My Commonplace Book: March 2019

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

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


‘Very few people are interested in art,’ he replied.

‘That’s true,’ I agreed. ‘But the lack of an audience should never be a deterrent to the artist.’

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne (2018)


Down in the toilet-goods stockroom Moke and Poke, self-styled because they were both named Mary Smith, managed between them to spill a few drops of “Chinese Lily” perfume. They apologised profusely to each other for such carelessness and removed the evidence with fingers that flew swiftly and accurately to ear lobes and neck hollows. It was a crying shame, they said. The buyer would have a fit if she knew and they wouldn’t blame her…They exchanged long looks and rubbed their elbows in the remains.

Death of a Doll by Hilda Lawrence (1947)


Dick Whittington buying a cat, illustration c. 1850

“The doctor always mistrusts an alibi. Nine times out of ten the fact that anyone has an alibi pretty nearly proves them the person who did it. An innocent person seldom has an alibi. He doesn’t need to go round making one, or looking for one, because he doesn’t know one is likely to be wanted.”

Who Killed Dick Whittington? by E & MA Radford (1947)


“Man, you are young!” he exclaimed. “You are like the rest of us. You carry your life in your hands. Don’t nourish past griefs. Cast the memory of them away. There’s nothing which narrows a man more than morbidness.”

The Great Impersonation by E. Phillips Oppenheim (1920)


John Ball encourages Wat Tyler’s rebels – 1381

“Tomorrow, on Corpus Christi day, let us go to the King,” he concluded, “and show him how we are oppressed. And we shall tell him that we want things to be changed, or else we will change them ourselves!” He stopped, waiting for the noise to die down. “The time has come for us to cast off the yoke of bondage and live as free men!”

A King Under Siege by Mercedes Rochelle (2019)


There was some sadness in how that could happen, Tai thought: falling out of love with something that had shaped you. Or even people who had? But if you didn’t change at least a little, where were the passages of a life? Didn’t learning, changing, sometimes mean letting go of what had once been seen as true?

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay (2010)


‘I’m not willing to give more money. And business is just what it is – a man of business builds a bridge and waits for people to pay tolls to cross it; a man of the spirit seeks across the bridge himself, pays with his faith and opens his heart.’

The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey (2018)


The new world was the same as the old. The houses were different, the streets were called Closes, the clothes were different, the voices were different, but the human beings were the same as they had always been. And though using slightly different phraseology, the subjects of conversation were the same.

The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side by Agatha Christie (1962)


The Welsh mining village from How Green Was My Valley, 1941 film version

“And another thing let it do,” my father said. “There is no room for pride in any man. There is no room for unkindness. There is no room for wit at the expense of others. All men are born the same, and equal. As you saw to-day, so come the Captains and the Kings and the Tailors and the Tinkers. Let the memory direct your dealings with men and women. And be sure to take good care of Mama. Is it?”

How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn (1939)


Althea folded her lips tightly for a moment. Then she said, ‘I choose to believe whatever my ship tells me about himself. If he tells me I have forgotten, then I don’t ask him to recall anything about it. Some memories are best left undisturbed. Sometimes, if you forget something, it’s because it’s better forgotten.’

Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb (2009)


‘You’ll be good at all the things I was never good at,’ he had said, smiling at me, and when I had said: ‘I want to be like you,’ he had said that wasn’t important because the most important thing of all was that I should be myself. ‘If you try to be someone other than yourself you’ll never be happy,’ he had said. ‘You’ve got to be honest with yourself so that you can be honest with other people.’

Cashelmara by Susan Howatch (1974)


Favourite books read in March:

How Green Was My Valley, A Ladder to the Sky and my re-read of Cashelmara

New authors read in March:

E and M.A. Radford, Hilda Lawrence, E. Phillips Oppenheim, Richard Llewellyn, Samantha Harvey

Countries visited in March:

England, USA, Wales, an alternative version of China, Germany, Italy, the fictional Rain Wilds, Ireland


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

17 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: March 2019

  1. Lisa says:

    You certainly read a range of books this month!
    I was very happy to find a Susan Howatch book at our library’s book sale this weekend. I’ve been meaning to try her books since you and Jane both wrote about them.

  2. Jane says:

    Moke and Poke sound great and I really must read How Green Was My Valley. Your commonplace book is such a lovely idea for a post, and I love your listing of countries you’ve visited.

    • Helen says:

      Thank you! I find it interesting to be able to look back at the end of the year and be able to see at a glance which countries I’ve visited and how many new authors I’ve tried. And yes, I definitely recommend How Green Was My Valley!

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