My Commonplace Book: December 2017

A selection of words and pictures to represent December’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


“Just so. A great warrior may be a poor father or a worse husband. A respectable cleric might hide a youthful crime in a lifetime of good deeds. Most often a man is remembered for the evils he commits. But there is no man who ever lived that did nothing worthwhile through the course of his life.”

Voice of the Falconer by David Blixt (2010)


New Mexico

The nun took Father Latour to a window that jutted out and looked up the narrow street to where the wall turned at an angle, cutting off further view. “Look,” she said, “after the Mother has read us one of those letters from her brother, I come and stand in this alcove and look up our little street with its one lamp, and just beyond the turn there, is New Mexico; all that he has written us of those red deserts and blue mountains, the great plains and the herds of bison, and the canyons more profound than our deepest mountain gorges. I can feel that I am there, my heart beats faster, and it seems but a moment until the retiring-bell cuts short my dreams.”

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (1927)


“But your husband-” He closed his eyes for a moment and said, “The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it. He did that, every day, for a long time.”

“You sent him, though,” she said, her voice as low as his. “You did.”

His smile was bleak.

“I’ve done such things every day…for a long time.”

Seven Stones to Stand or Fall by Diana Gabaldon (2017)


Medieval Wales

Sybil’s Breton maid, Amelina, who is of a poetical turn of mind it seems, on seeing the princess, said, “She is very beautiful. She looks like Wales – her eyes like the brilliant blue wind-driven skies and the colour of her hair reminding me of the black rugged mountains.” But Lady Sybil clicked her tongue and told her this was nonsense. “She looks like a poor orphaned child to me,” she said.

Conquest: Daughter of the Last King by Tracey Warr (2016)


“A mean between two extremes is apt to be satisfactory in results. If we don’t produce a Marcus Aurelius or a Seneca, neither do we produce a Nero or a Phocas. We may have lost patriotism, but we have gained cosmopolitanism, which is better. If we have lost chivalry, we have acquired decency; and if we have ceased to be picturesque, we have become cleanly, which is considerably more to be desired.”

A Point in Morals by Ellen Glasgow (1899) – taken from In the Shadow of Agatha Christie edited by Leslie S Klinger (2018)


The French Revolution

Now it seemed that in France, everything my mother and her friends had long talked about was coming true. Human beings really were capable of uniting to defeat tyranny and injustice. A new order could be created, based on the rights of man. And woman too. I was the one who had been mistaken. Everything they had dreamed of and written about was coming to pass, not two hundred miles from London.

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore (2017)


Favourite books read in December: Voice of the Falconer and Death Comes for the Archbishop


Happy New Year – and happy reading in 2018!

13 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: December 2017

    • Helen says:

      I’ve read two others – My Antonia and The Professor’s House – but Death Comes for the Archbishop is definitely my favourite so far. I’m looking forward to reading more Cather.

    • Helen says:

      Commonplace books were popular in the Victorian era and earlier, I think. They should really be handwritten, but mine is a virtual one. I’m glad you like it!

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