Reading Group Guide

Now that we’ve made it Home, here are the official reading group questions for The Long Way Home. Discuss below, and when you’re done, enter for a chance to win a signed first edition copy of Still Life (contest now closed).

Reading Group Questions for THE LONG WAY HOME

  1. Clara first approaches Gamache with great ambivalence: wanting (though fearing) to know what happened to Peter, while reluctant to disturb Gamache’s newfound peace. How did you feel about the decisions they both make at this point?
  2. “I thought he’d come home,” Clara says of Peter. Did you? How did your view of him change in the course of the book?
  3. What does it mean to you to be a “brave man in a brave country”? How does courage—or cowardice—feature in this novel?
  4. On the first page of the book, we hear about Armand Gamache’s repeated gesture, “so tiny, so insignificant.” What is the true significance of this and other seemingly inconsequential actions in this story?
  5. What do you think of Ruth’s role in this story? For example, consider the scene in Massey’s studio, where she “seemed to have lost her mind. But found, Reine Marie thought, her heart.”
  6. Both Peter and Gamache’s father, in a sense, disappear. What is the impact of this kind of loss on Clara and Gamache? Have you ever experienced anything similar in your own life?
  7. There is so much about art and the creative process in this book. How do we see that unfold in the lives not only of Clara and Peter, but also of Norman and Massey? For example, what do you make of the Salon des Refusés? What do you think it meant to the artists themselves?
  8. What roles do creativity and acclaim (or obscurity) play in the lives of both Clara and Peter? In their marriage? Do you believe that Clara and Peter’s marriage could have been saved?
  9. Louise has sometimes talked about the importance of chiaroscuro—the play of light and shadow—in her work. What are the darkest and the lightest points in this novel? What are some humorous moments, and how did you respond to them?
  10. Peter’s paintings look completely different from different perspectives. How does that apply to other characters or events in the story?
  11. In Chapter Six, Myrna observes about jealousy: “It’s like drinking acid, and expecting the other person to die.” How does jealousy play out in the lives of various characters here? What effects have you seen it have in real life?
  12. How does Clara’s quote from one of her favorite movies, “Sometimes the magic works,” play out in the story?
  13. While a number of Louise’s books end in unexpected ways, the conclusion of this one is particularly shocking. How did you feel as you were reading it, and what do you think when you look back at it now?
  14. In some ways Clara’s quest to find Peter recalls such classic journeys as The Odyssey and The Heart of Darkness. What are the most significant discoveries the central figures in this novel make along the way?
Printable Version: The Long Way Home Reading Group Guide [PDF]

Paul Hochman

Discussion on “Reading Group Guide

  1. Cathryne Spencer says:

    Good point, Julie. “I always get the idea that Ruth knows the answers long before anyone else does, but she can’t quite figure out how to communicate it to others.” (Or maybe even to herself.) Maybe the only one who could read and speak Ruth was Jane Neal. I was so relieved to find out that Ruth was, in fact, afraid of Massey, not infatuated. Her behavior was, as you say, out of character. It gave me the creeps!

  2. Millie says:

    LESLEY, you’re last comment on the ch 31-41 section discussion was wonderful. Please copy and paste it here. It sheds wonderful light to the ‘classic journeys’ question.

  3. Kathy Bradley says:

    I’m so sad to hear that the beloved voice of Armond, Ralph Cosham, has died. What a loss for his family and for us all! He made the audio books come alive. He will be missed so much.

    • Julie says:

      So many of you have said how much you love listening to him reading the books – his loss will be felt far and wide, I think. So very sad.

  4. Barbara H. Johnson says:

    Julie, your comments on Peter’s art brought up some very interesting points. I think Peter’s new work might be what Chartrand is interested in. That would explain his interest. It can’t be only an attraction to Clara, can it ? I too think the ownership of the last of Peter’s works will be important.

    • Julie says:

      I truly don’t think Chartrand is interested in Clara – her art, maybe – but not her. I know I will probably not turn out to be right, but I just don’t trust him.

      • Millie says:

        But, Chartrand didn’t even know about Peter’s paintings until after he had welcomed the Three Piners to his apartment above the gallery… OK, I admit I’m prejudiced. I happen to like him. So im taking his ‘word’ that he never discussed anything with Peter or saw his art. But I just don’t see Peter showing it to anyone. He sent them to Bean! I want to see all the doubts the characters have about Chartrand as a ‘red herring’ to keep us wondering about him. Unfortunately, enough times in my life my tendency to ‘see good in people first’ has made me have moments of doubt. But I still believe it. I just cannot have peace in my heart with a mind full of suspicion. I don’t think those who do are wrong. Just saying it doesn’t work for me. It will be interesting to see where Ms Penny takes this.

        • Julie says:

          It will be, Millie. And I love that you see the good and are willing to take it at face value – I expect you’ll end up being right. I just can’t put my finger on it, but I don’t feel easy about him. But I’m probably wrong…

        • Barbara H. Johnson says:

          Millie, I can’t wait for the truth about Chartand to be known. I might just be too suspicious. I am so ready for book 11. LP’s writing is so captivating.

        • Sylvia H. says:

          I think our concerns about Chartrand stem from Armand’s. He, as a detective, is trained to have a suspicious mind, and he’s not too sure of Chartrand’s motives. Because we love Armand, who isn’t always right after all, we perhaps tend to see things and people the way he does. So it will indeed be very interesting to see where Louise goes with this.

      • Linda Maday says:

        i think Chartrand is interested in Clara and find it difficult to understand why others think it impossible.

        • Julie says:

          Linda, I have no trouble at all seeing why someone wouldn’t be interested in Clara. It’s Chartrand that I don’t trust – not that Clara is worthy of having a suitor. There’s something there – I don’t know what, and I guess it’s probably that I trust Gamache so much. He doesn’t trust Chartrand, through the journey they take, and I guess I figure there must be some reason. And I know, that by the end of the book, he DOES seem to trust Chartrand, but I still don’t feel that way. But it’s not that I think it’s impossible that someone would be interested in her.

  5. Barbara H. Johnson says:

    Anna, Hope your Mother has settled in well. Good thoughts and remember to take care of yourself, too.

    • Anna says:

      Thank you Barbara. It’s a process. Yesterday was better but she wants to come home. It’s a long way home for everyone.

      I look at question 6 above and think, yes, but I am still watching my parents disappear. They seem to be fading out. And then I think about courage and how it is passive as well as active. Takes courage to watch things happen. Takes courage to let things happen. Takes courage to let go as well as hold on.

      • Millie says:

        “She wants to come home…” That really made me pause and think. What is home? Where is home? Really? Where our belongings are? Were our family lives? Where we had / left memories?
        Why do we become so attached to one single place as being ‘home’? Or a city or village?

        Why did I cry when the movers cleared the last bits of our previous house into to moving truck and I made a 360 degree turn and only saw an empty shell of what I thought would be home where grandchildren would one day play? It wasn’t destiny that had other plans, more like the company my husband works for decided for us. But thinking back, our youngest protested the loudest, “This is the only home I’ve known!” While I was thinking, lucky kid! I was scared but had to put on a brave face not only for our sons but for my husband. I had to dig deep to find the courage to let things and people go. “To let things happen,” as Anna said.

        Once again,extended family, friends, commitments all disappeared for me. Not from ‘reality’ but from my daily interaction with them. Our last night we had dinner at my parent’s house before heading to the hotel the company had arranged for us to stay next to the airport. I remember walking into my grandmother’s room and telling her I was saying good night. I just couldn’t bring myself to say good bye. She was 93 and had given up living and was usually ‘not there’, but that night she looked at me and asked if my husband and I were OK. I said yes, why? She said she could tell from the first time she met him that he would take care of me well, and then she said, “Good bye, I can rest now.” She died two months after we moved… In all the years of her life she only had a few years where she could truly say it was ‘her home’. Clara too struggles with calling where she lives ‘her’ home.

        How did it affect me? My grandmother crocheted. Beautifully. When I decided to expand from embroidery thread to yarn I chose knitting. I have lovely crochet threads, an entire collection of hooks yet I cannot bring myself to delve into that art form – yet. Perhaps with more time. But not yet. So yes! I can somewhat relate to what Gamache experienced with his father’s book.

        But what Clara experienced is totally different. I remember her in A Trick of the Light standing in the kitchen after seeing all the messages of congratulations Peter, “just forgot” to tell her about and seeing him disappear before her eyes. Only crime tape around where he had been standing… In life some people will hurt one so deeply that having them no longer be a part of one’s ‘reality’ is the only way to cope. I’ve done that with one or two people that crossed my path. I cease to even think of them. Perhaps it’s self preservation? I don’t know. I’m glad I’ve never had to face that with my spouse as Clara has had to do. But I hope that distance she created more than a year before will allow her to come to terms with what happened to Peter sooner rather than later. I loved how someone mentioned they hoped Clara would find the kind of love that Gamache and RM have. I hope Ruth takes her under her wing as a fellow widow. Well, maybe not that!

        • lizzy says:

          What a touching story about your grandmother. What a gift she gave you in those words!
          I lost a dear friend to breast cancer 2 years ago. There are places that I just can’t bear to go to as we were there together. Still too painful.

          • Barbara H. Johnson says:

            Heartfelt sympathy for your loss. A friend and I used to go to a Walmart for her to shop. She didn’t drive so I often took her shopping. Her husband wanted her to rush in and out when he took her. I hadn’t been in a Walmart in years until last week. A new store had opened and I was trying to get out on my own without my husband ( he’s retired). Just wanting to be more independent.
            Of course the Halloween and Christmas decorations were on display. I teared up because she always decorated her entire house inside as well as her porch and yards ( front, side and rear).
            At least they are still with us in our hearts.

        • Julie says:

          Millie – this is just a lovely story – so touching, so poetic. “Home” is people to me, not a house – but I do envy people who’ve lived in one place forever and who love the place where they grew up. It must be a very comforting feeling. But of course, even more wrenching, when you have to move away. I have always thought the trick was to try to make wherever you find yourself “home”, and I’ve always been good at finding the comfort objects that can make anywhere seem like home instantly. Paint colors, too – I don’t think I’ve lived anywhere in the last half of my life that I didn’t paint in pale peach tones (initially because I’d just had my colors done and it was the most flattering color for my skin tones, but it came to signify a comfy, homey place.)

          • Barbara H. Johnson says:

            Julie, how clever. A familiar color would establish a feeling of “home” and the familiar. Loved the reference to having your colors done. I still have my ring of swatches.

        • Anna says:

          Home is definitely of the heart. Sometimes, with good fortune, a place will be imbued with that love of the heart and acquire its own ability to comfort. Like the Bistro….see, even a virtual place can develop the capacity to wrap us in love and warmth.

          My mum wants to go to the place she grew up, with her mum. She was worried today that her mother was lost and she was searching for her, but I think she was projecting. She wanted to go home even when she was, it’s the heart of her mother she misses.

          At the end Peter did come home…..with Clara. His heart found its rest. She know needs to build a new home, even in Three Pines. That process was begun by Peter’s absence, she had to draw other threads around her to knit her new place in the world.

          Millie, as always sending love. Very teary reading about your grandmother but how lovely she gave you her blessing and permission to live life and move forward. Your happiness granted her peace.

        • Barbara H. Johnson says:

          Home. What a precious word. It fills my heart with warmth and my mind with serenity. You said earlier that you have moved frequently. My life has been just the opposite. I still live in the town where I was born and lived away for only a few months when first married. My husband and I live in the house we bought in 1969. In the last few years, I have come to realize how I treasure the fact that I run into people from all stages of my life just by going shopping. Later this month, our high school reunion takes place. For some reason I’m really looking forward to it. We hadn’t attended the last 3 years although we had bought tickets. Sometimes the medication doesn’t control the depression and I can’t bear to be around people. I’m bipolar. Makes life a rollercoaster ride at times.
          I think you are very brave. I don’t know what I would have done in your place. We have a military base and medical college here and nuclear site near by. I have often heard wives express longing for family, friends and the familiar.
          My most treasured possessions are items that would mean little or nothing to others. Pieces of tatting from linen pillowcases ( long ago dry rotted) made by my grandmother. Lace appliques from a gown and negligee –from Mother’s trousseau.
          Gamache had his Father’s book. I have a book of hymns my paternal grandfather (died in 1942) used when he played in the church orchestra and the Bible my Father used all of his adult life. Precious memories.

          • Julie says:

            Barbara – so odd – the bits and pieces of ephemera that bind us to those we love, especially those who are not with us anymore. When my mother died, the children got together to go through her things and see if there was anything we wanted. As the only girl, I got all the lace tablecloths, napkins, etc. – there was a huge drawer full of them. They are all beautiful, and I’d never seen any of them before. They held no memories for me, as we had never used such things as a family. I know that my mother was “saving them for good”. She did that with new clothes and it drove me crazy. That there is all this beautiful lace is very nice, but how I wish it were imbued with some meaning to me.

          • Julie says:

            Barbara – I have to say something about your honesty and bravery in letting us know of your bipolar disorder. It’s so wonderful that this is a safe place for us to truly throw open the windows and let in some fresh air! I am so thankful that you have let us in a little bit and we can all support each other this way. I think you are very brave…

          • Barbara H. Johnson says:

            Thank you Julie. I debated, but felt that it was safe to tell people I have never met because we do “know” each other. I am grateful that we can sit around the fire at the Bistro and talk. Sometimes it helps so much to share.

  6. lizzy says:

    Clara first approaches Gamache with great ambivalence: wanting (though fearing) to know what happened to Peter, while reluctant to disturb Gamache’s newfound peace. How did you feel about the decisions they both make at this point?

    I could see myself as Clara but not to where I actually disturb Gamache. But I think she did the right thing as did he. If there is true friendship, there is honesty. There is love and concern for the other. The focus is on the other, not on self.

  7. lizzy says:

    “I thought he’d come home,” Clara says of Peter. Did you? How did your view of him change in the course of the book?

    I wasn’t sure. I WANTED him to come home. I wanted my little, happy ending. ;)
    My view changed in that I respected him. I was annoyed that he didn’t at least drop a postcard here or there to Clara to ease her mind. I wanted to see what kind of true artist he would have become.

  8. lizzy says:

    What does it mean to you to be a “brave man in a brave country”? How does courage—or cowardice—feature in this novel?

    An interesting question. Why not a brave man in a fearful country, or any other kind of ‘country’?
    Is the man brave because the country is brave? Are they brave because the country is brave and they must stick up for it, and uphold the values? Am I thinking too much?
    I think being brave is knowing we have fear, but we choose to face it. And Peter did that. At first it seemed he was running away, but he was searching. He was ready to reach his goal and in the long run he also became that brave man.

  9. lizzy says:

    oh gosh, it’s 1 am…got to get to bed! Will try to return at a later time!

    • Anna says:

      I agree with what you say about courage. You can only be courageous if you feel fear, otherwise you don’t need courage. I don’t understand the Brave country component.

      • Julie says:

        “To be brave—that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm. And therefore, this courage allows us, as the old men said, to make ourselves useful. It allows us to be generous… I’ll pray that you grow up a brave man in a brave country. I will pray you find a way to be useful.” That is the full quote from The Gilead – I think it is a prayer that a child be given the the brave country – the environment – that allows him to grow to be a brave man. Children learn by example.

        For our purposes, I’m not sure the brave country makes much sense for Peter. But maybe, Clara was wishing that he be able to find examples of bravery to emulate, so that he, too, could be a brave man.

        The most meaningful part of the quote for me, is the first part, which was not quoted in TLWH – “To be brave—that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm.” – we have seen the harm Peter has been doing by having the precious things put into his hands (his talent, being loved by Clara) and not honoring them.

        • Millie says:

          Beautiful! Thanks for searching for it and sharing, Julie.
          “To be brave—that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear…”

          So many disjointed thoughts are trying to coalesce. There’s a saying: “The eyes are a window to the soul.” There were many references in this book about looking through windows or window panes… Gamache looks through windows a lot in this story.
          There is also a saying in metaphysics: “A person sees only that which is inside them.”
          Then there is “The brain / mind searches for patterns it recognizes…”

          Yes, Clara said that was her prayer for Peter, but she tells this to Gamache. His entire career Gamache searched for emotions, we are told. That he is more of an explorer… Yes, he values life, but the patterns his mind is used to searching for are the lies, the deceits, the emotion that tips a person over the edge to commit a crime. Could this be why Gamache has so much trouble accepting that Chartrand may have no ‘sinister agenda’? Perhaps he has not fully crossed his own lump in the throat to get him past his head to his own heart?

          This story has everything changing depending on the the perspective with which it was viewed. The pictures / the paintings took on a different meaning when turned upside down. Or right side up. Almost everyone at one point or another acting ‘out of character’. Except perhaps Annie. JG realizes that for her there could be no real happiness without kindness. It was a part of her being. Part of what makes her so attractive – not her body or her looks, per se. JG is just learning this. But has Gamache truly embraced this in his ‘retirement’. I don’t think he has yet. And perhaps that is why one moment he sees Chartrand in one way – kind, lonely… And the next moment he is suspicious of Chartrand again. Is this the lens through which his eyes are used to viewing the world and people around him? If so, Gamache still has a long way home to inner peace and to where he can acknowledge that there is more beauty and kindness than his eyes can bear.

        • Anna says:

          Love this post Julie, well done.

          I like the idea that the prayer is for one to be be in an environment that allows and teaches one to be brave. I think Three Pines gave Peter that courage and example but he had to go out into the world to find a way to draw on those examples and be his own brave man.

          Perhaps there is a bit of familiarity breeds contempt, it’s easy to let the brave around us do things. I is only when we stand lone that we draw on their examples and are forced to reach inside ourselves to do the same.

          As for honoring precious gifts…….there is so much in that for all of us.

      • Sylvia H. says:

        It was just part of the quote from the other Giliad book; if we were to read that, we might understand a good deal more about this being a “brave man in a brave country” because as it is in this book it’s taken out of its context.

  10. Barbara H. Johnson says:

    At first read, the “brave man in a brave country” seemed odd. Then the “brave country” seemed like an expression of patriotism. That I could understand. For a man to be considered brave in a country where bravery is the norm, it seems he would have to be extraordinarily brave. Peter was brave to venture out across the world to find himself. He was brave to try a new way of painting, especially when it was such a change from his earlier work. He was brave when he gave his life for Clara.
    Clara was brave in going in search of Peter…not knowing what she would find.
    Cowardice….not shown by our core characters. Cowardice was Massey and the asbestos tainted canvases as well as killing Norman outright at the end. He was a coward when cornered. Threatening Clara and killing Peter because he could not face paying for his crime.
    Many years ago, a TV show’s theme had the words ” don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”.
    Massey was such a coward. He couldn’t face the consequences of his acts.

    • Barbara H. Johnson says:

      Forgot to say…fear or at least an awareness of the possibility of failure or death is needed for a person to be brave. To carry on anyway.

      • Millie says:

        Barbara, that is certainly one aspect of bravery. But there are others, too. There was no risk ‘of the possibility of failure or death’ in your sharing you are bipolar, yet that was very brave of you. I’d be willing to bet that dozens of ‘fears’ popped into your head faster than it takes to blink one’s eyes before you committed to share that here. Will I be judged? How? Will I still be accepted? Will admitting that change how people view my comments? That took courage. I’m so very glad you feel safe here. We care for you just the way you are.

        • lizzy says:

          what Millie said. I didn’t even bat an eye when you stated that, Barbara. To me it was no more than saying you have a cold. But not to mean, that I don’t care! I feel blessed and privileged that you would share that with us!

          • Millie says:

            Lizzy, you made me smile. :-) There are so many other questions I want to explore because they are universal topics that touch us all – in different ways, I’m sure, but they open our mind to other possibilities of looking at things. But, like you said last night, it’s 1 am!

          • Barbara H. Johnson says:

            Lizzy, You made me feel so good. I appreciate “no more than saying you have a cold”. I had to laugh. What a great feeling of acceptance.

        • Barbara H. Johnson says:

          The fear that my ideas would be dismissed as worthless because they must be flawed. The fear that cuts like a knife is that my intelligence must be impaired. It is encouraging to feel accepted and not considered odd. Thanks.

          • Barbara H. Johnson says:

            This (8:16 post) was addressed to Millie. It’s hard to get everything posted to follow in line (especially when husband has TV blaring).

          • Barbara H. Johnson says:

            Meant to say that others” will think my intelligence is impaired”.

          • Millie says:

            Hi Barbara, you are not odd nor is your intelligence in question. That is what I don’t like about ‘labels’. Strip the labels and what’s left is a wonderful, warm, intelligent, funny person. I love how Dr. Wayne Dyer signs off on his posts, “I AM… Just be you! YOU ARE all kinds of wonderful. :-)

      • Anna says:

        Hi Barbara,

        Following the previous links I gave you, I thought this might be of interest. It’s an extract from a good book.

        I am glad you felt safe here too.

        I am a bit tired to process and contribute but happy reading your thoughts. Hope Paul can find a way to open the Bistro doors permanently.

        • Millie says:

          How I wish I had had access to this info when teachers were trying to get me to put our elder son on pills for ADHD. I said NO! “Have you sat down and talked with him? He may not be able to spell, which is a left brain function, but his verbal skills surpass yours!” I was sent to the principal’s office. ;-)

        • Barbara H. Johnson says:

          Anna, You are amazing. I felt like the article was written about me I do feel safe here. Thanks for taking time to read and reply when you are in a hard place. You are appreciated.

          • Anna says:

            :-). The book is at Amazon and on Kindle if you want it. Webb is a respected author and clinician. It’s an interesting look at the duality of the mind.

  11. Anna says:

    Chiaroscuro…..the light and the dark both matter and to focus on one without the other misses the picture.

    We do that all the time. Millie, the school was only focused on your son’s difficulties not on the big picture and it makes it hard to find a solution.

    We were worried about the dark side of Gamache being drawn back into an investigation, even unofficially, because he needs time to heal. But, being useful is a way towards healing too.

    We can look at Peter and Clara’s break in their relationship and the outcome in different ways. But the big picture is, they both grew and changed and achieved more alone than they could have together. Peter’s death was seen by some as tragic and others as transcendent.

    Yesterday we were offered a place in a dementia unit for mum, a place we couldn’t otherwise afford. We were worried because we like where she is but after seeing the other unit it will be better for her. Strangely, where she is now is light and bright but it’s too big for her, she is lost in the halls and agitated by the size. The new unit is darker but cozier and small and we think she will settle.

    Light isn’t all good and dark isn’t all bad and we need both to make life interesting.

    • Millie says:

      Seems we were typing away at the same time but then the demands of the day called. In the previous thread you (Anna) wrote:
      ‘Elizabeth [George] explores the darker side of human nature. Whereas Louise explores “How the Light Gets In”. Two aspects, two parts of the same whole.’

      It was rebutted with:
      ‘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.’

      I agreed with your view, Anna. Actually, the picture that came to mind was that of the symbol for Yin Yang. A circle within which as light diminishes, darkness grows. But there is a circle of light in the dark and a circle of dark in the light. Neither can exist without the other. They are neither polar opposites, nor are they totally different processes. It is ‘chiaroscuro” – “the play of light and shadow” within the process.

      That thread went on with:
      ‘I have always loved the great Renaissance painting and their use of light.’
      In western cultures the play of dark and light is mostly confined to ‘art’. But for the Chinese, the Yin Yang symbol is a graphic representation of the process of life, creative thought leading way to thought into action. I know this is a woeful simplification of the complexity and beauty of Yin Yang, but I think you get my point.

      ‘Light isn’t all good and dark isn’t all bad and we need both to make life interesting.’ I agree Anna. I would add, we need both to make life possible.

      Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue my thoughts on what Linda contributed to that thread tomorrow, but this night owl has a morning appointment (gasp!) and I need to shut down the computer and hope that my mind quiets down and lets me sleep during ‘normal operating hours’.

  12. Millie says:

    Question 4 has been niggling my mind since my first read thru:
    “On the first page of the book, we hear about Armand Gamache’s repeated gesture, “so tiny, so insignificant.” What is the true significance of this and other seemingly inconsequential actions in this story?”

    Not so much ‘actions’, as Gamache not always being completely truthful – to himself and others – in this story.
    Myrna calls him on it in Clara’s kitchen after seeing Gamache treat JG like a child for getting up on a chair… “Isn’t that what you always say, that life is made up of small…”

    I usually read a book once then listen to the audio and bookmark there. I’m finding I can’t relisten just yet…

    But just from memory, there’s the instance Myrna tells him to say hello to RM but Gamache just smiles and doesn’t tell her he’s going to call Ruth. “So tiny, so insignificant”. Yet he distrusts Chartrand because Chartrand wasn’t always truthful? Really? How many people tell people they’ve just met ‘everything’? All at once.

    There are other “tiny, insignificant” moments like this, but a lot going on here. Hopefully others noticed and can expand?

    • Anna says:

      Honesty is a funny thing. It can be brutal and even dangerous. Gamache knows there are times when obfuscation may be necessary for a greater good. I am thinking the last book here. But it is easy to trust Gamache because we know him and understand when he has valid reasons to keep or hide the truth.

      Chartrand is an unknown and it is wise to be wary of the unknown while you figure it out. I was very suspicious of this fellow who insinuated himself into our friends lives. But maybe he just wants to hang out with them, maybe he is a bit clueless or mybe he is very cluey. Don’t know yet but he has to earn our trust.

      Talking about the greater good, do you think that too can be a scary concept. I am thinking of when sacrifices are deemed appropriate for the greater good. Peter made his own choice to give up his life for others. Sometimes the sacrificial don’t get the choice. In a way Arnot and Francouer thought themselves acting for a greater good,it just so happened they were the prime beneficiaries.

      Just rambling. My mind is a wander today.

      • Sylvia H. says:

        I have a problem with Peter’s death being a sacrifice. Armand lunged for Massey, Clara ducked out from under the knife and the knife flew into Peter’s chest. Peter didn’t set himself up for that; it was an accident from his perspective – maybe not from Massey’s. But a lot has been said about Peter giving his life for Clara – only that he was pulling her away from Massey’s clutches, when the knife landed in his own chest. Massey had too tight a grip on the knife for it to fall out of his hand when Gamache hit him, but Peter wasn’t to know that. To me Peter’s death was accidental, which is why I cried so much over it.

        • Anna says:

          Fair point Sylvia.

        • Cathryne Spencer says:

          Sylvia, I went back and read the scene at the end several times after reading your comment about Peter’s death. Maybe it could have been an accident, I hadn’t thought of that. But Peter wouldn’t have been stabbed if he hadn’t moved forward to help Clara. Both Gamache and Peter put themselves in danger trying to save Clara from Massey. Gamache gave a slight nod to Beauvoir, over Massey’s shoulder. “Seeing this, Massey turned his head slightly. It was all Gamache needed. He sprung forward just as Clara ducked down and twisted away from the knife. But Massey still grasped her clothing.
          Clara strained to get away, without hope.
          The knife moved swiftly forward and struck.
          Not Clara. Not Gamache.
          Peter took the blow in the chest as he pulled Clara clear.
          Gamache pinned Massey, kicking the knife away…” P. 368.
          Peter had to spring forward like Gamache to pull Clara clear. In springing forward, both Gamache and Peter bravely put themselves in danger of being stabbed, don’t you think?

          • Sylvia H. says:

            Cathryne, of course both Gamache and Peter put themselves in danger of being stabbed, but Peter didn’t do it deliberately. He tried to get Clara clear of Massey’s grasp, but he wasn’t to know that Gamache’s hit on Massey wouldn’t just knock the knife to the floor. He had no way of knowing Massey would throw it into his chest, but it was a risk he took in helping Clara. I don’t think there was time to think it through; it all happened so fast, as these things usually do. I guess the “sacrifice” was in taking the risk by moving to help the one he loved, rather than in deliberately setting himself up to be killed in her place.

  13. Anna says:

    Duality is like chiaroscuro. This song talks about aspects of opportunity.

    Opportunity – Pete Murray w/ Lyrics – YouTube, goigle that if link doesn’t work

    • Millie says:

      Just listened to this song. Must say my first reaction was of having to hold back the tears. But that’s because I focused on you may not get another chance… and with ‘exit’… So much loss of loved one’s this year. Overwhelm. Listened to it again trying to focus on what else it had to say. Then thought ‘exit’ can lead to a better place for oneself; exiting the known can lead to not living a ‘Still Life’. “Life is short but you’re meant to flower.”

      Thank you for the link. Now, to get past the lump in my throat…

      • Anna says:

        Sorry Millie, should have warned you about the use of the word exit because I did the same thing. I think he is saying it’s time to get off the road on to the path that is meant for you, the place for you to use your talents and abilities, not just meander down the same highway or take the same direction as everyone else.

        Don’t be scared of what you cannot see
        Your only fear is possibility
        Never wonder what the hell went wrong
        Your second chance may never come along

        I think the exits are opportunities you don’t want to miss

        • Millie says:

          No apology necessary, Anna. It was good to discover that for myself. Holding you in a safe bubble of courage, strength and peace as you face your own ‘exits’…

          • Anna says:

            Gosh Millie, I needed to read your kind wishes. It’s been a pretty horrendous few hours. Its a good thing you are psychic.

          • Millie says:

            Glad you found comfort in the words. But it doesn’t take psychic ability – just the kindness of Three Pines and the Bistro.

  14. Anna says:

    Goigle……is that a Bronx accent?

  15. Anna says:

    Laughter good!

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