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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”

I LOST MY POST! I’ll try again.
I have been reading the posts with great interest, but haven’t found time or focus to join in. I’ll have to wait for another day now. But, Barbara, I just wanted to let you know that I have been thinking about you and sending good wishes. You were so smart to go to the Bistro and reread previous words of support and caring. The sincerity in those words is still evident, I think. Also, hooray for your sister for giving you GSAW. I bet it was fun for her, too.

I have been reading reviews of Go Set A Watchman, listening to interviews of friends and relatives of Harper Lee, and thinking long thoughts about the book, which I have not read yet, through the week. Do we go through the stages of grief with something like this? I have forgotten all of them possibly, but I think denial, anger, and acceptance are involved. I think there’s been a lot of that going around, including in my mind. Your comments have been very helpful and insightful. I would like to be more specific but it will have to be another day.

I must take a moment to say how happy I have been to read each new, wonderful review of TNOTB. Lucky us to have it to look forward to. And a thrill for Louise after her hard work!

Cathryne, Thanks for caring. My sister did enjoy getting the book for me. She ordered the book on line rather than go to the Mall to Barnes & Nobel. She didn’t want to dress and drive there. All part of her withdrawal since her husband’s death 3 1/2 years ago.
I too have read the reviews and interviews on GSAW. Your thoughts on grief and GSAW match mine. After reading the bit from the book on line, I’m very interested in the Aunt.

Through reading all the recent posts the only thing I could think was I hope you are ok Barbara. Sorry to hear you had a meltdown although I can totally understand it. Had a few of those in my life. I am glad you find support in The Bistro, that is very important. The care and support here is very real and genuine even though we have all never met.

I agree that Watchman could benefit from editing but it is still an interesting piece. I am guessing that when Scout was growing up Racism was too much just a part of the world for her to see it, it was just how things were. Maybe it was only as it was being called out as not normal that the turmoil began and it became visible to many. It is like all kinds of hidden discrimination, be it to women, racial groups or on the basis of sexuality. Until the discrimination itself becomes discussed and visible it doesn’t exist for many people.

There is also a lot of explanation in the Watchman about the family protecting the children from seeing racism around them. They grew up in a bubble as it were. Watchman is about the bubble bursting for Scout.

My sister ordered Go Set A Watchman as a gift for me! She said I would have to wait too long tyo get a copy from the library and that LP’s NOTB would be out before then. She knew I would be wanting to read both. She doesn’t read but is appreciative of the role books have always played in my life. She says when she thinks of us as children together, she pictures me holding a book. Will post as soon as it comes and I have read enough to form an opinion.

Yippee – what a thoughtful sister! I’m sure it would have been so hard for you to wait that long! So looking forward to hearing what you think.

It’s snowing here…very rare here but there is snow all the way to Queensland which is like it snowing in Florida!

Oh my – it will look like a Christmas card! 😀 It must seem odd to you that most of the regular symbols of Christmas are winter scenes… I know it would seem odd to me to have the middle of summer be Christmas!

We have Christmas in July parties because we are so familiar with Christmas being a winter celebration in the Northern hemisphere. They had one a few days before the snow at mum’s nursing home, much to the confusion of many residents! We still have snow on the ground this morning which is extremely unusual in our part of the world. I have seen sleet and even snow falling here but not settling on the ground.

Sounds like snow is as much a treat for you as for me. It seldom stays on the ground for more than a few hours. We treasure it. I have a memory of walking in the snow in the light of a full moon many decades ago. So serene.
Sleet is dreaded because the many old large trees here can not support ice and when they fall all utility lines go down with them. I shared the disaster of a few years ago.
Saw this AM that there was snow in Hawaii yesterday.
Thanks for your take on Go Set A Watchman. I’m on the list at the library. Will probably be two or more months before I get it.
I just have to share something I overheard while we were eating lunch out yesterday. I just can’t resist the little imp sitting on my shoulder. One woman told another that she thought Truman Capote, who lived next door to Harper when they were children, really wrote To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman as a gift. She wanted to be a published author but wasn’t talented so he did it for her. That is why

Egads. It posted on its own or maybe the imp did. To pick up mid sentence…she did not like to give interviews. Hubby told me not to tell anyone. OOPS. Guess I did anyway.
Visited The Bistro the other night and reread some old posts. I had a severe meltdown that afternoon. Even frightened myself. I have a Dr.’s appt. in a couple of weeks and will discuss changing meds. I think it was due to an unusual assortment of stressors. Thanks to all who comforted me with words written earlier. They still offered their comfort and support.
Peace to all and have a good weekend.

How interesting. I’ve never heard that, before, but from everything I know about Truman Capote, his ego wouldn’t allow him to give his work to anyone without credit, hahaha. I think that Harper Lee’s talent was mighty, and that, had she continued to write, she’d have a whole raft of books to her name. But her sense of privacy was so strong, and was taken away so suddenly by the glare of publicity over Mockingbird, that her sensibilities wouldn’t allow her to continue to write.

I read a very critical review last night – one that basically says that the book is a mess, and was very clearly an early draft of Mockingbird. That you can almost hear her editor telling her – go back to those flashbacks, and tell the story from the viewpoint of Scout as a child. THAT’s where the book is! He also said that that kind of nurturing editor doesn’t even exist anymore, because it’s all so much greed – rush a book to publication….

It was a very thoughtful review, though it was in Entertainment Weekly, which is hardly a literary magazine. It’s the only negative review I’ve read – the rest have been glowing. I thought it was interesting, though. He did say that the racism shown in Go Set a Watchman was a much more honest representation of the prevailing feeling in the south than what’s shown in Mockingbird, but, of course, we see everything in Mockingbird through the eyes of a bright, and pure, 6-year-old.

I’m so interested in your views, Anna, and will be interested if Barbara reads it, too, as I know she will know how true to the South it really is. I do believe that Harper Lee’s grocery lists would be more interesting than a lot of novels I’ve read – so it’s really only in solidarity with Harper Lee’s younger self that I don’t want to read the book, not because I don’t think it will be good.

When you’re younger, you’re full of fire and passion – things you believe, you believe with all your heart, and when she said, so emphatically, that she would never publish a book again, it was with that passion, I think. Even if she has had a change of heart, I think it’s because she’s been somehow persuaded away from her core beliefs – and maybe she just got worn down… Why keep fighting, when probably, as soon as she dies, the lawyer and publisher will be able to go ahead and “find” this manuscript yet again, and publish it. I can see that train of thought leaving the station… at any rate….

Glad you enjoyed it Anna – if ever there was a thoughtful reader, it’s you, so I know what you are saying is valid. It’s all so interesting…

I understand what you are saying Julie. Talking of passion, that is Scout to a tea in a Watchman. I suspect she may be very much the persona of Harper Lee! I read there is no real plot to Watchman and in a way that is true in that nothing “happens” to the characters, not externally. It’s about a shift in thinking for Scout. That makes it a bit dense to read in a couple of parts as she talks with her Uncle. I think there is some assumed knowledge about what is happening in the world of politics in the 50’s. It’s written for a reader of the time.

I wonder if Harper Lee let it out because in many ways the process of change happening in the South mirrors the process in the 50’s and so her novel is actually relevant. It seems to be another time of siesmic shift in attitude with the Confederate flag. Etc.

Thanks for the kind comments Julie!

I do think that it’s so interesting that this book comes out just when we need a real, and very honest discussion of race in this country. Speaking of which, I find that watching President Obama in all he’s doing during this normally “lame duck” period is fascinating. I think he has decided that since there’s absolutely no need for him to campaign and posture any longer, he can get down to doing a few things that he wanted to accomplish. I also think it’s noteworthy that he and Michelle Obama, both, have been working hard to open up a discussion on race. Good for them! How I wish this had been what his presidency had been like for the whole of it, even while I know why it couldn’t be.

Ok. You should read Go Set a Watchman. Then read it again. It’s not necessarily comfortable reading but then honesty is never comfortable. I think we all know how hard it can be to confront our beliefs and wonder if they will hold up to scrutiny.

To Kill A Mockingbird is told from Scout’s perspective. It is the world seen through the lens of innocence. Watchman is Scout coming to see the world more clearly, where heroes and Gods are revealed to be human, and the truth is less a matter of fact than opinion.

The reaction to the book is almost like Scout’s reaction to what happens in the book. When her Uncle calls Scout a bigot I recoiled but he explained and I understood. It was about the way we react to having our beliefs challenged. Do we run or do we examine what we are being confronted with with intelligence and dispassion and look clearly at ourselves and where we stand.

I think this book is thought provoking and I know I will reread it. Characters that we care about can teach us a lot especially when our image of them is challenged. Think how we felt when Jean Guy spiraled into addiction. How about when Armand seemed to be taking the dissolution of his department without a fight. Peter and his journey? Clara’s behaviour in TLWH? We like our characters to behave the way we want. They don’t always.

Funny, as I write this they are talking about the novel on the news.

Hi to all Bistro friends! Just had to share! I got 2 tickets to see Louise in Pittsburgh PA in August! Taking my daughter for a girls’ weekend! Very excited to read TNOTB! The comments on TBM are , well- beautiful! Would love to visit. Have also begun investigating a weekend to Carnivale in Feb with my husband and another couple. Hope all is well. Enjoy your days !

Hey Amy, thanks for sharing. I can feel your excitement all the way over here and I am very happy for you and your daughter. Give Louise our best please!

I am halfway through Go Set A Watchman. It is so interesting. Remembering this book is set in the 1950s helps the understanding. It has some things in common with The Help in that it is set in a time of change and turmoil. In some ways perhaps it reflects the change of today with what is happening with the Confederate flag. I don’t really know as I am far from the South and know only what I read and see through the filters of literature and the media. I would be so interested in your take on it Barbara. Let me finish first and see if the book is true to itself and the vision of Mockingbird.

What amazes me is that this was written before Mockingbird but the events of Mockingbird have so clearly happened, the history of that book is real to this story.

How fun, Amy! I am so disappointed that I won’t get to see her this year – she’s coming to Seattle, to a bookstore close to where I live, even, but I will be out of town! So bummed! Well, I’ve read that she has signed a contract for four more books, so I’m assuming that there’ll be another tour next summer, and maybe I can get in on that….

Julie, Thanks for the link. It was very interesting and thought provoking. I had already seen an interview by Katie Couric with people in Monroville (?) and others with connections to Miss Lee. After considering both it seems that the driving force is MONEY. Money for the town, money for Ms Carter, money for the publishers and for anyone else. Too may red flags appear. I was particularly struck that Ms Carter called several times during the interview with Mrs. Brown. She knew it was taking place. How rude….I really don’t think it was just rudeness, but rather checking on what was being asked and answered. Perhaps, she knew and was calling to steer Mrs. Brown in what she said.
Interesting questions about when the manuscript was found and who knew what when.
The facts that Ms Lee is deaf, visually impaired and was seen talking to her self at her sister’s funeral do not mean she has diminished mental capacity but she may.
So many famous /wealthy people have been used for the benefit of others.
More Later. Must go with Hubby to Dr. Probably needs surgery on left knee. Right already done.

I talk to myself all the time, and as I get older, I don’t hide it as much as I used to, hahaha. So I know that doesn’t mean that Harper Lee is not in her right mind. But if it is hard to hear and see, it would be easy to hide things from someone, and somewhere, whether it was in that article, or somewhere else, it was said that she signed whatever was put in front of her by a trusted person, and she trusts the lawyer. The other thing was that supposedly, she was asked up to five times in one interview if she understood and wanted the book published, and she always answered “Of course I do” or something like it. But I can see not really knowing who’s on the phone (this was a phone conversation between the publisher, the literary agent, and Ms. Carter, with questions being relayed to Ms. Lee. She could be heard answering in the background. Well, at times I get defensive when people keep questioning “Do you really want to do that?” and then I dig in and usually dig myself into a hole. I can see that happening so easily there. It’s all conjecture – I expect only one person knows what’s in Harper Lee’s heart, and only one ever will. She may also figure, “What the heck? Who’s it going to hurt?” without fully thinking it will be her legacy, as she wanted it to be for so long, so she’s going along with what others really want. Anyway – just explaining why I won’t read it, but that won’t stop me from wanting to hear what others think of it…

Julie, Just back from DR with Sam. Two women were reading Go Set a Watchman. One had the book and one was reading on Kindle. I want to know what others think too.

I am reading it. So far so good but only a few chapters in. I will let you know what I think when I finish.

I loved looking at the information for the Abbey here – so lovely, and I imagined myself back with Gamache, entering that hallway filled with light for the first time.

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.
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.

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