My Commonplace Book: February 2019

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.


Seredith turned away and dropped the knife into the open drawer by my side. ‘Memories,’ she said, at last. ‘Not people, Emmett. We take memories and bind them. Whatever people can’t bear to remember. Whatever they can’t live with. We take those memories and put them where they can’t do any more harm. That’s all books are.’

The Binding by Bridget Collins (2019)


There was only one Drake, but also there was only one Beauvallet. The Spaniards coupled the two names together, but made of Beauvallet a kind of devil. Drake performed the impossible in the only possible way; the Spaniards said that El Beauvallet performed it in an impossible way, and feared him accordingly.

Beauvallet by Georgette Heyer (1929)


The family of Philip IV of France, depicted in 1315.

Alas, in love, it is not enough to have the same desires; they must also be expressed at the same time.

The She-Wolf by Maurice Druon (1959)


‘I am so fixed upon my own struggles I confess I barely give the plight of Africans a thought. Tad had his troubles too, yet he cared only for the enslaved, the dispossessed.’

‘He saw the world as a sculptor sees a block of stone. Not how it is. How it could be.’

Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (2019)


“Things are never so frightening in front of you as they are behind you. Remember that. Anything seems frightening when it’s behind your back and you can’t see it. That’s why it’s always better to turn and face things – and then very often you find they are nothing at all.”

Giant’s Bread by Mary Westmacott (1930)


Mount Longonot, Kenya

A vast golden valley of sun-bleached grass, speckled by scrub and flat-topped thorn trees and seamed with dry gullies; hemmed in to left and right by the two great barriers of the Kinangop and the Mau, and dominated by the rolling lava falls and cold, gaping crater of Longonot, standing sentinel at its gate.

Death in Kenya by M.M. Kaye (1958)


“I am going to dictate, and I hope that this time you will not interrupt at what I consider a dramatic moment. Let me think. I must repeat the first part, I suppose. Another time, sergeant, warn people at the beginning. It saves them from boring themselves, which is after all the most heinous of crimes.”

And Death Came Too by Richard Hull (1939)


Until then I had thought each book spoke of the things, human or divine, that lie outside books. Now I realized that not infrequently books speak of books: it is as if they spoke among themselves. In the light of this reflection, the library seemed all the more disturbing to me. It was then the place of a long, centuries-old murmuring, an imperceptible dialogue between one parchment and another, a living thing, a receptacle of powers not to be ruled by a human mind, a treasure of secrets emanated by many minds, surviving the death of those who had produced them or had been their conveyors.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (1980)


Favourite books read in February:

Giant’s Bread and Beauvallet

New authors read in February:

Bridget Collins, Laura Shepherd-Robinson

Countries visited in February:

England, Italy, France, Spain, Kenya


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

14 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: February 2019

    • Helen says:

      I have read five books in the Druon series so far and have enjoyed them all, but I know the writing style doesn’t work for everyone. I’m learning a lot of French history from them anyway.

  1. Carmen says:

    I liked the quotes from The Binding, The She-Wolf, Blood and Sugar and The Name of the Rose. In February I read Tomorrow by Damian Dibben–well, I’m struggling to finish the last 10%. I will write my review–in case I come back to blogging–and revisit yours to refresh my mind.

    • Helen says:

      I thought Tomorrow was a clever and unusual idea, but it didn’t completely work for me either. I would be interested to read your review if you do decide to return to blogging.

      • Carmen says:

        Let me give you a brief overview:
        I did like it very much but with caveats. It almost made me cry twice, towards the end, which is when I felt the book got better–in character development and the revealing of a couple of secrets/mysteries–, which is a long time for a novel to finally find its footing. I liked the big reveals and some of the adventures–some of them weren’t as fabulous as the narrator wanted us to believe. I feel that I didn’t get much of a feel for the dog and his Master, as characters, as I did for Sporco (the dog from Venice) and Vilder (the Master’s archnemesis), probably because the dog was narrating and his perspective was limited to the conclusions he arrived at after much reflection. Overall, I enjoyed it. I was expecting a grand adventure and got some of that, but I wanted more historical fiction and that element was a bit subdued, except for the occasional battles the ‘Champion’ and his master took part in. After some of the horrors of war–it does get graphic at times, particularly during Waterloo–, I was happy that the novel ended on a hopeful note.

        • Helen says:

          Yes, I agree that you don’t really get to know the dog and his master very well; Sporco and Vilder were definitely stronger characters. I can’t remember all the details of the plot now, but I do remember finding it quite sad at times towards the end. I’m glad you still found a lot to enjoy, despite your caveats!

  2. FictionFan says:

    Blood and Sugar and The Name of the Rose stand out for me this month. I did read The Name of the Rose way, way back in the long-ago, but my memory of it is vague – maybe it’s due a re-read. Did I miss your review of the Richard Hull? What did you think of it?

    • Helen says:

      No, I haven’t posted my review of the Richard Hull yet. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either – and much more of a conventional detective novel than The Murder of My Aunt, which I loved.

  3. Judy Krueger says:

    Oh my, another M M Kaye I missed. In fact, I did not even know of it. You did a good tour of arm chair traveling in February.

    • Helen says:

      I love MM Kaye’s Death In… series, although that particular book (Death in Kenya) isn’t one of my favourites. I did enjoy visiting Kenya from my armchair, though!

  4. jessicabookworm says:

    Helen, I’ve not read any of the books you did last month. As for my own reading in February, I again only managed to finish two – albeit big – books: Christian non-fiction The Story of Reality by Gregory Koukl and Origin by Dan Brown, the latest Robert Langdon book. I am thinking I need to treat myself to some lighter, shorter reads in March! Happy continued reading!

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