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”

Anna, I’m reading The Cove and have come to the Bistro to let my heart rate settle down. I think that only once have I skipped to the end of a book but if this one were paper I surely would be tempted (before I have a heart attack). My golly, are you SURE this is your first book?? No, I am not exaggerating , it has really gotten hold of me. I know I won’t be able to sleep until I get to the end. Wow. See you all later.

I would love to know what Louise said about the painting, I had never heard of it. Here is a link to a blog article someone wrote about the artist and the series which the painting is from. The works were all portraits of inmates of an asylum. There were originally ten paintings but only five are known to still exist.


My daughter is doing Romanticism at the moment so a topical period in our household.

If you look at the paintings, I thought the eyes of the Envious woman were the only ones truly directed at something. The others seemed a little vague. Whatever that woman envies, she has it always in her gaze!

If we are lucky, maybe that talk will become available on YouTube – I’d love to hear it also. I do remember her mentioning how often her dear Michael would discuss art with her. She must so miss that part of him…

I would love to see that, too! The painting is absolutely Ruth, but I don’t see envy in it, either. I guess the artist did, but whatever he saw is none of my business I figure, hahaha.

The painting that Louise Penny chose to talk about from The Musee de Beaux Arts is stunning, breathtaking, and, yes, of course she picked that painting. I had been thinking casually about the interesting assignment given to the writers, wondering if it was a hard decision as to what to choose. When I saw the painting in the newsletter, all I could think was, “Of course.” Did Louise Penny know this piece of art already? I didn’t and yet it seemed so familiar from her books. I knew that Clara had painted it! What a gift.

Julie and Millie…Thanks for the laughs about Sleeping in. My in-laws were people who went to bed by 8 and sometimes earlier. Of course, they were up at 4AM. They had grown up on farms and even farmed after they were married. By the time we met, they had lived off the farm for 14-15 yrs. I had grown up getting up in time for school and going to bed 10-11PM or later. I was allowed to sleep as I wished during the Summer. As an adult, emotional problems contributed to what became chronic insomnia. My In-laws have always considered me lazy and worthless. I have never understood how the hour a person arises sets their worth. I have even had fellow Church members act as if not rising early was a sin. Fortunately those sleepless nights have been gone for some years. If they return, I’ll read as before. Sleep well.

Barbara, how “nice” of your fellow church goers! Did they forget the part “judge not, so ye not be judged”? Or how about taking the plank out of one’s own eye before trying to remove the speck from another’s? Makes me wonder what ‘sins’ they’re feeling guilty about. Sheesh!

Julie, see, you’re not the only one! Links and more info later. Must get ready for my Chiro visit.

Anna, decided to go to the beginning of the ‘Bistro’ because the number of comments was ‘higher’ than what I was seeing at the last page and saw newcomers comments AND saw I missed your share of the book “Write Away” by Elizabeth George. Read the first pages in their ‘look inside’ and just cried with relief when she starts by saying its characters that make for really good books. Not having the ‘plot’ all figured out, has always made me feel I didn’t have what it took to continue attempting… But I remember telling you all I really loved those characters in my head… And isn’t that what we so love about Louise’s books? The characters?

And Julie, you saying you needed to divest yourself of all your tumbling thoughts before giving The Cove your full attention really resonated with me too. I hope I don’t sound whinny, but it’s been such a hard few years for me and I just can’t write in found moments. I must enter their world completely and feel their emotions fully before I can even begin to write. And I have my own grieving to process before I can give it another go. I did find recently a computer file where I had finished the first draft of chapter 1… Four days later, my dad passed away. I had completely forgotten I had written that. And I couldn’t stop crying because my main female character’s dad passes away in the story in my head. It’s just too close right now. But as Robin Williams used to say about the invention of golf, “there’s a little red flag to give ya (ME) f***ing hope”! I need a duck! Or a vase!
Right now, I better settle for a tissue, and a Tylenol. I love / hate the ‘torture table’!

Thank you both… Thank you all. Thank you Anna for suggesting I return to the Bistro. It WAS time. 🙂

Anna! I have taken quite some time to get started on The Cove – and I’m only now just on Chapter 7. For one, I’m a slow reader, and for another, I need to divest myself of all my tumbling thoughts to get into a new read, and I didn’t want to give The Cove just a part of my attention! But now I’m worried that you’ll think I’ve not said anything because I didn’t like it. Nothing could be further from the truth! Yes, I will even tell you if there’s things I don’t like, but so far, I am enthralled, and now completely riveted. I’m still a slow reader, so it will be a week or so before I can totally tell you how I like it, but be prepared – I LOVE it so far, and I think you should be looking for an agent and to get it properly published! Especially since there are more to come if I’m understanding you correctly.

I read far too quickly Julie. I am glad you take your time and savour all. I eat too quickly as well. I have to deliberately slow down and appreciate everything more. Thank you.

Julie, thank you, thank you for saying for you one morning was the crack of noon! I too have major trouble falling asleep. But once I do, I sleep a good eight hours. I was always trying to hide the fact ‘I sleep in’. It’s surprising how the eyebrows go up when I tried to explain I’m not sleeping in, I just don’t normally fall asleep before four to six in the morning so no, I can’t meet you at 8am unless I stay up all night!
I thought it was due to the stress of so much going on physically & emotionally. But have you ever heard of ‘Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder’?

My sleep cycle has shifted. I was told there was no known way to shift it back. Not true! Let me know if you want a bit more info and a link Anna sent me. I feel there’s hope now for me to rejoin activities and groups I simply couldn’t do anymore.

Society can be so linked to its narrow version of ‘normal’ but so perfectly willing to accept any deviation if one can slap the term ‘disorder’ to what is the new ‘normal’ for the body. Argh! But I don’t consider it a defining label. More like ammunition to lower raised eyebrows. …lol

Ah, Millie – I never knew it had a name! What I HAVE known since I found out what circadian rhythms are is that mine are different. I’ve been this way since I was a child. I used to hide under the covers with a flashlight to read (and got in trouble a lot for it). And I agree – society has always just assumed I’m lazy, and sleep in a lot. But if I were completely left to my natural cycle, I’d go to sleep about 3 and wake at noon. I’ve tried all my life to change it and there seems to be no changing me. The change of clocks twice a year really does me in, too! I’ve long wished that they would change one spring to daylight savings and then just leave it there! I’m very happy to have the extra light during my time awake…

You’re right – people look at you askance if you really don’t want to be places in the morning… I have trained a few friends to not expect answers to emails until the afternoon, and certainly, my days are much shorter than other people’s. It’s a wonder I get anything accomplished at all some days, haha. The interesting thing is that, my lovely husband, who was getting up at 6 a.m. and going to bed at 10 p.m. when I met him, has almost completely come around to my side. He will often sleep at least until 10 or 11, and can stay awake until about 1 now… So we have more time together. I call that love, hahaha.

I’d be very interested in reading about a way to shift my sleep cycle – as I do feel like I am missing a lot by not being awake when everyone else is. It’s funny – until you “fessed up”, I was truly trying to make it seem like waking up at noon was a rarity for me, hahaha. You’re right about the raised eyebrows and the sense that once you put “disorder” on it, you can then be accepted… it’s sad that everyone feels they have the right to comment on such silly things, isn’t it?

I was able to read the newsletter from her website. It still hasn’t arrived to I guess I shoild signup again. Those that did read it, wasn’t the painting she chose to speak about at Lyon, France, just perfect? No question. Ruth! For me it was instant recognition. The title of the painting surprised me tho, “Woman consumed by envy”. That’s not how Clara sees Ruth… I wonder if that painting and title informed a new side of Ruth we’ll see in the TNOTBeast?

Since I’m trying to stop assuming (in this case that all our recent arrivals know Louise’s webpage) here’s the addy
Lots of links to newsletters, past and present and so much more. Enjoy

I am so thrilled that we will get to see the inspiration for some of the locations in the books. I wish that all the people who posted on Facebook would drop by The Bistro. Surely, it will be cited in the information. Hint, Hint.

I totally understand what Louise said in her newsletter. It shows great courage to say those things out loud because it is easier to pretend it isn’t that difficult. But it is. And it isn’t.

“Life is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans”. Thank you John Lennon. I know we have all faced challenges and loss and there is nothing for it but to keep on living and loving and believing. Keep being open to being “surprised by Joy!”

I didn’t get her newsletter… 🙁 I have in the past… Going to check out her website. Thanks for the heads up ladies. And WELCOME to The Bistro, Nancy/Virginia.

Barbara – I’m with you. The newsletter in my mailbox last night about did me in! It’s the first time that Louise has mentioned the very natural feelings she must be having while trying to continue on as usual under such difficult circumstances. And I feel very selfish and awful to be glad that she’s still able to write and provide such great reading for us! I mean, how mean is that? I hope that, besides being so good for us, it helps Louise, too. I’m sure it does on some level, and I hope that she and Michael will have lots of good time left.

Welcome Nancy! It is good fun here in the Bistro. Reading the books from the beginning is the best way to go. It is so much fun seeing the story unroll and the characters growing. I am torn because I like the characters the way they are but they can not stagnant. They must stay fresh to be interesting.

A large part of the books success is that the depth and wonder of Louise’s character shines through. I feel greatly for her as she find her path in life at the moment. Such challenge an sadness but also enormous love.

Isn’t that the truth! I have new glasses but the lab forgot to correct for the astigmatism and everything is shear enough to ‘see’ yet blurry enough not to distinguish clearly the letters on the keyboard. I think I’m going back to using the old pair till this gets sorted out. I do NOT need help with typos. lol

My first post here. So interesting to reading all these. I started reading the Gamache series a while ago and then went and started from the 1st book. It is the best way to go because the relationships between the characters really makes these books work! I love this series and am so thrilled that the next one is coming out soon. Although not soon enough for me! I love Louise Penny’s writing and I really enjoyed the newsletter she just sent. She is obviously a wonderful, loving and brave person and it shows in her writing. Her characters have these same qualities. I’m so thrilled I found her books!

Anna, you are making some excellent life points too in The Cove. When we met Mattie, I understood her and thought Oh yes, this is going to be a book I really enjoy. Then, when Claire called out the Asthmatic boys’ names, Yes! Yes! They have names. They are not just their physical problems. The scuba gear for them was inspired. The various characters are already real. I have now finished the two books I had to return to the Library as soon as I could. We have finished at Sister’s except for last minute things we can do on Easter after Church and lunch. Now I can read The Cove.
Oh a correction…..Lamentation by C. J. Sansom was very enjoyable. It was only my mood that caused me not to like it at first. We know that sometimes happens with me.
Back to The Cove.

I think the highest praise a writer can receive is that the characters are real! Thanks Barbara.

I’m glad the spring blush has survived in Augusta. I keep hearing news about the Masters players. Putters of late have been the point of contention. Georgia is definitely on my visit list.

I’m so enjoying the renewed activity here. The idea of talking about the inspiration for places in Louise’s books is great. That was on her Facebook page, thanks Millie.

Why the thanks, Anna? Because I’ve returned with my typos and off topic additions to liven up the place? lol…

I hope everyone reads Louise Penny’s Facebook page and the monthly newsletter. Today’s newsletter had me in tears at the end. I am so grateful for her books and her views on life. She is never “preachy” but by example teaches valuable life lessons.

I have been remiss in following up on the post that we were to have freezing weather last week. The low temps were reached at the regional airport outside of Augusta but not in the city. The beautiful flowers and trees were spared. It is always colder at the airport where the US Weather Station is. The National and my neighborhood are as far from there as possible without going into South Carolina.

I’m giving up trying to type in a rush at night. The typos are horrendous. But it’s so nice to be back.

Nancy, I did get your point. I just loved that so many of us have ‘old coat’ stories, be they oogly or not. It didn’t specify cause it’s been a crazy day but what I laughed at was my coat was / is big enough for a pregnant women so it still fits! Lol…

Millie, I love your comment—“big enough for a pregnant woman so it still fits.” Thanks for the laugh.

My pleasure, Barbara. I really was tired and the ‘sophisticated’ should have had quote marks around it to hint at the fact it isn’t! My old black raincoat looks like I have a tent on, and with the hood up its a short teepee with a face sticking out the top. Anna said it perfectly, no pretensions when I put it on! But I love it!

I love Sally Field and I so get what she was saying! Thank you Millie.

The Beautiful Mystery is such a different book from the others in that it is set in a world apart and there is so little interaction with the other characters. It would be a bit difficult to understand the relationships and the undercurrents. I think we would love to tell Jane what she wants to know but it is so much better to come upon it all from the beginning. I would definitely hold off reading further forward without all that has gone before. How the Light Gets In is such a culmination of so many threads. I think it reads as a great story but the depth of the emotional experience is entirely different when read as a climax.

Jane, if you haven’t read the other books I envy you in a way….I would love to be starting at the beginning again as a novice. It’s a great adventure and journey as Millie says.

What I love about coats and Canada is that you can disappear into your coat and you could be anybody. It’s a great leveller! No pretensions.

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