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. Anna says:

    Just checking what happens if I comment here….is this a new thread

  2. B Roland says:

    I appreciate so greatly the “long way” that was required to make this book pitch perfect. I believe the characters began with extraordinary intentions of great honesty. I told my husband I was going “to be gone to Canada” for two days. I’m not sure I’ve quite found a way to get back! I wonder if Gamache will return “home” safely too. Thanks, as always, for the trip Ms Penny, I love your heart!

    • Anna says:

      I like that Canada has a hold on us. We go to Whistler each year but time limitations among other things have stopped wider exploration. Have had to be content to explore via Louise’s writing but planning a big trip as soon as we can to see the Eastern Townships etc.

      • lizzy says:

        Agreed! We’ve been to Montreal several times. I’m aching to get to Quebec. Last year we vacationed in Vermont on Lake Champlain. We ccould see Canada across the lake. We drove to Canada through very similar area. We were about an hour from Knowlton, I believe it is. We were in the country side and it felt like Three Pines. I kept expecting it to pop up any minute! We visited a lovely vineyard there. Canadians are lovely, friendly people.

    • Julie says:

      Love that you were “gone to Canada”! Wasn’t that part of Quebec lovely? Of course, I think I enjoyed the stopover in Scotland the most!

  3. Karen I Ford says:

    I was appalled by the idea of the “Salon des Refusés”. It would be a crushing blow to a young, impressionable young person, especially one with very low self-esteem.
    Even though I had very harsh feelings towards Peter in the previous books, I was not really prepared to completely lose him. I had doubts about Peter being able to turn his marriage around until I read the last chapters when we began to see a truly changed person. I was in tears as I read the end of the book. I hurt for Clara — I was widowed fairly young and it brought up all of that grief that has never been completely healed.
    Jealousy is the crux of this story! It is why Peter and Clara’s marriage was a shambles. It is why the Norman was so obsessed!
    This was a hard story as it answered so many questions but has left so many unanswered.

    • Anna says:

      Sorry to hear you were widowed when you were young Karen. We have all been emotional but this book must have raised all kinds of additional feelings for you. Hugs!

      Can you expand on some of the questions that are unanswered? Curious as to where that might lead next.

      • Karen I Ford says:

        Although there was a memorial for Peter: 1) where was his dysfunctional family, did they even attend the funeral? What happens next for Clara? How does she fit into the village? How does her art change? How does Peter’s death effect the other villagers, especially Ruth, Myrna, and Gabri and Olivier?
        I can’t imagine Clara leaving the safety of the village. It is and has been her safety net and support but now her life has changed. In a society where many are married or in committed relationships, being widowed or divorced, people look at you differently. You feel like you are a fifth wheel and it can be very uncomfortable.
        Now what will Armand do? He is still a fairly young man and he has gifts to give and as he heals, he will not be completely happy doing nothing. What has happened to his son and family in France? What happens to Annie and Jean-Guy???

        • Barbara H. Johnson says:

          All great ideas. I’m chanting under my breathe…..write faster, write faster. I think I am even more anxious for the next book than usual.

    • Michèle Dickson says:

      If you look at the Wilkipedia entry on ‘Le salon des refusés de 1863’ (Paris) you’ll get a different point of view on it. Most of the real artists of the time were in it while those who made it to the ‘proper’ exhibition have long been forgotten. Being in ‘Les refusés’ was a badge of creativity rather than shame. So the idea of such an exhibition was neither new nor cruel, maybe the teacher was trying to say ‘ If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” (Maya Angelou). Yet it is when Clara becomes more ‘normal’ – painting portrait rather than warrior uteruses – that she becomes famous…. A contradiction here?
      I’m going to take a controversial stand here: I feel the novels have been unfair to Peter, he loved Clara (who isn’t that easily lovable), took good care of her, was brave enough to turn his back to his family, put his own art in question and ends up giving his life up for her… I didn’t find his death surprising but merely convenient so Clara can fall in love with another man from the same art world.
      The novel is beautifully written and a pleasure to read .but I hope Penny will get away from the arty world, their petty jealousy and inflated ego in her next novel and reconnect instead with more easily shared universal feelings

      • Julie says:

        The Salon des Refuses, I think, was absolutely meant by Norman as the original had been – a mark of true creativity, which couldn’t be seen by those embracing what was popular or stylish at the time. However – I think that the original was organized with the full knowledge and help of those who had been refused by the “official” show. In the school, the first Clara knew her art had not been accepted was when it was unveiled, front and center, at the Salon. With the word “Refuses” over it. In Toronto – an English-speaking place. While I know the art students would all have known the real meaning of the words, and the context, it would still be hard not to see their art labeled as “refuse” – garbage. But the worst part of it was that they had not been invited to exhibit here – their pieces had been hijacked. I absolutely think Norman had good intentions, but his methods left a lot to be desired.

        • Barbara H. Johnson says:

          I agree that Norman meant well, but he was Norman and didn’t get it quite right. He should have asked the artists’ permission. I had not considered that Toronto is English speaking.

      • Barbara H. Johnson says:

        Knowing the story of”’ le salon des refuses”, I was confused at first. I too would like a change from the the art world’s cattiness. A local artist assured me that LP portrayed the art scene correctly. In all fairness, all the arts have a share of people who are sharp tongued and petty. Just like the rest of the world. Liked the MA quote. Love her work.

        • Sylvia H. says:

          The cattiness and pettiness is pretty prevalent in the world of theatre as well, I believe. It’s all these creative people trying to be top dog!

    • Julie says:

      Karen, I’m so sorry to hear that you were widowed so young. That would be very hard, and I can imagine a story like this would definitely stir up those feelings. I, too, was not ready to say goodbye to Peter, especially as I felt he was on the threshold of becoming whole and wholly worthy of Clara and Three Pines. It was such a loss, to me, that he didn’t get any chance at all to see if he could actually live his new-found ways.

      • Chris Smenos says:

        I too was saddened to see Peter die. I saw a man finding himself and might have been able to rejoin his community, his wife and his art with a richer contribution. I hope this was not the end of the Gamache series because it leaves me aching for the next step in all their lives.

  4. Karen Gast says:

    Had Peter lived, would he indeed have been a changed person? I haven’t answered this for myself yet, but I have huge doubts. His hateful mother is still alive and I don’t see how he could overcome all those years of her influence.

    • Anna says:

      Yes I wondered the same thing about whether the change was sustainable. It’s hard to undo years of negative influence but not impossible. So easy though to slip in to old patterns of behaviour, easier to follow those ruts than stay on a hard fought new path.

    • Diane Cobb says:

      I think that he was a changed person: I believe that the marriage would have worked, but not without some work. I think that when he learned to love and care for the professor that he had always hated he turned the corner on the road to happiness. Life isn’t just about me, it’s about all the people around me……I think that is part of the lesson that Peter was learning.

      • Millie says:

        I think I need to do another re-read! Several people have mentioned that Peter hated Prof Norman… I only recall Clara saying Peter took his class and thought Norman was nuts. Then during one of Massey’s encounters with Three Piners Massey says he brought up Norman to Peter… I thought Peter hadn’t given Norman a second thought until he visited Massey… Then used extracting an apology from Norman to Clara as an excuse to not having to apologize himself. A failure to take full responsibility for his own actions. I know I’m in the minority with my feelings for Peter. I really wanted to like him, but there are just so many times anyone should be expected to ‘get away with murder’ – her art, her self confidence…

        Peter made a commitment to return to Clara on a specific date. True, he found Norman was in need and he sent a letter to Clara. But he didn’t keep his word. Could he not have found someone else to care for Norman for a few days at least and keep his commitment? That would have taken more courage than he had. Actually, I don’t think Peter was ever faced with having to show real courage until the very end, where as Lesley pointed out, he was a true tragic hero.

        • Karen Gast says:

          Well stated, Millie.

        • Cathryne Spencer says:

          Millie, I think that Peter’s reason for going to confront Norman was pointless at best, but I think he stayed out of true compassion. He took small steps, doing a little more and a little more, all the time caring more and more about Norman as a person. The locale is described as isolated and finding someone else to care for him seems unlikely. Peter is described as “looking at the dead man with such tenderness. Seeing past the blood and the gaping wound. To the man.” Peter says, ” I wanted him to go to the hospital at Sept Isles, but he didn’t want to leave. I could understand that. He wanted to die at home.”
          On p. 363, Gamache looks all around the view from the cabin. “How bleak it must have been for Noman. For Peter… How tempting it must have been to leave. But Peter Morrow had stayed. Right to the end.” He says to Peter, “You found a way to be useful.” I think Clara would have stayed and sent a message to Peter if the situation had been reversed.

        • Lori Lassiter says:

          I started the Gamache series with Trick of Light, and have quickly become a huge fan! I also did not think highly of Peter, I found him to be extremely childish and immature. Yes, he was wounded but often his motives seem to come from a place of ‘getting back’ at his family. In fact, I have never believed he truly loved Clara, especially after reading how he reacted to her humiliation in college. In fact, that explained to me, some of his behaviors in the previous books. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I did not believe his story that he was taking care of a dying man.

  5. Christina Haas says:

    I loved this book, and do not think Peter’s death was such a bad thing. He was so damaged as an individual. His manner of death will insure that he will always be remembered as a hero. Clara’s last memories of him will be good, and she will never know whether he would have reverted to type or not. One thing that bothers me about the end of the book is that there is no mention of any of Peter’s family being at the services for him, so we may not ever know what effect Peter’s death had on them.

    • Linda Maday says:

      It does say “friends and family” we’re at the funeral, though it doesn’t call them out by name I believe it unlikely that Peter’s very proper family would be absent.

      • Julie says:

        I agree, Linda – they would have been there, and been so very proper and cool, that other than to say that they “were there”, there was nothing to remark upon. They had such a huge effect on Peter, and by extension, Clara, but she is free of them now, and I think they are of little consequence to her now. Her real “family” is in Three Pines.

      • Sylvia H. says:

        Yes, Linda, I noticed “friends and family” were present at the funeral and wondered previously howcome no one said anything unpleasant. I thought there would have been a bit more of showing them there.

        Someone else (besides Jean-Guy) whose family we have never heard anything about is Clara. Where was her family? We don’t know anything about her background, but there weren’t any family members of hers at her vernissage. There’s still plenty to explore about our dear friends.

    • Anna says:

      Yes, a few people were wondering about the family reacted. I imagine Peter’s mother been bound up about it. Bean response is the one that interests a lot of people and wondering if Bean will be an artist? A child of such potential.

      I was thinking about Clara’s comment that she thought Peter would come home. I think he would have if things hadn’t intervened but I wonder. He had been quite absent at times even during the marriage. Physical distance is less of a relationship downer to me than emotional distance. I have been without my husband for months at a time but he was always ‘present’.

    • Cathryne Spencer says:

      Christina, she does say, “Friends and family gathered in St. Thomas’s chapel and sang and sobbed and grieved and celebrated.” P. 371. But which family members? I like to think Bert Finney and Bean only, but I imagine they were all there, looking down their noses at the rustic, small chapel and simple, small town.
      I think his death affected Bean and maybe Bert, but I wouldn’t think the others. Will we find out? Maybe, the family may descend on his estate.

      • Cathryne Spencer says:

        If the whole story about Peter’s art comes out, do you think it will become very expensive and in demand?

        • Christina Haas says:

          I thought of that too! Maybe in the end, with Peter’s art supply dried up, he will gain the fame he feared he had lost.

          • Julie says:

            I do think his “old art” – the very detailed pictures, will rise in value to some extent. But not too much, as I think there are a lot of them. The ones that will have great value, though, I think are the ones that I think of belonging to Bean now. – those six or whatever – three on paper and three on canvas – now they are going to be worth something, I think. Will Bean be pressured to give them up to her/his grandmother? Will Marianne insist they belong to Bean? Will Bert step in, since Marianne and Bean are really Finlays and not Morrows? Will any of them sell them? Will Clara keep them? So much to think of. Maybe that’s what Chartrand was hanging around for – maybe he wants them?

  6. Kim Lawson says:

    In regards to whether Peter’s family attended the funeral, I can’t imagine that Mrs Finney would not attend. This is a situation where I expect Bert would insist. I think Marianna & Bean would also come but Thomas & Sandra are doubtful. I felt Peter’s death packed a huge emotional impact but I didn’t find it a huge surprise. Yes, Peter seemed to have changed both as an artist & as a person but he has not grown in the way Clara has. While I felt very sad for her, I am hoping that she will find someone to love her in the way Armand loves Reine-Marie (and vice versa).

    • Christina Haas says:

      I think Louise Penny opened a door for Clara to have a romance in the future.

      • Karen Gast says:

        Unfortunately, I agree. However, I’d prefer the next tale to have much less Clara and, as someone else said, less of the art theme (and scene).

        • Liz says:

          I loved the art them!

        • Sylvia H. says:

          Of course, if there is romance in the future for Clara, and I do hope she finds someone who loves her as Armand loves Reine-Marie (and vice versa), it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the next book! Louise may take a totally different tack with only a few hints about a relationship in the future for Clara. I don’t think anyone expects that she would embark on a new relationship quickly. So it can take a book or two or more before we get there.

    • Barbara H. Johnson says:

      I agree that Peter’s Mother would have attended the funeral, but not in grief or with self recrimination. It would have been at Bert’s insistence. There might have been a bit of ” Now you see what he has done….hurt me by getting himself murdered” or some such equally inappropriate feeling.

      • Cathryne Spencer says:

        Isn’t that the truth?! Interestingly, I don’t see her suddenly acting as if he was the perfect child/person, as she did with Julia. Is there any reason for me to think that?

        • Cathryne Spencer says:

          Well, for us to think that, because you seem to feel the same, Barbara. Why was Julia raised to sainthood, but we don’t see her doing that to Peter?

          • Sylvia H. says:

            Julia had been the unfair victim of Peter’s nasty scheming with the graffiti on the washroom cubicle wall. Julia wasn’t mentioned as having done anything particularly nasty to anyone. Then again, the person who murdered her did so out of hatred for her husband, not her. She’s much more eligible for “sainthood” than Peter was throughout his life until the end, when he really did seem to have undergone a transformation.

        • Julie says:

          I think there is, Cathryne – when Armand visited her, looking for Peter, he commented that she didn’t have any Peter Morrows hanging and she said he hadn’t earned his place. To now decide that he was perfect would be difficult to achieve without people remarking on it, I think, and she would avoid those remarks at all costs.

          Contrary to what others think, I don’t think she would have be dragged to Peter’s funeral by Bert, though. I think that she would have expected that her presence, of course, was to be wished, and a place of honor at that. It’s what’s expected, and she’s always done that. What Bert would bring, that she wouldn’t, is genuine feeling. For the same reasons, I think that Thomas and his wife would be there, too.

      • Linda Maday says:

        I don’t think Bert could make Peter’s mother do anything. I believe she would be at the funeral because to not be there would be frowned upon socially. She’s all into appearances.

      • FionaTheBrit says:

        I prefer to believe that Peter’s mother might now recognise what true love is. What a rich life Peter had with Clara, it will not change her but perhaps she will realise that Peter found “love in the hardware store that was their home in Three Pines.”

  7. Kathy says:

    If Clara hadn’t insisted on searching for Peter and waited a little longer….I always wonder about the “what ifs”.

    • Julie says:

      Me, too, Kathy. If the letter had arrived. If she hadn’t gotten up the courage to ask Armand for help. If Armand had said “no”. If she’d just stayed put in the diner. So many “if’s”. It’s why I worry for her. I know that there is no real reason for her to blame herself – only Norman is responsible. But I know if it was me, I’d have self-recriminations.

  8. Jodie says:

    I was touched by the changes in Peter by the book’s end. Though unexpected, his ending seems fitting. What growth! I loved the idea of the letter for Clara. I also enjoyed the whole “Gilead” book within a book idea. How brave of Gamache to move forward! I laughed over the ship cabin debacle, especially the “bath” metaphor. Those poor guys! As for jealousy and acid, yes, yes, yes! I just taught a Sunday School lesson on Cain and Abel yesterday. You could definitely make a good contrast between Massey and Peter at the end of the book. Peter showed growth beyond the envy, whike Massey was simply consumed by it.

  9. KB says:

    1. I think Clara’s reluctance to get Gamache involved spoke to her internal ambivalence more than it spoke to her trying to respect Gamache’s new life in the village and the peace he sought there. I believe that she wanted Peter to come home. She wanted to find out what they had, if anything, but she was afraid. Afraid that he might have stayed away on purpose because he had learned who he was and thought that he was better off without her. And afraid that he had stayed away because he knew he hadn’t changed enough and that their relationship would ultimately disintegrate. She didn’t know what she would find when she found him. And she knew that Gamache would find him. I think that, ultimately, she decided to be brave and to put her wishes first. She decided that it was important to move past limbo. Although she believed that Gamache would help her, she knew that he could have refused. Her decision showed growth in her character. Gamache’s decision to help was consistent with his character. He thinks of Clara as a friend. That he would help a friend is not surprising.

    • Cathryne Spencer says:

      And maybe he felt he was helping two friends. From the beginning, he seemed much more aware than Clara that Peter might be in trouble or dead.

      • Barbara H. Johnson says:

        Gamache did seem to know that the possibility of a tragic outcome was more than a possibility. I think he expected to find Peter dead, not a suicide, but by an accident or murder.

    • Julie says:

      I think that, certainly, Clara had her own wants foremost in her mind, but I don’t think she was completely without worry that it was too soon for Gamache to be getting back on the horse. I think that, in part, was why she hesitated so long. But the rest was definitely that she wanted Peter back, she didn’t want him. She wanted to know if he still loved her, she didn’t want to know. She wondered if he’d changed, she was sure he hadn’t. All that was there in her hesitation.

      For Gamache – I don’t think it’s fair to say “he could always say no” – I don’t think he could ever turn down a friend in need, and Clara was definitely that. As well, he thought of Peter as a good friend, too, and he would have wanted to help if Peter were in trouble. And I think he knew, somehow, that Peter was in trouble. Early on, LP says something like “There was no doubt in Armand’s mind that Peter loved Clara with all his heart.” So he would have expected that Peter would come home when he said he would. That he didn’t come was ominous to him, I think.

      • Barbara H. Johnson says:

        You gave me a good laugh about Clara being of two minds. I can see her thinking one thought and then the opposite. For once, I can identify with Clara.

  10. KB says:

    2. I expected Peter would have come home. It wasn’t his choice to leave. Three Pines was safe. Peter craved safety. I loved his story throughout this book. He became brave. For him to stick with trying out putting emotions on canvas, despite knowing that he was producing crap technically showed immense courage. To allow others to see his fledgling works was even more astonishing. And for him to care for his dying professor was such a change from the man who didn’t know what to do when Clara cried and “had nothing at his soul”. He went from being one of my least favourite characters to one that I wanted to see develop. (I thought he might become another type of “asshole saint”.)

  11. KB says:

    Brave man in a brave country – this belongs to Peter and to Norman. Courage: Clara’s decision to find Peter, Gamache’s decision to help, Ruth taking a flight despite her fear – to help a friend, Peter battling to develop a new artistic style, Peter and Norman finding inspiration at Tadoussac, Lacoste developing skills as the head of homicide, Gamache finally making it past the bookmark, Norman setting up the Salon des Refuses (IF the intention was like the original: honouring creativity missed by the less courageous professors). Cowardice: Massey getting his friend fired and sabotaging him, Massey’s jealousy directed at Norman instead of being brave enough to improve his own work, and ultimately in pretending to be a friend who was helping Norman while actually working to cause his death.

    • Lynne says:

      KB, I do think that Professor Norman’s intentions with the Salon des Refuses were good. The historical reference was obvious, and I think Norman would have sympathized with the rejected, because he didn’t fit in either. He was an artist who dressed like a banker, everyone thought he was crazy because of his obsession with the tenth muse, and he was a very gifted painter who inspired jealousy. We don’t really learn much about him, but I think he must have been a generous sort of person. The 10th muse was very real to him, but he tried to share this source of inspiration rather than keep it for himself.

    • Julie says:

      Another moment of bravery- Reine-Marie cheerfully seeing Gamache off to find Peter despite her many misgivings. I think that Peter definitely became a brave man in a brave country. And now, will be that forever, since he didn’t get the chance to see if he could have sustained that strength.

      Cowardice – the ultimate act of cowardice, to me, was Massey’s murder of Norman by “proxy” – sending off the asbestos infused canvases and just waiting. Talk about not having to face your foe…

  12. linda maclennan says:

    Coming from Peter’s family…it’s amazing that he was alive at all as an adult, many others have caved under the weight of all that disfunction. I loved the first introduction of Bean, loved Bean in this book as well, and look forward to much more about her/him…and in honor of her/him I have named by new stray black kitten a name that can go toward either sex as I have no idea what “it” is…Harpurr…. It was wonderful that Peter was so brave for Clara at the end, no nice she has that and the letter to remind her of his love for her…

    • Julie says:

      I love that name,Linda – Harpurr! I agree – it’s a wonder Peter did as well as he did. And that he seemed to even flourish when he really set his mind and heart to the task. I was so very hopeful for him.

  13. Julie says:

    2. I thought he’d come home. I did. And in some ways, of course, he did. He came home to a place he’d never been before – bravery, love, compassion. Clara “talked him home” at the end, and he knew he had her love, and could be at peace. He also came home to a place of great art, which came from his soul… something he’d never had before. His other art came from his brain.

    I also feel very sure that we WAS coming home. He had every intention of it. He got caught up in Norman’s slow death, and couldn’t, in good conscience, leave him, but he WAS coming home to Clara as soon as he could. I think his letter proves that.

  14. Julie says:

    Gamache’s not being able to read past the bookmark. When I truly realized what this was, it about broke my heart. I can so sympathize with him, not wanting to read beyond what his father read. To go on without him. I can see, so clearly, Armand feeling that he was with his father as he read the same words, in the same book. But when it came time to go past there – well, he couldn’t. That he was able to go on at the end of the story is miraculous. I think it speaks to a level of healing that Gamache had by then. Healing that, perhaps, could never have taken place if he’d not gone on the investigation with Clara, Myrna and Jean Guy. So, maybe, what Clara asked wasn’t so much after all.

    • Cathryne Spencer says:

      I agree, Julie. Maybe Gamache had gained as much insight sitting on the bench above Three Pines as he could. Interestingly, he found many more benches on which to sit, talk, read, and contemplate as the trip progressed.

  15. Julie says:

    Ruth’s strange behavior around Prof. Massey had me completely fooled. I was with Reine-Marie, in thinking that Ruth liked him. Like-liked him, hahaha. To find that, in fact, she feared him was a big awakening for me. If she’d been with anyone but R-M, perhaps they would have realized that something was wrong with Massey long before. Because Ruth wasn’t just acting strange – she was completely out of character.

    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. Her cryptic comments always have meaning, I think, but can’t be interpreted by those around her. Someone needs to learn to speak Ruth, I think.

    • Linda Maday says:

      Ruth said she thought he was frightening, but was explicit in telling Gamache that if she had thought he was a danger to the others she would have said something. Ruth is always pretty forthright when she has something to say.

    • Millie says:

      Good catch, Julie! “If she’d been with anyone but R-M, perhaps they would have realized that something was wrong with Massey long before.” You are so right, “she was completely out of character. It seems that Gamache realized something was ‘off’ and that promoted his call to Ruth. Gamache knows Ruth at her core. However, I don’t necessarily believe that it is a matter of Ruth not quite figuring out how to communicate things to others as much as being hesitant. She communicates through her poetry. For her that is ‘safe’. Gamache figured out that the poem was about Peter… So many thoughts, so little time.

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