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.

3,639 replies on “The Bistro”

I’ve been looking at the English book cover now shown on Louise Penny’s home page. Quite interesting, I think. Dark vs. bright light centers framed by ovals.

When I look closely at the section of the U.S./Canada cover shown in one of Louise’s posts, I can see more detail than I can in the pictures of the whole cover. I wish we could place a finger on any part of the cover for a close up. The details seem more varied than was first apparent and beautiful.

Interesting I agree Cathryne….and they both draw you in and forward. I get a sense of wanting to go “in” with nothing!

By the way Julie, well done. No degree is easy to obtain and I am sure if you were at night school then you had a lot of other things going on as well as study.

Barbara, read the first paragraph of Chapter 10 in Still Life. Louise beautifully addresses the real value of Jane Neal.

I have worked, and now live, in a world of academia, and I, too, have “only” a bachelor’s degree, and THAT was hard-won, as I did it at night school… So I know what you meant, Barbara – but I agree with Anna, that the next degree wouldn’t make you more intelligent, OR well-read, I believe. You have such great insights into characters and books… The bistro is such a lovely place…

Interesting idea about questions for Louise, Millie. I remember when she was here and I had the opportunity to ask a question, my mind seemed to go blank! Can’t even remember now what I DID ask, or what she answered, hahaha. If I get a “next time”, I’ll poll this group to see what we REALLY want to know.

Hi to all! I enjoyed all your comments on favorites. My first introduction to Louise was The Brutal Telling; my daughter actually saw Louise here at a Barnes and Noble in small town Pennsylvania years ago, and bought the book. I quickly caught up with the others. I think like Julie, my favorites (yes ; I cannot pick just one!) would have to be the trio of Bury Your Dead, The Beautiful Mystery and HTLGI. They kept me hanging on the edge of my seat! My husband and I were fortunate enough to spend a couple of days in Old Quebec City in Sept. Did a walking tour of the city; beautiful! Missed the BYD tour by 1 day, but lots of Louise info passed along in our tour. Could actually imagine Gamache there! The history is amazing! My child hood friend and I plan on going to Winter Carnivale in 2016! Should be fun. If any of you get a chance to go, I highly recommend Old Quebec City for your bucket list!

Hi Amy. Quebec City is definitely on my list. We may be in North America Dec 2016 so we might get to Carnavale. Wouldn’t that be amazing. Will let you know if we do.
A Beautiful Mystery is also right up there on my favourites list. To be fair there is only a whisker in it for most of the books. There is something very special about Bury Your Dead though and the atmosphere of the library and the old city are part of it but also the snow. Love the snow. My favourite seasons are autumn and winter. We are in autumn right now and it’s the colours and the crispness and the curls of smoke in the air. Ok, it’s the food too. Love wintery food.
I envy your daughter seeing Louise, and you too Julie.

Thanks Cathryne. I didn’t mean to rant but I am in a place of truly seeing the value in people. Too often we are rated against external markers that don’t tell us anything about what really matters, then we downgrade ourselves unnecessarily.
I value you all more everyday.

After much thinking and recalling, I still reach the same result. My favorite book is Bury your Dead. I started with Still Life when it was just published and they have all been great . I loved the history and the setting of the library. I do love libraries and museums in older buildings. The part about the history of Quebec sent me to reading other books and to some very interesting historians and their books on other aspects of History. Good books have always led me to other good books. I only have a Bachelor’s Degree as I only started my masters and never completed it. I am able to converse with much better educated people than I because I have read so much. Books, Books and books. Thanks to many authors for enriching my life and expanding my horizons.

Barbara please don’t say you ONLY have a bachelors degree! You are obviously a highly intelligent and well read person. A Masters degree wouldn’t change anything except make you better read more on a particular topic or area. My mother wasn’t allowed to go to University by her family because she was a woman. My dad struggled with a distance degree but was working long hours and raising four children. They are both very very intelligent and having or not having a degree doesn’t change that.
Aren’t we lucky to live in a world where gaining knowledge is so easy if we want it. There are books and the Internet to answer almost any question. But the real education we receive is understanding the power of ourselves and other people to change the world even in little ways through the power of our words and our ideas.
My world is very different through reading Louise’s books and through her inspiration and the amazingly powerful support you all give me through words alone, I am a different person. I am new courage and strength which I need every day.
Don’t any of you underestimate who you are and the positive difference you bring to people every single day!

Cathryne, thank you, but you give me too much credit. I’m not ‘dealing’ with the flooded room all that well – it’s more like I’m not allowing it to paralyze me completely. lol…
You’re name etymology was fantastic. Thank you.

Anna, that a great idea about how to choose character names.

Julie, authors say they get tired of being asked the same questions. I wonder if anyone has asked Louise your question??? It’s a good one.

And thank you for pointing out Niel Young’s song. I had not heard ‘Old Man’ before. I was surprised to realize it was the same singer who did ‘Heart of Gold’. That one I knew. It was interesting to me that in one he’s searching for a Heart of Gold, but he’s getting old… And in the other he’s looking for love, for something or someone permanent. Both speak of being alone for so long, of aging, of heart ache… I have to reread Chapter 1 of NOTB again with those songs in mind.

My favorite Three Pines book? Like most, if I must pick only one, it would be The Beautiful Mystery. That was my introduction to Louise Penny and I was so completely hooked, I had to buy them all and start from the beginning. I just had to know what had led to the rift between Gamache & Jean Guy! But ‘How the Light Gets In’ had me riveted. I loved it! The tension, the bits of humor, the need to trust, the community rallying to help no questions asked, and Ruth literally saving Jean Guy’s live so he could save Gamache! Masterful.

Millie, regarding the most recent excerpt from TNOTB, I hadn’t thought of Ruth’s habit of entering the homes of others at will! Still, the reference to the thin wood of the door made me think she’s at home, her small, thin home.

I did, too, think it was Ruth’s own home, where she had run to hide. Hopefully, it will not be in vain, and she will be safe there. I love the meaning of the names, Cathryne, and since they fit Ruth so perfectly, I have to think that Louise chose them for their meanings. I wonder if all the characters are so perfectly named?

Amy – my favorite is probably Bury Your Dead, though I have to say that the three together of when everything came to a head with the Surete – Bury Your Dead, The Beautiful Mystery and How the Light Gets In, work really well in my mind. A Trick of the Light is in there, yet, I don’t recall that being as much about the Surete problems – maybe I need to go back and read again, hahaha. Since I am currently rereading The Brutal Telling, that won’t be a problem. I think that’s the one that brought up the most feelings of dread in me. Each book seems to have its own tendencies for me. Bury Your Dead is full of sadness, yet growing strength, and of course, the amazing suspense as we find out what happened to Morin. So sad – I’m just seeing the beginnings of Morin now in Brutal…

Wise friend and champion. That’s Ruth, I am sure Jean Guy would agree.

It’s been hectic here today but I love checking in when I can and seeing what you are all up to. Really nice to see Amy chiming in.

I, too, was remembering recently the reference to Ruth Zardo, née Kemp in Still Life. I was looking up Ruth’s three names but haven’t had time to post the results. Maybe I can today. If Anna can deal with her Dad’s pneumonia, her Mom’s so dearly wishing for Mother, and Millie with floods, I should be able to pull things together!

Here are some interesting things I found from a variety of sources:
One who has a great inner desire to create and express herself, often in the ARTS.
One who tends to be a powerful force in those whose lives they touch. Capable, charismatic leaders who value truth, justice, and discipline and may be quick-tempered with those who do not. Very clever.
Ruth, biblically, was a young wife robbed by death of her husband, left without material resources of support.

KEMP – A CHAMPION. In the Middle Ages, a champion was a professional fighter ON BEHALF OF OTHERS, as to challenge to battle anyone who denied the king’s right to the throne. A soldier engaged in single combat.
Kemps (and Kempes) migrated to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States starting in the 17th century. Motto was generally a war cry (how Ruth!) or the slogan “”Lucien spero” – “I hope for light.”

ZARDO – From Old Norse-Germanic Wiscard.
Wis = wise, shrewd, cunning, smart
Harduz = hard, strong
To Italian Guizzaro, then Guizzardo(i). Guizzardo is virtually unique in Italy, probably due to a clerical error in the previous Guizzaro, absolutely a rare name. Zardo, rare, an apheretic of Guizzardo.
Present day distribution in Western Hemisphere: U. S. A. and Brazil, but very few in number.
Hard to find anyone as rare as Ruth Zardo!

Interesting! Ruth, the friend and champion, the fire chief, the battler. I remembered her saying in Still Life that all life seems like a battle to her.
And her poetry, so often a battle cry!

Thanks for the name information Cathryne. Well done. I wonder if Louise knows what the names mean when she uses them. I don’t, maybe I should.

I don’t have a favorite because every time I try to choose, I think, “But what about ______ and _______ and _______?” If forced to pick one, it would be “Still Life,” also the first I read.

HI Amy, Thanks for posting. I thought something was mentioned that made me think Ruth had been married. Of course, I didn’t remember what had been written or where. Isn’t it great how we can look to the group for info. Thanks.

thanks Barb and Millie for your responses. I have been a Louise Penny fan for several years; just saw Still Life; not sure how I feel about it, but I know I LOVE Louise’s books, her positive attitude, and of course, adore Gamache! Anybody have a favorite Louise book?

The movie was not a great showcase of Louise’s work Amy. Thank goodness we all started with the books. Or did we? Did anyone see the movie then read the book because I am not sure I would have seen the beauty of Louise if I had only had the movie?

Hello Amy, I’m glad I did another brief scroll-back and saw your post. So true that Ruth is first introduced as Ruth Zardo, née Kemp. So she was indeed married! Amazing how many little details I’ve forgotten. I don’t have time to re-read them but I do have them on audio as well. Definitely time to put on the earphones. Thanks, Amy.

Hi Barbara, thanks for asking. 🙂 I got back home Saturday from a family reunion in CA. Spent two weeks there and boy my back felt not going to the Chiro. But it was great to celebrate my Aunt / Godmother’s 90th birthday and see my mom is doing really well without dad… However, the re-roofing of our house we thought would be finished before I returned home still isn’t. That storm roaming around the Bahamas had no sense of time. Rainy season isn’t supposed to start till June! Very rude of it to rain buckets day 2 of old roof tile removal. Caused a literall ‘waterfall’ in the guest room which was acting as a walk in closet for boxed books and fabrics… I think the room had a mid-life crisis and wants to be an actual room again. Poor hubby hauled everything out to the living room and my sewing room and started laying books to dry and even cutting the soaked carpet in strips and pulling out all he could before I returned home. So needless to say, writing? What writing? lol… But I’m proud to say I did not burst into tears when I saw the state of the house, both inside and out. I think hubby was worried about how I’d react because he greeted me at the airport with a dozen red roses! lol…

Books are being unpacked, and shelved and things I’ve been avoiding for years are finally being tackled. Good news is most of the wet books are ones I don’t plan to ever read again so it’s easier to just throw them out. Like you said, so many new books to explore. And my own to finish.

I do try to make time every day to work on it a little. No more hyperventilating when I sit at the computer to work on it. That in itself is huge progress for me. I’m trying to make it be my break from the current state of the house. Amazing how what once caused stress, now is a source of calm. Probably because I can control what happens in the story. lol… It’s all perspective, isn’t it?

Frankly, I don’t know how Louise writes books we adore with all the travel, speaking engagements, caring for her beloved Michael and everything else which demands her attention. My admiration knows no bounds.

I hope you and all the Three Piners are well.

Mille, My hat’s off to you. You are amazing. I don’t handle disasters to the house very well. Your husbands sounds like a caring and very sensible man.
You mentioned that you no longer hyperventilate when you sit down at the computer to write your book. I used to start shaking whenever I was near a computer. Don’t have any idea why. Maybe, I didn’t really think it would explode if I touched it, but I feared something dire would happen. Thanks to my much loved friend Doris for helping me over that fear.

It’s hard to get the picture of Ruth and Rosa out of my mind… and WHAT is going on outside the door? I see it as Ruth’s home. That makes me worry about the village.

It may not be a physical threat but an emotional barrage of stirred history that has Ruth barricading the doors.

I could feel the hardness of the wooden door and the smoothness of Rosa’ feathers. I fear our Ruth’s past has caught up with her. Oh, to imagine Ruth so fearful. Can’t wait for the book.

I’m wondering which door! Ruth has let herself in, uninvited, to Clara and Myrna’s in the past…

So delighted to have another moment from The Nature of the Beast! Scary and thought-provoking!

Hi, to all. I just finished reading Ruth Rendell’s The Girl Next Door. Good reading as always. Seeing that some of you are rereading LP’s books caused me to think of reading some of the books I have enjoyed in the past. This is interesting as I was recently feeling overwhelmed
by the number of books that appear on lists of new books daily. Many of the reviews sound like the books would be interesting. So many books…so little time.
Millie, hope all is well. How is that book coming along?
Anna, How is your Mother ? How is your next book coming? You mentioned that you are busy driving your daughter about. Two friends remarked this week that they plan activities around the schedules of their greatgrands. One has 18 but a few of them are young enough to be in daycare so she doesn’t need to drive them around. She only had 3 children. She is my age 75 this year. Needless to say, she doesn’t read much.

Hi Barbara. Life has been a bit challenging. Mum is ok. She looked quite well yesterday and life for her would be good if she could see her mother! Still she is ok,
My Dad is very ill and I rushed him to hospital on Tuesday, your Monday. He tried to die but has bounced back although very weak. He has pneumonia.
I have been very busy running between the nursing home and the hospital. My sister arrives soon from the U.S. and I will have a full house of siblings from today.
The books are still writing in my head but haven’t had the time or energy to get to the computer.
I heard a speech last night at Erin’s school,a compulsary event, but a lot of it was about the power of words and imagination. Humans are unique in their ability to influence each other and the world with just words. Such powerful things. It made me think of Louise and the Bistro. Thank goodness for the positive use of words in these aspects of our world.

Anna, Sorry to hear about your Father. Having the family together will help, I hope. Please take care of yourself while you try to handle the situation. Good thoughts and peace to you.

Anna, sounds like it was a very interesting presentation. I recently saw a quote which I think you’d appreciate: “When Winston Churchill was asked to cut arts funding in favor of the war effort, he simply replied, ‘then what are we fighting for?'” Most academicians consider our world so much more advanced than ancient cultures, but the ancient Greeks and Romans knew the value of, not only sports, but of the arts and philosophy and rhetoric… And who knows how many other ancient cultures valued these as well. We just don’t have documentation to ‘prove it’. Heaven forbid an historian’s life work be proven ‘wrong’ by someone else trying to offer an alternative interpretation to what has been found thus far and first viewed by the narrow eyes of the Victorians who could never have imagined airplanes, rockets, cell phones and so much more… The Earth is so old and we know so little. Even an ancient Egyptian told a Greek historian that the Greeks had forgotten their past! The story is told by Plato… Thank goodness we still have their ‘stories’; pity so few students now have time, or the interest, to take a philosophy class.
Words! They create worlds.

Anna – it seems as though the challenges just keep coming for you. Keep yourself well and rested, so you can carry on. I hope your Dad continues to get well and life calms down a bit for you.

Louise’s humour is just slipped in there in neat intelligent ways. Love it too.
I haven’t managed to read in the last couple of days. I need to get to that bit.

The Brutal Telling re-read: I just love Louise’s sense of humor!

“Hanna and Roar Parra had stopped when they found Three Pines. And once there, they’d created Havoc. ‘Havoc!’ his mother cried, letting the dogs slip out as she called into the woods.”

No explanation, and it really doesn’t have anything to do with the story – it’s just so funny!

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