My Commonplace Book: August 2018

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

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


Yet even without deliberately attempting to cut and discard pieces of a story, years after giving a full and just accounting of an event, a man may discover himself a liar. Such lies happen not by intent, but purely by virtue of the facts he was not privy to at the time he wrote, or by being ignorant of the significance of trivial events. No one is pleased to discover himself in such a strait, but any man who claims never to have experienced it is but stacking one lie on top of another.

Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb (2001)


Branwell Brontë’s portrait of Anne, Emily and Charlotte.

‘That’s just what I feel. What is profoundly personal cannot be exposed without -‘ Emily stopped.

‘Without what?’

‘Betraying it.’

‘Well! But what about our work?’

‘That’s fiction. It’s the stuff of your experience, perhaps, but not the stuff of your souls.’ She spoke quite matter-of-factly and without any special emphasis; yet Anne and Charlotte were silenced.

Dark Quartet by Lynne Reid Banks (1976)


Two steps. Two steps were all it took. An ocean; a universe. A gulf separating innocence from almost certain damnation. And yet innocence can be a burden and above all rarely profitable. Innocence affords private satisfaction; money and power simple recompense.

The Lady Agnès Mystery by Andrea Japp (2006)


“The trouble is,” said Laura, “walking in Venice becomes compulsive once you start. Just over the next bridge, you say, and then the next one beckons.”

Don’t Look Now and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier (1971)


Achilles’ surrender of Briseis to Agamemnon

Would you really have married the man who’d killed your brothers?

Well, first of all, I wouldn’t have been given a choice. But yes, probably. Yes. I was a slave, and a slave will do anything, anything at all, to stop being a thing and become a person again.

I just don’t know how you could do that.

Well, no, of course you don’t. You’ve never been a slave.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (2018)


‘Germany will declare war on France tomorrow, if she hasn’t already done so. As for us, we shall be in by Tuesday at the latest!’

‘How can you be so sure?’ Paul demanded. ‘Grenfell rang two days ago and said it depended upon half-a-dozen unknown factors, any of which might result in us standing aside.’

Franz said, ‘My dear boy, the politicians are the clowns who provide the curtain raiser, an entirely different cast act the play!’

Post of Honour by R.F. Delderfield (1966)


‘In my work I never calculate on persons, as apart from what I see them do. A person more or less is of no account in state affairs – it is what he promotes and what he does that I have to reckon with. I see your recent actions and your future intentions, and I hold them to be invidious. So I am not interested in emotional recollections of the kind of person you are, or seemed to be. I only work on what I see you doing.’

That Lady by Kate O’Brien (1946)


Coat of arms of Henry VII, founder of the House of Tudor

A man who carries the blood of Lancaster in his veins and has the Welsh dragon at his heel is a constant threat to York. The time may not be yet, Harri, but when the time comes, it is to you that the followers of the dragon will look for leadership. I look towards the crown for you – a Tudor crown.’

The Tudor Crown by Joanna Hickson (2018)


‘But you see,’ she said, ‘we are not either of them. However much we care for other people, we cannot become them. People can only do as much as they are. It may be more than we could do, it may be less, but very often it will be different. Sometimes that is very hard to bear, as I know you know.’

Marking Time by Elizabeth Jane Howard (1991)


Title page of The Lamentation of a Sinner by Catherine Parr

She looked round the gallery. ‘This is my favourite place in this palace. Where I can walk undisturbed, and rest my eyes on its treasures.’

‘There is much beauty here.’

‘The clocks remind me that however frantically courtiers plot and plan beyond these doors, time ticks by regardless.’ She looked at me directly with her hazel eyes. ‘Taking us to our judgement.’

Lamentation by CJ Sansom (2014)


What a happy woman I am living in a garden, with books, babies, birds, and flowers, and plenty of leisure to enjoy them! Yet my town acquaintances look upon it as imprisonment, and I don’t know what besides, and would rend the air with their shrieks if condemned to such a life. Sometimes I feel as if I were blest above all my fellows in being able to find my happiness so easily.

Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim (1898)


A serious note crept into Elizabeth’s voice. ‘There is much to be said for a lack of ambition. I would not be sorry should you think less of advancement and more of the content to be had in small things.’

‘No more would I, should we be allowed that luxury.’

She ignored the implication, sought to counter it. ‘Surely we should be able to find much to take pleasure in within our own bounds.’ There was a sound of scuffling from above their heads, followed by a shriek and a succession of giggles. ‘Family for one. Our children healthy and happy and full of life.’

By Sword and Storm by Margaret Skea (2018)


Favourite books read in August:

Fool’s Errand, Dark Quartet, Lamentation and Marking Time.

Where did my reading take me in August?

England, France, Italy, Crete, Ireland, Israel, Ancient Greece, Spain, Germany, Scotland

Authors read for the first time in August:

Lynne Reid Banks, Andrea Japp, Pat Barker, Kate O’Brien, Margaret Skea


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

15 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: August 2018

  1. Carmen says:

    You have travelled extensively this past month, even to Ancient Greece… I bet it was via a time machine. 😀 I haven’t read any of these books but I liked the quotes from Fool’s Errand, The Silence of the Girls, Post of Honour, and Lamentation.

    I the first few days of August, I finished entry #18 in Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series, The Other Woman. Then, once I finished, started reading Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley, which I’ll probably finish by the end of this coming week.

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I’m pleased with the number of countries I visited in my August reading, although it helped that the stories in the du Maurier book all had different settings. I hope you’re enjoying Bellewether. I love Susanna Kearsley but haven’t read that one yet.

  2. piningforthewest says:

    I’ve read Lynne Reid Banks’s L-Shaped Room trilogy years ago and really enjoyed it. I’ve also read quite a few by Pat Barker, but not the one you read – yet.

  3. Melita Kennedy says:

    I’ve read Delderfield and Hobb, but not those two books. I blogged in mid-July and mid-August so I’m not sure where the break occurred. I did read some books that I really liked.

    Repeats: Justice Hall by Laurie R. King, a pair of Elizabeth Peters (Seeing a Large Cat and The Serpent on the Crown)

    Rebecca Roanhorse, Trail of Lightning. In a post-apocalyptic world, the Navajo Nation is now surrounded by a giant turquoise wall and gods, demigods and monsters walk the land. Maggie is a monster hunter, trained by a demi-god who gets into some trouble and is afraid that she’s become a monster herself. Roanhorse just won a Hugo award for short fiction, and the Campbell award for best new writer.

    Clare O’Dell, A Study in Honor. Alternate history were a new civil war has broken our in the United States. Janet Watson is a surgeon who lost an arm in the war, but was given one that won’t let her perform surgery. She ends up in Washington, D.C. on a campaign to get it. She ends up staying with Sara Holmes…

    Becky Chambers, Record of a Space Born Few. Focuses on the last fleet to leave Earth. They end up in a perpetual orbit in a star system. The book focuses on several people. “These characters’ stories cross and intersect over the course of the book. It’s another lovely small-scale novel focused on people’s lives rather than collecting plot tokens.”

    • Helen says:

      That’s an interesting selection of books as usual, Melita. The Clare O’Dell book sounds particularly intriguing to me!

      I have read the first two books in the Mary Russell series and also the first two in the Amelia Peabody series, but for some reason still haven’t continued with either of them. Maybe soon!

  4. Jennifer says:

    ‘The Silence of the Girls’ is on my Kindle, and I’ll read it soon. I’ve read ‘Lamentation’ (and enjoyed it, as I’ve enjoyed each of the Shardlake novels). One of my favourite reads in August was Millie Thom’s ‘Wyvern of Wessex’, the third in her ‘Son of King’ series. I also really enjoyed ‘My Home in Tasmania’ by Louisa Anne Meredith, her account of living in Tasmania in the 1840s and 1840s.

  5. jessicabookworm says:

    Helen, I haven’t read any of these but I am really looking forward to reading my copies of The Tudor Crown by Joanna Hickson and By Sword and Storm by Margaret Skea. Happy September reading 🙂

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