and go off somewhere and read.

I hope everyone is ok. Thinking of you all.

Hi, Anna. Sorry to hear your Dad fell and isn’t doing well. My Sister and I usually turn to yogurt when we take antibiotics.
I loved reading ” The days are very cool here at the moment but lovely when the sun shines, crisp and sweet.” We have had 100 degree weather over the weekend and now face a week of 100+. Watering the flowers and lawn doesn’t compensate for the scorching sun. We have the patio umbrella tilted to provide shade for the birdbath and the birds. This type of heat is usually broken only by severe thunderstorms. As I have mentioned, the storms frighten me very much and I usually take refuge in the hall in order not to see the lightening flashing. Nothing blocks out the crack of the lightening….not earplugs or noise cancelling headphones.
My Mother-in-Law’s heart has weakened more and her legs are swelling badly. The Dr. said she is in the final decline. My husband and his brother and sister will not accept the obvious. She was 104 on Feb. 22nd this year. At least, Mrs. Johnson is calm and says she has not pain and feels well. I hope that is true. I wish your Mother were calm and not having panic attacks. I suppose that all that can be done is give her medication.
Peace and good thoughts to you and your family.

I wanted to mention Jason Day. What a man! Congratulations to him! While he wasn’t the scoreboard winner, he was certainly a Champion. I just could not believe how he kept playing. Talk about perseverance. The local sports writers and commentators had great praise for him. My husband said all the men were talking about it at Church yesterday. I hope he can overcome the vertigo and continue his career.

Cathryne – so nice to see you posting again! I check in every morning to see what’s “doing” in the bistro. As I continue my reread of Bury Your Dead, I’m amazed at the food – either the simple stews and baguette that Armand and Emile have at home, or even just the sandwiches they pick up on their way to going through Augustin Renaud’s papers and books… I end up really hungry in the middle of the night, which is a feat, since I’m suffering from some kind of stomach bug right now, and don’t really feel like eating anything!

I can see you, Cathryne, greeting the birds as you greet the day, and you, Barbara, walking in the fresh mornings… it’s only the summertime that I wish I were a morning person. The few summer mornings I’ve seen have been glorious! But, then, the nights have been too, and I see much more of those, hahaha.

I signed up right away to try to win a map of Three Pines. I love examining the part shown on Louise’s author page; it’s beautifully drawn and I need help with the layout of the area. I’m dying to see the whole map. Another thing to wait for, not so patiently!
I keep thinking about the last excerpt from TNTB. It seems like a version of past meetings of Gamache with the community, including the one with the monks at the monastery. He always makes a point about looking behind the facades and learning what’s really there. Even though he isn’t working for the Surete any more (or is he?), it looks like he might be getting ready to address a group again.

I have been hoping that the quiet in the Bistro doesn’t indicate problems. Anna, I hope your dad is settling in at home. Getting his strength back is probably taking time and requiring more from you. Take care of yourself and know you have a place to come and be yourself, as you put it so well!

Barbara, your idea to go out early and walk was brilliant. I hope you are doing it, the smells and sights in the fresh morning are hard to resist! And the movement is so powerful. I think of you each morning when I greet the birds and others in our yard. This morning I noticed that the wasps are building a fine new nest under our porch right next to last year’s, even though the old one looks fine to me.

Julie, I’m so glad you are better and getting Your strength back. And I’m impressed beyond words with the editing you are doing. Who would think of contacting a writer to offer editing services?! That was so smart and so brave! When people read about you doing that, I’ll bet some decide to take a chance on something they would like to do. First the printing press and now the Internet have, I think, helped to make the world more of a community.

Millie, are you o.k.? I hope you are well and writing, or at least well and busy. Missing you.

And, I continue to take strength and pleasure from Louise and Michael’s ability to take life a day at a time and gather joy where it comes.

And, Amy, your field of clover and honeysuckle left me smiling. I am especially fond of clover.

I finished my reread sooner than I wanted, but enjoyed all the books so much again. Yes, Julie, I thought the description of John Guy’s thoughts about the people in Three Pines in TBT was masterful too. He’s so funny, sometimes so clueless! And, of course, being human, we can see ourselves in him sometimes!

I am so sad for my adopted country. All the events on the news in the past months have almost inured us to such violence, and not allowed us to think of each other as individuals. I can see why and how, but it makes my heart sick. President Obama said in a speech that this is another in a long line of tragedies that shows how we need more stringent gun control. He said the same thing after Sandy Hook. I thought for sure, after that, there would be some movement. But no. Rhetoric is fine, and I know Mr. Obama needs to show the need, but he also needs to act. I know he cannot do it unilaterally, but he has made no move at all that I can see to push such a law through. “Guns don’t kill – people kill” is the mantra of those who would preserve the right to carry guns, and yet – I doubt very much if that boy hadn’t had a gun, he’d have done what he did. Multiple killings of people you don’t need to get very close to are a lot easier with a gun than without. For those who think that tougher gun control would make it hard for those who want to hunt, I say that there is only one animal you hunt with a hand gun. For those who think that then, only criminals will have guns – if all these poor, unbalanced children didn’t have guns, so many tragedies would have been averted. And for everyone who has had a child pick up a loaded gun and have it go off, killing either their child or someone else’s – clearly guns DO kill, sometimes. Nobody had murder in their heart in those cases. Still, a child is dead.

Okay – off my soapbox.

I think Barbara that it is easier to hate those you don’t know, easier to think them less than human. Lots of killers dehumanize those they slay. It was a terrible event. I saw it on the news here too.

I’m thoroughly into Bury Your Dead now… have just had Beauvoir arrive in Three Pines to investigate, even though he’s told them he is only here for a rest. I found the last few paragraphs of this chapter (4) interesting. As you know, Beauvoir is probably my favorite character, mostly because he is so flawed and complex. Remember that so far, he is sitting among the residents of Three Pines, in the Bistro, having just lied to them about his purpose of being here.

“So there Jean-Guy Beauvoir sat, trying to pretend he liked these people.

But he didn’t.

Jean-Guy Beauvoir didn’t like many people and these ones in Three Pines had given him little reason to change. They were cunning, deceitful, arrogant, and nearly incomprehensible, especially the Anglos. They were dangerous, because they hid their thoughts, hid their feelings, behind a smiling face. Who could tell what was really going on in their heads? They said one thing and thought another. Who knew what racid thing lived, curled up, in that space between words and thoughts?

Yes. These people might look kind and concerned. But they were dangerous.

The sooner this was over, though Beauvoir smiling at them over the rim of his beer, the better.”

I think this is so brilliant. I’d not noticed it the first couple of times I read it, but this perfectly describes Beauvoir, and the “thing” that is curled up inside him, getting ready to strike. I’m in awe of Louise’s power as a writer.

Ooops – all spelling mistakes are mine, not Louise’s. “Thought” not though, in the last sentence.

I found this passage thought provoking , when I read it, Julie. Sometimes when I am in a group, I look around at the various people. They are laughing and talking, appearing to be in accord one with the other. I wonder if their thoughts are malevolent and they are only acting.
Poor Beauvoir, carries the emotional scars of the prejudice he has known.
As I write this, the TV News is covering the story of the massacre in Charleston, SC. How can a person hate so much. I doubt he even knew any of those he killed.

It is a beautiful library, isn’t it? It’s just what I imagined, though not quite as “down-at-the-heels” as I thought.

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