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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”

Anna, Chill bumps………how wonderful. I was reared in a patriotic family. After Mother died, I found letters where wives and mothers wrote her to tell of their sons and daughters in the military. Some are tear stained as mother learned of injuries and deaths. I remember the news broadcasts during WWII and watching Mother cry as she prayed for those in danger. What would mankind have accomplished by now if there had been no war in the 20th or 21st centuries.

Really interesting question Barbara. I am going to ponder that one as I get ready for the next service. War is never wanted but it is interesting that a lot of medical and technological advancements that have been beneficial to all were born out of necessity in war. That is a paradox indeed.

OMG! Aren’t we the chatty bunch! If any deserves to wave the flag it is you, Anna! You’ve kept the fires burning at the Bistro.
Thank you again, Paul, for opening the Bistro for us.

The stained glass made me think of the one at Three Pines…
ANZAC day is ‘tomorrow’ for the Americas…
I have a friend who has been busily crocheting red poppies for her local historical society’s celebration in New York.
I pray that someday the entire world can sing as one, “He/She is one of them. He/She is one of us.”
Just beautiful, Anna. Thank you.

Thank you Millie and Barbara. I hope so too. It is a must to attend a service today as it is the hundredth anniversary. My family is thawing after the Dawn Service. There were around 2000 people at the local one. The town population is only ten thousand. The services are outdoors at local war memorials. Check you tube later as there will undoubtably be footage from the Gallipoli service. It doesn’t take place for another five hours but the crowd of ten thousand is already there having walked three kilometers in to the site. There are war widows there who were married to original Anzacs. Obviously they married younger women!

Joan Baez did one too. They are both on you tube. This is a link to the originL song but the accompanying video montage was produced by a Canadian teacher for a school presentation. Nice link to Canada! Ignore the statistics at the bottom of the you tube link as they aren’t quite accurate.

If the link doesn’t work just google the song!

This is the Benediction read at the end of each service.

Go out into the world in peace. Be brave; keep hold of what is good. Never pay back wrong for wrong; encourage the faint hearted; Support the weak and distressed; give due honour to everyone. Be always joyful and give thanks whatever happens for this is what God wills for you. Amen.

Absolutely beautiful. I just did a screen capture and ongoing to print it out and frame it!
Thank you for sharing the Benediction, Anna. Feel better wishes going your way and may you enjoy the March and luncheon by your husband’s side. Deep calming breaths. Just imagine you are surrounded by all the love of the Three Piners. 🙂

Anna, what a meaningful and lovely benediction. My English friend and I were talking about ANZAC Day on Monday. Tears filled her eyes as she told me how people from all over the Commonwealth joined in the war. She said the Australians and New Zealanders were so brave to enter the fray.
I looked up a bit about today’s observance.
Hope you feel better soon.

Love Random Acts of Kindness. At my daughter’s school they have weeks where the students are secretly allocated another pupil and sometime during the week they perform an act of kindness for them.

Up early watching ANZAC Dawn Services around the country. Very moving in the pre dawn darkness. My husband and daughter have gone to the local service where husband is guest of honour. I was not very well overnight so I am resting in the warm. We are attending the March and service later in the morning too so I will go to that.

My Grandfather lost a foot at Gallipoli so thinking of him very much this morning.

Thank you Millie. It was a close run thing. He lay for three days on the battlefield because they thought he was dead.

Jan, how wonderfully kind of you. The fact you thought of me and tried, means just as much to me as if the link had worked.

I was the recipient and giver of a random act of kindness this week. My ‘handyman’ called Tuesday afternoon. He was in the area and was there anything he could help me with. I laughed and told him to come over.

Cathryne, I took your advice! He hauled my book boxes out of hiding in the guest room and since they are marked by bookcase section and shelf, put them in front of the appropriate section. He got the all the books marked ‘top’ and up they went. He’s 6′ 3″ and didn’t need a step stool. I laughed and said, “Show off.” He laughed and said he liked I treated him like a son. He didn’t even charge me and told me he has down time when a job needs something to dry before continuing or waiting for others to finish their work before he can continue so he’d call when that happened and help me finish. I just gave him a hug! He really is a kind soul that is part of the team that works for the house restoration contractor who put my house in order after the flooding which started in the kitchen. So I’ve known him for years.

Then, in one of the boxes I found another copy of a book I adore. It’s called, “The Thirteenth Tale” and thought of my 96 year old neighbor who loves to read and who was a bit rattled because a recently moved to the street neighbor more than 20 years younger than her had passed away the day before. So I called her up, asked if she had ever read it, took it over and spent a delightful hour with her.

Told her not to be fearful but expect the best for herself. She’s healthy, has all her mental faculties and had Mike and me right across the street who cared about her… She has no family left and she knows hubby travels a lot so we watch out for each other. She’s my Ruth, without the foul (pun intended) language.

The Thirteenth Tale is one of those rare books that leave one not wanting it to end because the characters and their complexity just grab one’s heart. Although it’s a stand alone, not a series, it is so engaging. It too has acts of kindness interspersed within a grand mystery and leaves one with a sense of hope at the end. First published in 2006, by Diane Setterfield. This is the prologue:

“All children mythologize their birth. It is a universal trait. You want to know someone? Heart, mind and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born. What you get won’t be the truth; it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story.”

Mille, There is a stack of books on a table across from me. The Thirteenth Tale is one of them. I read it last week after it was in a list I saw. I am speechless. What are the odds ? I don’t consider myself to be superstitious but events like this have occurred all of my life. I do take it to be a sign. Thank You.

Hi Barbara! Must have been typing at the same time! Don’t think superstition, think synchronicity. Hugs Barbara!!

Oh Barbara, I’m so very glad you returned to the Bistro. I missed you. Like Anna, I believe in synchronicity also.

Here’s another one. That term was coined in 1950 by Carl Jung. JAN was quoting him on the previous page.

Did you like the story? I got all choked up at the end and (without giving away too much) I too ‘missed Ms Winters’ when the story ended.

Yes, I liked the book too. Like you said hated to see it end.
I have been following the postings with great interest. Intriguing lines of thought. I did not know that Jung had coined “synchronicity”, although I studied his works, too.

Forgot to give you a big, if virtual, hug, Barbara. And BTW, that kind of ‘out of no where but with perfect timing’ kind of thing happens to me a lot, too.

The Thirteenth Tale spoke to me because all the major characters feel so alone at the start of the book. Yet they come to find out they aren’t!

I think everyone feels they are the only ones experiencing their own sense of ‘aloneness’ or their particular experiences. But then magic happens (a synchronistic event) and we find out we aren’t ‘the only ones’ after all! Love you!

Millie – how great that you remembered your books when the handyman called. Sometimes, I get such tunnelvision, that I wouldn’t think of that kind of “job” when someone like that called. I’d think, “nothing’s broken” and say there was nothing for him to do. I’m so happy you are that much closer to having your books back where you want them and can find them.

And what a sweet gesture was taking the much-loved book to your neighbor. I love that quote at the beginning of the book, and thought to myself, that I don’t know what day of the week, etc. that I was born, nor the time of day, but then, as I thought – the story came to me… My older brother was 6 years old when I was born, and when my parents went to the hospital to have me, I guess my brother was left with my aunt, who has always been the very sould of kindness. She asked Jimmy what he wanted for lunch, and he said he wanted peanut butter and jam (what we call PB and J in Canada), but this time, he wanted the jam on first! She laughed and told that story for years, so of course, that has become MY story… brilliant!

Oops, my apologies Millie. j Just received feedback from my daughter that the link to Random Acts of Kindness video would not transfer for her. So goes the pitfall of being an Internet novice! Really sorry about this as I thought it would give you a lift of some sort. The gratitude is still there, however! 🙂

There are lots of Youtube videos under the search “Random Acts of Kindness” – each and every one is uplifting to watch! 😀

I love the paint in her hair… and from several “throw-away” comments Louise has mentioned on Facebook, I think that’s one of Louise’s traits that has been given to Claire as her alter-ego. Maybe that means that Louise’s stories come to her in pictures, too?

There is controversy about whether “learning styles” exist and if there is a benefit to teaching to those styles. Schools tend to operate on auditory lines although that is changing in some places. I thought there might be a few who would relate to the work of Linda Silverman.

Imposter syndrome is a whole other area.
Have a look at Valerie Young’s “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women”
It doesn’t just affect women by the way, but it has probably had a greater adverse impact on women for a variety of reasons.

Jan! Read this from one of the subpages of Anna’s link. It speaks so eloquently to what you were saying: finding kinder ways of being! Even ‘balm’ and ‘nature’ are used!

Leonard Shlain suggests that humanity has had an unhealthy domination of left hemispheric values for the last 5,000 years, which has left in its wake the subjugation of the feminine to the masculine. But he sees us moving toward greater appreciation of right hemispheric values, greater collaboration between our right and left hemispheres, egalitarianism, and celebration of the wonderful diversity in the world.

“I am convinced we are entering a new Golden Age—one in which the right-hemispheric values of tolerance, caring, and respect for nature will begin to ameliorate the conditions that have prevailed for the too-long period during which left-hemispheric values were dominant. Images, of any kind, are the balm bringing about this worldwide healing. (Shlain, 1998, p. 432)

From Silverman, L. K. (2002). Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner. Denver: DeLeon.

Anna, finally had time to really look at the site on visual-spacial you recommended on the previous page.
Why is this still controversial when 60% of students learn better through V/S? I think I learned to spell because my daily homework as a child included writing out the new words X number of times and then use those words in a sentence. I couldn’t take that single word and compose a sentence. My mom could instantly come up with one. But I learned if I wanted to remember something I had to write it out. Once I ‘saw it’, wrote it, no problem.

When I took the quiz, my jaw dropped. My elder son and I are 100% V/S learners. Even down to no concept of time! But then I went rooting around the other links and saw an article about “women who feel like imposters”… For me, not so much with relationships but the other way around. “Who am I to think I could… just name it. I don’t have a degree in…” I don’t know how many times I actually even used that phrase when talking with my husband, “I feel like an imposter…” Especially when someone would say, “What would you know, your just a housewife…” I’d try to make light of it by telling myself, my husband and sons that I wasn’t ‘just’ a housewife, I was a fountain of useless information. About 10 years ago, while our sons were still living at home, they were watching me intently as I opened one of my Christmas gifts. It was a book titled “The Book of Totally Useless Information”. They all let out their breath when I held it up roaring with laughter and they hugged me and said how relieved they were I took it as intended and not a put-down…
Again, this speaks so strongly to ‘sense of identity’. Thank you! Like Julie, I too seem I find out so much about myself at The Bistro.

Now, we were speculating about nature, beasts, Ruth and Clara. And possibly even Bean? I don’t think I’ve ever smelled honeysuckle… Sounds like a road trip to our big garden shop is in order.

Thank you Julie for sharing about your step daughter. What a difficult life she had but then she found you. I am sure she valued your relationship.

Relationships are at the heart of our worlds and I think that is why we love Louise, writing stories in which relationships are important resonates with us.

I think Julie you do have a story to write but it will appear when you are ready.

Relationships… Yes. To quote David Baldacci in one of his books, “Family. It just doesn’t get any more complicated than that!”

Julie, I also believe there’s a ‘story’ in you. Just like I believe there’s a ‘story’ in everyone. Just some people aren’t comfortable telling their story. And that’s OK, too.

I’m glad to hear you are finally able to talk about your step daughter. That nugget was a beautiful story in and of itself. I’m sure everyone felt your joy and your loss. Please keep writing to us at least. You DO have things to say that enrich our lives.

Although still sont reversal in educational settings, proponents like Linda Silverman draw distinctions between visual spatial and auditory sequential learners. The division is unlikely to be that clear cut but certainly different individuals have a greater dominance of one over the other.

Strongly visual spatial learners can experience significant difficulties with spelling even though they are strong whole word readers. This is one example of how different thinking patterns can cause difficulties particularly in the comparatively rigid setting of school.


I too see scenes but at times just hear dialogue. The prologue to the next book is a short conversation I think, it could change. More often I see the setting along with the dialogue but in this case the setting is not visible. Maybe because it doesn’t have to be. Stark contrast to the last book when it was definitely scenes without dialogue that began it.

Thanks for the link and loved reading ‘how’ your first book ‘came’ to you. Yay! It’s not just me. 🙂

Hi again Julie, I told you there were many things you posted that I wanted to comment on… 🙂
Page 27, about 11th from the bottom up, you wrote, “I’ve had teachers tell me I write well all my academic days, and it lead me to believe I ought to be trying to write… Problem is, I don’t have anything to say, hahaha. I get it now, after reading how you and Anna have been working – it needs to be there, clamoring to come out! Makes perfect sense that it would come out all higgledy-piggledy, and you have to put it together in some semblance of order.”

First of all, thanks for the giggle. I hadn’t heard ‘higgledy-piggledy’ since I was a child! And it made me feel better. Silly me thought it would come in a nice orderly fashion, just like the critical papers I wrote at University. NOT!

But I disagree that you have nothing to say… Your posts here are wonderful. So maybe you don’t have a novel inside you clamoring to get out (and that’s what it feels like; “a loud and confused noise”). But keep writing here.

Another thing that struck me about that post was you saying you found your talent to be more visual even though you aren’t an artist. I too can’t draw, but I too am visual in a sense. I don’t sit and start writing. (Well, at the Bistro I do and it gets me in trouble sometimes, but oh well…) First, I get a visual in my mind. I see the characters interacting, I see the setting, I feel the emotions, but I hear very little dialogue. Then I need to put that ‘picture’, that ‘scene’, into words. It’s strange, because what it seems like is ‘remembering’ vividly something I’ve never seen in real life. Or when the mind connects a dozen random thoughts and questions in a split second and it takes forever to explain to someone what you were just thinking…

I would love to know if that’s how Anna and Louise write… Probably not. My sons have always called me an anomaly. Lol…

Thanks for the kind thoughts about my writing here, Millie. I love the description of how things come to you – fascinating! For me, it’s more that I have a tool I can use when I need it, but I really only need it to nurture relationships. I’ve come quite late to realize that this is the gold in my treasure-chest – my friendships. They’ve always been vitally important to me, but I haven’t really looked a them in an analytical way (or myself, I guess) until here at the Bistro we started to talk about how we share certain traits, such as feeling things so deeply, etc. That’s when I really came to see how important relationships are to me, and how that has gotten me into and out of trouble all my life, hahaha.

Julie, your last comment on page 26 regarding your best friend who’s spelling wasn’t corrected in school: “she is so frustrated because she can’t spell and she has let it make her feel like she can’t write or speak – it’s been paralyzing for her. And she is very intelligent.”

That really hit home. It really was the “system”. My elder son was at the tail end of a “whole learning” experiment. Teaching kids to read and spell phonetically was thrown out the window for a while even in public schools, not just Montessori. My son is exceptionally intelligent, yet can’t spell. He’s also very right brain dominant so he can read when he sees the entire word and has a larger than average vocabulary, but he has trouble picking which of the 26 letters go in what order to spell the words he knows…

It left him feeling ‘stupid’ and not wanting to try college. To make matters worse, he was labeled in school as having a’specific learning disability’. I tried so hard to get him to understand he had other strengths and ways of learning the schools were not equipped to address. Schools are set up to teach to the ‘left brain’ – the part that is analytical and can sees a specific sequential order. And which are the first programs they cut? Yep, anything right brain and creative. The arts: music, painting, woodworking, drama classes… I’m in awe that in the UK and Australia one can get a degree in needle arts without the imposed requirements of a ‘real education’. I was also quite shocked that when I was 3/4 of the way through university and we moved back to the states, the school closest to our new home didn’t offer a degree in ‘comparative literature’… but required ‘English lit’ students to take classes like statistics before graduating. I almost didn’t. Math is not my strong point. One size fits all education is, IMHO, not working. Especially now with the emphasis on STEM, “we are teaching students to be prepared for jobs that don’t exist yet,” while there aren’t enough jobs to employee graduating students.

Only after we sent our son to helicopter flight school, and he excelled, did his confidence build. His pilot instructors were amazed at how quickly he could ‘take in’ all the information from the instrument displays (he sees the entire picture) and earned his private pilots license in record time. They even offered him a job at the school – till the economy took a dive, new students couldn’t afford to attend and the school had to layoff instructors, much less hire new ones. Now he is left feeling he can’t dream big for fear of having to write and being considered stupid again. It breaks my heart.

Like you, I’m off my soap box now.

Millie – I’m so sorry that your son is facing these kinds of challenges. Like my friend – it eats away at confidence, and that’s just not right. I try to keep an open mind, yet, of course, I was “carefully taught” to see such errors as egregious. Even that is something to fight against, haha.

Our daughter was a lovely soul – and it’s only now I’ve begun to talk a little more about her. She had to go through so much hurt in her life – even before the illness. She survived an indifferent mother (hubby’s first wife), then an abusive husband… She was just ready to leave that situation when I came into the picture, and she and I bonded over her needing a place of respite and comfort, and my being able to provide that. She seemed to persevere over so much, and I was sure she would through the illness as well. At first, new “miracle” medicines seemed to be working and we were so thankful for that, and suddenly, she seemed almost to be seized by a really aggressive form of the disease, which you hardly ever see. And she was gone so quickly, breaking her father’s heart and mine as well.

Thanks so much, Millie, for your compassion and empathy – they are much appreciated.

Well I guess I’ll soak in quiet after a few comments I’ve been meaning to make for some time…
Julie, regarding the loss of your step-daughter: I was so sorry to hear that. My condolences and empathy. Whether it’s the body or the mind that stops functioning, it’s so hard to see parts of someone we love leave them not able to lead a full life. I’m in awe of the inner strength she possessed. Thank you for sharing that. I take that as inspiration to continue doing my exercises…

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