A selection of words and pictures to represent September’s reading:
a book into which notable extracts from other works are copied for personal use.
Sometimes, he wondered at the choices a man made in his life: what a chaotic road had been laid behind him of carefully made plans and rushed decisions, rapid shifts and backtracks. Where might that road have led him if any one of them had been different? Sometimes, the thought left him light-headed, as if he were looking out over an abyss, no road laid before him, all the choices yet to make and the weight of those already made pushing at his back.
“These old corners with layers of history attached to them. They seem to exist in more dimensions than most places do.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m not quite sure I know. I suppose I mean it exists in time as well as space. So there’s always more to it than there seems. Only you don’t quite know what.”
Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor (2008)
If the advice was not heeded – and Francis was well aware that there was little likelihood of persuading the Earl of any course of action that he did not sincerely believe had been instigated by himself – it was because confrontation then, now, and always, is not only between the commander in the field and the enemy he seeks to subdue, but also between the men of action on the ground and the politicians back at home.
‘History is a good story, in my humble opinion,’ he said at last. ‘And at best it’s a matter of interpretation of selected facts, which may not even be genuine facts. Few historians have the chance to interview their subjects first-hand. Don’t knock it, Ruth. Listen. Write. Work out what it is you’ve written later.’
The Ghost Tree by Barbara Erskine (2018)
What was it like to trust no one? Was it wise? Or was there a small file, like a watchmaker’s file, that rasped away at the heart until, one day, in the crossing of a street, the middle of a sentence, you ceased to be human at all?
‘Do please, Bella, think hard of what you are planning. You have no idea, I am sure, of what life can be like for a woman.’
‘For one who fails,’ said Cristabel. ‘I don’t mean to fail. I mean to have the world at my feet. Because I am me, not because I’m Sarum’s unwanted daughter. Just give me my chance.’
First Night by Jane Aiken Hodge (1989)
Before, when I have tried to understand my enemies, it has been to ‘plan’ against them. Why try now when it is finished, why not be content to curse? But while man is man he must look and think; if not forward, back. We are born asking why, and so we end. So the gods made us.
Tad once told me that there is only one true queen on a chessboard. I remember asking him which one it was, and he asked me what I thought in return. I hazarded that she was always the one that won the game, and he shook his head slowly.
“No, child,” he said. “A queen may lose the game at hand, but ever is she a queen.”
Perdita by Hilary Scharper (2013)
The storm-centre had moved to some distance now, but the sky was still low and dark, and in the intermittent electric flicker the mountain shapes showed a curious light olive-green, lighter than the indigo clouds beyond them. The lower meadows and slopes shone paler still, stretching ghostly and frostlike where the shower had left its evanescent hoary glimmer. Dark sky, pale mountains, phantom-grey meadows…it was like looking at the negative of the normal daylight picture, a magically inverted landscape through whose pale foreground drove the sharp ink-black furrow of the Petit Gave.
Nell was not impressed by his revelation. The highborn were always up to no good, but what of it? No matter who sat on the throne at Westminster, she’d still be fretting about that leak in the roof and her daughter’s need for new shoes.
‘People think in pictures,’ I said. ‘Sometimes if you jog their memories with one picture, it helps to release others. People remember more than they think, but their memories are stored deep and you need to find a way to bring them to the surface.’
The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton (2018)
‘No? She wanted advice, just like you. I told her to go home and cook her husband’s dinner. Instead she went to Spain where she was murdered. People don’t want advice. They want to be told that what they want to do is right.’
Dark Summer in Bordeaux by Allan Massie (2012)
The extraordinary pleasantness of the last days of a holiday does not make a determined man want to be on holiday forever; he enjoys each second with peculiar gusto just because he is prepared to leave at an appointed time.
Favourite books read in September:
The Craftsman, Bleeding Heart Square and Harriet
Where did my reading take me in September?
England, France, Ancient Greece, Spain, Italy, Scotland, Canada
Authors read for the first time in September:
Hilary Scharper and Elizabeth Jenkins
Have you read any of these books? Which books did you enjoy in September?