The Long Way Home, Chapters 31-41

The Long Way Home, Chapters 31-41

Well, we’ve finally reached Home. What were your overall impressions of the novel? Were all your questions answered? Were you surprised by the ending?
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Discussion on “The Long Way Home, Chapters 31-41”

Killing Peter was a terrible choice by the author. Those “lofty” lessons are not why we read these books. ALL the other recurring characters who make mistakes and almost die get to live. They learn and make better lives. Love for these characters is what keeps us coming back. We feel the hope and contentment they learn to embrace. We know they are going to get their happy endings. Peter deserved his with Clara. I wanted him to have it and so did all the readers who tried to write intelligent interpretations and justifications. Tell the truth, we didn’t like it when Peter died and we’re disappointed. If I want to ponder a Greek tragedy I’ll pick one up and read one. It’s not why I read these books. Shame on you Louise Penny. Killing Peter was a deliberate choice. It wasn’t necessary and it wasn’t true to the spirit of the series.

Peter may have seen the light, but only to the point where he was amazingly lucky enough to see answers about Life before he died. In a really fine story (go all the way back to the Greeks) those things Peter did earlier needed to be accounted for. That he was able to clear up so much with Clara before he died, is the miracle. Sometimes things that happen in a marriage cannot be forgotten and forgiven. He was given a ‘great Greek tragedy” way out here. And in our lives so much makes no sense or seems unfair. Ms. Penny’s books are a real and genuine reflection of real Life. There are many scoundrels who should have left us long ago and are still around and many good-hearted kind souls who left too soon. That her books reflect this truth about real life only adds to the glory of these mystery stories.

Your mention of the Greeks crystallized for me the epic nature of the journeys the characters are undertaking, particularly Peter and Gamache in this 10th book. Like Odysseus returning to peace and civilization after 10 years at war and 10 more in misadventures, Peter and Gamache require the help and intervention of women.

Shall we pop over to the reading guide and start there. The question about courage and cowardice speaks to me at the moment and the one about chiroscuro. I have always loved the great Renaissance painting and their use of light.

Was intrigued by this comment, admittedly is Dr Wiki but go with it:

Chiaroscuro modelling now is taken for granted, but had some opponents; the English portrait miniaturist Nicholas Hilliard cautioned in his treatise on painting against all but the minimal use we see in his works, reflecting the views of his patron Queen Elizabeth I of England: “seeing that best to show oneself needeth no shadow of place but rather the open light… Her Majesty… chose her place to sit for that purpose in the open alley of a goodly garden, where no tree was near, nor any shadow at all…”[6]

I prefer to see the shadows so the light is so much clearer………oh…….that puts my current place in perspective. That’s why our bistro is so welcoming…..the flickering fire against the darkness.

Just an aside. When painting in oils it’s easier to start with a dark canvas and add light. Remember the light of hope in Ruth’s eye was added by Clara last. That adds a little in understanding chiaroscuro.

When painting in water color it’s easier to start with a light painting surface, adding shadows as you paint.

Interesting! My brother is a wonderful painter in oils. I prefer pastel sticks. He starts with a white canvas and adds the shadows. I cannot do that. I start with very dark paper and add light. This actually fascinating me.

I love pastels too Millie. Want to try oils but more work to set up for me. Haven’t used the pastels for a while ……

There is chat on the reading group thread. It’s a new discussion page.

It’s has to do with the fact that you can lay white or light on dark with the oils. It’s hard to add white on dark with water colors or colored pencil, the medium is so thin.

Love the talk of art and the light and dark juxtaposition. Off I go to the new discussion page – missed all this yesterday as I was out all day.

I would love for the Scotsmen to be a seed.

We learned more about Ruth in this book, perhaps she will step forward a little in the future.

I also think that Jean Guy will perhaps lead out somewhat in the future. I liked how he developed in this book, his humor, his ease with himself. Though he’s still apt to be a little fragile. Perhaps there will be developments with him and Annie.

I really was surprised that Reine-Marie wasn’t asked to watch the bookstore; she was a librarian! But then she proved to be quite the investigator in her own right. Must have been all those Boxing Day ‘picnics’ at Armand’s office going thru unsolved cases. And also perhaps Armand and the women helping JG ‘cope’ with doing his job while being a daddy. That will be new to JG. Off to see the questions. 🙂

Hello again dear Anna! I have wondered about that too. Louise has given us a potentially strong link back to Bean since he/she was chosen by Peter to have his “new self” paintings. Seemed like such a mature and self-possessed child amid Peter’s extremely dysfunctional family in A RULE AGAINST MURDER. How did that happen? Perhaps he/she will soon be connected meaningfully with Clara and Three Pines due to the events in TLWH.

I agree that Three Pines needs kids, though as a childless person, I am also pleased that Louise features so many happy, functional adults that don’t have children. Not many authors do. Maybe with two of her siblings dead, Marianna will draw closer to Clara. Although Marianna is not entirely likable, she also isn’t awful, and she’s interesting. Maybe she and Bean could get a weekend/vacation home in Three Pines–I’d like to see more of both of them. Also, I’m sure Jean-Guy and Annie will be parents in the next book or the one after that. I can’t recall Louise’s having planted any seeds about it, but maybe Gabri and Olivier could become parents too. I know a lot of mysteries series that feature gay characters, but not any that have gay parents. It would be an interesting first.

Hi everyone, I’m just getting caught up after being too involved in meetings, etc. to be able to before. There’s something about Jean-Guy I’m curious about. After his injuries in the factory raid, he was in such pain that doctors prescribed Oxy-Contin and, apparently, anxiety relievers. It was these prescription drugs that he became addicted to. So when did he become an alcoholic? It had never seemed to me that he had a drinking problem, but now he’s attending AA faithfully every week – I think he should be in NA. Also I’d like to know who his sponsor is and if he goes to the same AA group he and Armand visited while working on the Lillian Dyson case. I felt quite fond of Brian and also of Thierry Pineault – what a story they had! So I’m curious as to why Jean-Guy is drinking ginger ale and coke and attending AA. Did any of you see evidence of an addiction to alcohol?

I don’t think there’s really been anything to suggest Jean-Guy has a problem specifically with alcohol. But from what I understand, people who have had substance abuse issues are supposed to stay away from all potentially addictive substances, so they don’t end up substituting one addiction for another. As to your other question, I don’t think there’s any reason to assume that Jean-Guy would be in the same AA group as the Judge. Montreal is a large city and they probably have many AA meetings. As far as his going to AA rather than NA, the latter is a much smaller group and meetings may be harder to find. I’m not sure of this, but I think NA was originally formed because at one time AA was not open to allowing other types of addicts to take part, but that they have changed their thinking.

The reading group guide is up with good questions. In one interview LP mentioned that she planted “seeds”, I think she said, for use in later books. She has since used some and would bring others in in later books. I have noticed that with other authors and know she has done this too. I wonder if anyone has noticed what might be a seed in TLWH. I can only think about Chartrand. That isn’t really a seed maybe but a certainty. I don’t read nearly as closely as some.

It’s not a seed specific to this book, but throughout the series Jean-Guy’s family has been conspicuous by their absence, though he has warm memories of his mother and his grandparents, and his mother is still living. But there was no mention of her at the wedding, or of her coming to the hospital when he was injured. And his father is never mentioned at all. That’s something I hope we learn more about. Also, I hope that in future we will learn more about Ruth’s late husband. He must have been a very special man to have appreciated a brilliant and difficult person like Ruth exactly as she was. Or maybe they had a troubled marriage that helps explain why Ruth is the way she is. Either way, I’m curious.

I awoke after a few yours of sleep and saw the lights were on at the Bistro and came in my night gown with my own cup of tea. So glad I did. Thank you Anna for taking the time to help me turn the page on that chapter of my life at the theatre. I finally have clarity on what actually happened. I had never thought of it that way. I’m especially touched that you guided me through that, even while dealing with your own present-day pain. I wish I could hold you in my arms and tell you, ‘it’ll be OK, you are not the only one facing the helpless feeling of not being capable of caring for one who cared for us. That does not make you a failure or a coward. It makes you a deeply caring daughter who simply does not have the training to meet the physical demands of your mom. There is a reason people who work in that field have special training. It’s not part of a daughter or son’s curriculum in school. Please don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re doing the best you can but, especially if you have a 13 y.o daughter you need to care for her too. Simply too much. But look at the wonderful example of caring you are modeling for your daughter when there are people who put the elderly in a home simply because they don’t want to be bothered.
You earn an extra feather in your Angel Wings. ‘Love they neighbor (mom) as thyself’. We seem to forget the ‘thyself’ part of that statement. And know that there are many at this Three Pines who love you and support you.

And Barbara, although I didn’t see your posts prior to the discussions of this book, I’ve seen your writing bloom from your earlier posts in this book’s section. I’m so glad you no longer feel the problems of no ‘eye contact’. This is more like contact of the heart.

I too would like to offer my gratitude to all involved in creating and participating in this little ‘Village’ which is not in any map, but exists in the hearts of those who stumble on it and choose not to leave – who find a home here. As Anna said, ‘a place where kindness and caring exists’.

Love to you too Millie. What you wrote about seeing the lights on in the bistro and pottering in dressed in your night gown with a cup of tea………I felt that and it made me warm and I smiled for the first time today. Then I read the rest and blubbered but that’s ok. Thank you so much for dropping by when needed. Like Barbara being awake……you were both a sight for very sore, red eyes as I sat by the bistro fire. I feel now we are on the sofas and arm chairs, feet up on ottomans, fresh cups of tea….enjoying the quiet and absorbing the peace of the place and the friendship. It is so lovely.

Paul, you would have had no idea when this started how important and needed the book club would become. Who could know. I didn’t know when it started that on one of the most emotional days of my life that it would here I would find comfort. How extraordinary. Be proud Paul. Whatever inspired this idea, it has evolved beyond anything imaginable. I know I thanked you but 🙂 again.

When I read that Millie had wandered in with her own cup of tea, I got a lump in my throat – it’s as if Myrna has just arrived, as I know she can just wander in without going outside… By now, we’re all drifting in – cups of tea or coffee at the ready – another wonderful day in Three Pines. Isn’t it great how we can all get the best seats by the fire? I’m looking at the price tag of this chair and seriously considering taking it home with me!

Anna – I feel so privileged to see how this community has gathered for such a difficult day for you – and that you were comforted. I know it can be hard – my mum was in assisted living (a very nice place) for the last few years of her life, and she resisted mightily. Only my younger brother was anywhere near her, however, and he and his wife both had to work, so couldn’t be there for her all day, which she really needed. It took about 3 months, but she grew to be very happy there, and made a lot of new friends. I know it was the right place. When I visited her there, I would stay with her in her tiny apartment, and could see that all was well. She had a good routine – enough privacy and enough society. She’d had a series of small strokes, and the irony is that, after those, she was much more pleasant to be around. I think she forgot that she was supposed to be mad about something, and just let things go so much more. I’ve tried to remember that lesson – she was happier, and so were those around her.

Anna, you are in a very difficult stage of life. You have to believe you have chosen wisely. I’m not going to burden you with the stories of what my sister and I experienced with widowed aunts and one who never had married. I had Daddy living with me and my husband then Daddy fell and 5 weeks of horror ensued. I destroyed my health with constant hospital vigils with Daddy. He came home for a three weeks between visits where I almost forgot what sleep was. Remember no matter what you must not forget yourself. Damaging your health would not be what your Mother wanted and would serve no purpose. I blamed myself for the fall and have only last year forgiven myself. Daddy died on Good Friday 2000.
I love the posts about the Bistro. They’re right. We’re there with you. Don’t forget… You are permitted to laugh even now.

Thank you everyone for sitting with me by the fire when I needed you. Thank you Julie and Barbara for sharing your stories. Mum and dad have been living with me for four years but the last few months and the last fortnight have taken their toll with no sleep. Mum has Alzheimer’s so to hear about Michael and Louise’s start on that journey has resonated.

Most importantly thanks for the permission to laugh, I know you understand I needed that.

No as for those seeds…..I can see so many areas where we could get great character development as you guys have already mentioned. I like the idea of RM the detective! And of course Ruth. I suspect Myrna still has tales to tell too.

I can imagine Lacoste is going to need help and Jean Guy is going to step up. But are there actual clues to what the problem might be? What about beyond Three Pines? Any trouble been brewing?

Hmmmm – I think of some of the seeds dropped as bread-crumbs that will eventually grow into a full loaf. Some of the ones I’d love to see realized is the hare and rabbit, stone and real juxtaposition. I, too, think that Bean will soon be ready for a story – perhaps where we find out his/her sex. Scotland -Dumfries and the Garden of Cosmic Speculation – love to see Clara visit there and have her own epiphany… There ought to be some meaty stuff around Jean-Guy, as has been discussed – and maybe also Dominique – what drew her to the misfit horses she rescued… Finally, I’d love to know more about Gabri. He’s probably my favorite villager. His heart is so true and full of love, and he is so comfortable with who he is. Given how different he is, that can’t have been easy for him – I’d love to know more about his upbringing. Though I won’t be able to stand it if it turns out he’s murdered somebody, so…. maybe I should let sleeping dogs lie, hahaha. Ruth – there’s lots to explore there – but a lot of her charm is also the mystery about her. Annie is still not fully realized in my mind yet, either – or Daniel. There’s lots to choose from.

I’m sure that Chartrand will be back in the next book – I can only hope it’s just for a short time – I don’t know why, but I cannot warm up to him.

Yes Paul, thank you and Louise. Most of all thanks to everyone who popped in to the club and everyone who sat outside listening but didn’t speak.

Paul, as you know this site has evolved into something much more than a group of people discussing books. To me it is something of a phenomenon. This is a result of the power of Louise Penney’s words. She has created characters we have come to love and make a part of our lives. With her words, she has brought together a group of diverse yet deeply connected people.
I don’t have the words to express exactly what I want to say. We call ourselves Three Piners and speak of meeting at the Bistro. We feel the spirit and sheltering care of the village.
Ms Penney is not only an outstanding author but has an exceptional understanding of people and touches our souls.
Thank you to all who have made our community possible.

Love to you Barbara, you may not be but I am glad you were awake tonight and now of all times. It means so much. Doesn’t feel far away. Feels right here, thank you.

You didn’t miss it, I just haven’t said anything. It’s been too hard.

Anna, I was surprised to read that you are in a difficult place in life. You have been s(o helpful and encouraging to everyone. I would have thought you were sailing along on calm waters. I missed that didn’t I. Your help and encouragement mean even more because you reached out to others while you were in a bad place yourself. May tomorrow be better. Perhaps I should say today as it is 3AM here. Husband is really snoring tonight so I finally gave up on sleep. Caring thoughts to you from an ocean and a continent away.

Whew! What a busy two days. No ‘Knowlton Duck Festival’ as Ms Penny had the pleasure of attending, but good.

OK, here goes in no particular order. (I see now how/why some posts go uncommented: it’s hard to jump back in!)

BARBARA, thank you for saying I had “nothing to apologize for. So glad you became a Three Piner. You are you know.”…
So I won’t apologize for doing what Ruth said one shouldn’t do in Chapter 31, p 277:

“Don’t get me wrong, I believe in using your head. But not spending too much time in there. Fear lives in the head. And courage lives in the heart. The job is to get from one to the other.”

I spent too much time in my head, got scared and ended up sounding like Gabri in How the Light Gets In, Chapter 28, p 239:

“What are we talking about?” asked Olivier…
“Me,” said Gabri. “Me, me, me.”

JULIE: I had to ask my husband what was Hotel California. I am so grateful that there is now Google, Wiki, YouTube… He just knows where to look, And I’m grateful he no longer asks, “You’re kidding, right?” Tho I’m not sure I really ‘get’ or like the song, I do get what you were telling me. And thank you for saying, “You are integral to ‘us’ now… 🙂

Thanks to you too, LINDA, for your, “If you leave ‘we’ shall surely cry.” As my husband is fond of saying, ‘Let’s not and say we did’… Ironically, it was he who taught me it was OK to cry but then blow your nose and carry on. 🙂

LIZZY, you have no idea how much it meant to me when you said, “But it’s my problem, not yours.” I think you’ll understand in a bit… For now, thank you! 🙂

And now, just for you, Miss ANNA. I said I wasn’t going to apologize so instead I shall tell you a story. It may not brighten your life, but hopefully will at least distract you while going through your own difficult time.

I mentioned, somewhere, I had been a member of a community theatre board of directors in another lifetime. (That was OK. There was no pay.) I was good at writing press releases, publicity, marketing, fundraising, even producing. Even helping costumers, set designers, builders and set dressers. That was FUN. Go shopping with someone else’s money and redecorate every few months… Opening night felt like giving birth – for the benefit of those who have never had children: you are so relieved it’s DONE and so happy it’s alive and people are clapping. Seriously tho, it is a joyous feeling to have ‘put on a show’. There is also a sense of ‘we can move on now’.

Then the time came to elect new board members to replace those whose tenure in a certain position was approaching. When it came time to select a president, the vote had only one nay. Mine! Seriously? What do you NOT want me to do so I can take on the tasks of madame president? I was handed the keys before the gavel closed the meeting.

Turns out I was good at it.. And I read. Books on holding a board meeting, books on running a non-profit, books on running a theatre. 😀 I was not only good at it, I enjoyed it. Tremendously… until one day.

I received a phone call from a member who had been on the board for much longer than I. She asked if she could please stop by my house, she wanted to tell me something and wouldn’t take too much of my time. “Of course,” I said.

She arrived, I prepared tea, and she began. She told me she was going to step down from the board because she felt ‘stupid’ around me.
“Why?” I asked. “Have I done something to embarrass you?”
No, she just felt that she had been at the threatre longer than I, and yet I she didn’t understand what I did… But, but… No, it was also my choice of words, my this, my that… And she left.

LIZZY, that’s why I was ready to leave. I didn’t want anyone else to feel like that. And that was why your words of it not being my problem meant so much. BUT, Lizzy, please, always remember there is a HUGE difference between being stupid and simply not having had training in writing or whatever. I did in a way. Lots of essays during many years of schooling. My path. My husband whose path was the sciences, could not write a decent essay to safe his life when I met him, yet listening to him speak entranced me. Lizzy, we all have different ways of expressing ourselves. Sooooo….. in the word of an author I did not have the pleasure of growing up with:
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who matter don’t care and those who care don’t matter.” -Dr. Seuss
Good night, all.

Millie – Hotel California was a part of my misspent youth, and I couldn’t imagine anyone liking it who wasn’t part of the whole experience, hahaha. I never expect rock songs to make any sense – and I’m sure someone, somewhere has written an entire treatise on the deep meaning, but to me, it’s a cute tune, and a lyric with a hook. The only part I was invoking was the “don’t leave” part!

Millie, some people mistake time served for self education and improvement. You worked and studied hard on the theatre board so you could do the job to the best of your ability. The other woman could have done the same if she felt she was lacking in some way, or asked for your your help. Instead what she heard was your improvement and growth and ideas was emphasizing her inadequacy. It was unfair of her to lay her departure from the board on you, it was her problem and her choice.

When we don’t own our choices and deflect blame to others we don’t grow. The trick is not to let our own propensity for introspection and desire to accept fault, paralyse our own growth.

Every time we say, I’m not good enough, we have to work out whether it’s true and what we can do about it. That’s what you are doing. It’s what Gamache was doing having counseling with Myrna and reading his father’s book. Examine our perceived failings, real or not, and work out the way forward.

Of course this is all easy to say and less easy to do.

My darling brother, best friend and 13 y.o daughter settled my poor mum in a nursing home today because I was too emotionally and physically exhausted to do it. It’s absolutely the right thing but of course I feel like a coward and a failure even though I know intellectually it had to happen and she is in a nice place. But the tears still keep coming.

Thanks for coming back Millie. Thanks to everyone for creating our own Three Pines which, as Louise Penny said, is the place she goes when she wants to be kind. It’s the place I have been coming to see kindness displayed.

Anna, I too have been where you are today. It’s a difficult decision to make and so difficult to do. There will be difficult days, but there will also be days to treasure. Be very aware there are many who came before you who can and will be willing to help, just don’t be afraid to ask. There are many who have never read Louise Penny who are still Three Piners at heart.

Millie, thanks for sharing your heart and story. It was an encouragement.
Anna, hugs to you. I am a nurse in an assisted living. We also have a dementia unit. I love working with the families and helping their loved ones transition. My goal is to bring smiles to these dear folk who have lived lives as we are now loving and to keep,their dignity as their aging bodies begin to betray them.

Here’s a funny about Hotel California. I got stranded at the Denver airport. Finally got a connecting flight to my destination in Montana arriving at 4 am. We finally hooked up to a rental car and drove off to find our hotel. Our luggage was lost, and we were exhausted. We finally pulled in at 5 am to grab a room and shut eye. When we got out of the car, the motel,had music piped into the parking lot and Hotel California was playing. We just stared laughing. What else could we do!

Love that story, Lizzy – can hardly believe you had the strength to go in – I’d have been cowering in the parking lot, I think, hahaha.

Thank you Linda and Lizzy for the kind support. It is a difficult road to navigate. I have looked after her for four years full time and it is hard to let go…..I so appreciate your and everyone’s support. I will leave a message in the reading guide thread for you too in case you don’t pop back here…..just don’t want to distract from the discussion. Yes there are Three Piners everywhere even if they don’t know it.


4 years is a long time. We took care of my mother in law for 1. She would throw knives at me. She locked my daughter and me in the basement. Our kids came to my husband and me and said that they could see us changing before their eyes and we were so full of stress. So we put her in a facility. It was the best but I still felt so guilty. What helped was one day she was very lucid and asked why she was at our house. We told her we loved her and were going to take care of her. She became very adamant about not being a burden and that we should put her in a nursing home. That was the only thing that helped. I admire you and support you.

Wow Lizzy. That must have been a difficult year. My mum is two people, one lovely and cuddly, the other angry and paranoid. It’s so much easier to care for the first. I am so glad you had permission in that moment to place your MIL. Unfortunately my mum never wanted to go to a home. She worked in one. I think now she thinks she is at work at times.

Yesterday was good. Today is tough. It will get better. The place she is has a heart thank goodness.

You are so very welcome LIZZY. You are what I call “an angel on earth”. Thank YOU for being one of the kind souls who cares for our aging loved ones when our own hearts are breaking. My godfather / uncle, who recently passed, had dementia as did a younger uncle, as does my own dad now. Last evening I found out my godmother is dying in a hospital… Too choked up to participate much in the questions page just yet. But like ANNA needed to pop in the Bistro and give you a hug for what you do for the world – for us with aging family.

Big hugs Millie. I know what you mean. I have been finding it hard to involve in the discussions at the moment. Made an effort yesterday but just sitting quietly by the fire right now. Sit with me and have a cuppa and I will hold your hand.

So sorry to hear you have so many sad tales. I do understand.

Want to hear some good news. Yesterday was awful with mum but she had a good night, saw the physio today, thinks the dining room is like a restaurant and is much brighter and happier. There are good days and bad days but there are good days. Every little good thing looks brighter after so much darkness lately.

I hope you can feel the warmth of the fire and the comfort of the tea and company. Never alone Millie.

And I agree Lizzy, you are an angel. The work needs more Lizzys. We have met some at mums home and they are helping us so much. Know that families like mine need what you do so much. Thank you

ANNA, the warmth of the fireplace, and knowing there are angels among us must have given me the grace to relax and actually get a few hours of sleep. Much needed. I hope you felt our love wrap around you even if not our words. I find it interesting that more than one of us who have parents, loved ones with dementia, or a form of it, find the comfort of ‘this Bistro’ so especially important. Ms Penny is right, in many ways it is not something that someone not experiencing it can understand. The heart wrenching sadness of seeing the beloved person who took care of us, helped us grow, is now the child we must nurture? To see the mind that opened the world, the universe for us now doesn’t always remember our name?

I take refuge when hearing some of Ms Penny’s interviews / conversations on video where she says her husband sees the world with joy. If this is any help to you, Anna, I think of my dad sometimes as being a naughty four year old in a grown body. He gets into so much mischief when no one is watching… 🙂 That helps. What doesn’t help is that they live so very far away. If you can, try to take comfort that you can visit your mom any time. It breaks my heart when I call their home and hear my dad ask who mom is speaking to. When she answers, “It’s Mily, I’m talking to Mily,” I then hear my dad say, “Ah! Tell her I give her a big hug and ask her if she can come visit me…”

Well, I’m not doing a good job of helping you laugh or even smile, am I? But if you can, find comfort that you live close to your mom. It will get better and easier for you. For now I’ll just wipe the tear trickling down my cheek and hold your hand. I’m sure you’ll join me as I bless Ms Penny for opening the dialogue of dementia…

Perhaps in a few days I can discuss the the thoughts about the light and dark of painting you were interested in. I see they haven’t gotten there yet on the questions thread.

And thank you PAUL for allowing us to go ‘off topic’…

Millie, I absolutely felt the love and I wish to give it back as well. I am glad you were able to sleep a little. When we are tired everything is so much worse. I do appreciate that I can be with mum and we have found a nice place for her. It is so much harder for you being far away from your dad. But, you can only do what you can do. I love the image of the mischievous four year old. My mum can be so funny and cheeky. She is ok tonight. I went and we tucked her in. My daughter was dancing and doing funny things and it helped so much.

I had my mum in ER once and she said “What’s that thing that is wrong with me?” And I said Alzheimer’s and she said, “oh, that’s right, I forgot” and started laughing at what she had just said. Then she would keep asking me, “What’s that funny thing I said?”. She laughed about that for ages. Those days are gone but it reminds me of her sense of humour.

My sister lives over your side of the pond. She is finding this really tough as she wants to be here. I understand how tough that can be.

It’s so nice though, after these emotional days, to come back to the gentle quiet of the bistro at night. Think I might have a liquorice pipe and Gabri has a tray of hot chocolate for us.

Paul, you are a lovely person. Sit a while and watch the fire with us…….can I get you a liquorice pipe too?

My husband and I visit several caring facilities each week with our therapy pets. It’s so important for families to know that we see their loved ones getting good care, getting hugs, smiling, singing. There are so many good caregivers!

oh my, Millie! You are too kind. It’s what any of you would do. I’m sorry to hear about your Dad. It’s such a long journey, a long good bye. I think from what I’ve seen, that it is harder on us, then them. Once they cross that line and are on the other side so to speak, they don’t realize as much. But we still remember them as they were. I’m so sorry about your godmother. Hugs and prayers to you.
I do love the idea how this is the bistro and we can some in here any time, in any form of dress, and be welcomed. We can warm our hands on our hot mugs as we warm each others hearts.

Julie, I’m glad that you mentioned Gamache being willing to go into the darkest rooms in his mind to confront what is there. I think that is what Clara was doing when she told G. that she had wished Peter dead. She trusted Armand enough to tell him what was in one of the darkest rooms of her mind. Maybe airing it will help her later. A thought is not an action. I was not disappointed in Clara when she admitted that thought to Gamache. Anna said, “The desire to be rid of problems is natural.” Exactly! Thoughts are not magic and examining thoughts that alarm us, even shame us, can strip them of their power, I think. I hope this makes sense. I lost a post about this earlier. It was possibly more coherent, but it’s GONE!

I think you are right – it IS good to confront what’s there, and if we were judged on our thoughts, I’d be in big trouble, hahaha. It was really strong of Clara to be able to admit it. It’s not that I’m judging her – it’s more that I worry about her judging herself later.

KB, What a gift! I read many years ago that some people are gifted in aiding the passage of others. I agree with the Indian Shaman who told Meg’s sister that it is an honor to be at another’s passing. You are blessed.
I not surprised that “life” sometimes keeps us too busy to get to everything. I still remember working 8-10 hours, rushing in the carport door, putting down my handbag and preparing our evening meal after which I did laundry. No children, just a hungry husband to be fed. I have to say I enjoy the more leisurely pace of retirement…..except when I get too greedy and try to participate in all the activities I am interested in, in our town.
I hope the time comes when you can nurture your creative side.
I’m anything but a “baby whisperer”. In my arms, a happily cooing baby turns into something else entirely.

Julie, earlier I checked out your website but not the “freebies” since I don’t stitch. After reading about the alphabet and your friend’s death, I went back and looked at them. If Doris, a dear friend, were still alive, I would be sure she knew about them. Her work was beautiful. A treasured possession is a bookmark she did for me.
Doris enjoyed Halloween very much and I thought of her when you said your friend’s year round designs were Halloween themed. Doris would have enjoyed them.

I’ve loved that song for a long time. Thanks for the thoughts, I’m glad to hear someone else’s take. It will be in my mind all day as I process your comments, not a bad thing! To add another piece, I first heard the song on an episode of West Wing, when the President and one of his cabinet were shot. An inspired choice, do you think? Makes me think of Jean Guy and Gamache.

Meg R – You have put into words my discomfort with this book and The Brutal Telling. Thank you for that. Despite that, I am still a devoted reader because of the richness of the characters, the humour, the community, and the moments of grace that I have not experienced with other authors – not even the ones you mentioned. There is something about Ms. Penny’s writing that resonates spiritually for me. It can touch the soul.
Millie – I was one of the people who was “absent”. It was not you – or the others who have been more active. It was life interfering – job, hockey tryouts for kids, and battling the flu. I love that so many people in this group have aspirations to write. That speak to me too. I have long felt that I’ve abandoned creativity for the drudgery (and sometimes joy) of practicality. My work has been intellectually satisfying but not spiritually fulfilling. My family is wonderful, but there is so much busyness…. It gives me hope that one day I will find the time and the courage to celebrate the creative side of myself again. Thanks to all of you for that.
It did strike me that the group has become much less of a strict discussion group and more like a group of friends in a book group with munchies and wine. Sometimes the discussion about the book is at the forefront, and sometimes it is in the background as friends catch up with each other.
And, Barbara H., I was known as the baby whisperer in my family. Somehow, it was easy to figure out how to calm their distress and ease them to sleep. And I seem to have that same gift with family members during their passing to the next life.


Yes, I DO like and enjoy Louise’s 3 P’s and Gamache circles of characters tremendously, and her humor, and her interactions between characters. I sometimes just wish that she’d stick to them, rather than feel the need to add a murder to the mix. I used E. George & PD James as examples off of the top of my head as writers who smoothly interweave character threads with integral crime ones smoothly. That’s all – not a preference of one set of characters over another. Just feel they do the integration more smoothly.

A last note. about whisperers. My youngest sister, who has three grown children of her own, seems to have been endowed with the magic touch to calm and put any baby to sleep too – sometimes to the dismay of infants mothers! :~D (maybe big boobs to nestle against is part of the draw.

Although many folks would dread being with someone at the moment of death, a Navajo shaman told another sister that being present with another at that moment is one of the greatest honors and gifts that can be bestowed on both the dying person and the one present with them. It is very difficult to say to someone that you love very much, “It’s okay. You can let go.” – when you long to selfishly keep them with you as long as possible. But, at the same time, on realizes that the other’s suffering shouldn’t be inflicted any longer. That moment of passage marks you, leaves an impression on both your heart and soul that stays with you forever. You are a gift and blessing to your family.

Thanks for the article. Have been an E. George fan and reader since her first Inspector Lyndley book. Was surprised to discover that she was born not too far across our adjoining state border!! For some reason or other, I always thought her roots were in the west coast or Great Britain.

You state that “. . . Elizabeth explores the darker side of human nature” ( –from very first sentence of the article you cite above). Whereas Louise explores ‘How the Light Gets In’. Two aspects, two parts of the same whole.”

Have found that heartstrings have been wrenched by what both of George’s main characters have had to face, accept, recover and move on from. Looking at “darker side” doesn’t mean that George is incapable of creating great empathy for these two in her readers and only looks at darkside stuff!

I’m not sure I agree with your statement above. Both authors look at the ‘darker side of human nature” – otherwise, we’d see no murders in their tales. Maybe George’s tales carry stronger motivations for crimes because she also is certified in psychology/psychiatry? – one of them. Think some people confuse meaning of Leonard Cohen’s phrase which Penny’s borrowed and overused all through out her books. “How the light gets in”.

Well – here’s Leonard Cohen explaining the meaning of this phrase:

  Interview 1992
     (from “The Future Radio Special”, a special CD released by Sony)
“About the meaning of the chorus

…That is the background of the whole record, I mean if you have to come up with a philosophical ground, that is “Ring the bells that still can ring”. It’s no excuse…the dismal situation.. and the future is no excuse for an abdication of your own personal responsibilities towards yourself and your job and your love. “Ring the bells that still can ring” : they’re few and far between but you can find them. “Forget your perfect offering” that is the hang-up that you’re gonna work this thing out. Because we confuse this idea and we’ve forgotten the central myth of our culture which is the expulsion from the garden of Eden. This situation does not admit of solution of perfection. This is not the place where you make things perfect, neither in your marriage, nor in your work, nor anything, nor your love of God, nor your love of family or country. The thing is imperfect. And worse, there is a crack in everything that you can put together, physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind. But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where the resurrection is and that’s where the return, that’s where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things.”

Cohen isn’t saying at all that Optimism, cheery faces/people are the opposite of the “dark side of human nature.” He’s saying that we’re all imperfect. (Go back and look at lists of such in ‘Anthem’ song lyrics that come before the chorus!) – that we personally can only ‘let the light in” when we not only recognize our own imperfections, ‘sins’, weaknesses – but also then take the responsibility of attempting to change/improve those things. We illuminate our own faults by shedding light on them by self-reflection — and by having that ‘wattage’ grow as we make attempts at redemption/improvement. (Isn’t this what our Peter attempted to do in LWH?)

Being able to look at the worst in humans while also being able to look at ourselves and our own responsibilities are not polar opposites. They’re two totally different processes/actions. Does this make any sense?

I’m always reminded of a frequent statement in the books that Gamache was not afraid to look in the darkest rooms of his soul (or something to that effect). That he was willing to do that for himself, helped him to find the solutions to other evil, in the crime-du-jour. That said, I think that the books are more about good than evil – or rather, that a person who immerses him or herself in evil (such as a Surete inspector) can still have an overriding character of good, and can still see the good in others as clearly as the evil.

I do think you can’t have good without evil. And I do that that E. George focuses on the darker side, while L.Penny focuses on the good, in the end.

While Ms. George was born in Ohio, she was moved with her parents to California when just an infant. She grew up and was a teacher in California for many years. Her last book afterword notes she wrote from Whidbey Island, Washington.

She does blend her murder with her character development in quite a different manner than does Ms. Penny. Frankly I’m glad for the difference. I do prefer variety. I do love her characters, and enjoy my visits with them though they always make me feel a bit chilly. It would make for an interesting vacation with friends but I would hesitate to live there without a fireplace.

If I were to compare Ms. Penny to another favorite author of mine it would be to Maeve Binchy with large dollops of Agatha Christy. The characters are rich and multi-layered. I laugh, I cry, I have an adventure with friends in a place I’d like to live. The murder may not be so intricate, but I love that there’s good twists an some unexpected turns along the way.

I’m a pretty worthless critic. If there are parts of a book I don’t care for I follow the advice of my first beloved librarian, I turn the page and move on. If I find I’ve flipped through too many pages, I do as someone jokingly suggested, put the book down and back away. ;-/ I’ve never felt the urge to do so with any of Louise’s books.

I like the ebb and flow of her words. I like how there’s always something she writes about that I look up because it was new to me and I wanted to learn more. Were there some books I liked better than others? Yes. But each actually seemed part of the whole.

Thank you. I was unfamiliar with Leonard Cohen and his music. I finally looked up “That’s how the light gets in”. I had not done so earlier because I was turned off by the repetitious use of the idea in the books. I had never heard it before. I’m so glad I looked it up at last. I so enjoy all I am learning here.

Thank you! There are several, (who am I kidding?) SO many comments I want to express by gratitude towards, but today we are celebrating my elder son’s 30th birthday and I simply don’t have time other than to just say thank you for the warm embrace and I’ll be back.

Millie, I just woke up and got an awful shock by what I was reading. I’m rubbing sleep from my eyes and trying to scroll and figure out what happened. Still not entirely sure. I hope you have a lovely day with your son and the family celebrating.

I haven’t been saying much of a personal nature because life is soooooo hard at the moment. I actually went through several books where I missed posting so there are lots of reasons people might lurk and not say anything. I hope they are having fun reading and I hope they chime in. I always worry a bit if we miss commenting on someone’s post but sometimes they are complete in themselves and I have nothing of value to add. I am sorry to anyone who feels left out if that happens but please don’t think we don’t want you if it it does. Stuff gets missed sometimes.

Being empathic is both good and bad. You feel but sometimes you feel so much it can be scary or easy to talk yourself into thinking that you got something wrong. I shall call you Silly Millie if you do that.

Bring yourself and your stories and brighten my life please cause I am crying most of the day except when I am here and now I can’t see what I am typing through my tears……

Anna – this is so sad to read! I’m so sorry that life is so difficult right now. Please hang in there and please keep coming back and talking with us all… You have the uncanny ability to cut right through an issue to the heart!

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