The Bistro

The Bistro

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Join us here in The Bistro for a discussion on the entire Gamache series. Feel free to ask or answer any questions about any of the books or the series as a whole.

Discussion on “The Bistro”

I agree Julie. I thought we Three Piners could identify… And that’s the whole point. As readers we don’t start out a discussion with everyone thinking the same way but we can accept different points of view graciously while holding on to our own. And in the process, we all gain tremendously, not only in the understanding of the book, but also of those whom we encounter in ‘real life’.

Millie – that’s a brilliant article. It helps to articulate something I’ve discovered about the Jane Austen society and fringe groups that I belong to: Readers are readily willing to accept a world constructed by someone else, and actually want to go live there! Those who want to live in Three Pines are so close to my heart. And so are those who want to live in Pemberly! 😀

The Power of the Bistro
Barbara, I got a few hours sleep. I must say I laughed when I read you live in the ‘Deep South’, Georgia. I always joke with my husband that we life too far South to be really Southern. You have to go to really Northern Florida to be ‘Southern’. 😉

And, I must confess, I shed quite a few tears of relief that you’d be interested in my story. Not to press the point of Easter being a time of rebirth and renewal (at least for the Northern Hemisphere), but your words, along with those of Cathryne and Anna, left me feeling as though I had ‘died and gone to heaven’. I really am floating on the proverbial cloud nine.

I feel complete. My greatest dream was to be a mommy (now doubled since I’m also a Nana), I have a husband who is my knight in shining armoire and has been since the day we met in our mid 20’s – is there any doubt why I love the Medieval period… 🙂 And now to find my general premise is applauded, not ridiculed, is such a relief. Such a joy. The rest is ‘just’ putting words on paper. Not that I want to hurry the process in any way, but IF I were to pass away tomorrow, I would have no regrets. How many people can honestly say that?

The ‘Bistro’ truly is a magical place – a place where kindness exists. How could it be otherwise? We came together because we like Louise’s books. We’ve stayed together because we found we liked each other and our collective supportive nature too much to be separated.

And a big ‘thank you’, Paul for keeping the Bistro alive and the warm fire glowing. I echo Anna’s feeling, ‘bet you never imagined how many lives this place would touch in such positive ways…’

Knight in shining armoire……Husband in a wardrobe. Rolling on the floor laughing Millie! Erin says brilliant….he must be from Narnia!!

Sorry….wasn’t being insensitive. I love your comment. I only spotted that when I was re reading and it created such a delightful image. Somehow even more appealing than armour!

Not insensitive at all. After I reread my own post I realized my oops. That’s what I get for allowing the auto fill options to finish typing out what it thinks I meant to say. I just rolled my eyes. Hadn’t thought of Narnia, tho. Tell Erin she’s brilliant. Love her sense of humor. (PS: in the US it’s spelled without the ‘u’, just to complicate things. 🙂

Hi Gigi and Welcome to The Bistro. Sorry to be so long posting to you. This week has been too busy for my tastes so I write only quick little blurbs.
I would like to meet Louise Penny but doubt that I will unless she comes here to the Deep South, Georgia. Atlanta maybe someday. I started reading her books when I saw a review on Still Life when it was first published. I feel very fortunate about that. When the reread of the books was announced last Spring, I thought it an interesting idea. I was very hesitant to post as I didn’t think anything I wrote would be worthwhile. Everyone made me so welcome that I lost my fear. The only time I had ever participated in a discussion online was when Barnes and Noble had a wonderful site some years ago.
I’m so glad I plunged in. Then The Bistro was set up following the reread so we can stay in touch while waiting for the next book.
I look forward to reading more posts from you. I love Canada but have only visited Ontario Province a few times with organizations my husband and I belong to.

Anna, a Platypus. How cute. I remember learning about the duckbilled platypus as a young child. I couldn’t wait to share the new found and astounding news with one and all. My family, bless them, all reacted with great enthusiasm if I remember correctly. Any chocolate Roos ?

Good point, Anna. The main female character knows since childhood of an ancestral tie but just starts to find out more about who and his importance to the family and their riches as the story unfolds. And there are a lot of greedy people she comes across. Who can she really trust?

Ok folks, this little bird may spread her wings yet. Baby flaps do turn into soaring effortlessly with thermals under the wings. I just have to keep believing that someone other than me might find it interesting after all.

Millie, Really , The Medieval Era, a little known pope, a mystery also. How wonderful……You’re going to write a book just for me! I can totally see people wanting to read it. I have friends who, like me, will enjoy reading that combination. No pressure intended but I’m ready when you are.

I think writing a character “based upon” someone is perfectly legit. This is fiction, not a biography after all. I do understand the need for authenticity but I have found that you have to be careful not to ignore your imagination! Spread your wings and borrow what you need from the period and invent the rest, that is what imagination is for after all.

I got very bogged down at times by my desire to be authentic. Then I started to treat the process like painting or drawing. You don’t need to sketch in every detail, broad strokes, shadows and suggestion leave so much more room for the reader to fill in the detail and thus become part of the story themselves.

Maybe paint your medieval characters with broader strokes, hint at the richness and detail and let everyone’s imagination out to play??

It’s one of those nights that sleep just wasn’t happening so I just got up, spent about 20 minutes trying to calm my mind (I was way out of my comfort zone saying anything about my ‘novel’) with the repetive and soothing motions of weaving till I calmed down hoping my post would go unnoticed being a holiday but thought I’d check here before laying back down for another go at sleep…

I think I know now a little of what Anna was feeling. But in my case it’s more like, “You like the concept? Really? Oh. My. Gosh.”

Cathryne, your comments stayed in place and thank you! I never would have thought of asking a grad student to translate it. And my younger son and his wife may be able to help me find one and the University of Central Florida where they still have friends.

Anna, thank you for asking just the right question – spice? Knowing more about that particular Pope is the the ‘spice’ I’m missing. My mom attended a big family gathering years ago in CA & I knew a Spanish history professor would be attending so I asked her to inquire if he knew anything about this Pope and tell him why. His reply was, “So little is known about him that your daughter could just make anything up.” Humm… Yes, I plan to ‘make things up, like him being an ancestor of my character, but making it all up? That seemed like cheating too much. I wanted something to be based on facts! And I, too, love the Medieval period.

Fitting that I took a chance on ‘Easter’ to reveal something about my idea: when rebirth is celebrated.

Thank you both, more than you’ll ever know!

I do for one. You have me intrigued. The Popes are such a fascinating bunch, like all kinds of royalty there is buckets of intrigue. And I love the medieval period. Right Millie, I am now waiting!

Both above for Millie. I forgot to use your name. I hope things stay in place so the comments make some sense!

I’m already interested! Sounds like a fascinating idea. Keep translating. How about the services of a doctoral student who needs to earn some money? Must be someone around who could help. Our next door neighbor is in poor health now, but he used to be a fine translator.

Oh Anna, you make me giggle. And look forward to when my granddaughters are old enough to hunt for Easter Eggs. Maybe next year?

As for a missing spice… I can think of a major one. Finish transferring all my files from my (very) old PC to my shiny ‘new’ Mac and learning my way around the fruit of temptation without being tempted to play with all the neat apps on it? But then, maybe I just need time to play with my not so new anymore ‘toy’. ‘Life’ keeps interrupting my play time, though. I didn’t learn my way around a PC in one sitting. Haven’t found those photos of my bookcases yet either. Switching hasn’t been the piece of cake I thought it would be, but I found a book called Switching from PC to Mac that’s helping. My sons tease me constantly, “Mom has a book for that!”
Then I need to slog through a book in excruciatingly formal Spanish to mine for bits of info about a 15th century Pope of whom very little has been written but whose story I personally want to know more… Only I need to sit with a fat dictionary to get through each sentence. I find it frustrating when I read the definition and think, “well why didn’t you just say so!” LOL… Granted, my vocabulary in Spanish has shrunk in the last 40 years but this author maxed out my mom’s excellent vocabulary by the second paragraph. I wish it was in Kindle format so I could more easily look up definitions but it took me years to find it and had to order it from Spain. I’ll get through it though. Eventually.

See, in my mind, this 15th Century ‘Pope’ is an ancestor of the main female character and she’s discovering the ‘why’ of many of her family’s peculiar traditions along with the ‘why’ someone is trying to kill her…

But my biggest worry is WHO would care about a 15thC Pope (who is glossed over even by the Catholic Church), who happened to be born in Spain, other than ME? It’s not a book about religion, but about mysteries & intrigues and betrayals and mistrust. And it’s a story about loosing faith and faithfulness and love and trust and never giving up, but sometimes learning to let go of the past – of what no longer serves you and finding life does go on. And it’s a story about believing in oneself, set in present day time…

There. That’s the most I’ve EVER told anyone about the story in my mind.

Millie – this sounds fascinating! You have to keep going. I think lots of people will be interested in this pope when you “flesh him out”. Think how many people were interested in a nut who was looking for the body of Champlain? Turns out that character was fictional, though based on a real person who died not so long ago, never having found the burial place, unfortunately…

For the Miss Fisher enthusiasts:

About the TV show



About the author and the books. Note the comments about why Miss Fisher wouldn’t get to be a TV or movie series, this interview predates the TV series. The expense is quoted. Is was very expensive, in Australian terms, to bring Miss Fisher to TV as they made such an effort to be authentic.


I didn’t get to see the movie of Into the Woods. I wanted to. I am going to see if we can watch it on Apple TV but it might only be me who is interested!

I can feel myself slipping into a chocolate coma. The Easter Bunny appears to have been under the misapprehension that a dozen children live in this house as that is the amount of chocolate we have discovered this morning. I even got a chocolate platypus! First time for everything although chocolate Bilbies are common…small Australian marsupial. Problem is rabbits are a menace to farmers so the chocolate industry has looked, unsuccessfully, for alternatives.

It is definitely not a race Millie. Stories come when they are ready to be told. In the meantime all of life goes into the melting pot inside your head and your heart from whence the stories come. There is a great mix of ingredients inside you already. Maybe you are waiting on a key spice for the mix to be ready??

Julie, thanks for your kind words that ‘it’s not a race’… But most importantly the “we’ll be here” is such a comfort.

I’m not strong on the French language, either. But I think I picked up a few curse words in French which Jean-Guy uses. Funny, I’ve never consider words as being good or bad – they are just words. It’s individuals who give them a particular meaning and decide they are going to be offended by them that fascinates me. Granted there’s a time and place for everything, but language can be so complex.

I’ll never forget a story my mom tells of when she first met my dad’s family. Both spoke Spanish, you’d think no problem, but my dad’s family had moved from Spain to Argentina, my mom’s family moved from Spain to Puerto Rico where her dad was a ‘big band’ conductor… Well, she asked if she could ‘take’ a piece of bread. She was trying to be so polite. Unfortunately for her, the particular word she used, tho perfectly correct, had an entirely different connotation in Argentina – to ‘take’ a woman against her will’… Awkward!

Good, modern Spanish dictionaries now include a generally accepted definition, but also the connotations or sometimes the entirely different meaning in specific Spanish speaking countries. And there are lots.

Which reminds me of the words of a song from the musical “Into the Woods” which I remember mentioning, while discussing TLWH, that I loved because ‘there is always more after the end’.
“…Careful the things you say, children will listen.
“Careful the things you do. Children will see and learn…”

Did anyone see the film adaptation of “Into the Woods” which was released last Christmas? My sons and husband waited till I returned home after my dad’s passing, and we went to see it together. They knew how much that would mean to me. I had invited them all over for dinner before family night at the movies. (My daughter-in-law’s mom graciously watched our two adorable granddaughters…) To my surprise, during dinner my elder son, who has a lovely tenor voice, began to sing a number the two princes sing. It’s called ‘Agony’ but very funny. My younger son joined in! It had been more than 7 years since they heard me play the soundtrack at ‘home’. I laughed and asked them if I played it THAT often that they remembered every word? I only got a ‘you have to ask,” stare from each son. We loved the movie adaptation. That is so rare as evidenced by most people’s reaction to ‘Still Life’ in film. Did anyone who saw it, like it?

Into the Woods is not one I’m familiar with, and I’ve found the recent “supernatural” tendencies in film to be kind of boring. I recorded Salem thinking it was going to be about the shameful burning of “witches” in the 1600’s, but instead, it became clear it was going to be more fantastical, right from the get-go, and I deleted all of season one in one click. I don’t watch the TV shows based on fairy tales for the same reason, and have put Into the Woods kind of in that category for myself, even though I know it’s a Sondheim musical – I just figured they’d ruin it, but it sounds like they didn’t. I might see if I can find it to watch…

I did watch Still Life – just HAD to, even though I’d been warned that Louise, who had been watching them as they made it, had to kind of wash her hands of the whole thing. For me, the real problem was the casting. I could have accepted Gamache, and I quite liked Jean Guy, but not one single other person was properly cast as far as I could see. Ruth might be your grandmother with a toothache, Clara was young and pretty, as was Nichol and Lacoste (almost interchangeable), and worst of all – Myrna. She has to have been there – yet I don’t even remember what she looked like! Can you believe that? Myrna????? forgettable???? Crazy! Neither Gabri nor Olivier stood out, either! These people are so full of personality, and it just doesn’t come across. It was left to stand on the story of the murder, and it really didn’t make it that way.

The movie just didn’t quite work and I think you have hit the nail on the head. The characters just weren’t there. They were all abit bland and nondescript not rich and detailed. I know it must be hard to bring books to life because so much of the detail is in our heads and we all see slightly differently.

I only saw Still Life once but I do remember Myrna. Why?? For the same reason you forgot her. She was skinny!! Totally off. (As was Clara who’s hair was lovely with no crumbs anywhere!)

I forgot Myrna was skinny in the movie…and Clara was far too pretty and together. Bland is the only word that comes to mind. And Louise’s characters are anything but bland.

Phew! Every day, lately, we’ve added a page of comments. How wonderful! Gigi – welcome! None of us here speaks much French (I believe, though people here tend to surprise you), but we all know a few indispensable words – “Gamache” “Jean Guy”, hee hee. We have been hanging around the Bistro since the end of last summer when we did the “reread” of all Louise’s books, and as we got to know one another, it’s been great fun! Both Millie and Anna have mentioned that Louise has inspired them to write – and our Anna has already finished her first book, and so far, we are loving it! And Millie – it’s not a race – we’ll be here when you’re ready… 😀

Lovely, lovely place, the Bistro.

Happy Easter, Happy Passover everyone.
My family arrived home from the Easter Show in possession of many Show bags and assorted soft toys won on side show alley. Eek. It’s the Giant Rasta Banana that is giving me nightmares….something about the teeth!

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