A summary of this month’s reading, in words and pictures.
a notebook in which quotations, poems, remarks, etc, that catch the owner’s attention are entered
“Barbarians,” she murmured in tones of disbelief. “Barbarians.” Perhaps if she said the word often enough she could defuse the threat. “But in that case…we’re finished. We’re all dead.” It was just as Lord Nariakira had warned. These were not gentle Hollanders. These were other beings, those nameless hordes who’d rampaged across China. Barbarians like those didn’t come in peace. They threatened their lives, their world, everything they knew.
Things were spinning around her. The world was turning upside down. But she couldn’t help feeling curious as well. She wished she could catch a glimpse of these exotic creatures with her own eyes.
“And then do ye wait and see more; there’ll be plenty of opportunity. Time enough to cry when you know ’tis a crying matter; and ’tis bad to meet troubles half-way.”
The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy (1887)
My family were not readers, but Xavier Mountstuart’s writings had inspired and transported me. I had devoured The Courage of the Bruce and The Black Prince, then graduated to the Indian writings: The Lion of the Punjab, of course, and the tales of bandits and rebels in the foothills of Nepal. I had read of white forts and marble palaces and maharajas’ emeralds; of zenanas and nautch girls in the Deccan; of the sieges and jangals. I had even read a short tract about Hindooism, vegetarianism and republicanism, which had left me a little confused. Mountstuart seemed to me the very acme of Byronic manhood. It was not simply that he was a poet and writer of genius, but that he had lived his writings.
“Now, what mean you by that?”
“Just that I am a common highwayman, Miss Betty.”
She stared at him for a moment, and then resumed her work.
“You look it.”
John cast a startled glance down his slim person.
“Is that so, madam? And I rather flattered myself I did not!”
The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer (1921)
“No, I don’t care for novels,” she said, shaking her head. “I’ve never really understood them, if I’m honest.”
“In what way?” I asked, confused by how the concept of the novel could be a difficult one to understand. There were some writers, of course, who told their stories in the most convoluted way possible — many of whom seemed to send their unsolicited manuscripts to the Whisby Press, for instance — but there were others, such as Jack London, who offered their readers such a respite from the miserable horror of existence that their books were like gifts from the gods.
The Absolutist by John Boyne (2011)
Frances struck an attitude, sitting upright with head poised high and left hand outstretched as though she grasped an invisible weapon. “Of course, when I am really posing for Roettier, the engraver, I shall wear a helmet and hold a trident and I shall have flowing, Grecian robes. It was altogether the King’s idea, but James of York thought it should be called Britannia. To represent the nation’s might.”
“My thoughts are my own,” I answered: “and though you keep my person prisoner, these are beyond your control.”
Redgauntlet by Sir Walter Scott (1824)
“Not to my knowledge, sir,” said the Viscount.
“I’m glad to hear it! But if you had agreed to the marriage I planned for you a son of yours might have been sitting on my knee at this moment!”
“I hesitate to contradict you, sir, but I find myself quite unable to believe that any grandchild attempting — at this moment — to sit on your knee would have met with anything but a severe rebuff.”
Charity Girl by Georgette Heyer (1970)
She has a soft spot for little Peter; he had asked why he needed to learn to read when he first arrived.
“Because without reading you only have half a life,” she’d said, watching his puzzled face. “Reading will open doors for you to new worlds.” He had looked at her in wonder then.
“Like the men who sail to the Americas?”
“Yes, something like that.”
The Girl in the Glass Tower by Elizabeth Fremantle (2016)
Favourite books this month: The Woodlanders and The Strangler Vine