My Commonplace Book: February 2018

A selection of words and pictures to represent February’s reading:

commonplace book
a book into which notable extracts from other works are copied for personal use.


Now the fascination of the past, according to psychologists, consists in its air of security. The past is over and done with; nothing more can happen in it; it is therefore a refuge from the difficult to-day and the problematic tomorrow.

There Came Both Mist and Snow by Michael Innes (1940)


“At least you’re not a stranger to yourself, Miss Hardcastle,” I say. “Surely you can take some solace in that?”

“Quite the contrary,” she says, looking at me. “I imagine it would be rather splendid to wander away from myself for a little while. I envy you.”

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (2018)


“Clever? Who said that we all had to be clever? But we have to have courage. The whole position of woman is what it is to-day, because so many of us have followed the line of least resistance, and have sat down placidly in a little provincial town, waiting to get married. No wonder that the men have thought that this is all that we are good for.”

The Crowded Street by Winifred Holtby (1924)


Example of a ‘corpse road’ or coffin path.

I’m used to all weathers and I know the tricks that Nature can play. I’ve scared myself at times, imagining spirits in the mist or glimpsing marsh lights dancing on the moor at midnight. But those are nothing more than half-remembered fantasies of a child with a head full of goblins and fairies, put there by a God-fearing father with a dread of the Devil’s creatures. I’m not one for superstition and I’ve never before felt truly afraid…

The Coffin Path by Katherine Clements (2018)


It may be obtuseness on my part, but I never could see that people who lived in the Basses-Pyrénées are any more cultivated or had any broader horizons than people who live in the Green Mountains. My own experience is that when you actually live with people, day after day, year after year, you find about the same range of possibilities in any group of them.

The Brimming Cup by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1919)


A feeling of tension hung about Lisbon these hot days of early summer: rumours ran the streets in the daytime, as packs of scavenging dogs did by night, and Camilla did not know which she found more disturbing, the whispers that ran, incomprehensibly, through the Great Square by day, or the desolate howling of the dogs by night.

Marry in Haste by Jane Aiken Hodge (1969)


It’s really most remarkable how the human race is so seldom satisfied with what it’s got. Give a man the world and he’s still pining for the moon.

Re-read of Penmarric by Susan Howatch (1971)


Kyrenia, Cyprus

I should like to live here, thought Amanda dreamily; and remembered what Miss Moon had said about Time…that in the Villa Oleander, Time was their servant, and not they the servants of Time. Perhaps that was true of all Cyprus. Certainly this shimmering blue day held a timeless and dreamlike quality. But it was a deceptive quality, for Time must move on here as relentlessly as it did in colder and harsher countries, and it was only a pleasant illusion that here it drifted slowly and lazily. One day the world would catch up with Cyprus.

Death in Cyprus by M.M. Kaye (1956)


She had learnt to wait for the changes and the help that life brings. Life is like the sea, sometimes you are in the trough of the wave, sometimes on the crest. When you are in the trough, you wait for the crest, and always, trough or crest, a mysterious tide bears you forward to an unseen, but certain shore.

Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple (1953)


Favourite books read in February:

Penmarric (re-read), The Crowded Street, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Where did my reading take me in February?

England, USA, Portugal, Cyprus

Authors read for the first time in February:

Stuart Turton, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Dorothy Whipple


Have you read any of these books? What have you been reading in February?

17 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: February 2018

  1. piningforthewest says:

    It looks like February was a very good reading month for you. I think I’d like to re-read Penmarric at some point too.

    • Helen says:

      I really enjoyed my re-read of Penmarric and am planning to re-read my other Susan Howatch books, Cashelmara and The Wheel of Fortune, soon too.

  2. FictionFan says:

    Great post as usual! My favourite of this batch is the Marry in Haste one, though somehow the quote and the title don’t seem to go together – looking forward to your review. I also like the first one about the comfort of the past being that it’s over – very true, I suspect.

  3. Margaret says:

    Your extracts make want to read each book. The only one I have read is Penmarric – years ago. I don’t remember much about it now, so a re-read would be like reading it for the first time, I suspect.

    • Helen says:

      It had been years since my first read of Penmarric too and I found that I’d forgotten most of the story. I can’t wait to re-read Susan Howatch’s other books as well.

  4. Sandra says:

    Such a varied collection! I really like the extra information at the end of the post too. Your reading took you a number of warm climates last month – much needed at the moment!

  5. Judy Krueger says:

    This one: “Now the fascination of the past, according to psychologists, consists in its air of security. The past is over and done with; nothing more can happen in it; it is therefore a refuge from the difficult to-day and the problematic tomorrow.” Though I like to look at the past for clues as to how I and we got where we are today and where we might end up tomorrow.
    I look forward to your review of the M M Kaye book. It is the one I have not read yet.
    My Books Read in February will go up on my blog today.

    • Helen says:

      Yes, the past can tell us a lot about the present and the future. It’s one of the reasons I find history so interesting! My review of Death in Cyprus should be ready soon, but for now I can tell you that I enjoyed it. 🙂

  6. jessicabookworm says:

    Helen, I’m afraid I haven’t read any of your books this month. It sounds like you have done some wonderful travelling in your reading – away from all this horrible, cold weather! Happy reading in March. 🙂

  7. Small Review says:

    I read Penmarric in February, too! For me it was a first read and very enjoyable (though I liked Cashelmara even more).

    • Helen says:

      I’m glad you liked Penmarric…I enjoyed reading it as much as I did the first time. I’m hoping to also re-read Cashelmara and The Wheel of Fortune (probably my favourite of the three).

      • Small Review says:

        Oooh good to hear Wheel of Fortune is your favorite! I still have that one to read, so now I’m looking forward to it even more.

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