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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.

3,649 replies on “The Bistro”

Julie, couldn’t find a ‘reply’ button for your comment about needlework. I love your reply to people: ‘it doesn’t “take” patience, it gives it’.

I’m right there with you regarding anything to do with numbers. I think you might like what I found in an article I read last year. “…dyscalculia, the counterpart to dyslexia that makes learning math difficult.” I felt less ‘dumb’ when I read that. My brain is just not ‘wired’ for numbers and that’s OK with me. I’ll take words any day. 🙂

It might have been mentioned during the re-read, but I had no idea the bridge was in need of repairs to the point another is being built. Love the suggestions proposed for the the new bridge.

I didn’t realize that, either, Louise. I think we talked in general terms about how old the infrastructure is all around North America, and how little money had been put aside for upkeep, but not that bridge in particular. It’s scary how Louise has her finger right on the pulse of what’s new and relevant! That, in itself, is brilliant. Very much like the treatment of the Cree, both in her “Arnot case” storyline, and, unfortunately, in real life in Canada.

Millie – I just called you “Louise”! Now, you are to take that as the highest of compliments, and not as a sign of my dotage, hahaha.

Too funny, Julie. Please feel free to call me Louise any time! I take that as the highest honor. And who knows, maybe a little of her indefatigable positive attitude and dedication will rub off on me. 🙂

Millie, I did a little cross stitch many years ago. I didn’t find it relaxing at all. I don’t knit or crochet because I pull the thread too tight. Friends and family have told me that they find cross stitching, knitting and crocheting relaxing and that they feel creative too.tis
I also have arthritis in my hands.
Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, logic puzzles and cryptograms relax me and clear my mind of worries.
It is unfortunate that some women, trying to declare their worth, independence and equality chose to do so by belittling what they felt were stereotypical of “female pursuits”.
Thanks for caring and mentioning something that might relieve stress. Support always helps.

You’re welcome, Barbara. I’m glad you found things that work for you. I’m sure everyone cares. Just some are more vocal about it. Lol

I just realized, None of us posted about the balcony collapse at LP’s condo. If you haven’t read about it on her Facebook Page, you might want too. On the left of the page is a negative response about it. Interesting. I hope no ill will develops toward them. Everything seemed to be going so well. I read the Facebook page daily along with playing all my games.

Oh, that’s terrible that there was a negative comment regarding them – I didn’t see it, though I did, of course, see the original posting. How awful – I should think that everyone would be glad that it happened in a way that nobody was hurt – it’s amazing it hadn’t happened earlier when there was a party there – it could have come down at any time, as the wood was rotten – that can’t be Louise and Michael’s fault – it’s because of them, it was found and is being fixed!

Hi Barbara! I follow Louise’s FB daily page as well, and did notice that very negative comment (at least it did seem even rather ominous to me) on the left side of the page where usually only three comments “stand alone”. I think this was about two days ago, soon after the alarming photo of fallen deck mishap. I immediately thought UH-OH! Now it appears that public comment has been pulled as well as Louise’s seemingly unrelated musing for the same day. Sort mysterious coincidence (or else my computer is acting up once again?) Hmmmmm. Praying that issues have been resolved by now….

Anna – that is lovely! What a clever girl. I’m sure it must be difficult to hold two opposing viewpoints in your head at the same time, yet, she’d have had to, to get that outcome – brilliant, and really very uplifting!

If ever I get discouraged about anything, I will read this. Thank you so much for sharing. It is a brilliant example of the mind is its own place, it can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven.

Thank you all for your thoughts on Go Set a Watchman. Work has been too busy for too long and there has been no time to read anything (other than less than riveting property tax assessment files and drafts of arguments which I won’t describe for fear of putting you all to sleep or causing you permanent eye damage from involuntary glazing over during the ever so exciting run down on statistical testing). I had to take vacation time coinciding with release of TNOTB to make sure that I would have time to read it. Just a month left – so exciting. I enjoyed popping back in to catch up. I wish I’d had the idea to re-read through a Ruth filter. And the time to do it. Now, back to work. Take care Bistro People.

Hi Kim, great to hear from you. Love your sense of humor towards work overload.
I had given thought of sharing some of my ‘Ruth filter’ observations and questions while re-listening, but thought it might be redundant for all those who participated in the discussions from the beginning.
If you, or anyone else, think you’d have the time or interest, I could still give it a go as time permits…
I’m glad you’re taking time off during book release. I really enjoyed your contributions. Chat again then, if not sooner.

Millie – I would love to hear your thoughts as you read with a Ruth filter… I have been doing the most haphazard of re-reading. First I had re-read the first two books, then I got antsy that I wouldn’t be able to finish before the release of TNOTB, so jumped ahead to The Brutal Telling, Bury Y our Dead and then How the Light Gets In – now, I’m back reading The Cruelest Month… but my filter got lost somewhere – and I’ve been filtering now for exactly how the village is set up. I have been fascinated since hearing about the map of Three Pines, and have thought that, if I don’t win one, then I’ll have to make my own. I want to do it as a kind of cross-stitch – but need to know just where things are in relation to each other. The Cruelest Month has proved gold, as it tells the order shops are lined up in, and that they are all connected to one another – not just the Bistro and the bookstore, as I had thought. It also tells that Clara’s house is clapboard, some are stone, some are brick (but haven’t figured out which, yet.) So, of course, while I kind of notice Ruth, I’m not as focused as I had thought I’d be, hahaha. Story of my life. I’m so easily distracted.

Julie, be grateful you get distracted. It’s one of the hallmarks of a creative person. Which is one reason I’m putting things away where I sort of know at least what room it’s in… I swear I need side blinders on if I want to finish something. lol…

Love the idea of a cross stitch map of Three Pines. Sometimes I get so confused. Like what compass point is Stage Coach Road? But here are a few things I recall about the layout. Clara’s house is next to the bridge that takes one to the firehouse and Emily’s house, now Armand’s, is right next door to Ruth’s.
I’d be willing to buy a cross stitch of the map! Maybe you could work out a deal? Why not? There are Three Pines mugs and totes… How exciting would that be??? Something the the needle artists. Three cheers.

IF I get it done, of course, you may have a copy – I’d never sell it, because it won’t be polished enough, and I think that if you buy something, you should get a really polished and professional result, but it will be easy to read and follow, and will be accompanied by a colored rendition of how it “should” look, so hopefully, would be something you’d want. Naturally, this is going to be pretty far in the future, as I’m also working on another large, original piece based on Pride and Prejudice and since a friend and I are working on these together and will exchange them at some point to stitch something on each other’s, like a mini friendship sampler, I have to commit to that this year. But maybe by this time next year, I’ll be ready to start.

So – does anyone know where M. Beliveau lives? Is it above his store? Is it the same with Sarah, from the Boulangerie? Do all the storekeepers live above their stores like Myrna? I had thought not, but now that I know that they are all adjoining, I feel like they must also be alike. Of course, some may use the loft upstairs for storage, and live elsewhere… but if I had that space available to me, I’d probably live in the store.

I hadn’t realized that Gamache was right beside Ruth – that would be interesting… I know they’re both on the Village Green – do you happen to know if they’re directly across from Clara? People always seem to have to cross the green to get to Clara’s house when she has everyone for dinner. I think, in a Trick of the Light, I might get a better handle on exactly where Clara’s house is, as I think people were able to park adjacent to her house as soon as they got into the village.

What a great idea! I can’t do needlework but would love the pattern of Three Pines. Surely, I could hire someone to stitch it for me. The Three Pines world grows.

Barbara – I’ll put your name on a copy! 😀 All the caveats already given to Millie apply, of course, hahaha.

Barbara, I’m curious. When you say you can’t do needlework, what do you mean, exactly? Do your hands have arthritis? Or better put, is there a physical reason you can’t? Or did you try once without the result you expected?

The reason I ask is because recent studies have shown any form of needlework lowers blood pressure, soothes feelings of anxiety and nerves and has other beneficial properties. True, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but personally, any form sure takes my mind off of the ‘worry’ I can do so well. Plus, the soothing, repetitive motion engrosses my mind to the point I don’t feel the physical pain of my hips not quite staying balanced on their own just yet.

Yesterday I spent some time on the computer searching through information on Margaret Atwood, the poet Louise Penny attributes as the author of many of Ruth’s poems. I was searching for the complete poem so often quoted in bits (Who hurt you once…), or at least which of Ms Atwood’s books it might be in. To my dismay, I found a ‘famous quote’ where Ms Atwood dismissed the pursuit of ‘needlework and gardening’ as beneath even consideration of a modern woman who should be free to pursue issues or topics that are usually the domain of men. And of course, I can’t find it now… It was during an interview, I didn’t notice the year, and I’m paraphrasing badly, but that was the gist of it. I agree that women have every right to persue whatever ignites their passion. And this may have been Ms Atwood’s own defensive posture before the feminist movement when being ‘lady-like’ had strict rules. It was a quote completely out of context so frankly, I don’t know…

My dismay was due to a feeling of defensiveness. (I do that really well also, much to my chagrin.) Needlework is no longer something women of means in days of old ‘used to do’ to fill their days. It’s an art form. It engages the mind, heart and spirit. Spirit? Yes, it gives many the child-like joy of ‘I did that!’ I created something. Personally, I need that in my life once in a while.

Anyway, cross stitch is one of the easiest forms of needlework as far as the stitch itself. The color changes can make incredibly ‘complex’ pieces, but the stitch itself is not beyond anyone. I think, and hope, Julie would agree.

My intent is not one to push anyone to try it or create a sense that one must justify why it’s not for them, just to share that it isn’t impossibly hard and has many ‘health’ benefits too. Hugs, Barbara.

Millie – the Margaret Atwood quote is distressing, but sounds so much like it came out of the maelstrom of the women’s movement, when I feel that all efforts to bring a woman’s right to do whatever she wanted (even if it was a traditionally male pursuit) had to be magnified and shouted from the rooftops in a very strident voice. I bet you’d find a different attitude today, as we now think what was lost by always having to be “on the defensive”. At any rate – there are so many excellent reasons for anyone (male or female) to do needlework, that I don’t worry at all if someone doesn’t see its worth. Not least of that is the relaxation. I, too, find it very relaxing. So often, people have commented to me that “they wouldn’t have the patience”, and my answer is always that it doesn’t “take” patience, it gives it. But it’s not for everyone.

Barbara – I’ve known plenty of other people who tried cross stitch and found it actually stressful – unlike so many other pursuits, there IS a right and wrong way to do it, and sometimes the thread gets all knotted up, and sometimes, you just can’t see that tiny little hole your needle is supposed to go through, and sometimes, it just doesn’t seem appealing. No worries – you have the mind-teasers to help with stress reduction – I also find crosswords, especially, to be relaxing. If I can’t sleep, sometimes I pull out a crossword and start on it, and I’m sleepy in no time. I find that fascinating, because you’d think it would make you more alert. Sudoku, on the other hand, is completely beyond my ken – Can’t imagine the mind-power it takes to be able to figure that stuff out…

I have not read any articles that address the attitude of the Finches toward Henry. They cared for him and Atticus must have loved him. However, he was not seen as a possible husband for Scout. Were they wrong to feel that his family background must be considered when the question of Scout marrying him was raised. He explained that she and he could behave in the same way but people would judge them differently. Should family background be considered when marrying ? Is it true that you marry the individual and not the family ? What if everyone will live close to each other in the town both grew up in or the couple will live far away ? Is that a factor ? Do young adults need to listen to the consul of family in those matters ? Does love truly overcome all obstacles ?

Big questions Barbara but not an uncommon situation. Crossing perceived class boundaries is difficult in many cultures…English even now, Indian with the extensive caste system etc. Perhaps the biggest of your questions…does love conquer all? I don’t know. We don’t usually live in a bubble. If the family remains close by and disapproving that would be very difficult. If the couple moves away then family support, such as it might be is lost and also the chance for reconciliation.

I think that love can conquer all, IF the people are strong and know they are right to love each other. But none of us lives in a vacuum. We do, indeed, marry the whole family (at least, usually. unless a rift occurs because of the marriage that means that that influence is taken away). How strong is love, after years of recriminations and accusations? Can it possibly live through such hardships? I don’t know the answer for sure, but I think that people would have to really KNOW in their heart of hearts that they are right to love this person and to commit to making sure that they keep this uppermost in their minds.

I just lost a post. My battery died. GSAW was excellent. The dialogue between Jean Louise and Atticus, she and Henry and she and Uncle Jack had me holding my breathe, reading as fast as possible and crying. I had to reread each several times after I finished the book. My heart broke when she went to visit Calpurnia.
I can hardly believe GSAW was written before TKAM. It was prophetic. Shivers ran over me as I read some passages. I think it is a book that will be enjoyed by many.

So glad you enjoyed GSAW Barbara. I am interested in what you think about the portrayal of the characters. Did you feel Atticus was still a character of repute? I did. I think we just saw how much harder it was to come to terms with the changes in the world they knew.

I wonder how the morality of 2015 will be judged in the future. As the world changes do we hold history to the same standards as we hold for ourselves? Is it fair to do that?

One of the first articles I read about GSAW was titled “Atticus was a Racist”. That caused me to not want to read the book. I feel that Atticus was a person of repute. He knew the danger that some people would take advantage of the African American population and use them to their own advantage. It wasn’t their fault that they were ill-prepared for full participation in governing. I wish I knew how every person, no matter what race, could be an equal participant in citizenship. The wrongs of the past were so grave they seem insurmountable. But solve them we must.
I am reading more and more about the Confederate Flag issue. Those who support it are very vocal as I knew they would be. Others are demanding all monuments related to the War be destroyed.
I am not offended by the efforts to remove the flag from public places. It should never have been there in the first place. It does no honor to anyone.
I doubt that Atticus, Henry and Uncle Jack would be surprised by the controversy.

Holding history to our standards is a question that has long worried me. Not only the history of the US, but world history. I have been told that while no one should approve of the wrongs done in the past, it is unfair to apply our standards to history. I seem to be unable to not apply our standards. How could people not see the wrong. I think people in the future will judge us very harshly and maybe they should. I hope that they will be advanced enough to realize there were people of goodwill who wanted a fairer and more just world as well as those who did not.

It’s hard isn’t it Barbara. Civilization changes and what was right seems wrong and was wrong seems right through the lens of our time. Maybe the reason people don’t see the wrong in their time is because it isn’t wrong. If you live in a world where purple people are revered and polka dot people are victimized and that is all you have ever known then how do you learn it is wrong? And even if you start to believe that the way the polka dot people are being treated is wrong, what do you do? No one you know believes what you believe. It takes a wave of change,a momentum among many to drive change. Someone has to stand up and risk persecution. Nelson Mandela spent years in jail. Martin Luther King was assassinated.

Thinking for ourselves, making our own minds up in the face of dissent is the difficult thing. Going along with the crowd or what our mentors believe is easier. Because surely smarter people than us they must be. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs. But even when we do believe something different, it is quite another thing to stand up for that belief. And more often that not the people we have to stand up to are those who taught us, those who love us, those who we love.

The message of GSAW for me, is that we need to go through that process and find our own arguments and strengths. Atticus’s flaws had to be exposed for Scout to become and in her becoming we see Atticus and Jack are proud of who she turns out to be. Atticus’s strength is helping her to “be” even when he cannot.

This is one of those questions that devils me, too, Barbara. When we look back, we wonder how people could have let all the Jewish people in Europe suffer and be murdered? Yet, how is it that we are now witnessing so many black people suffering and being murdered (albeit, one at a time, for the most part) at the hands of our police? Is it so different? All that is required for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing. Are we doing nothing? I FEEL like people are demanding change, and a few in authority are stepping up, but it sure doesn’t seem to be spreading. I wonder, now, how an officer can continue and do the things that have been “accepted” practice now, when the harsh glare of the cell phone camera is upon them all the time? How is it that a routine traffic stop for not signaling a lane change lands a person in jail, makes her feel so bad about herself that she decided to end it all, and she is left alone to do it? I think we WILL be judged harshly, and rightly so…

Julie, just read about your little accident. So very glad you and all are OK. Your sadness speaks to me of your compassion. I admire your concern and your courage. Me? I do the turtle really well.

I did read the article you linked. Fascinating at first read. But when I thought about it and re-read it several times I began to wonder why the author of the article calls only writers who allow another to ‘edit’ their work a real pro, a real artist. Really? Julie, you love the work of Jane Austin. Do you know, or have you heard rumors of Austin having had an editor? Are there ‘editors’ for other types of artists? Not to my knowledge. They may apprentice with a master or let’s use Clara and Peter as examples of artists who studied their art. Remember how angry Gamache felt when Clara told him of Peter’s derisive comments towards The Three Graces? That Clara needed to work on perspective… Did Gamache, or any of us, think Clara’s ego got in the way of her own creations?

Once on their own, a painter paints, a sculptor chips away. People like their work or not and some are better than others, but there isn’t an entire industry of editors for every art form. Why do only writers need to ‘set aside their ego’? Personally, I think a lot of writers need to set aside their self doubt. What is so honorable in allowing someone else to shape one’s vision, as the author of the article states.

Those were my impressions after reading the article. My feelings on the entire thing mirror yours and Barbara’s. I don’t intend to read Watchman and I hope Ms Lee’s feelings aren’t hurt. Personally, I would feel humiliated if someone got a hold of my rough drafts and published them. To anyone else, they would appear to be chicken scratches of an uneducated person. To me, they are my shorthand to capture the essence of a feeling, a character… Certainly ‘not ready for prime time’.
And, although you graced me the the title of author, I have not earned it.

I’m going to press post comment without going back to ‘edit’ or this may never appear. Yesterday, I tried many times without success…

Millie – that’s a fascinating thing to think of. You are right – Jane Austen never had anyone to “edit” her work until after her death. The last two of her regular books were published after her death (Emma and Persuasion), and she left several unfinished manuscripts, some of which, people have added to and published later. I think her brother edited Persuasion because it wasn’t quite ready – I know he changed the name of the book, and that Jane had written two different endings and he chose which to use. Later editions have included both, so the reader can make up their mind, but I think he chose right. Otherwise, I think the books appeared just as she wrote them – her singular vision.

And yet, I think that working with a thoughtful editor CAN make a book better, and from all accounts, it certainly did in the case of TKAMB. I almost imagine that, if the first version were published as is, it would have been a “good read”, but that the Pulitzer Prize would have gone to someone else… Then again, maybe if Ms Lee had been allowed to get into the water of admiration for her writing a little more gradually, instead of being thrown into the deep end with an immediate Pulitzer and thousands of fans, she’d have continued writing… Who’s to say what the best thing would be.

But I do think that, given what DID happen, like you, I’d be upset to have everyone reading and discussing my early draft of something…

As to whether or not an artist can be a true professional unless they are “guided by an editor”, of course, that’s poppycock – I’m only sorry I didn’t see that in the article myself. If that were true, it would only work if editors didn’t work for the people who stand to make the most money from publication… they’d have to be independent, which they’re not. It’s nice to think that the 50’s were a gentler, kinder time when editors had all the time in the world, and the true calling of helping an author to realize their full potential, but it smacks a little of self-serving rhetoric, doesn’t it?

Good catch – I really hadn’t noticed it at all…

Julie, I’ve been following the rise of an independently published author (Kindle) and how, when his sales were astronomic, he was courted by the big publishing companies. He said no thank you until he struck a deal with one where he kept the digital rights and the publishing company had paper rights. His blog and Facebook posts have been quite educational. Hugh Howey is the author. He writes mostly post-apocalyptic stories, which aren’t my cup of tea, but his writing is wonderful.

Seems the 50’s were a time when publishing houses had editors to really help an emerging author. Those times are rare now. Look at what gets published… big names with a ready audience. There are fewer and fewer ‘debut’ books published. Having that type of in-house editor is no longer cost effective therefore many editors have indeed gone independent.

Really interesting perspective Millie. I had never thought that it is only writers that have editors. Maybe musicians have producers that flavour their work but it is different in that music is often reinterpreted. Wow, lots to think about. I guess most artists self edit other than published authors. Clara is a good example of someone who might have been destroyed by an “editor”. I was thinking about the Salon des Refusés (hope I got that right?!). I am thinking about the good and the harm that can come from critique.

TKAM is a great book. GSAW is also a good book. Maybe not in the same way as TKAM but it isn’t the same book and Harper Lee obviously learned a lot, either on her own or through working with the editor, in between writing the two. But I am glad to read both. I enjoyed both. They both have something to say and the message is actually quite different.

I don’t know exactly how we came to be reading GSAW but I am not entirely sure Harper didn’t want it read. She did send it for publication initially. I think she didn’t want the rest of what publication brought, the publicity,the intrusion etc. Maybe she feels safe and protected enough where she is to let it go. I hope so.

Hi, All. I just wanted to say I hope everyone will express their feeling and opinions on GSAW or any other topic. Please don’t be concerned how it will affect me. Nothing will change in my feelings for the Bistro and all. Saying that was probably not necessary but important to me.
Good thoughts to all.

It’s always good to say what is important to you. Thanks Barbara but I hope you are not worried that we are judging the South. I think we all understand and appreciate that there is good and bad everywhere. I can’t wait to experience Southern hospitality! And food!

l have read about 1/3 of GSAW plus the last 10 or so pages. It will take a while to digest and formulate my thoughts on the ideas presented.
I love the fact that all races can meet together, eat together, worship together, live where they wish and marry whom they wish today.
I have only lived in the South and was educated here. I only know how the rest of America lives from the media, books and people who have lived elsewhere. I know from these sources that the rest of the USA and elsewhere is not inhabited by people who are perfect examples of humanity. Yes, that does sound defensive but is intended as only a statement of fact.
As to the book itself, a good bit of editing would improve it. I was tempted to reach for a pencil and start notes in margins and strike out or reword parts.
One of the stressors I was dealing with is reconciled. A member of my group of close friends from Augusta College and UGA had prostate cancer surgery late yesterday. All the signs and the Dr. indicated Stage IV cancer. My husband, a 19 year prostate cancer survivor, has been extremely worried. He usually has no emotion or obvious concern about anything. The cancer was contained, no spreading. He will be fine and is going home today. Robotic surgery is wonderful.

Barbara – I’m so glad that the surgery went well, and you and your husband can breathe a sigh of relief! Worrying about others, I think, is worse than worrying about yourself – you have no control whatsoever – just the worry…

I was intrigued to see that you read the firs third and the last 10 pages? Making sure it ends okay? My ex-mother-in-law used to always read the last page first of every book. She said it was because she’d once read a mystery, got really engrossed in it, and just at the end, when the detective was about to reveal whodunnit, the last page was missing! But I say she could check to make sure it’s there without reading it, so I think she was making sure she liked the ending before she started….

Millie – love that you did so much for the birthdays – how fun. You’re right – your inner creative child had a field-day and how nice to have her back with you! 😀 I also like that you have now organized all your birthday things, hee hee. I wish I were as disciplined – to use something and then organize where it goes back to… I’m a “throw it anywhere and I’ll get to it later” kind of girl.

Anna – thanks for the link – I’m off to read now…

Barbara – I think that there are some stereotypes that are very unfair when it comes to the south. The most vocal people don’t usually represent the majority, so I don’t believe for a second that every southerner thinks that taking down the confederate flag is trying to take away their history. The grace shown by all the citizens of Charleston after the horrible shooting last month shows that the very great majority of southerners are good people, just like everywhere else, and that, just like everywhere else, they have their share of bigots and sinners. No worries – when I think of The South, I think southern charm, southern belles, and southern hospitality. I also think of fried chicken, but that’s just me, hahahaha.

Oh, yes! I still remember the first time I tasted sweet iced tea… In fact, I’m still trying to erase that memory, hahaha. I don’t think it occurred to me that you could GET that much sugar into a glass of iced tea.

I read the article last week and found it very interesting. I have doubts as to the integrity of all concerned. Regardless of what Harper Lee knows or if she wanted GSAW published, I don’t think the publication will cause her any emotional pain. At least I hope not.

Barbara, Thank you for the hug and for your gift of ‘perspective’. When I first read you were glad good things were happening “for” me, my knee-jerk reaction was to think, “Not really for me. I was doing things for others.” But as I thought about it, I realized how right you were! Last week a neighbor turned 95 and my son’s friend turned 34. Neither have any living relatives and I care for both very much. By doing floral and party horns and such for each place setting for the surprise luncheon for my neighbor and agreeing to my son’s request to have us host dinner and cake for his friend, I did indeed do a lot for myself. I pushed myself to let my creative inner child out to play. She had been off in a corner, silently, patiently waiting for all the grieving of dear family members lost in the last few years to ease.

I probably shouldn’t have gone up and down a step stool quite so much, hanging balloons and streamers at home for my ‘adopted son’ because I sure felt it a few days later, but it felt so good to see the joy in his face. Plus the “Thanks, mom,” from my son was priceless. As a bonus, all my birthday party things are now neatly organized and put away.

And before I forget, I’m really looking forward to participating in the discussion of TNOTB. Take care, Barbara.

Millie, you are amazing. How thoughtful to do so much for two Birthdays. You remind me of when Birthdays were almost like celebrating Christmas in my family. Decorations, dinners, gifts and especially designed cakes.
You are so right, when doing for others, we do for ourselves.
I thought you had been writing or researching your book or involved in your volunteer editing.
Looking forward to TNOTB, too.

Could have sworn I wrote a post Julie thanking you for the link and the thoughts about the early version of Armand. If it pops up I apologise. I was going to say I agreed with the author of the article and I was intrigued about the evolution of Armand. Lots to think about.

I just love excerpt days! And I love reading your thoughts about the excerpts because you make me smile and you make me think. I just assumed the professor was filled with admiration and pleasure, but you are right, Anna, it doesn’t say. I tend to jump to conclusions so I’m glad to have other points of view to make me go back and look again. I like the professor’s name although I’m not going to try to find it right now after losing my post yesterday! It doesn’t sound especially French or English which might be interesting. And, he seemed to know Ruth and Clara’s names, but not to know the town…

My mom responded well to the Physical Therapist coming to her too, Anna. I wish he could have come longer. They are often full of good ideas and we all like to have some extra encouragement and appreciation for our efforts. I hope your dad continues to improve and feel stimulated by the visits.

Best thoughts to you, Julie, after your scare. Something like that can be a real reminder and it’s been on my mind since you told us about it. It’s easy to get overly comfortable about driving. And, my first choice after an awful experience like that is definitely to go into turtle mode!

Barbara, glad you’re feeling better. Supportive and calm thoughts are coming your way from all different directions. Just reach out and pull them close. You made me laugh when you said, “Cat yelling in background.” We have two who do a good job making their opinions known!

Rosenblatt means “rose leaf” in German. Fairly common family name. I can’t wait to find out what is going on.

Just wanted to pop in and say hello. Like Catheryn, my focus has been elsewhere – all good things – so I’ve fallen way behind on the topics explored. That doesn’t mean I’ve neglected my positive thoughts for you.

I read a new excerpt from TNOTB today. Loved it. A new character is introduced. He looks at his surroundings, who he notices and asks, “What is this place?” I smiled and automatically thought, The Bistro! Those two words fill me with joy and comfort.
Barbara, glad you found comfort here recently. Hugs to all.

I just read that excerpt too Millie. Who is this Professor I wondered? Did he view the Bistro with delight of disdain? It was not obvious from the paragraph.

Sitting in the sunshine here. Hope everyone has a patch of warmth and delight in their day today. Remember to breathe Julie…everyone survived and you will be ok. You too Barbara!

Thank you, Anna – and everyone, for such good thoughts about me and my little problems. You are right – everyone is fine, I have insurance which will cover the other car’s repair as well as my own, and if my premiums go up, maybe that will help me to remember to pay attention! I’m going in to see how much the repairs to my car will cost today – and am hoping that they’re going to say they have to repaint the whole car, because I’d love to change the color, hahaha. I find that color is the most important thing to me! (not really – safety is, but a nice, red car would be very nice!).

Hi, Millie! Great to hear from you. So glad good things are happening for you. I hope you will join in the discussion of TNOTB next month. Your insights are good.
A new character! Wonder how he fits in.
Hugs back to you.

I haven’t read the excerpt yet – this is the first place I go to every morning, to start my day off right, so now I know I will have fun if there’s a new excerpt! And a new character! 😀

Anna,As always thank you f or your concern and caring. How are your parents? I hope you are remembering to take time for yourself.
There is the fear of how GSAW will impact on my feelings toward Mockingbird. I can hear Atticus’s voice (Gregory Peck) in the movie. I do look forward to the differences in the writing and learning what went from it into Mockingbird.
Your observation that good people can have rigid thoughts is certainly true. I seem to forget that at times.
Cat yelling in background. Off for nail clipping.

Hi Barbara. Mum is ok and dad is trundling along. He is exercising, in his chair, to impress the physio who comes tomorrow. Having someone come to the house is an effective way to stimulate his enthusiasm for his exercise program. It is helping though.

I see over a million copies of GSAW have sold in North America. I wonder how many people even worried over reading it because of the impact it might have on TKAM? Are we unusual in that regard or do you think most people considered it? How would we respond if it was an early work of Louise’s? Maybe a draft of Still Life. Would it change how we feel about the novels? Or would we read it thinking, wow so much changed between the draft and the final but the bones were there and the process is interesting?

It might be different if Armand was portrayed less favorably in the draft form. I would be interested once you read GSAW Barbara if you can see how the Atticus of both novels can be resolved into a singular being. I Have noticed in some elder people that vies become more rigid rather than less rigid as they get older. I have seen the same in myself at times much to my horror. Maybe the 72 y.o Atticus was a voice for those folks….not bad people just raised in a different time with different social mores. In his younger years he had the energy to try to see past the social conditioning but as he aged perhaps he was tired and less able to do so? Although the biggest message in the book is that we can think for ourselves and should at any age. That we should use all the tools and information at our disposal to inform our opinions and not be tied to wha others think no matter how much we revere them. I think it is a positive message.

Interesting thoughts about Armand, Anna. A few weeks ago, I was looking around at a Louise Penny page on Youtube (I think it was), and found an interview with Louise that I listened to – I have to pick and choose with videos, because my speakers are so poor that on many videos, even on the loudest setting, I can’t hear them… ANYWAY… she was saying that in her first draft, Armand was very different, and she found she didn’t like him very much. She remembered Agatha Christie growing to loathe Poirot, and didn’t want that to happen, so she rewrote him. In the beginning, it wasn’t going to be Armand who was the main character, even – it was going to be Peter and Clara, solving crimes together… Of course, then, Three Pines would have to be a lot like Cabot Cove, hahaha. She said that Armand was younger, in a bad marriage, arrogant, and with lots of problems. (Sounds like Jean Guy!) I wonder how we’d like to read a version of Still Life like that? I don’t think I’d mind at all, because I do think it’s very interesting to see the early versions of things, and how they changed and became what they are now. Truly, my only problem with reading GSAW is that I’m not convinced that Harper Lee would want me to. (And you just KNOW she’s so interested in what I read, hahaha)

Sorry Cathryne. Just saw your post. Interesting comment about grief with the novel. I felt a bit like that as I hovered wondering whether to read Watchman, would I ruin my experience with Mockingbird. I can’t speak for how anyone else would feel but I actually think it enhances my opinion. Mockingbird is a much better book but you can see the improvement, the changes as Harper Lee must have moved from one to the other. I appreciate the opportunity to explore her writing process with a glimpse at how her writing developed. But the tenor is there. The insight into how very difficult the process of societal change is, how it affects everyone. Is it like giving birth? A long period of anticipation, a shorter period of pain and dramatic effort and then the world is suddenly different in every way. But it is just the start. The real process just beginning and takes a lifetime to show its true potential.

Watchman just opened my eyes to how good people can have rigid thoughts. It can take all of us time to change.

Barbara – I hope things are a little better for you now. When life just seems overwhelming to me, I have a tendency to go under the covers and not poke my head out til it’s over. I think I have been doing that (at least emotionally) since the other day – I was in a little accident – nobody hurt, thank goodness, but it was totally my fault and due to just plain carelessness. It really spooked me, not because of what happened, but what might have happened. A perfectly lovely young woman was sitting in her car with her very young son (looked to be about 3 to me) and her frail-looking grandmother, when I came along and side-swiped them. If circumstances had been a little different, I could have really hurt them, and just the thought of that fills me with sadness. I am so grateful that nothing bad happened to them, but also a wake-up call to me to how much I drive (and do so many other things) without giving them all the thought and care they need…. Feeling better now, but it really did shake me up a bit.

Oh dear Julie. I am so pleased that everyone is ok, physically at least. I can still think of a near accident I almost had and it sends absolute chills down my spine. And that was an almost! It only takes a moment of distraction doesn’t it. Take a deep breath and we will all be grateful it wasn’t as bad as could have been. Take solace in knowing it happens to all of us.

How are you Barbara. I know about wanting to be under the covers like Julie but the true measure is that you come out and face the world again. Actually there is nothing wrong with a short retreat to catch your breath and regain your equilibrium. You are strong Barbara and you will be ok but we are all here thinking of you and sending love and support to help you through the tough moments. I know it’s a virtual hug but it’s a real hug.

Oh, Dear Julie. Your experience must have been very disturbing. I’m so glad no one was hurt. About two years ago, I hit a parked truck. It was my fault, of course, but it had an extended bed (I think it is called) which made it longer than the other vehicles. I misjudged how far it was in my lane. I was afraid to drive for months.
I have a better grasp on things now than last week due largely to you wonderful friends here at the Bistro. Hope things are back to normal for you, Julie.

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