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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”

That’s an interesting question, Anna! My curiosity was piqued, so I went back to A Fatal Grace, and in Chapter 10 it has Clara meeting Gamache in her home. States “she hadn’t seen him for more than a year, since Jane’s murder.” The rest of the books seem to follow in season; with AFG at Christmas time, then TCM at Easter, ARAM in summer, TBT in fall, BYD ending up in winter again; is that 1 year? then ATOTL in spring, TBM in fall, HTLGI in winter; year 2? TLWH in summer . S if we add the year between Jane’s murder and AFG, is that only 3 years that have passed in Three Pines world? Is it like dog years?!

Wow Amy, well done. I haven’t had the time to go over everything. I have assumed season follows season and there can’t have been too much time passing. Good clue from AFG!

Maybe we need a companion book to the novels!

I forgot to post that I sent in our ideas on Intergenerational living in Nursing Homes. I sent the information along with ideas and suggestions we had spoken about. Maybe if nothing else, the idea will be implemented as new Nursing Homes are built. GRU, Medical School will be more receptive of ideas, I hope, with the change coming. Current Head leaving. I explained what this group is and how we shared info. I’ll be sure to let all know if I hear anything. I don’t expect to until I read it in the paper or see it on the News. I feel, though, that we have planted a seed for change.

Well done Barbara. You never know how a planted seed will grow. I shouldn’t expect a rapid change but maybe someone, somewhere will make a small change as a result. All progress is progress.

Jan, please speak about whatever, whenever as your need or your interests lead you. It was very hard for me to share for an while. Everyone was so helpful and caring. The Bistro became a ploace where I go often. Sometimes just to see what is new and sometimes to reread posts. I even go back to the rereads to read some comments again. People who know me best are surprised (to put it mildly) when I attempt to tell them about our group. We love LP’s books and enjoy discussing them with like-minded readers. We do not always agree on a point but I have learned to read more closely. Some of the ideas and purposes for plot lines would never have occurred to me. I love “getting into” the plot.
We are having a beautiful Memorial Day. Not too hot. The sun is beautiful and there is a slight, cool breeze. The Flags look so beautiful as they wave in the air.

I am glad you have good weather Barbara. I have been watching Texas and Oklahoma. my thoughts go to anyone experiencing the scary weather.

We get awful storms and floods and cyclones in different seasons. Just at the moment things are quite settled. We lost a number of people in storms and floods a few weeks ago. Today is sunny but cold. Lots of frost.

Jan, everyone is welcome here and we all love every contribution. I’m sorry if it ever seems hard to join in just because some of us are chatty souls! It’s a very open circle.

I am sorry to hear than you are having struggles of your own. I am sending peace and comforting thoughts in your direction. You don’t have to say anything but if you ever want to there are kind listening ears here. Otherwise, make yourself comfy with the beverage of your choice and soak up the warmth. I find it makes it easier to face the day!

The fact that I felt comfortable sharing is simply down to the amazing folk who potter here in the Bistro. I would never have imagined talking about myself either but there it is…I have. So like Three Pines this space….a little world you stumble upon and you find a hidden gem of comfort and kindness.

I’ve been checking out the reviews for TNOT on Goodreads. After getting over my envy of those who were favoured with advance copies, I was happy to see the reviews are (as usual) glowing. I can’t wait to hold a copy in my hands and jump back into Three Pines. …. I can smell the loam…and the cafe au lait and croissants. Heaven.

You paint a great picture Kim. Glad to hear the reviews are good. We are but weeks away from our next addictive hit! Does anyone have a plan for approaching the book…..a special chair to read in, a favourite beverage at hand….or does it not matter, just leap in as soon as it arrives.

Much gratitude for this lovely extra nudge, Anna. I think the Bistro is just my cup of tea! A truly remarkable site of comfort, inspiration, kindness and acceptance.

I’m all for a cup of tea Jan, in fact I have one now thank goodness. It’s another chilly morning!

Anna, you have put it all together so well. One thing I love about the reread site and the Bistro is how everyone helps me better understand why I love Louise’s books so much and why I continue to get so much pleasure and insight from them over time. I also feel that I’ve become much more able to analyze what I love about other authors and why some just don’t measure up. For many reasons, Louise’s books remain my favorites.

Someone I also love is Kate Atkinson. Has anyone else read and admired her mysteries? I’m thinking I will read her novel before the most recent soon, these not mysteries. I’ve forgotten the name and I’m afraid to look and possibly lose my post. Something about God in the title, God in Ruins?

I haven’t read Kate Atkinson. I will take a look but enjoying The Brutal Telling right now. Have you noticed it is also set in Autumn…the comment about it marching down the hill. Do you think Louise is making a deliberate allusion to her earlier work or was it just time for the next change of season?

Just an aside… but yet somehow related to your post, Anna. Have you noticed that the UK edition of NOTB front cover presents a rather foggy, winter-like picture? (I say this because there appear to be no leaves on the trees.) I’ve never been to England but do recall much emphasis on fog and gloom there year-round in literature by British authors. But why the contrast in book covers for the same story? Do take care Anna. I have “been there” with some of the family issues confronting you and know it can be immensely stressful. Thoughtful blessings sent your way each and every day.

Thank you Jan. I appreciate every comment and every comforting thought. I always feel safe and nurtured here in the Bistro, a calm spot in a tumultuous world.

With regard to the covers…..the experience of autumn may vary a little depending on whether there are evergreens as well as deciduous trees around and how fast the leaves fall? Or it could be that covers with a wintery look say mystery in England? They do to me I think. There is a sense of desolation…..

Funny Julie….I read your comment and thought Into The Woods which my brother went to on the weekend, a high school production of the musical, and it’s one of Millie’s favourites. Lots of metaphor there!

Thank you so much Anna. I truly have been identifying with your struggles but am one who does not just jump in readily to group sharing with people who already have established quite a wonderful history of closeness and support.

Guess I am really stuck about the trees on the UK book cover. They do appear to be mostly deciduous ones which have shed their leaves, so it seems to me that the folks in UK
might be getting an entirely different mind-set when reading the teaser about autumn colors and sly references to the fall season as well as “falling” in a metaphysical sense when they see a wintery scene on their front book covers. Misdirection ? I wonder…..
Guess we’ll have to find out in August. I do tend to over-think sometimes.

I thought that, too, Anna, and I think it’s deliberate – it seems so similar! I’m also noticing all the warnings – “NEVER go into the woods alone”… over and over… This is different from my childhood, though we didn’t have large woods nearby. If you got lost, even a small child would only have to walk for 20 minutes in any direction to come out… and I don’t remember ever getting lost in the woods we played in.

One thing I am noticing is the contrasting descriptions of the characters in Brutal Telling. Olivier is described as greedy, weak, a liar. He is also kind hearted, thoughtful, the first to bring soup or visit someone in hospital, to read to the weak and tired. And Ruth shows both her tenderness and irascibility.

We love the characters because they are like us; good and weak, kind and sharp, doing things only explicable by insanity (you are definitely not alone there Cathryne). Louise writes so we can identify with and love characters with imperfections and flaws but who are capable of great love and kindness. People who know jealousy and greed and anger but we can embrace it because it isn’t everything they are. Maybe we can embrace ourselves better because of this.

I think Ruth was especially worried at the time of her dinner party about:

Olivier, a loved friend, because she knows and says that he is weak, greedy, and will habitually lie to protect himself. She says the murderer is setting Olivier up and rather successfully.

Jean Guy, who she recognizes as a kindred soul, deeply troubled and fragile. She leaves lines of her poem around as she tries to help him. She can’t address him face to face because he deliberately drives her away, terrorizing her with her own poetry!

Rosa, her beloved child/friend/pet, because winter is coming and Rosa should go. Is it too silly to think of Ruth learning to love herself and take care of herself by doing that for Rosa? It almost seems to me that Rosa is partly Ruth too.

Now that I think about Ruth and her gentle, nurturing side, especially in this book, I think of Ruth and the asshole saint as being similar in MANY ways. Visiting Ruth at home, “in her natural habitate” is not much different than visiting the saint in the hermit’s cabin.

See what you started, Julie?

Oh, Julie, I wouldn’t completely forget the dinner party or Ruth at Massey’s studio, a good connection! Remembering her past behaviors, circumstances (as we know them), and her poetry makes it even more exciting to look forward to August and what we might learn next about Ruth and how it may or may not relate back to what we’ve observed already, especially things that confused us.

I’d forgotten the suet covered wth seeds! Rosa was just as important as everyone else. That, in itself, takes on much more meaning now that we know Rosa’s importance in the books that came after.

It was such a pleasure, such a good surprise, to find the next quote from TNTB on my iPad screen this morning! I’ve been thinking about it all day as I’ve gone here and there to complete errands.
“The fall was, of course, inevitable. He could see it coming.” It seems significant that Louise said “The fall” instead of just “Fall …” Is she talking in biblical terms as well as seasonal?

Julie, the dinner at Ruth’s house. It was, indeed, pretty crazy. I am now rereading, just starting, The Beautiful Mystery. As Annie and Jean Guy laughed about Armand’s hostess gift to Reine Marie’s mother, a bathroom mat, on his first visit to her home, I thought of Ruth’s inappropriate dinner offerings and behavior. Were they each just so out of their depth that they behaved completely out of character? I have a couple of times in my life said to my husband of 49 years, “My only explanation for that decision/behavior seems to be insanity.” Luckily I can’t remember what those occasions were now!

Cathryne and Anna – that’s a very good point. I’m sure Louise meant “The Fall”, now that I see it again… And yes, Cathryne, I’m sure we’ve all done some very weird things – including Ruth’s behavior when she was afraid of the art teacher (whose name escapes me now) in TLWH. So, I guess we’ll just chalk it up to that. I don’t think I’m going to be able to wring any more meaning out of it, hahaha.

This quote reminds me so much of The Brutal Telling again – the Mountain King – the sense of evil stealing down the mountain, and the vegetation coming down the mountain as it is “awoken” by the boy… And of course, all the fall foliage on the cover of TBT… I can’t help but feel that there is so much here that is somewhat parallel.

Yesterday, I was reading about the chief coming home from Ruth’s party to find Beauvoir fast asleep with a stuffed lion. Later, after they talk for a bit, Gamache calls Annie, while Beauvoir climbs the stairs carrying the lion and singing “an old Weaver’s tune” under his breath. (that is the tape that put Annie to sleep as a baby – so amazing these little connections that are practically screaming at me now, but went all but unnoticed in the first two reads…

Anna, I’m glad you shared the beautiful picture of the moment between your mother and sister. It sounds joyous and real! How wise you were to imprint that picture on your mind. And on our minds too, we can all use the smile that it brings.

Anna, I’m so sorry to hear about your dad’s mobility difficulties along with pneumonia. I know how this can be, but I’m glad the physio is giving decisions some time.

I wonder if your mother feels a connection with your sister, her daughter, even when she doesn’t know why. How wonderful that your mother has been able to show new learning, as it seems people can better thrive when they can learn.

Breathe deeply and know that you are receiving caring, supportive thoughts and wishes.

Thank you Cathryne. I doubt I would be still going without everyone’s kind and supportive thoughts and wishes.

Mum definitely is connected to my sister even when she has no idea who she is. This morning they were cuddled up on the couch and laughing. It was a lovely moment. I store up those gorgeous minutes and remember them when things are tough.

We have been watching the tornados and severe weather. I hope all affected are staying safe.

Hi Barbara. I am impressed that your mother in law was able to stay at home for so long. Your husband’s sister must be an amazing person. Mum does a similar thing with decline in steps. She is remarkably bright still even after 9 years with dementia….she stubbornly clings to what she can, even showing new learning which I find phenomenal. Mum has enjoyed having my sister here to visit although she isn’t always sure who she is.

Dad is still in hospital making some progress in the last couple of days. The big concern is that he can not roll over in bed or get himself in and out of bed. He can’t walk yet or feed himself either but that is coming. The physio wants until next week to make a determination about whether we can get him stronger. Dad is desperate to come home with me but a facility is also looking possible.

I am feeling emotionally wrung out but my sister has been helping during the week which is great.

I send you peace and the hope of many cool breezes for Memorial Day.

Anna, How are your Mother and Father ? My 104 year old Mother-in-Law went to a nursing home yesterday. Her mind was good until about 1 1/2 years ago. Then the dementia became worse. She would remain the same and suddenly a swift downward spiral. Hers was different from any case I have observed. Hubby’s sister could not manage any more even with Health Care coming 3 times a week.
On a happier note, it is a beautiful day here with a very welcome cool breeze. We are attending a Memorial Day event today. Memorial Day is Monday when we honor the dead from all our wars. There are still some observances for individual wars and days when we honor our vets. Isn’t Peace a beautiful word, both as an absence of warring and also peace within each of us. May we all have that inner peace at least.

Thanks, Paul. I can’t believe someone who actually lived across from the pink house knew it and its history found out about the site and wrote. Wow, his story is exciting.
Thank you to Bob Heath for sharing with us.

I just finished re-listening to A Fatal Grace, so not their yet. But I would venture to agree with Barbara. Ruth doesn’t miss a thing and loves shock value… She’s been deeply hurt at some point(s) of her life and that’s her way of keeping people at arms length so she isn’t hurt again. But she cares deeply for the people in her circle.

Millie, Earlier today I suddenly had a thought about Ruth. I had always considered the “hurt” to Ruth was emotional hurt. I wonder if her husband was abusive and she killed him in self defense. Perhaps his belt buckle is what the sun glinted on in the excerpt from the Nature of The Beast. Then again, maybe my imagination is working overtime. We’ll see.

Ruth’s poem: “Who hurt you once that you would greet each overture with curling lip? It was not always so. Alas.”

That poem haunts me, too. I was amazed to find that all the poetry Louise uses already existed – that it wasn’t written explicitly for the books, as it always is exactly the right fit.

Maybe I thought it was just a joke last time I read it, and that’s why it didn’t stop me, but I know that Ruth is sharp as a tack – just wish I had a better handle on this – I can’t help thinking it has a deeper meaning…

Another thought about Ruth…approximately how old do you think she might be by now? Almost six years ago, Louise remarked about Ruth and ” her extreme age, her limp, and her diabolical temperament” in The Brutal Telling. Currently, it seems we are getting a very ominous build up of sorts about her background and something very terrible happening in TNOTB. Suppose this new book surprises all of us as it unfolds, leading ultimately to an ending of redemption and joy for Ruth? Hard for me to imagine, but Louise weaves truly astonishing literary tapestries. Would hate to lose Ruth , but then maybe there might be a way for her to haunt future stories, lol. Bet she would love that….

Not sure how old Ruth is but she was still leading the volunteer fire brigade a while ago! For all her outward age she is spry in mind and spirit

I think Ruth was having a joke at everyone’s expense. The English accent, Rosa in a dress, that awful mix in the bowl for dinner, the toodle-oo goodbye and all of it. The saltines and peanut butter is good with hot chocolate. Never tried celery with Velveeta. Suet rolled in seeds? No thanks. Peanut butter stuffed celery would have been OK, too. However, I think she knew exactly what she was doing. Maybe we will find out why Ruth is Ruth in August.

The Brutal Telling – I’ve just been to the “dinner party” at Ruth’s house, and I don’t know that we’ve ever talked about that – it was so strange. She was so odd – friendly and polite (though speaking with an English accent), dressed Rosa in a dress for the first time, and served the oddest food. First the canapés – saltine crackers with a smear of peanut butter (at least, they hoped it was peanut butter), then celery sticks stuffed with Velveeta cheese (for those not from around here, that’s a soft, very orange, “cheese food” not real cheese), then round balls of suet rolled in seeds. Lastly, olives stuffed with mandarin orange slices. Dinner was a bowl of canned peaches, bacon, cheese and Gummi Bears. Those who accepted Ruth’s offering of a scotch got a glass-ful poured in their bowls.

On some level, all this is what a child thinks might make a good dinner party. On another level, Ruth seemed almost to need psychiatric help during this episode. Gamache was relieved to hear Ruth, after calling out “Toodle-oo” to everyone as they left, mutter “Fuckers” just as she shut the door. I think this shows that she hadn’t lost her mind, but I’m at a loss as to figure out the meaning of the dinner party. Obviously, gracious hosting is not Ruth’s forte, but still… is this how Ruth normally eats? Can’t be. Or can it? I guess you’ve got SOME vegetables and fruit, peanut butter is probably a nearly perfect food, and if you wash it all down with scotch, maybe it’s palatable (at least, all except the suet balls – they’d need tequila).

I know that one of you will be able to explain this to me, as I am struggling here trying to make sense of it.

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