My Commonplace Book: May 2018

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

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


My master was not often rude to people, but he replied sternly: ‘Every war is a civil war. Does the fact that armies come from different realms make the fight between them more natural? We all occupy the same realm, sir: it is called humanity.’

Tomorrow by Damian Dibben (2018)


Anne Boleyn

‘The guide’s here,’ she said, seeing a lady in Tudor dress advancing towards them. ‘She’s early too. And what a gown!’ It was an exact replica, in sumptuous black velvet, of the elegant attire Anne wore in her portrait. Even the French hood – no easy thing to get right – was perfect.

The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today by Alison Weir (2017)


‘Well, never mind about that,’ said his lordship. ‘It’s no use your saying that you’d prefer to be a governess to marrying me, because it’s absurd! No one would. Dash it, Hero, I don’t want to talk like a coxcomb, and I dare say I may want for principle, and have libertine propensities, and spend all my time in gaming-hells, besides being the sort of ugly customer no woman of sensibility could stomach, but you can’t pretend that you wouldn’t be far more comfortable with me than at the curst school you keep on prosing about!’

Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer (1944)


‘The thing is to be happy if you can,’ said Arthur.

‘No; – that is not the thing. I’m not much of a philosopher, but as far as I can see there are two philosophies in the world. The one is to make one’s self happy, and the other is to make other people happy. The latter answers the best.’

The Prime Minister by Anthony Trollope (1876)


Flag used by the Templars in battle

‘Then I hope you are finding comfort in your memories, sire.’

William smiled a little. ‘Not all are comfortable, but they are instructive and enlightening. When I returned, I stowed them away and did not look at them again, but now it is time to make my peace with those that are still difficult, and to draw sustenance from the uplifting ones.’

Templar Silks by Elizabeth Chadwick (2018)


He’d grown to accept that joy was to be discovered at the edge of existence, fluttering in the corner of one’s eye, glimpsed only in those moments of serenity at dawn before one was fully awake. Happiness, when it came to Albert, was an explosion of sunlight.

House of Gold by Natasha Solomons (2018)


Louise apologised again. ‘I’m afraid I spoiled it. Is it a favourite of yours? I like thrillers, too. Miriam, my daughter, is trying to remould my taste. I have to keep books like that in a drawer, because if I leave them by my bed, she takes them away and substitutes a biography she thinks I should read, or one of those novels they write nowadays about uneasy people who think things for pages and pages.’

The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens (1955)


Jane Seymour

His smile vanished. ‘Jane, you have little idea of what makes a woman beautiful to men. It is not just a matter of face and form. If her heart is pure, it shines forth. If she be modest and virtuous, yet kindly withal, it is written in her face. But if she is shrewish, complaining and unkind, be she never so lovely, she cannot be beautiful.’

Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir (2018)


“I am afraid,” confessed Pen, “that I am not very well-behaved. Aunt says that I had a lamentable upbringing, because my father treated me as though I had been a boy. I ought to have been, you understand.”

“I cannot agree with you,” said Sir Richard. “As a boy you would have been in no way remarkable; as a female, believe me, you are unique.”

She flushed to the roots of her hair. “I think that is a compliment.”

“It is,” Sir Richard said, amused.

The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer (1940)


‘One thing I do know,’ I said, ‘is that there is no pleasure on this earth better than reading. I have been transported,’ I said, ‘to realms beyond my wildest imagining, to places I shall never see, for they are on the other side of the world, or do not exist at all. And I have been made to cry – and to laugh and to think and to be peaceful, and all of this I have got from books’.

The Illumination of Ursula Flight by Anna-Marie Crowhurst (2018)


Favourite books read in May:

The Prime Minister, House of Gold, The Corinthian and The Winds of Heaven (lots of good ones this month!)

Where did my reading take me in May?

England, Italy, Austria, Germany, the Holy Land

Authors read for the first time in May:

Damian Dibben, Anna-Marie Crowhurst, Monica Dickens


Have you read any of these books? Which books did you enjoy in May?

15 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: May 2018

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I do seem to have been reading a lot of newly published books recently! This has been a good year for new historical fiction so far. I love the Tomorrow quote too. 🙂

  1. FictionFan says:

    I’m in summer light reading mode at the moment, so the Heyer quotes appeal to me most this month. I’d definitely rather marry the rake than become a governess! 😉

  2. Melita Kennedy says:

    From that set, only The Corinthian, which is one of my favorite Heyer’s.

    In May, I did a bit better than usual, partially because of rereads. Melissa Scott’s new Astreiant novel (set in an alternative late medieval/early Renaissance Low Countries setting), Point of Sighs was released. Very good, scary at the end. I turned around and reread Fairs Point, the previous book. The main characters are Nicholas Rathe who’s a Pointsman aka a police officer. His leman, Philip Eslingen is a swordsman and ex-mercenary has become an officer in the City Guard–which may be in competence to maintain order with the Pointsmen. Together they solve crime! Country is a matriarchy.

    The second Murderbot novella, Artificial Condition, was released but I’d already read it. I did manage to get an early copy of Rogue Protocol which comes out in a few months. Murderbot is a Security Unit, an android more-or-less with cloned human material. it’s a slave and hired out to protect explorers and scientific groups. it thinks it broke conditions and slaughtered a bunch of people on a previous job, so it hacked it’s governor module and is just going along now. Overall storyline is to find out what happened, and find some autonomy. The first one just one a Nebula, is up for a Hugo, and I think has won or is nominated for at least one other award.

    Reread of The Ape Who Guards the Balance by Elizabeth Peters. Set in early 20th century Egypt, this series follows Amelia Peabody, her husband Radcliffe Emerson and their family and friends. Emerson and Amelia are archeologists, but every year there’s always a murder, tomb robbers, or other shenanigans to deal with. This is later in the series where their son, Ramses, ward Nefret, and the grandson of their reis David are growing up and taking active part. This particular book speaks frankly of the prejudices held by the British towards Egyptians, giving it added depth.

    The Rose Legacy by Jessica Day George which…I cannot remember anything about! It’s a middle grades or maybe early young adult novel. After a quick check, a young girl who’s been shuffled between relatives after her father died, ends up going ouside the “wall” to a hidden ranch which is still raising…gasp!…horses. It turns out she has some magical affinity to them, just like all her family.

    The Flowers of Vashnoi, a novella by Lois McMaster Bujold, that focuses on Ekaterin.

    Murder at the War and The Unforgiving Minutes by Mary Monica Pulver. The story of a policeman and a sheltered young woman who becomes his wife. In the first book, they’re already married and are at the Pennsic War, a Society for Creative Anachronism convention. A man gets killed during a forest battle. Kori finds him just as he’s dying while Peter is roped in to do a parallel investigation with the actual police. The second book tells how they met. They were recently released as ebooks. Very much a product of their time as they were originally published in the late ’80s.

    • Helen says:

      I’ve only read about half of Heyer’s novels, but The Corinthian is one of my favourites so far too.

      It sounds as though you read an interesting, varied selection of books in May! You’ve reminded me that I need to continue with the Amelia Peabody series. I have read the first two books and really enjoyed them, but still haven’t picked up the third one. It will be a while before I get to The Ape Who Guards the Balance! I keep meaning to try one of Lois McMaster Bujold’s books too – they don’t sound like my usual sort of reads, but I’ve heard so much praise for them.

  3. Carmen says:

    I love the quotes from Tomorrow, The Corinthian, and The Illumination of Ursula Flight. The quote from The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today is funny in context. Good luck with your June reading! 🙂

    • Helen says:

      Thanks. I’m glad you liked some of my May quotes – I think the one from The Illumination of Ursula Flight is my favourite as it describes everything I love about reading. 🙂

  4. jessicabookworm says:

    Helen, I haven’t read any of these, however I do have The Tower is Full of Ghosts Today and Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir that I am looking forward to reading. First I have Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession to read, which I put on my 10 Books of Summer reading challenge, so I hope to get to it soon. Happy June reading 🙂

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