My Commonplace Book: April 2017

A selection of words and pictures to represent April’s reading

My Commonplace Book

commonplace book
a notebook in which quotations, poems, remarks, etc, that catch the owner’s attention are entered

Collins English Dictionary


“What a beautiful situation,” he said, “The house nestles so contentedly.”

She smiled. “That is very poetic, Master Marcus. I have never thought of it like that.”

“That is because you are used to it. Rare beauty is treated as something quite ordinary by those who see it every day.”

To Sleep No More by Deryn Lake (1987)


I began to see how people could need drink to cover up embarrassments, and I remembered many sticky church functions which might have been improved if somebody had happened to open a bottle of wine. But people like us had to rely on the tea-urn and I felt that some credit was due to us for doing as well as we did on that harmless stimulant.

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym (1952)


She glanced uncertainly at Timothy, who said at once, “Sit down and answer the kind policeman truthfully, my child.”

She obeyed but said reluctantly, “It sounds so unlikely!”

“Most of the stories I have to listen to do,” observed Hemingway. “And they’re not always lies either!”

Duplicate Death by Georgette Heyer (1951)


Surely those were the things that mattered – the little everyday things, the family to be cooked for, the four walls that enclosed the home, the one or two cherished possessions. All the thousands of ordinary people on the earth, minding their own business, and tilling the earth, and making pots and bringing up families and laughing and crying, and getting up in the morning and going to bed at night. They were the people who mattered, not these Angels with wicked faces who wanted to make a new world and who didn’t care whom they hurt to do it.

They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie (1951)


Aviatrix Hélène Dutrieu

And then, something mysterious happened. Now that her body had had time to adjust, and the same for her mind, once she realised she wasn’t going to drop from the air she was suffused with elation, streaming out of her fingertips and toes and hair and eyes and she just couldn’t believe she was there, up, up, up, above the world. It was so beautiful, so beautiful!

The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull (2017)


“A foolish, foolish situation. Each, as an individual would pull the other out of the water; each would succour the other, even at considerable danger to himself. But each, as the representative of his tribe, will batter the other with great guns and small; sink, burn and destroy at the drop of a hat. A foolish, foolish situation, that must be dealt with by men of sense, not by gamecocks stalking about on stilts and high horses.”

Desolation Island by Patrick O’Brian (1977)


Her most recent life – four years at a good college, and then a few years of shelving books – had given her a vague sense of freedom with no disorder attached, apart from her inner misery.

In other words, nothing in her previous experience had prepared her for the feeling of being suddenly locked in a monastic room with a stranger five thousand miles from the Blue Ridge Mountains, holding an urn containing the ashes of another stranger.

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova (2017)


Charles Edward Stuart (‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’)

But when he was alone, when the door had closed with a certain air of finality on one whom he knew to be at least a faithful friend, a wave of melancholy swept over his young, impetuous heart.

He thought of his truly precarious position, and how this house, his pension, his servants, his very clothes, and the money in his pocket might melt away like fairy gold which, gleaming over-night, is but withered leaves in the morning.

Everything depended on France.

Mr Misfortunate by Marjorie Bowen (1919)


He never cried. He could often feel a cry trying to come up from his heart, but he always forced it down. Because this was how Emilie had told him to behave in the world. He had to master himself. The world was alive with wrongdoing, she said, but Gustav had to emulate his father who, when wronged, had behaved like an honourable man; he had mastered himself. In this way, Gustav would be prepared for the uncertainties to come.

The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain (2016)


“You must not let your artistic talents go to waste. It is such a lovely thing to be able to show the world how you see it, the shadows and the light, and the spaces in between. We miss those details in everyday life. Art reminds us of what we have no time to see.”

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton (2015)


Magdalen Tower, Oxford

We are never quite the same person with everyone, he found; the clash of personality upon personality strikes out a different flame in every case and those we love the best are those whose impact upon us creates most light and warmth.

Towers in the Mist by Elizabeth Goudge (1937)


So I was ugly. So what? I was sturdy and squat, a bit squashed, with features uneven, I knew. But so were some of my favourite mountains: lumpy, offkilter, with mismatching planes and pointy bits.
And I was clever. This woman, Daisy’s mother, was wrong.

The Valentine House by Emma Henderson (2017)


Joan of Kent

The lines of the troubadour’s song revolved again and again in my mind.

Love is soft and love is sweet, and speaks in accents fair;
Love is mighty agony, and love is mighty care;
Love is utmost ecstasy and love is keen to dare;
Love is wretched misery. To live with it’s despair.

The Shadow Queen by Anne O’Brien (2017)


Favourite books read in April: They Came to Baghdad, The Wild Air, Towers in the Mist

10 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: April 2017

  1. Sandra says:

    Helen, I always enjoy your commonplace posts but I think this may just be my favourite. So many beautiful quotes; it makes me want to emulate your exact month of reading!

  2. Judy Krueger says:

    I am most looking forward to reading The Shadow Land and The Gustav Sonata. That sentence from Towers in the Mist is just the kind of insight that made me love Elizabeth Goudge. Cool that that was one of your favorites last month!

    • Helen says:

      I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Elizabeth Goudge so far and I’m just sorry I didn’t discover her when I was younger. The Shadow Land and The Gustav Sonata are both good too – I hope you enjoy them.

  3. jessicabookworm says:

    I really like the sound of They Came to Baghdad and Towers in the Mist. I also look forward to hearing your thoughts on The Shadow Queen, as I have a copy of that too :-). Happy reading in May!

    • Helen says:

      They Came to Baghdad and Towers in the Mist are great books. I would definitely recommend both of them. My thoughts on The Shadow Queen should be up next week. 🙂

Please leave a comment. Thanks!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.