It’s time for my last Commonplace Book post of 2016. I now have twelve lovely collections of quotations and images to look back on from my year’s reading, so I think I’ll be doing this again – or something very similar – in 2017!
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
Looking back on the past six months, Margaret realised the chaotic nature of our daily life, and its difference from the orderly sequence that has been fabricated by historians. Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere. With infinite effort we nerve ourselves for a crisis that never comes. The most successful career must show a waste of strength that might have removed mountains, and the most unsuccessful is not that of the man who is taken unprepared, but of him who has prepared and is never taken.
Howards End by E.M. Forster (1910)
Time is the tricksiest of all tricksters, and I should know. I was a jester by profession, but I never had the skills of Mistress Time. She can stretch herself into a shadow that reaches so far you think it’ll never come to an end or she can shrink to the shortest of mouse-tails.
Talk, inevitably, turned to the projected portrait, and he was able to describe what he wanted. “I have it all quite plain in my mind’s eye: I stand by a table, so, and I’m holding out a laurel wreath over Strephon’s head, while turning to look out of the picture, and Strephon sits on a pile of books on a table, preferably eating them.”
“All highly symbolic. Are you sure you don’t want, say, a dwarf or a blind fiddler or any other accessory? Just yourself, and the monkey?”
Alathea by Pamela Belle (1985)
Angel thought: What is this errand I am going on? Perhaps all this girl has told me is false; how do I know? Perhaps all I have heard of her is a lie, too. What is it that I have in common with her? Why do I like and trust her? For the same reason as I was hurt by the death of the manatee – we’re all females, slaves, helpless.
Night’s Dark Secrets by Marjorie Bowen (1936)
Somehow, he’d thought that as he got older he would achieve a measure of free will. When he was a man, he had often told himself after being chastised or set some complicated task of learning that no one would tell him what to do. Now he lay on his back in the dense forest, aware of the mist rising from the damp earth, the murmuring of men settling in for the night, and knew he was part of a story that had started long before he was born and would continue long after his death.
Accession by Livi Michael (2016)
“Nice!” Stella’s anger overflowed suddenly. “And this is a nice bus, and what a lot of nice people we are, this nice morning.”
Marian managed a laugh. “You’re quite right. It’s a terrible word. I used it in an essay once, and my tutor made me read Northanger Abbey before I wrote another one.”
“Oh God, Jane Austen,” said Stella.
Strangers in Company by Jane Aiken Hodge (1973)
There are misfortunes in life that no one will accept; people would rather believe in the supernatural and the impossible.
The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas (1850)
The moon was full and, urged by a restless excitement, she had been unable to remain in her room. She walked without conscious direction through a grove of oleanders and came out on the shore, pale gold sands silvered by the moonlight, a line of slowly curling surf white as ivory, and a sea of violet blue. Above her the Southern moon seemed huge and very near and she felt as if she could catch it in her hand.
Forget Me Not by Marjorie Bowen (1932)
“First his secretary, seated in his master’s chair, was shot,” he said slowly. “Then his butler, who was apparently after his master’s Scotch, got poisoned. Then his chauffeur met with a very mysterious accident, and finally a man walking with him down the street got a coping stone on his head.” He sat back and regarded his companion almost triumphantly. “What do you say to that?” he demanded.
“Shocking,” said the young man. “Very bad taste on someone’s part. Rotten marksmanship, too,” he added, after some consideration. “I suppose he’s travelling for health now, like me?”
She raised her eyes – they lighted on the masquer. The pressure of the people had forced him so close to her that their hands touched. Shore lent forward to speak to his father. The mysterious personage seized the occasion, pressed that gloved hand with ardour, and whispered in her ear.
“You have done unwisely – you might have been the beloved of a king.”
Jane Shore by Mary Bennett (1869)
“There are many forms of love, Violet. One can love a parent in one way, a sibling in another, a lover, a friend, an animal…each in different ways.”
Flora watched Violet’s face as everything it contained seemed to soften and a veil fell from her eyes.
“Yes, yes! But Flora, how can we possibly choose whom we love when society dictates it?”
“Well, even though outwardly we must do as society dictates, the feelings we hold inside us may contradict that completely.”
The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley (2016)
Favourite books this month: Alathea, The Man in the Iron Mask and The Shadow Sister.
As you can see, I’m very behind with my reviews, which isn’t ideal at the start of a new year. However, I do have most of them written and scheduled to be posted throughout January. For now, I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year!