The Bistro

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Join us here in The Bistro for a discussion on the entire Gamache series. Feel free to ask or answer any questions about any of the books or the series as a whole.

Discussion on “The Bistro”

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 During the war there was a controversial idea called “the Brisbane Line” where the Defence of Australia would be withdrawn to to below a line through the middle of the country from Brisbane across if the country was invaded by the Japanese.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.

Oops, I was called away and when I came back I forgot that I was going to tell you about an inn that we saw last year when attending a play across the street. It was in a small Vermont town (I’ll have to look it up and get back to you if anyone is interested). Our friend’s daughter was in the play and when we came out I noticed a gorgeous house with beautiful grounds across the street. Then I noticed a sign saying it was an inn so when we got home I looked it up and learned that in the summer they have a Jane Austen weekend where people can come and dress up as their favorite character. There are JA themed activities also (want to learn to drive a horse??). The strange thing (to me anyway) was that the characters could be from any of her books so you might have the Bennet sisters along with the Musgroves. I have enough trouble keeping them separate in the books without putting people from all the books together! Guess it would be fun to see.

Hi all! Have been hovering over the discussion and wonder if anyone has read The Man Who Saved London? I forget the author’s name but don’t think it ‘s hard to find…and it’s well worth reading to learn of someone who made such a huge contribution to ending the war. It’s an amazing read and something that will inspire you. I read it many years ago and could not forget it. My cousin met the man’s sister when they were both volunteering in a Wisconsin children’s hospital. I need to get another copy as I must have loaned mine out…and don’t remember who has it. I mention this because I find it so difficult to watch movies etc about that time.

Re the discussion of Jane Austen. We went to a play last year

I think the point the film was making Barbara, is that it was the French not the Germans who rounded up the Jews in France. They showed Mitterand making an apology for what happened in the past.

Julie, scarlet fever still happens here particularly among the Indigenous population, but in all lations. I was actually worried Erin may have had it after a bad strep throat and the skin peeled from her fingers and toes, a late sign of the infection. She had to have a cardiac echo anyway last year whivh was normal. One of my friends lived in Zimbabwe when she was young and had multiple bouts of scarlet fever. Nasty consequences. Sorry you had a rough trot with it and the rheumatic heart disease. Lots of people tick with mechanical valves so don’t worry.

Keep us informed on the dress. I wouldn’t be one to have a revealing neckline either. That wouldn’t spell comfort for me.

Thank you all for such nice words about my feelings on my scar. I’m actually so used to it that it doesn’t really bother me, but I’m aware that it bothers some others… My skin is very pale, so the scar looks newer than it might. I had the surgery quite young – 35 and again when I was 40 – as I am the last person in North America to have Scarlet Fever, I think. At any rate, a heart valve was damaged, and at 35, they repaired it. Not til after the surgery did they say to me that there was a 30% chance that the damage would continue to deteriorate the valve, and if that was the case, they’d replace it the next time. I wish they’d told me in the first place, as I’d have opted for replacement, which was finally necessary when I was 40. Since they needed it to last so long, my valve is made of carbon, which causes me to “tick” audibly at times. Always something to talk about with me, hahahaha.

I will probably still opt for a somewhat modest neckline, never mind what they really wore – I can’t really imagine that I will want things out “on display” like that, haha.

Barbara – isn’t the dancing fun looking? I would really love to be good at it, but I doubt I will, as I definitely have two left feet. Still, I’ll give it a go in the fall. I understand people are very understanding about taking your hand and helping you along…

It was SOP for the Jews to be rounded up and sent to concentration camps whenever Germany invaded a county.
Anna, you have evidently done an excellent job of rearing Erin. It is very disturbing to watch a movie like Sarah’s Key. I wasn’t aware of the movie or book until reading your post but read a synopsis at once. I admire Erin. Unfortunately, many her age, older teens and adults would have turned away from such a serious movie to do something that would be fun. The movies, documentaries and books based on the Holocaust are difficult but necessary so people will never forget.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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