LOUISE PENNY’S

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.

Discussion on “The Bistro”

Nice to hear from you Barbara. Have been following the developments re the flag and the marriage act. Someone made a comment that the people are moving forward faster than the politics and the politicians are struggling to keep up. It is indeed an exciting time of change, with due respect to those who are feeling worried.

Glad you saw some footage of the centre. I seriously sobbed to see the interactions and especially Alzheimer patients feeling the joy of the moment. We struggle so much to get Mum into the moment. I had a good day with her on Saturday. Very funny. I made her a coffee from their fabulous coffee machine but she kept asking for the cake. They always have lovely cake and cookies but I was early and they hadn’t been put out yet. There was definite joy when I was able to bring her two freshly baked cookies. My brother had a very different experience the next day. So hard.

Freezing cold here. We had sleet yesterday but I am loving it. I have my coat and scarf at the ready. Not so good for my poor daughter who is back at school after the holidays. I made her where her school scarf which she hates as it itches but it was cold enough that she didn’t protest.

First chapter of Go Set A Watchman is available on the Internet. I haven’t read it yet but heard some spoilers. I will read while I wait for TNOTB to be released.

I hope all are well. Julie, no bushfires near you I hope. I see Canada is suffering badly. Some Australian firefighters have gone over to help. Stay safe everyone.

Anna, we are safe here in Seattle, but there are a number of fires burning throughout the state, and most have been set by arsonists. I cannot fathom the depravity it would take to unleash a beast like uncontrolled fire. If they’re being set by one or two people, (which I hope), I’m hoping they’re caught soon. If it’s a lot of different arsonists, I’m afraid we’re in for a long period of destruction and loss of life. Our time on this beautiful earth is so limited anyway, I just can’t imagine being so unhappy and so twisted that this is how you choose to spend your life, your time, your joy.

I like that idea that the people are ready for change, but the politicians haven’t caught up. We had an historic week when both guaranteed healthcare and marriage equality were passed by the supreme court. Naturally, our comedians have been having a field day with Justice Scalia’s use of the term “jiggery-pokery”, just as they have all given thanks to God for Donald Trump’s campaign. So much fodder for their grist machines… But I do think that the general population is so much better prepared to move forward than almost any politician, and those who would be wonderful don’t have the big money machines behind them. It’s disgraceful that the ability to raise money is the main road to success in politics. How I wish election campaigning were limited to a few weeks, as it is in Canada. How much more work would our government get done if they weren’t all constantly campaigning?

Glad you are safe Julie but the coverage of the fires continues to be scary. I saw that Washington State had quite a few. I think arsonists feel power in unleashing the beast. The consequences thrill them rather than frighten. A different mindset for sure.

I don’t think it matters where you live but politics has become more about power than effective leadership. Passing or blocking legislation is all about that power not about the benefit or otherwise of the legislation itself. It happens here, it happens everywhere. Louise taps into that abuse of power so well in many storylines. One of the reason Gamache made an enemy of the abusers in the Surete was he isn’t seduced by power, he doesn’t covet it. They mistake that as weakness when it is such a strength.

Yes, unfortunately, Politicians seek power to block anything the opposing party or parties want. If only we had statesmen who serve their nation and fellow citizens out of love and the desire to see the country prosper and the people have the best life possible. I guess that would be Utopia.
Go Set A Watchman has caused quite a stir among local booksellers. Events have been ongoing for the last week. I am of mixed feelings about reading it. SPOILER ALERT! Well maybe not as this info has been on TV online and in newspapers. Atticus is a racist. I was truly stunned when I first read that. How could that be possible? Dear Atticus who bravely stood to defend a man everyone had already found guilty. I had to think a while about how a man could fight for justice and still be a racist. Then I realized, the ideas are not mutually exclusive even if they may be so to me. Atticus’s desire for justice meant he did not want to see an innocent person found guilty of a crime he did not commit or that he at least had a fair trial and adequate defense. That did not require him to feel the defendant was his equal as a fellow man.
A first my concern was that Lee had not truly written the book. I am still anxious to learn the verdict on that. I have just decided that I will read the book…..only not right now.

Hi, Barbara – I think that, knowing that Go Set a Watchman was Harper Lee’s very early draft of what became To Kill a Mockingbird, I’m not surprised or angered by the idea that Atticus Finch is portrayed as racist. There must be many ways for Scout to cement her own views on this topic, and it’s very easy for me to believe that good people, who believe in justice, have, in the past, thought some other portion of the populace to be below them – unequal.

I’ve given this a lot of thought – and decided not to read Go Set a Watchman. I just read this article in Business Week – it’s entitled “Harper Lee, Her Lawyer and the Ethics of Consent”, which for some reason, doesn’t appear as the title on this e-version, but is otherwise, the same article, I believe: http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-harper-lee-go-set-a-watchman/

Even before reading this, I was persuaded that Harper Lee had had at the very least, undue influence put upon her to publish what she otherwise had said she would never publish. In her younger days when she was more able to be independent, that book sat there in a safety deposit box – you can’t tell me she had “forgotten” to publish it. She had decided not to, I’m sure – had decided that it was not fit for publication. I prefer to honor that Harper Lee – leave her with her masterwork intact. It’s a very personal decision, and I’m not trying to say that others shouldn’t read it.

When Vern and I were first dating, it was the late 1980’s, and I lived in Winnipeg, in Canada. Rudolph Nureyev came to dance with a small company of his students. Figuring this was my one and only chance to ever see the great dancer, I convinced Vern to go with me. What we saw was a fat, out of shape Nureyev, clomping around the stage clumsily. It was horrible. I realized then, that I should have left well enough alone, and kept my memories of the times I’d seen him on film, at his best. A few years later, we were in New York City and walked by a little bar where Les Paul was playing. Vern gasped as he saw this, and I could see that it would be so cool for us to see one of his heroes, and said that we should come back that night. He said “Nureyev”. ‘Nuff said. We passed on that, and on Bobby Short, a little later on. Remember them as they were in their heyday. This is how I’m feeling about this “new” book.

I wondered if maybe, Harper Lee needed the money, but this article says that Mockingbird has never been out of print and has always sold really well. She realizes over $3 million every year in royalties from the book! She doesn’t need the money – but I think her greedy lawyer thinks SHE does. It’s really very demoralizing to read all the jockeying being done in the small town where Mockingbird is set, for the money that can come from tourism and merchandising. It’s really very sad.

Anyway… that’s my take on it. I hope when you do read it, you enjoy it for its own self, and are not disappointed. The written word can be so powerful, and none more so that Harper Lee’s words. Even her first draft had to be good.

Julie, my English friend often says that she wishes political campaigning was limited here in he US as it is in England. I think that would be much better also. I did not realize that Canada also limited campaigning. The costs of campaigns would be much less then, I think.
Comedians are always looking for fodder for their acts and no one or subject is exempt.
I as not aware of the fires in Canada and Washington. Duh. How did I miss that ? After reading Anna’s post, I checked online and saw that Mexico had sent firefighters to Canada as well. The US set some, including a group of Hotshot fire fighters. Made me remember the group lost a few years ago. I hope all the firefighters from everywhere return home safely. It must be very hard on their families and loved ones.
Arsonists are such horrible people as well as cowards. I hope those setting the fires in Washington are only one or two in number and are soon apprehended. Fires caused by lightening is unpreventable but to think of a person intentionally doing such is sad.

Barbara, if I’m remembering correctly, not only is there a limited time for campaigning (mostly because nobody knows when the next election will be until it is called, and it is always called for about 6 weeks away, I believe it is) – there is also a limit on the amount you can spend. As well, of course, there must be equal time given to all parties on TV, radio, etc. – as far as programming goes, so there is much more real equality, I think, in what you see and hear during a campaign. But you are all right – there is corruption in government everywhere – and the love of power seems overwhelming in those who would run for public “service”. Louise’s depiction of it is perfect, as it shows that no system is immune.

Where is Frank Capra now that we need him? I was so pleased to see that they were remaking Mr. Deeds Goes to Town a few years ago, but then saw that it was with Adam Sandler, and it was a very different movie, with a very different slant on things. Longfellow Deeds, Jefferson Smith, John Doe – we need those guys today!

Anna, I found a 4 1/2 minute segment of the film about St. Vincent Intergenerational Day Care. It was wonderful. Tears filled my eyes. I wanted to be able to hug the older folks as well as the darling children. Thanks so much for sharing.

Hi, Jeb – I agree, too. That scene is probably the culmination of all the evil in HTLGI – to me, anyway. The later scenes – almost a denouement, because, of course, evil cannot be allowed to flourish – not in Three Pines. So many innocent people would not be killed, which would have happened, had Gamache reached the schoolhouse. One of the most exciting things I’ve ever read, and the scene with Jean Guy and Ruth, one of the gentlest, most beautiful.

Hi, to All. I visit several times a day but just haven’t posted lately. Friday , Husband and I watched as the SC State Patrol removed the Confederate Battle Flag from its flagpole on the grounds. I held my breathe for fear something bad would happen. I feared someone would cause a disturbance. The people of SC acted with dignity as they have through all of this. Both of my parents were from SC where their families had been for generations (except for Mother’s GG Grandfather from Germany ). I am filled with admiration for the people of Charleston, the majority of the people of SC, the state legislators, and most of all the people of Mother Emmanuel AME Church. Tears flowed as the Flag was taken down as I never thought I would live to see the day when a symbol that was so hurtful to so many was removed. The removal ceremony was conducted with solemnity and respect. Gov. Haley is to be commended. I pray that peace will hold and that GA and other states will very soon follow suit. I know there are many details to be worked out concerning when and where the image can be used or the flag displayed but all that can be taken care of if people will try.
The US Supreme Court Marriage Ruling was another heartwarming event. I realize that is a very sensitive topic to many people with concerns of Ministers being forced to go against their belief and conduct marriages they disapprove. I don’t think that will happen. I remember when divorced people had only civil marriage ceremonies as no Minister of any Faith would officiate. That is certainly no longer a problem. We live in an exciting time.

Barbara, I couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve said. I’ve been spellbound by the grace and forgiveness of the people of Mother Emmanuel Church, especially, and all the people of Charleston. What a good place it must be – a shining example to the rest of us.

Seeing the flag come down was very heartwarming – and I hope, somewhat healing to the communities that have been estranged for so long. I wish only that the rest of the US could do as well. How anyone can see the confederate flag as anything but a symbol of hatred is beyond me, but I know that so many of us cannot see ourselves and the harm we do without thinking. I hope this can usher in a time of really thinking how we affect those around us.

Race relations has become a major topic in America again – and we must figure this out if we are to continue as a civilized country. I am hopeful that people will “get it”.

On our intergenerational project Barbara….watching a documentary about the Nursing Home in Seattle that has a day care centre and the interactions between the children and the elderly. Sobbing here. It’s really amazing and great kids but precious moments. Wish my mum had the joy the kids have with those elders.
http://washington.providence.org/senior-care/mount-st-vincent/services/child-care/
If the documentary comes up on the Internet Inwill link it for you but it’s just one of our local magazine style programs.

Hi, Anna. I went to the site and read. Please do send the link if the program turns up. Intergenerational experiences can not only be uplifting and improve the quality of life for the older participants but allow the children to learn priceless lessons. They can learn that the elderly are still deserving of respect and caring. In the future, they will be policy makers and leaders who will be able to influence legislation and attitudes toward the elderly.
I wish your Mother had happiness in her life. My Mother-in-law no longer knows any of her 3 children. When asked, she says she feels fine and has no pain. Her appetite is better than it has been in some time. She seems content. I don’t guess we can ask for more.

Hi Jeb. I love that scene too, I think a lot of people do. Such a significant moment as a demonstration of trust and love. It’s quite breathtaking. Thanks for telling us about your Mum. She sounds like an amazing person. Battling mental illness is a challenge. Watching someone battle is equally difficult.

It’s good when stories touch us in a personal way. I think Louise has the ability to be unafraid in allowing genuine emotion into her stories but her greater gift is in tapping into the best in people. Whatever their quirks or flaws we are able to see the potential for goodness and growth in the characters. I think Louise is Gamache is so many ways. She has to be to be able to look into the dark rooms of humanity and still see the gems.

I finished How the Light Gets In last night – tears streaming down my face… the suspense in that one is amazing to me. Lots of little insights into Ruth – that she had somehow seen herself as the “missing Quint”, felt an affinity for Constance – seems to say to me that her childhood certainly left a lot to be desired. There’s mention that she moved to Three Pines with her parents when she was small, and I seem to remember from Still Life, that her first day at school, Jane Neal had befriended her. Very, very much made of the poem – “Who hurt you once/ so far beyond repair/ that you would greet each overture/ with curling lip?” The pain Ruth feels – yet the help she gives Beauvoir is heartbreakingly beautiful. When he asks her, barely above a whisper – “Am I? Beyond repair?”…

Jean Guy’s spiral downward is so awful – so well-written, so true-sounding, it can’t help but affect you. And his final redemption, that we’re not sure he can manage or not, is wonderful! The final scene – the wedding – is very healing to me, and wraps up the “Arnot case” so nicely. I’m not sure this isn’t my favorite book, though Bury Your Dead and The Brutal Telling are both right up there, too. The Beautiful Mystery is lovely, yet, somehow on a different plane – perhaps because it’s so contained to the monastery – behind locked doors. I loved that book, yet, I don’t think you can find another that runs your emotions through the wringer like HTLGI.

I know none of this is new – but sometimes, I just have to talk about what I’ve read, and to people who understand…

I know exactly what you mean Julie. Every time you read the books it os emotional and needs release. Love how there are levels and nuances that are picked up on each reread. I do love HTLGI. So much happens. So much emotion. Share away!!

The scene with Ruth entrusting Rosa into Jean Guy’s care is my favorite scene in all the books. Ruth reminds me of my Mom who was also a poet. My Mom suffered from mental illness, but was sharper than any person I ever met. It was good to find a characters somewhat in fiction and for her coup de grace to be such a significant part of the story.

Julie, being able to share feelings about ideas, events (personal and public) as well as emotions, when we read, is very important. The Bistro is very special to us because here we do just that….we share, understand and care. Thank you to all who make the Bistro possible and to all who join in the discussions.
Jean Guy’s fall was so painful. The excellent writing made us care very much.

We had solar hot water and solar generation panels installed on our last house then moved a couple of months later. It was good while it lasted.

Hope you are all well wherever you are.

Cathryne you make me laugh! The dress is simple and comfortable and wearable to all kinds of events but I had no room for a USB or other message coding device.

Julie, I know what you mean about “the End Times”. Extreme weather events have been the state of play across the world for the last few years. We have a tub that goes near the front door when the weather warms up. In it go the files with our passports and birth certificates etc, a photo album and anything not used daily that is irreplaceable. No guarantee there would be time to take it but it’s there to grab after the humans, the animals and the favourite teddy bears. Might have to put ski boots there too as they are hard to get right and highly prized in this house!
Mind you we have had early fires in recent years with dry winters and unseasonal blasts of hot dry air. Not so much this winter which is dry as per the El Niño predictions but cooler than expected so far. I don’t mind that except when standing on the flight deck of a Navy ship with a cold breeze picking up!

Well, of course, then you just have to not stand on the flight deck of a Navy ship… duh! Hahaha – yes, I think we have well and truly messed up the planet – I just hope it’s not too late to claw it back somehow. Have been watching the progress of the solar powered airplane as it flies around the world. That long trip from Japan to Hawaii seems most dangerous to be in an airplane that goes about 47 miles per hour! And to have no contingency fuel of any kind. But I guess, what with him streaming live, people would know he was in trouble pretty quickly – but could they get to him in a hurry? Brave souls just to test out how powerful solar power is. Why we’re not using more of it is beyond me. And why it seems easier to some people to frack to get the little deposits of oil, than to put up solar panels is also beyond me…

Anna, so glad to hear your night was enjoyable. At first I imagined you in a summery dress, then remembered that you are in the midst of winter. It was certainly time for an evening out in a new dress; I hope you found a dress you loved wearing. I also hope you didn’t have to slip a secret message to the U. S. Ambassador, a la Audrey Villeneuve in HTLGI, such a distraction.

Thanks for your kind thoughts Barbara and Julie. We had a nice night but it did get a bit cool. Met the U.S. Ambassador. Nice fellow.
I am keen to get to Georgia and see the history. And Julie, stay safe. Been watching the fires and they have been awful. Spoke to a fellow from Washington State last night and talked to him about it. Whole West Coast is so dry. Just at airport as husband flying to San Diego. Not so bad down there I think.

I hope San Diego is a bit better – it’s a very moderate climate, usually – probably the most perfect climate in the US, as it seems to vary something like 10 degrees between 65 and 75 as average temps through the year. I loved San Diego when I visited there, because of that. The extreme heat and almost any cold is hard for me. The heat is worse, I think, as you get to a point where you can’t take any more clothes off, hahaha.

Happy Independence Day for tomorrow to all those in the US. Off to Fourth of July party tonight. New dress for the occasion and first time I have been “out” in a long time

Hope you had a great time, Anna. You deserve it.

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY ! Our morning paper was filled with articles about the Revolution and especially Georgia’s participation. We have many monuments honoring the patriots and the graves of revolutionary leaders are found in our oldest cemetery.
Peace and comforting thoughts to the Bistro.

Hope you had fun, Anna! I expect your fourth is over and ours is just starting, at least for those of us who try to get up around noon, haha. We are in one of the few places in the US suffering from severe drought conditions, so people have been asked not to set off fireworks. Of course, the city will still have a big fireworks display, but they are always done from a raft in the middle of a lake, so not much danger of fire there… I hope people pay attention – we have one out of control fire in the state now, and it’s destroyed a great many homes… it doesn’t take much right now. Meanwhile, about a third of the country seems to be under water, as torrential rains don’t show signs of letting up. I begin to think this is going to be the “end times”.

Barbara – I think you are the one who recommended Into the Woods to us…. I put it on my Netflix list and last night, we watched it. You were right – it was delightful! I feel like such musicals are all becoming a lot more like opera – taking their cue from Les Miz, no doubt. Such a wonderful cast and beautiful movie! Thank you!

Julie, I’m the one who kept talking about how much I love Into The Woods. I think they did a great adaptation of the play to film. So glad you enjoyed it.

Hi, Millie. I thought you were the source for Into the Woods info. I was going to check back but had no time yesterday. The day went well for us.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, GA recently approved the sale of fireworks and use by individuals. I very much enjoy Pubic Fireworks Demonstrations, however. I feel it is a much safer option. People have always shot off fireworks here but they had to be purchased across the river in SC and the police would respond if it got out of hand or continued too far into the AM hours. The ones I heard last night sounded like news reports from areas under bombing attacks. I was worried the sound would prompt an incident in the Vets with ptsd. The late local newscast reported Vets asking to be informed when people in their neighborhoods were
planning to shoot fireworks. Some had placed signs on their lawns requesting to be informed. One woman said that if she knows the noise is coming she can brace for it. I wasn’t aware knowing would help. Hope that works for all but I think not.
I wish we could share the rains we have been having with those who need it so much worse. We are thankful for what we have been receiving and are about to have.

Happy Canada Day! Happy day for the audio listeners too. A narrator has been chosen for NOTB. Relief, since I’m a fan of audio too.

I thought about my previous post and realized so many were a part of the entire re-read, it would probably be redundant for me to point out things in HTLGI regarding Ruth…

Barbara, the book I found is a biography, not fiction. And I too am excited the wait for the next book is narrowing.

Julie, love your description of the dress, cape and upcoming ball. What fun. Do keep us posted.

Nancy, I too find it easier to read than to ‘see’ on film…

Wishing the U.S. members of The Bistro a Happy Fourth of July, and a great weekend to all.

Happy Canada Day to my Bistro friends! I don’t throw parties these days, but in my heart, I still celebrate Canada Day! It’s funny – it still seems “new” to call it Canada Day instead of “Dominion Day”, even though that happened when I was a teenager. (I guess I’m still 17 at heart, hahaha) My first husband was a transplanted American, so we celebrated the 4th, instead of the 1st – and always with a big party – it was our one big party per year. Now that I’m living in the US, my husband and I don’t do anything to mark either. We do enjoy the fireworks, as we can see them from our upstairs windows, but other than that, it’s usually another quiet day around our household.

I was pleased to see who will be doing the audio books – he’s an actor I’ve seen a few times, and have enjoyed. I think he’ll bring the right “gravitas” to the reading, and do Louise proud! That said, I’ve never heard any of the other books in audio form, and am thinking I ought to get one, just so I have had that experience…

The map of Three Pines is very exciting to me – I’ve entered the drawing, and seeing that basically, they’re giving the maps to the first 5000 people (from North American, I think) who pre-order, I’m hoping that means I have a chance. I’m very much afraid that after the giveaway there won’t be maps for sale, so if I don’t win one, I won’t get one…. I do hope we at least get to see the whole map.

I was reading Louise’s newsletter last night, in which she enclosed a second picture from her wedding to Michael. They look so happy, and as always, Louise looks so elegant. I have such a hard time thinking that the way she writes Clara, with the wild hair with crumbs in it, is how she sees herself, as photos always show the most elegant of women. I love to get the news from her – she had mentioned that in one of the forewords from the British publishers, there was a very candid interview included for the re-release of Still Life for the 10th anniversary, and that she had been shocked when she saw in print how intimate it seemed. Then she seemed to accept it and say – “Well, in for a penny, in for a pound!” – and embraced that we know so much about her life and situation. I think I would not have to courage to be so open about the difficulties of life, but I have to say that I love her for it. It makes me feel as though I really know her, and something in the sign-off of the newsletter made me think that she gets something from the relationship – a place where there are people who are sympathetic and who don’t mind hearing all about it. A bistro!

I keep forgetting that Louise writes a newsletter the first of every month, so thanks for mentioning it, Julie.

I’d better step up my re-read if we’ve got only 2 months left, hahaha. Actually, I think I’ll skip to HTLGI and that will be it… I’m such a slow reader. I can’t wait to immerse myself again into the life at Three Pines…

Yesterday, my DR. mentioned his move is to Louisville. I had to ask if his wife (they married last month) was a Jane Austen fan and told him about the Society and fall meeting. He was delighted as she is a fan and would like dressing in period clothing. Julie, I’m glad you told us about your gown and the meeting and I could share with him.
Last night we watched a PBS show from Wed. night, I think. First Americans and First Africans.
Kennewick Man found near the Columbia River in Washington was discussed. Native Americans’ request for the skeleton was strengthened when DNA tests identified him with them. The story of a woman trying to find where in Africa her ancestors came from was amazing. DNA results can be used in so many ways.

Oh, that’s fun! I hope she joins up – I think their region is very active, so even if she can’t go to the General Meeting in the fall, they will have monthly or semi-monthly meetings, where all would be welcome. The General Meeting apparently, fills up very fast once registration is open, which it has been for about a month – so it’s possible that she’d try to get in but not be able to. But there’s another every year – the following year, it’s in Washington, DC, which I am very much looking forward to.

That book sounds interesting Nancy. I shall look out for it.

So funny to hear of the Governors Mansion in Hyde Park. The NSW Governors mansion in Sydney is not far from Hyde Park!

Don’t be sorry Barbara! I Lways just assumed it was the Nazis who did all the rounding up. I felt a bit weird to see the French treat their own citizens that way. But then it was a difficult time in France when it was occupied with the Vichy government. I do find history interesting don’t you.

We have been lucky not to have been occupied as a nation, although the Indigenous population have been. During the war there was a controversial idea called “the Brisbane Line” where the Defence of Australia would be withdrawn to to below a line through the middle of the country from Brisbane across if the country was invaded by the Japanese. I think there was denial that it would happen but General MacArthur mentioned it in a speech. That would have abandoned a lot of people to their fate. Mmmmm. There is a book in that. Actually there was a children’s series based on the invasion of Australia by an unidentified enemy by John Marsden.

Just looked it up. (Isn’t the internet amazing?) It’s the Governors House in Hyde Park. Take a look.

Oh, isn’t that fun? I didn’t know Vermont had a Hyde Park – I have been to the New York one, as I have a friend whose husband is a professor at Vassar, and have visited there a couple of times… a very beautiful area!

I’d love to do a weekend there. I’m very used to people from all the different books mingling together, hahaha. Sometimes, the minor characters trip me up, but for the most part, they’re pretty easy to keep straight. Where I have a hard time is trying to recall if my memory of something is actually from a book, or just a movie… And of course, sometimes, they leave characters completely out of movies, or add bits of dialog that never was.

Leave a Reply to Anonymous Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

Skip to content