LOUISE PENNY’S

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 like what you said about pulling out from your bookcase the book with the most bends in the spine. There is nothing like the comfort of a well-loved book. I’m planning to read “The Talisman” after your description.
I felt great pleasure when you said you started reading it to your daughter, another of life’s joys.

Nancy, thank you for recommending the Steven F. Havill Posadas County books. I’m enjoying them so much. I especially like the setting, characters, and somewhat leisurely pace. Havill gives the reader a real feel for southern New Mexico and the small town(s) there. This series is just what I needed right now!

I seem to remember floods and landslides earlier in the season Julie so you are just as entitled to a spell of kinder weather as the East Coast. The cold in the rest of the country is extreme though. I see sleet and ice for my sister today in Dallas. Not good for driving to work tomorrow.

After thinking about books for my daughter yesterday I went and pulled out the book with the most bends in the spine…..it’s almost white from use instead of black. It’s a thick book with small print so not quite what I was aiming for. I read her the first chapter at bedtime. Language is rich and the story grabbed her attention.

I chose The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. It’s a book I come back to a lot. The story is about a journey and growth. It’s a very different take on adolescence. Despite the pedigree of the authors the book is more fantasy than horror…..mostly.

We shall see how it goes.

The snow here has been unbelievable – however by “here”, I mean “there”… The east coast of the US, and especially Boston has been hit with snow that I find hard to fathom. I am often just as quiet as can be on this subject, because we’ve been sitting here in the Pacific Northwest, having one of the best winters ever. Hardly a killing frost – no snow whatsoever and very little rain, really. We’ve had way more than our share of sunny days and have been breaking records for warm temperatures in February. I’ll take it, even though the rest of the country seems to be paying for our good luck.

Thanks Marcy. I looked up The Book of Negroes. It looks very good.

Thanks Nancy. She read Bridge of Terabithia a few years ago. It’s a good book but I am looking for even wider complexity of vocabulary. One of my friends has a similar problem for her daughter. The books written for teens these days just aren’t necessarily very complex from a language perspective. The books suggested here are much better I think. A lot of teen books are also written focussing on angst and the darker side of youth which is fine but my friend’s daughter finds them depressing and my daughter finds them repetitive. She read John Green and enjoyed A Fault in Our Stars but after a couple more she put them aside as a bit same same.

There is definitely good literature around but matching taste and interest to complexity is actually challenging at this age. The books I loved at the same age don’t necessarily appeal. I was a Lord of The Rings fan….my daughter is not although happy for other fantasy.

On another note. Is everyone surviving the cold ok?? It really is astonishing. If we were in the States already I would have to shovel snow! This is definitely not a skill people need in Australia. Even in the snowfields for the most part mores the pity. Stay warm and safe everyone.

How about Katherine Patterson books? She has written some really interesting books for young adults. I think the most well known is Bridge to Terabithia which was made into a movie. She lives in Vermont and my Vermont friend told me that another of her books, The Great Gilly Hopkins, will soon be a movie too.

My daughter was in High School when she read “The Book of Negroes” (called Somebody Knows My Name in the US), but I don’t remember what grade. We just watched the mini-series together and she said it was one of the best books she has read.

Thank you Catherine. I haven’t heard of any of those books. I will look them up straight away. I appreciate the help!

Has she read “The House of Dies Drear” by Virginia Hamilton? Delicious, original, hard to put down. Virginia Hamilton was a remarkable American writer for young people.
Also, Richard Peck: “The Teacher’s Funeral,” “The River Between Us,” “Amanda/Miranda.”
Both of these writers have written many other fascinating books for young people. Both, I think, show respect for their readers. Richard Peck is often fall off your chair funny.

The vocab in Twilight didn’t strike me as very complex….it’s typical of most YA books. My daughter didn’t mind the movies but wasn’t a fan of the books. She read Mortal Instruments series which has a wider vocab I thought. I will try Agatha. She likes the Poirot movies with David Suchet.

Anna – I think the Agatha Christie is a good idea. The language has a few differences, perhaps, but nothing so vastly different that it should be a big hurdle, and will help her to grow, I think. The stories are engaging, and the vocabulary varied… It’s hard to think of something else that will do the same for her, while still remaining of interest to a young reader. I have not read the Twilight books, so don’t know if the vocab. in them is challenging at all – I do know it grabs young readers. Heart of Darkness is one of those books I’ll never forget – one I read in school, but it will stay with me forever. Those books are few and far between, I’m afraid.

Okay book readers, I have a problem. My almost 14 year old needs to extend herself in the reading department and develop her vocabulary and modes of expression. The difficulty is the books of interest to teenagers these days don’t have a complex vocabulary. Neither do a lot of adult books come to think of it.

Recently she has read To Kill A Mockingbird and The Help which were both good. She needs a few more ideas. Best if the books aren’t too thick as she doesn’t get lots of time in between homework etc. I was going to give her some Agatha Christie…quick, easy to read but the vocabulary can be a bit different coming as it does from an older time.

The classics are an option but I have to stay aware of her interest level. She is doing Romanticism, The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner and Heart of Darkness in English. That should help but any other thoughts from you, the well read crowd!?

Definitely staring off into space Julie! Thinking, imagining, planning….an active mind at work.

Isn’t it interesting that Pride and Prejudice is the main pivot for fan fiction. It was always my favourite although I didn’t really get it or enjoy it the first time I read it for school. The second time I was able to appreciate the humour and intelligence.

I thought about a bookclub too Barbara after the fun I have had here but the workload is not attractive and I remember a bookclub a friend started….it wasn’t that much fun. The books were often ones I didn’t have a desire to read. While I agree it is good to stretch our envelope, life is too busy right now for doing anything remotely drudge like. I have enough of that! It is a different prospect delving into books we really enjoy and that we are passionate about.

In strange synchronicity re comics, they had an item on our news talking about comics disappearing from the newspapers. And yet there is still demand online as Barbara and Julie mentioned. A famous Australian comic which is 75 years old, not the original artist obviously, is Ginger Meggs which is growing in distribution as it is now available in America. The artist producing it is now based in NY. Cute comic by the way. You might like it Barbara.

Julie, fan fic is big with kids my daughters age. Some of her friends contribute stories to web sites. I read the Vampire version of Pride and Prejudice, or was it zombie. I remember it was funny! Wonder what Jane Austen would think??

Anna, I often wonder what Jane would make of this whole Janeite thing! I was at a meeting yesterday, which, if she could see it, she’d have been mystified, I’m sure. A whole bunch of us crowded into a room much too small to hear a lecture on political elections in Jane Austen’s time, specifically, the 1783 election run-0ff between William Pitt the Younger and Charles James Fox. Then we got up, took all the chairs out of the room again, and had a stand-up tea party, hahahaha.

As for the fan fic, I sometimes think she would understand that any publicity is good publicity, hahaha.

That sounds very cool Julie and I think it would all appeal to Jane Austen. She would applaud any imaginative undertaking especially when carried off with strength and intelligence. From my reading of her work, strong smart women are to be praised. I wonder what she would be today…in addition to an author? I think she would love the opportunities life presents to women today and she would use that freedom to keep shaking those stereotypes!

I think that’s right, Anna – she would appreciate so many people finding their creative selves by continuing the stories she “started”. But I also can’t help thinking that for those who have really made a career of it – that they are unnecessarily constricting themselves to just 6 stories…. and really, at least 80% of all the fan fic is based on Pride and Prejudice!

That’s interesting to think what else she might have been, in addition to a writer. Of course, almost everything “known” about her apart from the bare bones facts of where and when she was born and lived, is conjecture, because so much of her personal life has been interpreted through the eyes of a very Victorian gentleman – her nephew, who wanted to make her appear to be demure and sweet. Even the “portrait” of her was done based on a sketch by her sister,

http://janeaustensworld.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/jane-austen-by-cassandra-austen.jpg

and it was “sweetened up by a Victorian artist”. When I think of her, I think of the other
drawing done by her sister, in which she is staring off into the distance and we can’t see her face. I find it much the more evocative image.

http://www.elegantwoman.org/images/JaneAustenCassandraWatercolour.jpg

Sounds like your meeting was great fun. Most of the book clubs and book discussions here are anything but fun and informative. I have been debating suggesting a book club at one of the local branch libraries. I think it might involve more work than I want to do at this time.

Good idea about the reread Julie. Here are the questions I had in mind when I went back to book one again.

Now that you “know” Gamache and the other characters so much better, in what ways are they different for you in the first book on rereading?

Are there any clues in the first book to the ongoing story arc that you didn’t pick up on the first time?

What attracts you to the book as you start on the first page?

Barbara..I couldn’t read about dementia either. It really is too close to home. Maybe comics are the way to go. I rarely read a paper any more but like there, the comics kept changing from good ones to ones that didn’t interest me. The Japanese write “comic books” for all ages. Manga are more graphic novels. My daughter enjoys some of them but they are not comics as we might imagine. Some are very dark and adult!

The questions you suggested give a good opportunity for discussion. I know I won’t do a complete re-read. I’ll probably read parts of all the books.

Barbara, it was nice to see such a nice, long note today! I have added Pajama Diaries to my daily comics that I get – I get about 30 delivered to my inbox every day – our local newspaper kept dropping comics we like for newer ones that I suspect didn’t cost as much, so I started getting the ones I like online, then they dropped a few other things and started charging extra for the TV guide, and finally, we just gave up the paper altogether. I can get my crossword puzzles, and all the comics, Dear Abbey, etc., and of course, news abounds online. It’s too bad – we kept up our subscription for at least two years after they no longer really had anything we wanted, but the inevitable drops in quality finally told us that we didn’t need to be there for the last gasp. Too bad, but there it is.

I also just downloaded Heartshot to my Kindle, Nancy. Anyone else with a Kindle or the app, it’s just 99 cents – a really easy way to dip your toe in the waters to try out an author new to you.

Mostly what I’ve been reading lately are what are called Fan Fiction books based on Jane Austen’s writing. Having left only 6 full novels for us to love, but myriads of stories and characters we wonder about, it seems natural to keep telling their stories… some are just awful, but many are really very inventive and ingenious. Keeps me on my toes – I often have to go back to Austen to see if she really did write anything that would suggest such a thing. I’m here to tell you that she NEVER wrote anything about zombies or sea monsters, hahaha.

I’m thinking of starting a new re-read of Louise’s books, in readiness for the August release. I probably need a little more than the two weeks we took last time, as I’m a slow reader – I only read before bed, and sometimes don’t get much more than a few pages in before I drop off. I’m going to give myself a month for each, and then go back and re-read our comments, too. I have just one more big book that I’m working on now, and then I’ll start.

Julie, I’m so glad you and Barbara are going to be reading Heartshot. If you were nearby you would be welcome to borrow the others from me. I have them all so I can re-read whenever I feel like it. Anybody near Montreal??

Heartshot just came. I’m looking forward to reading it.
A little far from Montreal–Georgia– to borrow books.LOL

Nancy, I just requested Heartshot from the library. There were 2 copies available locally and 8 statewide. I just might have another LONG series to read…19 already.
I read LP’s postings everyday too. I once had a “possessed” washer. Found it sitting in the middle of the little laundry room. Funny now not so much then.
Anna, Saw a review on Elizabeth Is Missing, but won’t be reading it. Too close for me I fear. My mother-in-law now knows no one and doesn’t really talk. Recently, another member of our Church group was admitted to a nursing home with dementia.
Speculation on Harper Lee’s mental condition is in newspaper and on internet. Some feel she is not making statements attributed to her. They fear some form of manipulation. I hope not.
I wonder if anyone else is as fond of newspaper comics as I am. 9 Chickweed Lane, Pajama Diaries, The Dinette Set, Frazz and Overboard are favs although I read other too. Some are not in the local paper but I read them 0n G0C0mics.com. We weren’t allowed comic books or movie magazines as children. I read a friend’s . One of the movie magazines was Silver Screen. It’s odd that newspapers and all the magazines our parents read were fine for us to read as were any books from the library but no comic books. Did anyone else read comic books/movie mags?
My, I seem to be off and running today. The doldrums have hopefully gone for now.

Interesting about the comics. I don’t know the ones you mention but I do like Shoe and a few older ones. I tend to collect miscellaneous cartoons that strike my fancy and once started a scrapbook with them. I love the Peanuts ones, especially Snoopy. His WWII flying ones are great (I got a pilot’s license many years ago which is why the Loon in Shoe is also a favorite). I also worked for a children’s book publisher…no longer in business…and was the one who sent out those letters no one likes to receive. Sooo I loved Snoopy’s series on writing and have saved many of them. Charles Shultz had such an amazing sense of humor. I’m very disappointed in our paper’s comics. Guess I should figure out how to get the good ones on line but haven’t done that yet. Good comics help to lighten the day.

Are you all reading Louise’s daily blog? I LOVE it and it does help until we get the next book. Today she’s having trouble with the dryer. Be sure to take in the “helpful” comments from readers. Obviously her readers have a wonderful sense of humor. Makes my day.

Oh yes. I don’t know if I mentioned it before or not but I like Steven F. Havill books…especially his Posadas County series (think western setting, small police department and interesting characters). I’m going to start a re-read since I just found out that he has #20 coming out in April. Hope you will check it out. (The first one is called Heartshot and may be hard to find in libraries but easy to find on Amazon or other such places.)

You beat me Barbara. I was going to let you know about Harper Lee. Something to keep us interested while we wait.

Has anyone read “Elizabeth is Missing”? I can’t because the main character has dementia and I find that a bit hard but my daughter read it and enjoyed. She found it a little sad in parts and funny in others. She was asking me about the ending but I can’t help unless I read the book.

The Nature of the Beast. Can’t wait to learn who the “Beast” is. LP said most of the book will take place in Three Pines. Sounds great. Glad the audio books will continue. Ralph Cosham was absolutely wonderful. I enjoyed Bury Your Dead so much and kept the recording for the maximum time allowed. Winnie trying to speak French was priceless. I sometimes think the night is a strawberry as she said in French. I felt the fear of the English Community in Quebec as I listened to the words. We learned about the disenfranchisement of the French in an earlier book and the English fear that this will come around to them in Bury your Dead.
The Peter Robinson books are keeping me busy. Oh Sylvia, I’m now reading Cold is the Grave where Dirty Dick Burgess appears again. He first showed up in the third book, I think. The thought of him falling in the canal in Amsterdam and squishing as he walked through the hotel lobby was hilarious. Alan Banks is a good detective but more and more flawed.
Just heard on the News….Harper Lee is publishing her second novel..55 years after To Kill A Mockingbird the newscaster announced. Go Set A Watchman is the title. The book was written before To Kill A Mockingbird but takes place 20 years later. It features a grown Scout and will come out in July.
AUGUST is our month though.
Good Thoughts to all.

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