The Bistro

The Bistro

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

Discussion on “The Bistro”

I just read it. I would never have guessed such a beginning. It’s wonderful—Quick everyone— to the link with all haste.

Me either, Barbara!

I’m still in CA, ladies and gents. Sorry I haven’t had much time to post, but I’m trying to keep up with them.

Food… Anna, take note: I saw a video interview some time back where Louise said she keeps a cookbook by her laptop and dives in there wondering, “What shall the characters eat today???” She also mentioned the characters eat away but she doesn’t gain the weight. I loved that!

WOW! Indeed. There goes our speculating it might be Bean! Appears to be a resident. If he’s fourteen, like I think I read in a synopsis, then this is going to be one incredibly engrossing tale. Well done, ‘Madame Louise’! I’m so hooked already.

I didn’t think it would be Bean. I’m not sure why Mariana would move to Three Pines. And, for some reason, I’m convinced that Bean is a girl. I’m looking forward to meeting another child with a rich imaginary life. The introductory chapter is already resonating – I recall having similar fantasies where I had to run and hide to avoid being shot “in the war”. I wonder if that child also flew (with a breaststroke like motion) through his dreams to avoid pursuit??? Well done, Ms. Penny. I will be out buying NOTB the day it shows up in stores. 🙂

Hi KB! Nice to ‘see’ you again. I think some of us thought Bean might simply be visiting Aunt Clara. Not necessarily that they moved to Three Pines. Mariana probably couldn’t work from the Village.

Hi again Millie. Just a tad of speculation today. 🙂 No need to respond unless you feel the urge. I realize this is a very busy weekend for so many of us. )

So, here goes: Do you think it could it be possible that Louise is teasing us with a “flashback” in this first chapter? If so, lots of ways this story could unfold and there still be a role for Bean….very scary and intriguing!

Great news, Anna. More Miss Fisher. I like everything about the shows. The stories, the clothes, the acting and learning some history in a most enjoyable way.
Food certainly has a prominent role in LP’s books. Eating together strengthens social and family ties. Sharing food and good conversation touches a chord that reaches back through generations and thousands of years. Sharing of food with family, friends, strangers and the poor is addressed in many cultures and I think most religions. We share food when we are happy and when we are sad. I have a very funny book written by a woman from Mississippi, I think, I can’t recall the title. She has amusing stories about Southern customs concerning types of food taken to a bereaved household and the meal following a funeral. Some ladies are known for a certain dish and hurt feelings will follow if anyone else dares to bring it. I’m sure that it is the same the world over but I only know of the Southern USA aspect. Often the members of a club or organization that the deceased or a family member belongs to will assign certain dishes to members. I have been asked to bring the fried chicken on many occasions. There is no way I would fry chicken for such an event. I have never mastered frying chicken or baking biscuits. However, I am very good at buying both and putting them on my platters. I made pimento cheese for many years but for the last few years I buy one of two brands. One is made locally and one is from South Carolina. Now I’m hungry.

Absolutely Barbara, food is so very communal. The ritual of sharing and the demonstration of caring. I love your comment about being good at buying and putting on platters! Excellent. I think that pimento cheese and I would not get on…way too spicy for me but southern BBQ I would love to experience.

Anna – I love food, too – and when I married my southern gentleman, thought I was about to experience the wonderful southern dishes I’d heard about when we visited his relatives. My first experience with southern barbecue was such a disappointment – both for me and them! It was not what I had envisioned at all – more like pulled pork – like the meat had been stewed in a runny sauce, which was nothing like what I had been envisioning. I took such a little bit that my hosts were concerned that all their hard work had been for nought, though after I tasted it, I realised that it was just that it wasn’t what I was expecting… Turns out barbecue is very different in lots of different areas. I’ll always love my own syle best, but there is room for lots of different kinds of barbecue on my plate now, hahahaha.

Well, I’m hungry, too, now Barbara! Fried chicken is a weakness of mine and I have very seldom had success with it, either, not to mention how messy it is to make – I seem to be wiping up grease in my kitchen for ages… It’s funny how you mentioned that hurt feelings would follow if someone brought a dish usually brought by another. I belong to a few clubs, and have always loved deviled eggs. I noticed that someone always seemed to bring them to gatherings, but never noticed who it was, or that it was always the same person, of course. I found a lovely deviled egg platter in an antique shop and bought it and brought deviled eggs to the next outing. You’d have thought I’d arrived naked, from the degree of hostility I faced… Now, I am not one to back down for that kind of thing, and I think that there’s always room for two platters of deviled eggs… I have since found lots of other platters, and I keep buying them… and I keep bringing them, and I no longer meet any resistance (in fact, I think my eggs usually disappear first – though it could just be the pretty platters, hahaha).

Food, glorious, food! I don’t know that food plays that big a role in many of the other mystery novels that I love. The only food I really remember from Agatha Christie was to show Poirot’s oddities – three boiled eggs of exactly the same proportions… in fact, I’m probably mis-remembering, because three is an odd number, which surely, he would be uncomfortable with.

But Louise’s books – oh, the food is there for the tasting! I cannot believe that Louise is able to sustain her elegant, svelte figure when you think of the way she describes food. Clearly, she loves it, and has tasted just what she’s describing. I often get ideas for new sandwiches – especially what she does with brie and cranberries, haha. Reading her Facebook page – she loves afternoon tea as much as I do!

The boulangerie in this week’s “real place” is lovely looking. I really could almost fall into that picture of the breads all stacked up, waiting to be taken home. And the description of the cheeses! Who knew that Canada had this gastronomic delight of boutique cheeses hidden away in Quebec? I’m sure there’s not a hint of it elsewhere in Canada. Of course “artisinal” wasn’t a word when I left Canada, so maybe it’s more a product of the times than of the place… but I sure can’t imagine it anywhere else.

Food is big in the Bruno mysteries as well but I always feel that Louise is more able to coney the experience of the food where Martin Walker has Bruno cooking but without the sensuality of the experience. Not sure if I explained that but there is a difference. Perhaps because the characters enjoy the food we have their vicarious experience.

For the Miss Fisher fans, series 3 starts this week in Australia and there is talk of a feature film!

Oh, lucky – I wonder how long we’ll have to wait for it to be up on Netflix! Love that there will be a movie. Is Phryne an Australian name? I’ve never heard it before – love the name and love the character!

I hadn’t read about Ruth Rendell, and sadly, I’ve never read any of her books… I have decided to rememdy this with the first two in the Wexford series – I’ve ordered them from Paperbackswap.com. Do you all know about this club? Easy-peasy to join, and it’s basically, you put up on the site for swapping the books you don’t want to keep (I tend to have lots of cheap paperbacks that I know I’ll never read again, but were fun, light reads to begin with). If you find a book you want on someone’s list, you request it and they send it to you at their expense. If someone requests a book from you, you do likewise.

Some time back I had determined that I needed to declutter a lot of things, and a basement room full of books is where I started, but also where I’ve still got the last of it to go. I always send out more than I get, but you do need some credits to get books. One credit (because you sent a book) for one book. I’m way ahead on credits, hahaha. But I can go there to get most books like this that I’m curious about, so it works for me. My goal is to never buy a paper book again (just Kindle), but of course, that’s not possible. And there are many that I’d never part with, as well. But it’s handy.

The swap club sounds like a great idea..an online book exchange. Kind of ironic in a way, technology keeping the paper novel alive! Not sure I will go down the Kindle only path. I find real books to be a different experience. I get the appeal of decluttering though. Our library is overflowing and there are books on every surface I can see; cookbooks, Louise Penny (I am rereading Bury Your Dead) history books (Dad’s), Japanese architecture (Daughter’s latest passion is to design a traditional Japanese House for herself, lots of study books (half yearly time is putting a delay on the architecture plans), Kathy Reichs, Agatha Christie……I cannot imagine the house without that kind of clutter!

I totally agree Julie, I am glad I have Kindle for fluffy books that don’t really hold my heart.

I was wondering over in the Real Places of Three Pines about how food has become an important element in a number of novels. When did that start do you think? Was it with books that melded travel journeys and gastronomy like A Year in Provence? When did it enter crime novels?

I can’t imagine Three Pines without flaky croissants and bowls of cafe au lait. It makes it a 3D sensory experience.

A Princess enters and a Duchess leaves. Sad news at the passing of Ruth Rendell only a few months after we lost PD James.

Happy Birthday to the new princess, and to your hubby, Barbara! I hope you had a good celebration!

Happy Birthday to your husband Barbara. Som any important people born in May! Hopefully you both had a great day. Was there Chinese food for the birthday celebration? Love Chinese food. We go to Yum Cha in the city when we are there on a weekend. Of course we eat too much but it’s good fun.
I saw that Kate and William did not spend much time at the maternity wing. I am sure she will be much more comfortable at home. Such a change of times to see him by her side and driving her home. Prince Harry was at an Aussie Rules game in Perth but I daresay he rang the family. Maybe he will take home an Australian present for the new baby
It’s been an odd busy weekend. Lots of running around. I am a teenagers taxi driver!

The new Princess shares her Birthday with another VIP…….my Husband. Three-quarters of a century today.
Wow. Baby born at 8:34AM and leaving Hospital at 6:30 PM.
It is a beautiful day here and there are many festivals and outdoor events on for this weekend. A favorite of mine is the Dragon Boat Race held at the lake 1 1/2 miles from us. It is sponsored by The Chinese Benevolent Association for Goodwill Charities. Tasty food, Chinese performers and stories.
Our B’day celebration will be later today.

I second Julie’s idea! A discrete line of stationary with a small image of three pines in one corner and embossed envelopes! Or, given that a lot of people don’t use snail mail, a line of diaries and visitors books. There are lots of arty fols who love Three Pines I your area Danny….run a design competition!

I’ll suggest the stationary idea to Louise and I’m working on obtaining a guest book. I will certainly be showing Louise the guest book. Louise always loves to hear about people visiting because of her books so I’m sure she will enjoy pouring over a guest book. So far no leads on the two visiting ladies. Thanks for all of your help and suggestions. How very Three Pines of you.

The other thing is that they may have met here and ended up chatting on Louise’s Facebook page as the only way to communicate in person here is to leave an email address which is a bit fraught with privacy concerns.

Thanks for looking Anna. I’ll try leaving a post on Louise’s facebook. I’m sure we will find these ladies. The search continues. I should really keep a guest book… I think I will! Now where do I find a guest book with three pines on it?

Danny, you should start a line of stationery with Three Pines on it. I know the pieces you do have are very popular – you must sell a LOT! I wish I had been one of the ladies who met up there – it would have been a very fun trip! Those of us who meet here at the Bistro have regularly talked about such a trip – so nice to see that somebody did it!

Danny, I had a quick read through the posts. I couldn’t find anything helpful so maybe it was during the re read that they met? Lots of people read the posts but don’t say much and there are few people we haven’t seen in a while but I think I know where most of the stalwarts hail from.

Very glad that people are able to get along and visit you. I hope you see more of us!

Hi Danny. That is intriguing. Can’t remember who else was Australian that might have done that. We obviously would all love to do something similar. I will look back over the posts and see is we can figure it out but they may have met up in the re read not the Bistro and that is a lot of posts! Hopefully they will pop in and speak up.

synchronicity – I realized I haven’t visited here in quite awhile so stopped in. I do live in CA, but sadly I’m not one of the ladies… wishing I was. Good luck in finding them!

Hello All! What lovely, cheerful, comforting comments.

Hello All, I have a mystery and I’m hoping someone might be able to help me? I am a bookseller from Brome Lake Books in Knowlton Quebec (the heart of Three Pines country) A week or two ago two ladies came into the store. One lady was from California and one from Australia! They got to know each other on this web page chatting about Louise and the books. They were having so much fun that they decided to take a trip to ‘Three Pines’ and meet each other in person on that trip. I told Louise Penny their story and she was so touched by it that she wanted to know who these ladies are? Naturally I can’t remember their names. Can anyone help? Does this ring any bells? Will I have to put Gamache on the case?

Hello all. It never ceases to amaze me the twists and turns the conversations take here. Much to think about. But I was a busy bee making final arrangements for a new roof before my trip to CA to celebrate my Godmother’s 90th birthday. My cousins have had to put her in a home. It’s a gorgeous place but she’s lonely… So naturally the current topic is of interest. One thought that occurred to me while scanning was ‘homes’ don’t currently have room for young residents. But many caregivers could use help at the caregiver’s own home if they are caring for an elderly relative at home. And then, housing for college students can add an exorbitant amount to college education. It would be ideal to combine the two needs the way ‘exchange student’ programs are set up. But rather than students from a foreign country being housed, students vetted to be willing to just sit with and keep an eye on an elderly person so the caregiver could run errands, go to their own doctor’s appointments or just take a relaxing bath could do so, knowing someone is there. Most have children who have grown and moved out, so they have extra rooms… By the same token, the caregiver must agree that these are students who need to study and aren’t their to do total housekeeping. Just another thought to add to the mix.

Barbara, you made me laugh with the comment of holding honeysuckle to your screen and I could smell it. But I have a question. If it’s a ‘southern’ plant, would it grow so far up north?

Mom calls, I’m 5 years old again and must go. Lol

Honeysuckle grows in the Eastern 2/3 of the US and in Quebec and Ontario. I’m shocked. I thought the northern limit would be Virginia.
Thanks for your info on our Intergenerational Living project. You will probably have written your book and Anna will have done one or two more. You ladies amaze me. Your families are so fortunate.

Barbara, there’s a non profit organization in the county I live in, in FL, called Aging Matters, I think. I’ll look into it more when I get back home.

Millie, Hope you and your family have a happy, joyful time in CA. Happy Birthday to your Godmother.

Millie, I wish I could hold a sprig of honeysuckle up to the screen and you could smell it. It shouts Southern even more than Magnolias and Azaleas.
On 4/17 your comments about labeling people reminded me of Sociology 101. We were told that stereotypes were a lazy way to think. But yes, our brains do search for a quick way to identify as you said.

I’m going to try to catch up with comments on posts made earlier this month.
Julie, Sometimes I don’t like how Americans act either in or out of the US. It is embarrassing to be in another country or on a cruise and observe poor behavior too.
Your post on 4/17 re college students living in nursing homes to interact with residents is an excellent idea. I can’t believe the program doesn’t exist here. We have two colleges and the Medical College. May I make the suggestion to the proper people? I will explain it isn’t an original idea of mine.

Barbara, I think it would be a great idea to suggest. I really wish I knew where the place was that I read of, but it was a random post on Facebook so long ago now, that I’d never be able to find it, I’m sure. So be sure to let them know it wasn’t my idea, either, but that the general consensus here in the very important Bistro is that it’s a good idea, for both the students and the seniors.

Yes, it is horrific to watch the news these days – I cannot believe some of the things I see happening, and I certainly can’t blame people for being angry, but this cannot be the answer. I feel sometimes as though we never are going to make any progress on race. I am truly heartsick over it all, and hope and pray that we will see the light and stop all this madness.

I’ll be sure to mention the Bistro and do some research before presenting the idea. I’ll have to think about the best person to approach etc. This is exciting and gives me something positive to think about. There must be many areas to be addressed before such a plan can be implemented. But we can supply the idea at least.
EVERYONE, think about your city too. I’ll share my findings and if anyone else has something to share please do.

The Humanitas Retirement Home in The Netherlands gives free housing to college students if they volunteer thirty hours a month in the Nursing Home.


The idea is an attempt to address the way we isolate, not just the elderly, but also college students and other groups in the community. We need a return to “village life” where all age groups mix and live together not in isolation. I read of another program where older members of the community were very involved in day care centers and helping with young children.

We need to value and respect the ongoing contribution we all make to society whatever our age.

What you need Barbara is a local model for inter generational housing, the term used, which would work. The Dutch model is rooms for students in what sounds like a Nursing Home. There is a place in the US where students and elderly live in a large house. A radial model could work which has a studio apartment for each person in spokes around a large communal living and dining area with a small onsite care staff. Lots of different approaches.

Anna – that’s the place I read about – I guess it’s a very newsworthy concept – and it seems to be the only program like it.

Good morning all. I just lost a lengthy post. Reading the front page of the paper, sent me here to the Bistro. Pictures of Baltimore burning frightens me for fear the rioting will spread. The devastation in Nepal is pathetic.
Once I planned to move Hubby, Daddy, Sister and myself to Australia. In the end, I was the one who just couldn’t leave the US.
Anna, you asked how long my family had been here. Several lines were in Va. prior to 1776. Some in 1600’s and some in 1700’s. My maternal GGG Grandfather arrived in New York 1821 from Germany and was in South Carolina by 1842 when he purchased land. Except for him, everyone seems to have come from England and one line from Scotland in the early 1700’s. We are a very uninteresting group.

Hardly uninteresting Barbara. You have a long history in The US. It would have been very hard to leave I imagine. You would have missed the perfumes of the south with its beautiful flowers. Smell is such a strong sense to evoke memories and emotions. Australia is dust and eucalytus and the earth before it rains.

Where would you have liked to have lived in Australia or did you not think that far?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Skip to content