The Long Way Home, Chapters 21-30

We’re just over halfway Home.

What’s your favorite quote so far? And who are you connecting with the most?

Paul Hochman

Discussion on “The Long Way Home, Chapters 21-30

  1. Anna says:

    Strangely my mind keeps coming back to Jean Guy as someone I connect to. He has a calmness in this book that is good to see. I hope it lasts. He certainly deserves some peace after all he has been through. I wonder where he will go next. I hope to see more of him and Annie.

    My favourite line from this section is:

    “If love was compass enough,” said Armand quietly, “there would be no missing children.”

    • Barbara H. Johnson says:

      It is such a beautiful thought. If Love were enough, how different many outcomes and lives would be. Not only would missing children not be missing, estranged adults would be reunited with their families. If only, Love were enough.

    • Millie says:

      So much for my not commenting again till the end… But I too have enjoyed this new side of Jean Guy. Now that he feels ‘safe and secure’ and he can really show his love-him-as-a-father feelings for Gamsche, we’re starting to see the child-like, playful side of Jean Guy. “I have to go pee.” “I’m hungry.” “Finding bathrooms is my super power.” “Get in line, sister.”

      He has finally let that tiny ball secretly hidden in the farthest corner of his heart come out to play with joy. Not one mention of his obsession of looking GQ. Love may not be enough, but it sure has helped JG. Not much has been revealed of his childhood, but it too seems it lacked ‘something’ which is now being filled.

      Has anyone in Three Pines had a happy childhood?

      • Julie says:

        All the people with happy childhoods grew up and left for the big city, hahaha. They’re the only ones strong enough to handle it! :D You notice that while there are children to play hockey games in the winter for Ruth to “coach”, they are otherwise unseen in Three Pines (unless they killed somebody, or we think they did!) Of course, I’m just joking about this.

        Meanwhile, this section really does Jean Guy proud, doesn’t it? We really get to see how much he’s grown – how much more comfortable he is in his own skin. He likes the Three Piners – and it shows. He jokes with them, helps them, and even has some understanding of Peter and an affection for him that we’ve not seen before. I love this section for just that reason.

        • Sylvia H. says:

          Yes, Jean-Guy certainly didn’t like the 3-Piners in the early books because most of them are Anglos and he despised the Anglos and thought they were all crazy. But over time, he has come to appreciate them, and I love the bond between him and Ruth. There is a sweeter side of Jean-Guy able to come out now, and it’s a delight to see.

        • Sylvia H. says:

          May I ask an off-topic question? I notice some of you use little symbols. Julie, you have one in this posting above. It is :D. Some others used were =, :-), ;-), :-)), :~D, and :~P. What do they mean, and what’s the difference between – and ~? This is new to me, I’m sorry to ask about something that isn’t in our book. If anyone knows a link where I can find out about these little symbols, I’d be happy to know it.

          • Julie says:

            Hi, Sylvia, I’m sure if you Google emoticons, you’d find a list, but basically, they just represent little faces (on their sides). So :D is a smiley face, and so is :-) ;-) is a wink and a smile, and ;-p is a wink with your tongue stuck out. I don’t think there’s any difference between – and a wavy line (my Kindle doesn’t have one on its keyboard). The others I don’t know, though I’d usually figure them out from context. A list will have lots of them. They are, to me, a way to soften the written word – to make it more like a casual conversation.

      • Cathryne Spencer says:

        Jean-Guy showed great wit and sense of humor before his world fell apart and I have enjoyed him in this book too. He does seem to feel safe to have fun while still using his detective skills and mindset (if not his badge and gun!). But I was glad to notice him remaining careful, as an alcoholic:
        “Beauvoir scanned the other servers, and his eyes fell on a middle-aged man who’d just appeared out of a door by the bar. Jean-Guy picked up his drink and moved to one of the stools. It made him feel slightly uncomfortable. Or, worse, it felt too comfortable. Too familiar.
        He stood up.”
        Vigilance, good thinking.

  2. Millie says:

    Favorite quote: Gamache’s “Thinking is an action.”

    • KB says:

      I liked that one too. NOT what my parents (especially mother) believed. But it is true (unless it becomes an excuse to go over what has already been thought out as an excuse for inaction ;) )

  3. Lizzy says:

    I’m enjoying seeing more of Ruth and how deep she really is.

    • Julie says:

      Yep. I come to like Ruth more and more with each book. I will admit that I am one of the ones that was slow to warm to Ruth. I got that she was “crusty” and there for comic relief to a certain extent, but I also know that I have met one or two Ruths in my day, and I have not been able to find the “heart of gold” hidden away. In real life, people like that are hard to handle, and I guess I’ve never stuck around long enough to really see the person inside. With Ruth, I have, and I’m glad of that.

    • Lise Lapierre says:

      Ruth is my favourite character. I suspect that what is unknown about her plays a great part in the attraction/interest/affection (?) I feel for her. But, yes, anything about her “speaks to me”.

    • Linda Maday says:

      Now, was she an inmate or a guard at the Turkish prison?

      • Sylvia H. says:

        I don’t remember anything about that! Although I seem to recall someone asking her about it, but I thought it was a joke. “Maybe there was something in all this I missed.”

        • Linda Maday says:

          It was when Ruth (who as it turns out is afraid to fly) accompanied Reine Marie on her flight. I loved the relationship that has developed between the “old crone” and “helmet head”.

          • Sylvia H. says:

            Thanks, Linda. “Helmet head” is Clara, right? Yes I love it that Ruth is actually able to express her appreciation of Clara’s gifts as an artist. I think she’s feeling a kinship with her as a creator, since she herself is an artist in words. Ruth usually expresses any affection for anyone by calling them names, like “numbnuts”. I notice she does this with men, not women. She doesn’t have a name for Myrna, and usually forgets what her name is.

          • Barbara H. Johnson says:

            I couldn’t stop laughing at the thought of going through airport security with Ruth. I could just imagine her reaction when she had to take her shoes off. I have to say Reine Marie is one brave woman. I never would have guessed that flying( or anything else) would frightened Ruth.

          • Cathryne Spencer says:

            Yes, I think the Turkish prison question was a way for Reine-Marie to take Ruth’s mind off her flying fears, to make Ruth laugh. It made me laugh! Clever R-M.
            Ruth called Reine-Marie ” Turniphead” on the flight and R-M called Ruth “You old Crone.” I love their relationship too, R-M holding Ruth’s hand as they fly to help loved ones.
            I have always thought Ruth pretends to have no idea who Myrna is, as if she has never noticed the only black person within miles and can’t remember ever meeting her.
            I can’t find “Helmethead,” though it sounds familiar. Which book?

          • Karen Gast says:

            Indeed! I love the relationship between Ruth and Reine-Marie, the latter being the woman I’ve always wanted to be.

          • Linda Maday says:

            Actually I thought helmet head was Reine Marie.

          • Linda Maday says:

            Accidentally posted before acknowledging the term turniphead was correct.

            I also loved the reason Ruth wouldn’t use the bathroom on the plane, I.e. If it crashed whilst she was in the restroom she wouldn’t have a suitable place to haunt.

          • Julie says:

            Linda, I loved her reason for not using the bathroom on the plane, too! And why the airport would be better than an airplane makes me wonder, too, hahaha.

          • Anna says:

            While I enjoy seeing more of Ruth and RM and everyone, I don’t want to know them completely. I want a bit of mystery and I like the slow reveal.

  4. Julie says:

    Another thing I enjoyed in this section is part of what annoyed others, I think, and that’s all the “art talk”. I loved that here is where we really began to get a sense that Peter is really growing as an artist. And I’m sorry, but I kind of like that Clara has to struggle with the idea that Peter might be a great artist if he can successfully get through this phase. Of course, it’s not a big struggle for her. She is so much more evolved than Peter. But still, I like that she has those feelings, and they worry her.

    As the talk of other artists’ mastery of emotion comes out, and they find all the spots where Peter painted the paintings they are carrying around, we really see that Peter is stepping up and “might be great”. I loved looking at the Gagnon pictures I found online during this section – it helps me to see the paintings that evoked such wistful feelings in the Quebecois people.

    • KB says:

      I loved the art talk too. To me, it is a description of the artistic process that we don’t often get to see – kind of like Ms. Penny posting on Facebook about her writing process. My respect for Peter grew: I started to like him for the first time instead of just feeling sorry for him. Even though he knew what he was producing was crap (he was able to recognize the brilliance in Clara’s paintings and even the spark in Jane Neal’s paintings back in Still Life, even though he was a technician), he had the courage to keep on and the hope and faith that the results would improve. I don’t think I have that type of courage in me. And he had the courage to give some paintings to Bean instead of hiding them away – or burning them. That says a lot. This was the first time that I had any hope that he and Clara would be able to get back together.

  5. Julie says:

    I liked that Gamache has also “stepped up” here and is subtly taking over the investigation, in hopes of sparing Clara at least as long as he can. When he hangs back and asks the police captain if they will please take cadaver dogs to the site of No Man’s retreat, you can see that he knows that Clara won’t be able to handle this, so he just “makes it happen”. Plenty of time to tell her if it turns up anything. Even though I think he’s more thinking of Prof. Norman when he does this, I think he also has at the back of his mind (and has, all along) that Peter might be dead. I think it’s somewhere in this section that he says that it’s hard to completely disappear. And the three thousand dollars he’d taken from his account in April seems hardly enough to last until late August. Unless he’s earning some money “off the books”, it would be difficult to not leave a paper trail of some sort.

  6. Sylvia H. says:

    My favourite quote is about Clara.
    “But the more they discovered about Peter now, the more desperate she was to meet this man. To get to know him. And have him meet her, for the first time. Clara realized she was falling in love. She’d always loved Peter, but this was something else. Some deeper vein.”
    This made me yearn to find Peter alive and well and to hope that their marriage would be stronger than ever in the future.

    I’m also fascinated about the cosmic catastrophe that happened hundreds of millions of years ago in the Charlevoix area.

    • Cathryne Spencer says:

      Yes, Sylvia, and I am finally noticing the connection Louise makes between The Garden of Cosmic Speculation and the cosmic catastrophe of the Charlevoix area, both places Peter visited, the last two places we know about.

      • Julie says:

        And magic. The word “magic” appears over and over. “Sometimes the magic happens”, the stone/live rabbits, the “magic” of being able to transfer emotion to the canvas… These thoughts all come together here in this section, as we get a clearer picture of what Peter has been doing for the last year.

        • Sylvia H. says:

          Yes, Julie, there’s a magical quality to the Garden of Cosmic Speculation and also to the Charlevoix region. That’s a wonderful scene where they are all standing on the cliff overlooking the St. Lawrence and even Jean-Guy is awestruck! I also loved it that Clarence Gagnon’s paintings made Armand feel like weeping and even Chartrand, who saw them every day, looked like he wanted to cry. That magical quality Gagnon was able to express somehow in his paintings. I’m sure Peter absorbed that into himself as he sat and stared at those pictures. Can’t help feeling there’s a new Peter coming to life.

  7. Sylvia H. says:

    Julie and Linda, yes that was so funny about Ruth’s reason for not using the toilet on the plane! Perhaps if she died in the toilet at the airport, she’d at least have a little more room to move around in for her hauntings!

    And Julie, thanks for telling me about the little symbols. I looked them up – they’re called text emoticons – and found a whole list of them with their meanings.

    I found the place about the Turkish prison. Yes, it was Reine-Marie asking Ruth to tell her all about it, so she could take her mind off her fear of flying. And then she held her hand. What a thoughtful, dear person Reine-Marie is! She would make a great role model for anyone, young or elderly! (I want to avoid the “o” word as long as I can!)

  8. Linda Maday says:

    ODDITIES

    Remember the many many times in our reread discussions we called Jean Guy Jean Luc? Did Louise introduce Luc the owner of Le Muse as a bit of a humorous poke?

    Are we being introduced to a new thread to the future with the introduction of Chartrand?

    Who or what is the 10th muse?

    • Julie says:

      Linda, when I hear “Jean Luc”, I still see that old International Coffee commercial and laugh to myself. And I’m one of the ones who called Jean Guy by that name! :D We can’t be the only ones to do this, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that’s why Luc got his name… I often wonder at the sometimes-there, sometimes-not hyphen in Jean Guy’s name. It has appeared both ways, usually consistent within a book, and you’d never notice unless you were reading one after the other in a continuous run like we did. Poor Louise, having to keep track of all these little oddities.

    • Julie says:

      I’m still up in the air over the 10th muse – can’t figure it out, really. I know it must be important, as it’s talked about a lot, but I can’t figure out if it’s a real person, just a feeling that you have an angel sitting on your shoulder, or a place! Would love to hear others’ ideas of that.

  9. Anna says:

    I am not sure if I like Chartrand or not. Is he a bit intrusive? Why do I react to his kindness with suspicion?

    • Cathryne Spencer says:

      Well, if Gamache is a little suspicious, we are wise to at least notice. And he does feel he has caught Chartrand out in a couple of small lies.

    • Julie says:

      I think the same reason Gamache does, Anna. Until we really know his motives, it’s hard to trust someone who has really pushed his way in to your little group. This is another topic I think we might want to pursue more at the end. So many things we have to sit on our hands for right now, hahaha.

    • Barbara H. Johnson says:

      There seems to be something about him that suggests all is not as it seems. I feel we have not seen the last of him and I think he will find the way to Three Pines. I wonder if he will bring or cause a “search” or “job” for Armand and Jean Guy.

      • Linda Maday says:

        That was my feeling as well, Barbara. About the time I’m inclined to like him, I feel uneasy. I have read the ending, so am also sitting on some words, but even at this point in both readings I wondered myself if it is just my wanting to be protective of friends, or is it the few little lies that Gamache discovers?

        Three Piners are friendly, are we now discovering they’re a little wary of newcomers? Of course there’s been all those dead bodies. Maybe better to be a little wary?

        • Julie says:

          Yes, I think better to be wary at least until you know for sure there can be no “agenda”. While on this trip, looking for Peter, I feel like he is really butting his nose in where it doesn’t belong. He’s just met these people, and while he’s being so nice and helpful, still – his involvement, beyond just answering their questions, seems intrusive. Who is he to be doing this? At the very least, I think he’s like one of those gallery owners we met in A Trick of the Light, and wants to represent Clara as a prize for his gallery. I know that doesn’t really make sense, since he only has Gagnons in his gallery, but maybe he owns another where he could showcase Clara’s art, which would be a real coup for him.

          • Barbara H. Johnson says:

            I, too, think he is interested in Clara’s work. His studio is only for Gagnons but he could open another for Clara’s work. As you see, I’m ready for the next book.

        • Anna says:

          We have become Three Piners, equally wary of new characters in the village. And yet Three Pines is so welcoming generally so there must be something a bit forced about Chartrand that has our antennae wiggling.

          I am prepared to believe that he might not be a threat, just desperate about something or for something. Trying to think the best of people!

      • Cathryne Spencer says:

        Barbara, I hadn’t thought of that at all, but now you’ve made me wonder. What if Chartrand is more interested in Gamache than Clara. Maybe he really only does care about handling Gagnon’s art. If he is unwilling to let Gamache know that he wants his help, he might pretend to be more fascinated by Clara and her art than he is. That makes more sense to me than his being infatuated with Clara, which always felt a little forced to me.

        • Julie says:

          Hunh. That didn’t occur to me at all. I do think we’ll see him in the next book, but I’m just not sure in what capacity. I don’t think that he’s interested in Clara except her art – and I also don’t think Clara is really going to be interested in him (at least, I hope not – I just don’t trust him). I think she’s acting naive to get all the information she can from whatever source she can. I think she is continuing to fall in love with this “new” Peter.

          • Cathryne Spencer says:

            I agree, Julie. Her mind is focused on one thing right now, finding Peter. I think it was out of character for her to call Chartrand at 11 p.m. to ask for help, a little embarrassing but she is past caring.

          • Julie says:

            In the comments below about the commonality we have together here, caring is mentioned, and that we have this in common with the Three Pines people – they care for each other and strangers… and yet, here we are having such distrust of Chartrand. I wonder if Louise has, in all her mastery, written it that way, and it’s so subtle we aren’t noticing it? Of course – Gamache doesn’t trust him, and we know he’s got good instincts…

  10. Cathryne Spencer says:

    I like when Gamache woke early in the morning of their second day in Baie-Saint-Paul:
    “Gamache had no idea what he’d see outside the window, and was surprised and delighted that this bedroom looked out over the metal roofs of the old Charlevoix village. And to the Saint Lawrence beyond. ”
    I love views of rooftops. I would like to have a painting or photo of the one described.
    Gamache, from the first book, has had a habit of rising early and enjoying the morning peace, as well as getting a feel for the place and the people. I have been thinking all day about his morning walks and what he enjoyed and what he learned from them in each book. I especially loved the one with Frere Bernard in T.B.M., talking as they gathered warm eggs from under the chickens, saying “Merci” to each hen in turn. When people are working side by side or walking together, conversation flows. Smart Gamache.

    • Anna says:

      I wish I was more of a morning person Cathyrne. I do love the imagery too. Thanks for the memory of Frere Bernard and the chickens. I needed that.

  11. Barbara H. Johnson says:

    I just lost 37 minutes of writing and editing. I’ll try again. I’m not going to write a paper as I mentioned but am just going to say what I feel about this group I think of as “The Three Pines Club”. I was hesitant to become involved because of what I saw as problems. We could not make “eye contact” and connect as people in the same room would. All we had in common was that we liked Louise Penney’s novels. I might accidently offend someone by commenting on a subject she/he felt I had no right to. No, I’m not paranoid. LOL. The idea comes from where I live. I worried I would not feel welcome or my ideas would be thought silly. Enough of my concerns. We can all agree they were for nothing. Later, I’ll post on the many things we seem to have in common and what this has all meant to me. Please, everyone, join in this discussion if you will.

    • Julie says:

      Barbara, I feel terrible that you have been feeling so tentative about writing here. I think I embody the idea that no matter if you have nothing to say, this is a good group to say it in, hahaha. I think everyone has been so welcoming and inclusive, so respectful and friendly, that it makes me feel like I can just be me.

    • Anna says:

      I lost my post three times last week. I ended up writing it in a different program and cutting and pasting it to comments!

      I am interested to see what commonalities you have found in the group Barbara. I think we are here because who we are draws us to Louise’s writing and even more so to a place we can share what we feel. Louise has an extensive readership, as evidenced by her well deserved sales, but only a few venture this far and even fewer actually post. I would be interested to know from Paul how many views the site has compared to how many register and write something, just out of curiosity.

      I think a lot of people find committing to print really intimidating, but then so is entering a room full of strangers where eye contact can be just as daunting.

      I hope everyone feels safe here. I like that can we take this Three Pines with us.

      • Barbara H. Johnson says:

        Good idea–I wonder how many have just visited the site. I hadn’t thought of that.
        I have no trouble walking into a room of strangers…if I am the speaker for the event. I have spoken to groups of several hundred and given tours to groups much better educated than I. You see, they were on my “turf” so to say. I can be an unbelievable disaster at even small social gatherings. Aren’t people amazing. No wonder I changed my major to psychology all those years ago.

      • Paul Hochman says:

        Like all communities, Anna, we have a lot of people simply reading all of the extraordinary insights of the group but not commenting directly.

    • Lizzy says:

      Barbara, I too feel hesitant at times to post here. My reason is I don’t feel as intelligent or as articulate as you people are!

  12. KB says:

    Barbara – I didn’t like “The Brutal Telling” the first time through and grew to like it a lot (although it is still not my favourite) on the 2nd and 3rd read. And despite years of musical training, I didn’t love “The Beautiful Mystery”, as so many others did. I did find a lot of descriptions that resonated with me and was so sad for Gamache and Jean-Guy at the end. And while I loved most of “How the Light Gets In”, the wind-up was too fast for me – too “convenient”. This book was much slower and certainly wasn’t traditional or comfortable in many places. It jangled for me – kind of like “The Brutal Telling” did. The strange thing is, though, that I trust it will fit in and I will be able to understand it better after the next 2 books. By the way, you have been a courageous dissenter, and I certainly admire that.

  13. Barbara H. Johnson says:

    A few of the things we have in common are: We enjoy books whether hard copy, audio, or electronic. We love words whether heard or read. I think most of us read across genres. We read some books just for momentary amusement but read others very carefully. We like to learn from our reading. We are eager to share our new found information. People have been so willing to share websites and knowledge about subjects with which others are unfamiliar. We cherish and have great respect and admiration for well-written literature. We realize that authors like Louise Penney have been given a great talent and appreciate the effort and research that goes into writing these special books.
    I think we are caring people. We care for the characters in the books. We care about those who are a part of the “Three Pines Club”. We care that people, like the Cree, have been mistreated.
    There are other commonalities. Please, add those you think of. I just thought of several others, but what do you think ?

    • Linda Maday says:

      We have a sense of humor and don’t take ourselves too seriously.

      We understand that having a difference of opinion helps us all to grow. We understand the more diverse we are, the broader our horizons.

      We’ve laughed at times, cried at times, left, and returned and come into Olivier’s bistro out of the cold together.

      We are, by choice, all Three Piners.

      • Barbara H. Johnson says:

        All good points, well said. I love “come into Olivier’s Bistro out of the cold together”.

        • Sylvia H. says:

          Yes, I love that idea! Olivier’s Bistro would be such a wonderful place to hang out together! Lucky Three Piners!
          Barbara and Linda, I enjoyed your thoughts about what we have in common. I think we’ve become a “community” through these discussions, and I think that’s very valuable. One thing you didn’t mention is the fact that we also care about each other. We commiserate with someone who is in pain and encourage one another, especially those who have started to write. It’s pretty special that those who are now writing were able to tell us. I expect when one starts to create something, there would be a tendency to not tell anyone, so I’m really glad the the new writers told us, and I was delighted at the enthusiastic encouragement given to them!

          • Anna says:

            Thanks Sylvia, as one of the fledging authors it is hard to mention starting to write and the care and encouragement is amazing.

            Barbara did mention caring, for the characters of Three Pines, for oppressed groups like the Cree and for each other. Which reminds me Millie, how are the ribs and the writing going!?!?

            But you both make such an important point, Caring is an incredibly big part of this world but also Louise’s writing. Her characters so obviously care for each other and for strangers. I am thinking about Lacoste talking to the dead and the smoking ceremony among so many other things.

            Caring is hard though because with an open heart we are vulnerable even as it makes us strong. Caring is painful and tricky, as Clara and Peter’s relationship demonstrates, caring hurts as Ruth (and poor Lillium) reminds us.

            We have developed this little place into so much more than a “book club”. We have shared the ‘why’ of what has brought us here and continue to link that to the better understanding of ourselves as we come to understand the novels. That is bibliotherapy.

  14. Lizzy says:

    Well said Barbara and Linda!! So true.

  15. Barbar H. Johnson says:

    Hi, Everyone. I’m really can’t wait for Monday so we can discuss the last of the book. There are so many ideas that come into play. Must rush, as I spent too much time playing games on the AARP Site. I enjoy them even if I don’t play some very well.

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