LOUISE PENNY’S

The Bistro

The Bistro

The Bistro Banner
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”

Thanks for the warm welcome, Julie. I made a couple of posts in the “tour” page, too. My local library just started a mystery book club this past Jan (Burbank’s Buena Vista Branch in California). I introduced them to Louise Penny’s series with our Feb book. I just checked out their mystery blog and found this very interesting website. Will let the group know about this site, too; we meet again this coming Tues.

From our Library’s website http://deathinthestacks.blogspot.com/ It allows people to sent recommendations for new mystery books.

If I may, (LOL, you guys have no choice since I’m going to post anyways) two years ago I discovered a fabulous mystery writers’ conference called Left Coast Crime. Its held during the first quarter of the calendar year in Western North America, as defined by the Mountain Time Zone and all time zones westward to Hawaii.

I was so fortunate and found them and went to this location http://www.leftcoastcrime.org/2014/ On top of, I was able to meet, talk with (briefly) and get a hug from Louise, who was the Intl Guest of Honor that year. I wasn’t able to attend the gathering in Portland this year, but am a little bit involved behind the scenes for Phoenix. I wont go into detail here since its all at the websites, but its the most author-friendly experience. Its fascinating to see authors attending the panel discussions to learn more about their craft from other authors. And, yes, Louise attended 2 or 3 panels (that I know of) and was on a couple of panels herself. When I find my notes from her conference interview, I’ll post them. I do remember that Gamache’s good qualities are based on her husband. That’s all I can remember at the moment so don’t want to post anything wrong or misleading.

Here is a great article about LCC and why one should attend –
http://www.mysteryscenemag.com/blog-article/3053-left-coast-crime-why-go-to-monterey

Annie and Millie are you writing mysteries? I ask because this conference has a “meet the new authors” breakfast for first time published and you are eligible to sign up to be on a panel. Except for the guests of honors, everyone pays their own way whether an author is on a panel or not.

Hello Diane S and welcome. Goodness, the last 3 pages are not indicative at all of what ‘The Bistro” is usually like. So glad you took a chance anyway. The warmth and support I’ve found here like my own ‘Balm of Giliad’ and once, I likened The Bistro to our own ‘Garden of Cosmic Speculation’. Yes, our topics run all over the place. Wherever anyone chooses to go while we twiddle our thumbs waiting for TNOTB!
Have you read all the books in the series? I don’t want to give away any spoilers if you haven’t.

Not a clue, unfortunately. But there does seem to be a tree branch in the right hand side and a tiny hint of a flower on the left. I thought, “How very like Louise to insert right on the cover a hint of life, of hope, of kindness even in the most foreboding of places.
I hope this doesn’t sound too silly, but a childhood song popped into my head when I noticed the flower: “I’m a lonely little petunia in an onion patch.” Perhaps silly, but it also speaks to that entire discussion about sense of identity.
Labels are, unfortunately sometimes, the shorthand of the brain or mind to quickly identify things. And here we are trying to identify the foliage on the cover. This group does amaze.

Hello All!!! It seems not to many people know about this blog section so for newbies it reads as a private discussion. But, I’m jumping in and have just alerted a couple of people of my “find”. LOL! I only read the last 3 pages so will just say I watched the first season of “Abby”. Tried season 2, but like some said the cattiness was a big turn off and I wasn’t impressed with the acting (except M Smith) and never went back. It will never replace UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS.

Hi, Diane – welcome! We started out about a year ago, discussing all the books during a “re-read” while we waited for the release of The Long Way Home. Then we discussed that book when it came out. By that time, a small core of us had gotten so envigorated by our discussions that we didn’t want to “let it go” – so by the generous graces of Paul Hochman and Minotaur Books, we were able to hang around the Bistro and talk about whatever we wanted while we waited for “Nature of the Beast”. But we do NOT want to be exclusive of anyone. Please jump in, and you’ll find that there’s a seat in the Bistro with your name on it. Anytime anyone would like to steer discussion back to the books, we’ll be happy to chime in, I’m sure. Meantime, our imaginations have run wild, we’ve gotten to know each other, and day-to-day issues have taken over somewhat. One of our member (Anna) has just published her first novel, and it’s a smasher! And another (Millie) is working on hers. Both inspired by Louise. So jump on in – the water’s fine! (not F.I.N.E.) 😀

LOL, Julie. I had heard of the definition of F.I.N.E. decades ago, but the E. stood for ‘Emotional’ rather than ‘Egotistical’… That definition describes me oh so well some days, ‘alas’! 😉

Hello dear ones, my Chiro & physio take huge chunks of my time but I’m looking forward to reading more of the many great topics offered to ponder. But just had to share this. Louise’s next book’s cover.
WOW! It beckons one to enter and explore, while alarms are going off simultaneously to be cautious. Brilliant!

http://gamacheseries.wpengine.com/the-nature-of-the-beast/buy/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=FBPost&utm_term=Cover-Reveal-Facebook&utm_content=na_discover_coverreveal&utm_campaign=9781250022080

Oh, even more, it reminds me of The Brutal Telling, which, though not my favorite, keeps coming back to me as one of the most compelling of the stories… It’s one where everything seemed to get turned on its ear, for one thing… I don’t know how I can wait, hahaha.

Thank you for asking and thank you for thinking of us Cathryne. You are sweet.

Mum is calmer but bored and lonely. The last few weeks haven’t been great but she was ok today. Not sure she really knew who I was though.

It is hard for her to make new connections as there is little common base for the dementia patients. In her area most have lost a lot of their language and Mum struggles with word finding. But it is hard to have a conversation when she is not sure of who she is and who we are. No wonder she is desperate for her Mum and a sure connection.

Oh, Anna – that’s got to be hard to figure out how to handle – I mean – your Mum needs to be somewhere where they have the expertise needed for someone with dementia, but that means that the other patients will be similarly afflicted, so communication would be so difficult. There was something I saw recently that had a program whereby college students were given free living spaces in an assisted living place – as long as they interacted with their senior neighbors at least so many hours per week. I think that was a brilliant idea – it helped the students, and I feel sure it helped the seniors to have young people around to talk with, play games with, etc. I think something like that would be excellent for anyone in a nursing home situation.

My darling stepdaughter (who died about a year ago, now) had MS which deteriorated very rapidly. By the age of 45, she had lost her speech to such an extent as very few could understand her, and she had to be tied into her wheelchair so she wouldn’t fall out. Of course, she needed to be in a nursing home, and yet, she didn’t want to leave her fairly small town, which meant that the only place she could be was otherwise filled with the elderly, and she had nothing in common with them. It was sad to see her parked there with nothing to keep her mind occupied. Her boyfriend came to see her several times a week, and he took her home every weekend, but she really needed so much care. They had tried to find in-home care, but couldn’t. One of the problems with living in such a small place, but she didn’t want to leave her boyfriends, which I understand, of course. It’s so hard to know the best course of action, but Laurie was in charge the entire time. We did what she wanted, because even though she had such difficulty communicating because her body wouldn’t obey her, she was the same person inside – you could tell she was in there, so of course, she made her own decisions…

Or, Anna, I’m wondering if what you were saying was that loss of identity keeps one from making new connections.

I’ll miss you too, Barbara, but the locale discussion will gather excitement as it goes along, I think. I’m looking forward to the journey. The places have been so important in each book and fascinating.
Anna, is your mom calmer in her new world now? Has she made any friends, connections? I think about you and your family and especially your mom often.
Yes, Ruth. I’m hoping we get to have a look in her basement in August! I don’t see how someone who wrote the poetry that she has written can become less interesting without the mystique, but we will see.
I’ve just finished the new Donna Leon book and it’s been a real pleasure.
Nancy, I’ve read all the Steven Haville Posadas books now except the last one. I’ve enjoyed each one so much. I’m so glad you recommended them; I knew nothing about them.

Cathryne, I’m so glad you enjoyed his books. I’ve been doing a re-read before the new book and am embarrassed to relate that I had filled in my collection but missed reading one of them! I was sure that I had borrowed it from the library but it turns out that it was totally new to me. What a delightful surprise (although still embarrassing since it’s been sitting on my shelf for at least a year). We have books sent to friends in Vermont and then pick them up when visiting. Have just returned from there tonight with the newest release.

Not embarrassing Nancy. I think it’s fabulous to find an unread treasure on the bookshelf! Easy to do when you buy as many books as we do!

Oh, yes – like finding a $20 bill in your pocket when you put on your spring coat for the first time of the season!

Sorry to hear that Barbara. Maybe you will pop by later. We always love your company and I had so any questions to ask you about things.

Visiting with my mum. The horrible thing about Alzheimer’s is the slow dissolution of identity. Hard to hold on to who you are and where you belong when you lose your memories. Our memories connect us to the world.

I was watching a show called Forever. You may know it about a fellow who can’t die. The episode was all about family trees and trying to find our broader connection to the world.

I wonder if we will find out more about Ruth’s history and connections in the next book. How we will we feel if we get to know her better. Some of our interest in her is her mystique.

Leaving the Bistro for now. Will probably join in discussion of The Nature of the Beast and will definitely follow the site on book locals This has been the most interesting group I have ever observed. I doubt I’m the only one who thinks that. Good thoughts and best wishes to all.

True! There’s a tiny frog that only thrives in Puerto Rico. No bigger than a thumb and they make a distinctive sound at night that I like. It’s almost transparent. and I’ve seen brown frogs or are they toads? So many fascinating creatures in nature.

Thanks for the link, Anna. It had been some time since I had read If. The first time, was shortly after my husband asked my dad for my hand in marriage. He brought me a big poster of If but hand wrote, you’ll be a woman, my spouse. He must have seen my struggles with sense of identity. I didn’t see that connection till you pointed it out here.

I like how Kermit the Frog put it, “it’s hard being green…”

Out of curiosity Barbara is it ok if I ask how long your family has been in the US? I am fascinated by such history. We Australians love history but for all of us, non indigenous, if you go back further than 1788 our history is from somewhere else.

As I said before, no one has really been in Australia that long except the Indigenous population who have been here 40-60 000 years! As a nation Australia has only been around since 1901, before that it was six separate colonies. By that reasoning my maternal grandparents were not born in Australia as they were born before Federation. They were born in New South Wales.

That is one of the reasons ANZAC Day is so important to Australians and New Zealanders. The military who fought in WW1 fought for very new nations (NZ was very nearly an Australian state by the way). Gallipoli was a battle where our new nations were tested in the fire. Even though they lost, they found honour. A lot of our national pride derives from that loss….do you find that odd? I like it. I like that we are defined as much by our attitude to our failures than our successes. The battle may have been lost at Gallipoli but the soldiers found pride in how they faced the battle.

I think some one else quoted Rudyard Kipling’s If before. That whole poem speaks to identity.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175772

There is fortunately an unending supply of tissues and hugs in the Bistro!!

Putting things into isolated words without the body language makes communication so tough at times. That’s what makes being a writer really tricky. Although there are enough challenges in communicating even when you can see a person!

I was thinking about some of the things you said Barbara. It is enormously tricky to develop our identity if we feel troubled by what it is in our racial, community or family history, especially if that means we have trouble feeling proud of who we are. In Louise’s books it is so interesting to see the Franco and Anglo identities and the struggle to hold onto them. In writing my book for whatever reasons, I kept thinking about the German identity and the struggle to live with a past that included Nazism. To be Catholic is no picnic either….the Inquisition, the Irish troubles, the lack of inclusiveness! Whatever history we have I bet we can find things that are hard to reconcile with who we are now as individuals. And yet we deserve to proud of the beings we are. I see nothing but kindness and acceptance and love in this community…..misunderstandings are just part and parcel of being human people!

Amen. I can’t help but think of how difficult it is to navigate the waters these days – we have a real crisis of race going on right now in the US – to the point where I feel like we have had a new horrific event every day for weeks! But I also think of my best friend, Becky, who is married to a man whose parents are very proud that their children are 100% Chinese blood… Becky’s daughter has had many issues, mostly with how she is perceived, and Becky was shocked to find that Natalie was angst-ridden in part because she is identified as “Asian” by her peers. These kinds of things are heartbreaking to hear and to deal with, and I’m so sad to see it.

I didn’t grow up in America, but I love it here. I love Americans, though I don’t always love how some of them act. I still believe we can find a way through it all… We all just need to keep talking…

Julie it is heartbreaking when we can’t figure out that who we are as a person trumps external features. I think identity is important but it is also the source of so much angst.

In reality a lot of problems arise when those who struggle with their own identity seek to strengthen it, not by working out who they are, but by stigmatizing what they determine they are not. It actually has nothing much to do with colour, race, culture, religion, etc. they simply pick an identifiable feature and demonize it to make themselves feel stronger. Kids do it in the playground. I don’t like so and so because she wears glasses or he eats smelly sandwiches!

It’s important to work out who we are and be comfortable and happy with it, warts and all, or else we may be tempted to belittle someone else to make ourselves feel better. I do hope Natalie can learn to be comfortable with who she is, because she can’t be anyone else, and then it won’t matter what other people think. It’s hard though, when the desire to be different comes from the ideas of some of the people who should accept her no matter what.

Hug yourself and hug your family and learn to say, what I am is better than ok!

To Barbara and all,
My sincerest and deepest apologies for wording my intended compliment so poorly that it caused pain and offense instead.

My intent was to say I felt A sence of belonging, here. I had that feeling of belonging when involved with community theatre and thought I’d never feel that again.

My comment about the numbers not spelled out had a wink after it. 😉 I thought it was funny how sometimes little things bother us because I was taught that, grammatically, one ‘should’ spell out numbers 1 through 9.

As for my enchanted place comment… I was feeling envious of my perception of you having been blessed to ever live in a community that was so loving and accepting! I did not. And I did not mean it as an assault.

Unfortunately, I did not think before putting fingers to keyboard, that my words could be interpreted differently than what was going on in my heart. But please believe I never intended to ‘put words in your mouth’ or insult your intelligence or have you feel uncomfortable in any way.

I guess my intended message can be more simply stated as, Thank you. Even though some of the comments about what you all like to read make me doubt anyone here would like whatever I end up with, I have gained the courage here to at least try.” That was how I ended the post: “I love you more.”

I am truly sorry. Time for me to get a tissue…

Big hugs to all.

I love Numbers too by the way. Another show where the relationships were very interesting. I love how the boy’s father was living his life independently to his children’s horror at times! Isn’t it funny how we only get old on the outside!!

Oh dear Barbara. These are such sensitive issues. I am absolutely certain no offense was meant by anyone. I know we were talking about terms used in different countries and I think it is very different how people identify who they are and where they come from.

In America and Australia being born in the country does give you citizenship but it doesn’t guarantee you identity. That is what I take from this discussion. What is so interesting is how we come to define who we are and that is such an evolving process.

It is indeed a tricky process when we struggle to find identifying labels for ourselves let alone anyone else. We certainly don’t want to offend! Let me tell you a cute little story.

When Erin was in Kindergarten she was telling me about her day and one of the little boys in her class. I was trying to work out which boy she was talking about as she couldn’t remember everyone’s name. She racked her brain for an identifying feature or two. “He is the one with glasses mummy!” She finally said triumphantly. She pointed him out the next day. Yep he had glasses but he also had very dark skin, unique among her class mates. I loved the fact that she didn’t “see” that!

Millie, I do not need to apologize for the length of time my people have been a part of this country. I have stated before that I belong to no heritage organizations because some of the members think that being a member of this or that means they are superior to others in some way. I did not choose my heritage. When I read the comment (in the newspaper) made by some who live here in Augusta and come from other parts of the country, I get very upset at the unfairness of it all.
Oh, before I get blamed for something else let me say that I wasn’t being a racist when I used the designation of African-American. It is considered correct as the group chose the designation. By the way, I don’t like to be called white because some people use it as an insult. I think being called Caucasian is odd. If I ever think of what I would like my designation to be, I’ll be sure to say.
More later……..maybe. I have enjoyed your posts and……oh never mind.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Skip to content