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”

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!

Thanks Paul. I saw that then read the conditions of entry which said it was for US and Canada only. Confusing! But I shall email.

Don’t you ever sleep Paul!!

The Brutal Telling – started my re-read last night – didn’t get far, as I didn’t want to move on and forget some of my first impressions on the re-read. Louise is a master at building tension fast. What I found very interesting – SPOILER ALERT—- IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BRUTAL TELLING, DON’T READ BEYOND HERE – was how well she convinced me that it was the Hermit telling the story… reading it again, and knowing it was Olivier, I tried to figure out how she did it – now it seems like I should never have thought it was the Hermit, yet, I swallowed that, hook, line and sinker! Excellent mis-direction. We have just gotten to the discover of the body – Olivier has just told his first lie -Gabri asks “Who is it?” and Olivier says, “I don’t know.” They are waiting for the Surete – along with Myrna, who found the body in the Bistro. Olivier has lit a fire in each fireplace, even though it’s only Labour Day weekend. You’ll recall that later, this is a major plot point, but now, it seems the most natural thing in the world – it’s early, early morning, and the murder has put a chill in the air, to say the least…

We switch then, to the Gamache apartment in Montreal, and to Annie and Beauvoir arguing passionately! Armand remembers Annie as a baby and how only the old tape of “wimoweh, wimoweh…” would calm her howling… He then thinks of her as a lion… this is earlier than I’d remembered for the lion metaphor to come in, and it’s amazing to me how Louise has woven all these things together. How I love these books and these characters!

And now, with “wimoweh” and “Old Man take a look at my life” burrowing into my brain, I must wait, and wait and WAIT for the next chapter of The Nature of the Beast!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mothers out there.
Pink beaches mean Bermuda to me. I would think it is just as beautiful on PEI.

Neither did I. To me, Bermuda is colorful houses all in a row, though I’ve never been there, so could have someplace else in mind, entirely.

They have the most beautiful houses. We took pictures and bought a stack of postcards. I was under their spell. The pink beaches were unbelievable. I bought small vials of the sand as souvenirs and tiles with pastel houses.

Julie, I loved your deviled egg story. I LOL and my husband commented that I must be in the Bistro again. I do love this site. I am amazed that we have so much in common. I feel I’m with lifelong friends. “Lifelong friend”, that’s what some of my friends and I have started saying so as not to use the words “Old Friend”.

I like that, Anna. “Midnight Friends”… I was thinking of Barbara’s “Lifelong fiends’, and I took it literally then realized I’ve moved around so much, I don’t have friends that span my entire life. A good portion of it, But not a lifetime. Although, some fairly new friends feel as tho I’ve known them ‘forever’. So lifetime, midnight or forever friends.. I fell lucky to have them, and all of you at the Bistro. 😀

Anna, “Midnight Friends”, That really does express real friendship. Millie, I forget that there are so many people who have moved numerous times. Living in a military town, I should remember . When I taught Sixth Grade, some students had moved 5 or 6 times in their 11 years. There are advantages to living in different states and countries though. I have always been so curious about people and the world in general that living or even traveling widely would have been precious to me.

My daughter moved six times by sixth grade but only three places. We actually had two houses in different places because we moved back and forth so much. She had also changed school five times. All she wanted was to be in one place for high school which we have been. It’s why she and I will stay here for a few months when hubby moves to America

Oh, that reminds me of Anne of Green Gables and Kindred Spirits, and her bosom friend, Diana Barry…

Yes – that’s a lovely little trip, Anna. Prince Edward Island seemed steeped in time, and left alone by “mainlanders” when I visited 25 years ago. Since then, the much-feared bridge has been built and it’s much easier for people from “away” to get there, so it might have changed some… Green Gables is kept up by the Parks Department, however, and is probably just as it always was. And the lovely pink beaches are still the same, I’m sure.

I think that Laurent has the actual cassette tape referred to in The Brutal Telling, the one Gamache played over and over to put Annie to sleep as a baby. As he looks for a place to hide the cassette, Laurent hums the song his father sings to him every night at bedtime. Is the cassette song one that Laurent’s sister plays over and over, driving him crazy? Maybe he is solving the problem by hiding the cassette. When he sees the glint in the hole, he forgets his pursuers in the excitement of the moment. That makes me think he has been playing a game, and is not in a real life and death situation. Certainly there may be a skeleton, but I saw gold glinting, a treasure to this boy! Anyway, it’s something surprising and unexpected. My thought was that it’s something Ruth put there decades ago to hide a secret, hers or someone else’s. I worry that it may be something she did to try to help, but will now cause hurt. I, too, hope it’s not her husband! But I have sometimes wondered if she ever had a husband.

I certainly need to reread The Brutal Telling. I don’t even remember a cassette tape, so I’d better be ready, hahaha. I will start tonight.

Oh goodness, that sounds so Ruth-like, Catheryne! She did tell Jane Neil’s parents about Jane planning to elope with the logger. And in TLWH we discussed ‘good intentions gone awry’… But surely the women who inspired the ‘three graces’ would have known if Ruth actually had been married or not? No one in Three Pines, so far, has indicated she never was married. But if she has vintage treasures in her basement, what else may she have hidden perhaps in the woods. The synopsis does indicate Ruth has a big secret that unfolds…
The magic of stories is made even more satisfying with a group like this!

Hi to all! I have been following the Bistro comments for a while; definitely not as expressive as all of you, but I think that in Still Life, Ruth is referred to as Ruth Zardo, nee Kemp, indicating she was married at some point.

Did anyone else watch Big Bang Theory last night? If you recorded it to watch later, BEWARE of Spoilers! I think Penny and Leonard turned around and went back home. I thought the jump to Shelton buying a ring a bit much. I wonder if he tells Leonard. Poor Raj, he is too gentle for that woman. I thought Stewart would get more of a life after the store was rebuilt. Hope Amy isn’t out of the picture. I like Maykim (?) as an actress and as a person. Wow Barbara, you sound like a soap opera junkie. Here again, characters in one story are so real while I really don’t get involved with most others.

Barbara, we watch that program religiously, and those characters are some of the most real to me on TV. I was dismayed when Penny and Leonard started fighting, yet Leonard’s “confession” was very typical of him – every time he’s ever done something like that, he’s been compelled to tell the truth. I wonder at his timing, however… DID he want to sabotage it all because he knows they can’t last?

I was so sad to see Sheldon’s wondering what to do with the ring… to me, it rang true – he has been changing quite a bit since Amy has come into his life, and I can see that he might be ready to begin a long engagement. He had been pondering Penny and Leonard’s seemingly endless engagement – I think it reassured him that he could take the next step without having to change things too much. I was so pleased earlier this season when he told Amy he loved her.

Poor Raj – I am glad he is trying to find that he can voice his discomfort in his relationship – and I agree that this girl is not gentle enough for him. Of course, even the sweet ones aren’t really – look at Bernadette, hahaha. He will find his way. And Stewart – I’m not sure if there’s a lid for that pot at all… but I think it makes perfect sense for him not to want to move away from a place where he was happy, as he certainly seemed to be with Howard’s mother… I do like the way they honored the actress who played her by having her death play into the story, and of course, by having some comic scenes, but also some heartwarming scenes as well. The actress has cracked me up since she had a very short part on Seinfeld. Her voice is distinctive (though everyone on the show seems to do a pretty good imitation). I was sad to hear of her death, because she wasn’t much older than I am, so it was a shock.

All in all, I was very sad that things were left on such down notes with most of the relationships. I’m hoping things will get worked out in the first episode next year… after all, we still have a few years to go in everyone’s contracts…

I hadn’t thought about it but yes it makes sense. Since Penny and Leonard became engaged but still haven’t set the date maybe Shelton would be comfortfable with being engaged if he wasn’t faced with a date looming over him. Bernadette is small and pretty but does have a mouth on her. She says what she thinks. I’m looking forward to the new season in the Fall.

Jan, I’m glad I scrolled up and saw your speculation! What a brilliant thought; a flashback. That could explain a lot – the cassette, the rifle… Kids these days don’t ‘play war’. But I remember my brother did when he was a kid. Ruth’s husband? We know nothing about him. Thanks for the mental fun.

Taking the speculation a bit further, Millie….( ha ha) …perhaps this “Laurent” is actually an ADULT, returning to some special secret place in the woods near Three Pines where he had acted out his secret 9-year-old play fantasies decades earlier?

I’ve been re-reading some very old Agatha Christie books this month and find that my imagination/logic has been functioning in overdrive as a result. Guess we’ll have to wait until August to nail down the truth, eh what? Whatever might be I know we will be taken by Louise on another thrilling adventure. Can’t wait!

Another good speculation, Jan. Oh my excitement level is rising. So many possibilities, yet I have no doubt Louise will surprise us all, yet again.

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