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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.

3,650 replies on “The Bistro”

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.

As to what Laurent finds – to me, it almost felt like he’d found an escape there – a portal to another world, or at least, a tunnel to safety… almost like what he saw glinting in there was sunlight. Of course, it could “just” be treasure, hahaha.

I keep trying to figure out how this may connect to Ruth! I thought of ‘treasure’ also, but what if it’s both? And I too am curious about the ‘cassette’. I have so many lovingly boxed up. I keep telling myself to get them converted to CD’s before they are ruined by use and time…

Oh! I’m caught, but now I have to wait so long for more! This has the same feel, the same dread, that I got from The Brutal Telling. To me, it’s almost the carvings come to life… there is a sense that this is all imagination, yet… there’s something there.

Love the introduction of music – had to go back to hear Neil Young’s “Old Man” once again – and to read the lyrics… I’d forgotten really how clear his voice was. Interesting that, while he is always “there” in my memories of music from my youth, he doesn’t stand tall – he just is “there”… riding a horse with no name… 😀

Anna – thanks for the Phryne info – it never occurred to me to google it. Toad! Pfft! However, I do see the glamour of the story of the courtesan… hee hee. Some people are so clever to bring in such disparate things while they’re writing things that will mostly be taken at face value… it’s like they’re writing the nuance for themselves…

Back to Louise’s chapter. I’m very excited by this beginning… I think this is going to be one of the most powerful of her books – and I absolutely cannot wait to see how it plays out… Good catch on the Lion being introduced again – it is also the stuffed animal that Annie gave to Jean Guy, and that he clings to, both as something “lion-hearted” but also as a way to cling to Annie. I also now have “wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh” running through my brain, hahaha.

Than you, but I had forgotten about the stuffed lion! I do hope Jean Guy is part of this story.

Since every story takes place on a particular season, does honeysuckle only grow in the summer? Time to google yet another thing. I love this group!

Yes, only in summer. I saw some blooming on several fences today and thought of you.
I have audio cassettes of Sherlock Holmes, both the original stories and the ones produced for radio. Once, I was even more captivated by them than I am LP’s books. I too need to have some video tapes converted to DVD.

Anna, Oh to be in Melbourne for the Phryne Festival! A link to it was on the link you gave about the Miss Fisher movie and season3. That would be great.
The pimento cheese I made was never spicy but that I buy certainly is. I had never eaten the spicy kind until a few years ago. I really like it though.
BBQ is wonderful. A dear friend and Bible teacher was reared orthodox Jewish. He converted a few years after he married the granddaughter of a Baptist minister. He said he couldn’t believe how good BBQ was when he first tasted it ( hope that doesn’t offend anyone). As luck would have it, he came here to live with his daughter and her house was across the street from a Masonic Lodge known for BBQ they cook twice a year as a fund raiser. BBQs are often held as fund raisers here. BBQ in this area is usually pork. Texas BBQ is usually beef. Both are lovely.

Maybe one day you will be in Melbourne Barbara and I will be in the south getting my plateful of BBQS! Of course we have BBQs here but it is not the same as the southern BBQ from what I can tell.

Last nights episode was good fun and a bit of drama and a glimpse at Phyrne’s family.

What a wonderful surprise! I settled myself into bed to listen to The Brutal Telling and decided to visit The Bistro first. There I found Paul’s announcement, the first chapter of The Nature of the Beast! And what a first chapter! I can’t wait to find out what Laurent Le Page discovered. Wow!

Some are speculating on Louise’s Facebook page that perhaps Larent may have found a skeleton. I don’t think I would react with wow – my like a brain freeze and run like the dickens away from it, but then I’m not a boy. That would be a good reason for Gamache to get involved, tho. I hope it’s not Ruth’s husband! And why the reference to the lion again. That was part of Ruth’s poem which she gave to Jean Guy in pieces which showed up again in TLWH. So many questions and the end of August seems so far away!

Sorry for the many typos. I hope it makes sense regardless…
Julie, my mom and I just returned from watching the world premiere of “Pride and Prejudice, the Musical” in LA! It was wonderfully done. I thought you’d get a chuckle out of that. I must admit I was a bit skeptical but came away impressed. Who knew? lol…

Millie – how wonderful! One of the writers – the lady who did the music – of that musical just moved to our area last year, and she will be talking about her experiences both writing the show, and living for a few months at Chawton House (the big house her brother owned while Jane, her mother and her sister lived in the cottage attached to the property) and studying the music of the era kept in the library there. Can’t wait.

Oh, how I would love to hear her speak. When you say she wrote the music, do you mean she wrote the libretto or lyrics only or composed the score and lyrics? It was so well done and the musical numbers flowed in and out of the dialogue perfectly. I was so impressed at how the essence of multiple chapters were conveyed in thru a song! I hope you get a chance to see the play some day.

I thought it was a skeleton too. But I was more curious about the cassette. How long has it been since I heard that word? I am guessing it is audio not video…

Someone asked about The origin of Phyrne. It is a ancient Greek word meaning Toad. It was given to the Greek courtesan Mnesarete because she had a sallow complexion.

Hi Catherine. I’m reading Bury Your Dead. It was my first and it is still wonderful. Love the idea of Christmas in Quebec. Adding that to my to do list. I thought I would have the afternoon the read but somehow life never quite works that way.

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.

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