My Commonplace Book: December 2018

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

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


My heart pounding, I look only at Hogarth. I know he must understand. His own training in art was unconventional, limited, yet he persevered to become the best. And he has not devoted his talent to celebrating the wealthy; he paints servants, soldiers, the people of the London streets.

“Would it be enough for you, Mr Hogarth?” I say. “To be shut up in the same room, day after day, painting flowers for silk dresses or for teacups and plates, and not telling the story of the world with your brush?”

The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau (2018)


He shook his head slowly. ‘I am not the person I was born. Neither are you. I know no one who is. Truly, Fitz, all we ever know are facets of one another. Perhaps we feel as if we know one another well when we know several facets of that person. Father, son, brother, friend, lover, husband…a man can be all of those things, yet no one person knows him in all those roles.’

Fool’s Fate by Robin Hobb (2003)


I have often found that the best way to persuade anyone to do something they suspect is to explain that they really need not do it.

The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay (1936)


I was alarmed. Up until then I had thought it was all quite simple. If you were nice-looking men wanted to marry you, and if you were not you saw it for yourself in the mirror and decided to do something else.

The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West (1956)


But my husband does not believe in redemption: Elias thinks that people are moulded like jelly by their choices and, once set, they can never be anything else.

Blackberry and Wild Rose by Sonia Velton (2019)


Plaque commemorating the Battle of Worcester

She turned away, stared out across the land. ‘Violence never changes anyone’s mind, just drives their convictions deeper. And it’s such a waste, when all that power could be used to build something, not knock it down.’

Spirit of the Highway by Deborah Swift (2015)


She was equally definite about the arrangements for the festival. The strengths of the Victorians were three, she remarked, and she spoke as one who knew: Common Sense, Knowing One’s Own Mind, and Thrift. The first thing to remember was that nothing, nothing whatever, which was valuable, or entertaining, or nutritious, in the widest possible sense of the words, must ever be wasted.

Campion at Christmas by Margery Allingham (2018)


A man held his soul in his hand like a pearl, and if he were to drop that pearl in the ocean he would never get it back.

A Column of Fire by Ken Follett (2017)


View to the east from Zennor Head

John William had set himself like an arrow on this one thing, leaving no space for anything else, and leaving no space for it to fail to happen either. She had never thought in that way herself, about wanting things. She had only thought that you had what you had, and that was all. Now she realized that she was far behind him, and that it was no longer just because of the few months between them. But there was danger in wanting anything that much, and showing that you wanted it.

Zennor in Darkness by Helen Dunmore (1993)


“Well, dreams take time to come true and even then, they’re not always in the places we expect to find them. I suppose we have to be patient and concentrate on what we have today.”

The Moon Sister by Lucinda Riley (2018)


“Let me tell you, Magyar. A woman is a woman, and a face is a face, and after a while the face isn’t pretty or plain anymore, it is this woman’s face, and you love her.”

Rakóssy by Cecelia Holland (1967)


Favourite books read in December:

Fool’s Fate, The Fountain Overflows and Blackberry and Wild Rose

Where did my reading take me in December?

England, France, Scotland, Spain, Hungary, Robin Hobb’s fictional Six Duchies and Out Islands.

Authors read for the first time in December:

Mavis Doriel Hay and Sonia Velton


Happy New Year – and happy reading in 2019!

10 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: December 2018

  1. Café Society says:

    I remember thinking about that comment by the Fool when I went to a friend’s funeral not long ago. He was a man who kept the different parts of his life very separate and there were people there who clearly thought that the minister was talking about an entirely different person to the one they had known. It was quite disconcerting.

  2. Judy Krueger says:

    I am as always, impressed by the care and curating that you put into these posts. It is a beautiful thing. It is art. I must read The Blue. I love the quote you took from the very quotable The Fountain Overflows.

Please leave a comment. Thanks!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.