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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”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope everyone is ok. Thinking of you all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay – off my soapbox.

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

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

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

But he didn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lit and His library is perfect. Not what I’d imagined, though. I’d pictured it as being in a smaller building of its own – more like a house. And I didn’t imagine the lovely open ceiling to the second floor. But the rug, the couch, the chairs… exactly what I’d seen in my mind. I can picture Gamache in a chair with Henri at his feet. Bliss.

Hi to all! The Literary and Historical Society from BYD is featured today! As I have said it is my favorite place. Let’s see what you think. Meantime, I think I’ll have a seat and read a while, or maybe just sit and think. See you there.

Hello to all at the Bistro! Am sending good thoughts and prayers for peace and healing! I took a hike on a great bike trail in PA today and thought of you all as I passed a field filled with clover and honeysuckle! It was quite intoxicating! I half expected Chef Ve’ronique to come out in her beekeeping gear! I too am rereading TBT; gearing up for TNOTB! Joy and safety to all!

Good to see you all here again. Anna – so happy your Dad is home and happy. I’m sure it must be a lot of work for you, and worry, but wonderful that you can do this for him. I think it’s hilarious that you know Rita Moreno from a children’t show – I knew that lots of big stars did those muppet shows, but forgot that whole generations of people would have been introduced to such talent that way. Rita Moreno is a member of a very small club – people with an EGOT (Emmy – for either Sesame Street or Electric Company, Grammy, Oscar and Tony)

Barbara, I don’t envy you those southern summers! We are having warmer temperatures, but we don’t have the humidity with it (funny, isn’t it, as it’s so wet all the rest of the year – but we basically have a drought every summer). Hot and humid is enough to make a person crazy, I think.

I am feeling all better – maybe a little residual tiredness, but nothing like the fatigue I’d been having. Had a really nice day with girlfriends on Wednesday – stitching and laughing and visiting… those days are wonderful to have.

I’ve made online friends with a writer – she writes what everyone calls “fan fiction” in the Jane Austen vein – she reimagines the stories – if one or more details were different, and writes wonderful stories about the characters. I kind of fell in love with the stories, but in the online venue where they were being published, I could see that nobody was proof-reading her work, so I took a big breath and offered my services. I was worried she’d be insulted, but instead she jumped at the chance. She said she had someone who was proofing, but that they missed most things until after they appeared online, which of course, didn’t do her much good, haha. So I now do quite a bit of proof-reading for her. She has a self-published book coming out soon, and another in the pipeline, being debuted a chapter at a time online, and I am proofing both of those. Lots of fun, though I do feel quite a bit of responsibility now that I’ve put myself forth as someone competent to do this, hahaha. Hopefully, I’ll catch most – I’ve gotten a little used to her consistent errors now – people’s names are never spelled the same way twice, and a few words like “discreet” always spelled “discrete” which of course, is a word, but the wrong one, so auto-correct is no help. A cute meme I saw yesterday was “auto correct has become my number one enema.” At any rate, it’s quite interesting, and keeps me out of mischief.

In the meantime, my business partner and I have come up with a plan to sell the last of our books – we are going to put on a needlework seminar somewhere on the east coast, probably in the fall of 2016. So far, we’ve done nothing but make the decision – there’s lots to do and get organized, so will soon be up to our armpits in that! I feel like I am gaining back some energy to do all these things, and it feels pretty good!

Julie, Rita Moreno is a long time fav of mine. I don’t remember her from Sesame Street since we had no children and I didn’t see it too often.
You have volunteered for an interesting job. I’m sure someone with your needlework and making pattern books experience has a keen eye good for proofreading.
I love the “consistent errors”.
I’m glad you are getting some energy back……sounds like you have lots of projects.

Nancy, The Clef Argente is beautiful. I noticed the lovely tiles around the fireplaces. The house I grew up in had wonderful tiles around the living room fireplace. Many of the local Victorian houses have breath taking tiles fireplaces.
Our Anniversaries are family dinners. My sister gave us a grand celebration for our 25th, however.

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