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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”

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…

Happy Earth Day, everyone! I think I’ll sit out in nature today and soak in some quiet, because the nature of this beast is to be too verbose… :-/

Hi Jan! Been a while. Loved your post. So rich and deep.
Julie, I too like where this discussion is going.
Catheryn, I did the same! I didn’t find much with Laurent other than it is a French masculine name or surname. If Mariana really wanted to mess with her mother’s mind (Mrs Morrow / Finney), she ‘would’ pick a French name!
But for Lauren, the feminine, I found (on Wiki):
“Lauren may be a given name or surname. The name’s meaning may be “Laurel tree”, “sweet of honor” or “victory of wisdom”. Interesting that only one letter distinguishes the masculine from feminine name. Laurel leaves were used to crown the Emperors of Rome. I didn’t realize till I went ‘digging’ that Laurel signified wisdom. Bean surely is wise enough not be be drawn into the drama of the Morrows!
Julie, your description of Bean as “well grounded” ties in so well to ‘Nature’! Love that. But I remember that not until the end of A Rule Against Murder / Killing Stone was Bean comfortable jumping, literally letting his feet off the ground. I didn’t pick up on that before. Was Bean perhaps working too hard to be ‘well grounded’? Bean has to face falling from the roof and realizing he / she would still be Bean and OK before Bean allows his mom, Mariana, to sit the child next to her (I think on a window seat) – Bean’s feet not on the floor. Bean wouldn’t sit on the piano bench either.
I think we have entered our own ‘Garden of Cosmic Speculation’! It’s wonderful.

Sorry Jan, you mentioned Bean as well grounded, first. Brilliant. Your entire post was mind expanding. I do like Jungian psychology but had not come across his discussions on anima, animus. That certainly would be a topic from which society at large could benefit.

I find it interesting that I was reared to be such a ‘lady’ yet I had two boys! I had ‘no choice’ but to discover my ‘inner masculine’ to play with them, to guide them, since their dad traveled so much… Yet I still remained ‘me’! And now that my elder is 30 with two daughters, I see him tap into his ‘inner feminine to be gentler with them than he ever was with his brother. We all have both within. I don’t see why the dominant preference should be confined exclusively to the physical manifestation of our sexual organs.

I have been thinking about the name: Laurent. It is said to be French from Latin, meaning laurel. Some name sites took it further to say, “crowned with laurel,” or “from the laurel trees.”

Hi, Jan – so happy to see you posting! I can’t help but wonder what Ruth will be doing and what we’ll find out about her this time – she always reveals a bit more of herself every time we see her, I think, and it sounds like this time, we’ll be getting quite a bit of Ruth! Yipee!

Greetings again Julie!

Yes Julie, I too have been speculating that we will be experiencing a lot of Ruth in the upcoming NOTB. Very exciting to anticipate this ! So many deep and loose ends for us about Ruth. Wouldn’t it be just like Louise to bring Bean to Three Pine, perhaps for for a visit with Clara, and have him/her form an unexpected bond of friendship with Ruth? Sort of a fun idea upon which to speculate, and it does seem that there might be many delightful ways for Louise to go with such an unlikely scenario.

Oh, I like where this discussion is going. Bean is one of those anomalies that just boggles the mind, sometimes. She/he IS the most well-grounded person in the Morrow family, and the only truly likable one, though I like Peter a lot more than lots of people do. And I think she/he would add so much to any story. Your thought, Diane, is very intriguing – that she/he might be both… I think that the “choosing at birth” thing is a societal issue – it’s possible that Bean’s mother just couldn’t choose – or that she decided to let Bean choose when she/he was older… though I expect choosing at a later date will have it’s own physical trauma (PERHAPS less of the emotional trauma – hard to know for sure).

I would so love to know why Louise chose to leave Bean’s sex a mystery… I am hoping that it’s because there is something coming for Bean – a bigger part of a story. Could this be the one?

Diane, I follow Louise’s blog and remember her posting at how much she loved being at Left Coast Crime! She is so natural and forthcoming on her blog that you begin to feel like you are old friends – I love that. Thanks for the links – you must be having fun being part of the organizing of the events!

Hello to all of you dear spirits! I have been an avid follower of this site and found it to be most inspiring….it is never too late to learn deeper ways of thought and kinder ways of “being”. So I am just popping in with another perspective about Bean. Would it be too far out to speculate that Louise might bring him/her to Three Pines (via his connection with Clara/Art) and use this to further some insight and discussion about the duality of our natures according to the psychoanalytic theories Carl Jung. Anima and animus are his references to the inner feminine and inner masculine manifestations of each human personality. Bean is well grounded. He/she has thrived on acceptance and encouragement by his mum to be on the path fully integrated human self that does not focus unduly on conventional sex roles in dress, appearance or behavior. In other words, he/she is a healthy free spirit contrasting the extremely dysfunctional Morrow family. Perhaps Ruth would identify in some way with Bean and thus be slowly released from those mysterious wounds lurking in her personal dark Beast Within. Guess we could all use a bit of that! Louise might pave the way in this new novel.

My imagination seems to have run amok! But not too far out, I suspect. To quote Carl Jung: “Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

I had not heard that quote by Jung before. Thanks for the many insights, Jan. And please do allow your imagination run amok. Nice to see you posting again. (Hug)

Hi Diane, I’m back in business with computer and devices. Whew!
That’s a lot of great info you’ve given us. And I love your sense of humor! I’ll be checking out the sights you mentioned in a bit. I used to live Orange / LA County border. A lot of my family still live there and I’m going back in a week to celebrate my Godmother’s 90th birthday and spend a bit of happy time with old friends. I’ve been in FL for going on 13 years… I miss the people but not the traffic of CA!
Yes, our very own Anna is indeed a mystery+ author! Her debut novel is outstanding (mystery, crime, kidnapping, survival, plus, caring, love, hope)… Look for ‘The Cove’ by Anna Leavy on Amazon Kindle. And tell your friends too that it’s a terrific read while we wait for TNOTB. 😉
Me… Eventually, I hope. Been brewing inside me for a long time. The pieces are finally coming together. Before joining this wonderful group, that’s all I had: disjointed pieces. And yes, mystery and crimes both past and present. There’s a ‘game’ going on which is spurring my enthusiasm. Part of the ‘mystery’ is what could an obscure 15th Century Pope, born in Spain have done which people are willing to kill for in the present? The ‘game’ is if anyone at The Bistro guesses the correct Pope, they’ll get a free copy of it when I finish and publish it. There are lots to choose from and don’t forget there were ‘anti-popes’ also. Just do a Google search and give it a go. 🙂
You know a lot about the LCC, are you perchance an author yourself? If so, do tell us… How marvelous to have met Louise Penny! And you kept notes? You sound like you have the soul of a writer. lol But some of the best ‘writing’ have been journal entries. I’m thinking of Anne Frank… I read it as a young girl yet I’ve tried my best for half a century to live by her example: “I believe people are basically good.” I paraphrase but you get my point.
And that is part of Gamache’s charm, part of why we love Louise’s books and Three Pines, why we love The Bistro… a place where kindness exists.

Hi Diane. The post will eventually show up with the links but in the mean time I had a look. Would love to attend but it might be 2017 when I am in the US for a couple of years. I like the sound of it and it would appeal to the cosy nature of Three Piners who want to mingle with like minds.

I hope you are safe Diane. We have been seeing the footage of bushfires, or wildfires as you guys call them, on the outskirts of Los Angeles. I know you have had terrible drought. I know what that is like. Right now we are in the middle of the opposite, a dramatic wind and rain system that has caused all kinds of problems including flooding.

I’m reposting one of my original posts because on my screen it says “awaiting moderation” so don’t think you guys can see it. I’m guessing because I have links and “the powers that be” wanted to be sure I wasn’t spamming. Understandable!!

I decided post without the http or www and added spaces in between the dot coms so my comment won’t get flagged.

Thanks for the warm welcome!!! 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 book club group know about this site, too; we meet again this coming Tues.

From our Library’s website mystery blog link 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 (including Canada), 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 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 – 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(s). Except for the guests of honors, everyone pays their own way whether an author is on a panel or not.

Hello Everyone!

I’m in the Pacific Time Zone and live in Los Angeles in The Valley.

I forgot all about Bean. I thought just came to mind, could it be that the parents hasn’t revealed the exact sex is because they are not sure. Isn’t it true that by a fluke of nature some are born with both sex organs? I remember reading about that once and I thought you had to decide at birth. If so, and knowing Peter’s mother (hard to call her mom), maybe she didn’t want the responsibility of deciding. LOL, I have a habit of going off into “the deep” with my line of thinking.

“The Morrows can be considered to have ‘Beastly’ behavior… ”
Now that’s an interesting comment!!!

As your winter is ending, mine is just beginning. There is an icy wind and rain today….just in time for my daughter to go back to school. Lucky the kids here are hardy as they spend their breaks outdoors for the most part whatever the weather. There is a covered area but it is pretty chilly.

For me it is a good day to snaffle a seat in the Bistro by the fire with a fresh cup of tea and contemplate my next book. I have been doing a bit of reading to get into the mood. It doesn’t matter how complex the plot, I am increasingly unable to enjoy a story unless I can connect with the characters. What I have noticed is a lot of characters are of the abrupt, disconnected kind. Part of the story might be those characters learning to connect but not always. While it can be a neat literary device it feels a bit worn to me. I can cope if it is offset by other more likable characters or other dimensions to the character.

Stepping into one of Louise’s novels is always so comforting. Even irascible Ruth is so multidimensional and has a warmth that keeps leaking out even when she tries to cover it up. Have to love a woman who takes a duck for a walk!

Hello Anna et al, I’m not sure the road trip was successful yet. I can access the Internet but no email, messages or even Facebook on any device. When did I get so dependent on these things? Thank heaven the Bistro doors are always open!

Anna, I think there will be many layers throughout.
Julie, so many good things, but be patient, yes I know it isn’t a race. 😉
I know I brought this up before but I still wonder if the missing ‘boy’ might not be Bean. Louise does place clues far in advance. Bean loved reading his book on mythological creatures. And his/her was thinking of changing his/her name. The Morrows can be considered to have ‘Beastly’ behavior… And what child isn’t drawn to exploring. Plus Ruth takes a liking to those most hurting, the Quint, Jean Guy… the duck! Interestingly we’ve been talking a lot about sence of place, sense of identity: what kind of sense of identity would Bean have? Wouldn’t that child eventually have an identity crises? Bean seems to like the Gamache’s and Clara, but children have an uncanny sense of gravitating to kind souls. I think Ruth has a very kind soul under her fasçade of curt dismissal. She and Bean would hit it off well, I think. But Louise does surprise!

My day is ending, others will soon start theirs. Have a great one.
BTW: Diane, what general time zone are you in?

Millie, I do hope the computer recovers with appropriate attention.

I was thinking about The Nature of the Beast. It doesn’t necessarily imply evil. We use the phrase to say it’s to be expected as it’s the nature of the beast, meaning acting to type.

I suspect there will be many layers of meaning alluded to in the end.

The villagers know. They bought him home. Chartrand came but I don’t think the villagers met him as he stood at the back and left early.

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