My Commonplace Book: December 2019

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.


Lejeune shook his head. “It’s not like that at all,” he said. “Evil is not something superhuman, it’s something less than human. Your criminal is someone who wants to be important, but who never will be important, because he’ll always be less than a man.”

The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie (1961)


A house divided against itself cannot stand. A house built on sand will not survive the coming storms and tempests. Such prophecies accurately describe the House of York, and I intend to prove such predictions are correct in all their details.

Dark Queen Rising by Paul Doherty (2018)


Abelard and Heloïse in a manuscript of the Roman de la Rose (14th century)

Novels can make a unique connection – one person is alone, writing, and contact is made miles and centuries away with another person alone, reading. Receiving the message. Not from outer space but from inner space. And there’s instant connection. It’s a sort of magic.

Love Without End by Melvyn Bragg (2019)


“You have to have one person in your life that you know would never do anything to steer you wrong. They may disagree with you. They could even break your heart, from time to time. But you have to have one person, at least, who you know will always tell you the truth.”

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2019)


Of one thing though I am most perfectly certain and that is that the case is more completely topsy-turvy than it ought to be. I like my murders to start at the beginning with the corpse and go on to the end with the conviction. But when you start in the middle with the confession — well, all I can say is, that it’s all wrong!”

Left-Handed Death by Richard Hull (1946)


Winchester Cathedral

“There’s something quite mysterious about the pattern of bells ringing – more so than if it were a melody, which would be too predictable. A little complexity can be a good thing. I think people sense there is a form holding it all together. Must they know what that form is to enjoy it?”

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier (2019)


It looked like the posters you see in tourist offices advertising the Riviera. In spite of the traffic whizzing past them on the road, the place was peaceful. More yachts floating about the sea, family parties sporting on the beaches, little cafes with coloured awnings and parasols and painted chairs and tables. Above the road, villas built on terraces on the porphyry rock, with masses of pink and red geraniums, bougainvillaea, hydrangeas blooming in the gardens, and sheltered by palms, olives and lemon trees.

Death in Room Five by George Bellairs (1955)


‘I have little interest in it,’ I admit. ‘My attentions are directed to abolishing slavery through more active means. But now I am here and I see your people,’ I conclude, ‘I realize not all slaves wear chains.’

The Bastille Spy by CS Quinn (2019)


Anne of Cleves, by Hans Holbein the Younger

‘I haven’t seen it, Madam, but I do not need to. I speak as a friend when I say you are a lovely lady; there can be no denying it. Beauty comes from within; it illuminates the features. Others, I know, have seen this in you. The King may come belatedly to see it too.’

Anna of Kleve, Queen of Secrets by Alison Weir (2019)


‘Well, I find it fascinating that so much of the world craves fame, yet in my experience, it often brings only misery. People believe that it will grant them the right to do or be anything they choose, but in fact they lose the most precious commodity we humans have, and that is their freedom. Your freedom,’ she added.

The Sun Sister by Lucinda Riley (2019)


I never was at table, nor close up to him that first summer; but I looked about me. No man should think because I am a woman and slighter shaped, that my eyes and my thoughts are smaller than theirs. That is a mistake easy to fall into, as others have done.

Call Upon the Water by Stella Tillyard (2018)


Favourite books read in December:

The Sun Sister and The Pale Horse

New authors read in December:

Melvyn Bragg, CS Quinn, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Stella Tillyard

Countries visited in my December reading:

England, France, USA, Germany, Kenya


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

6 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: December 2019

  1. says:

    I’m taking a break from reading Russian novels. Just finished reading THE DUTCH HOUSE by Anne Patchett. I highly recommend anything written by this author. This one is her latest, and it keeps trading places with WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING for No. 1/No. 2 on the Best Seller List! The latter novel is my next read — this week! Both were gifts from my husband.

    My sister sent me a fresh hardbound copy of Marjorie Kingfisher’s THE PRODIGAL SUMMER to replace the one I had lent out to someone else who never returned it. I wanted to re-read it last summer but couldn’t find it, but now I can, thanks to my sister.

    Eventually I’ll return to the Russian stories if Alison Weir doesn’t waylay me!

    • Helen says:

      I’ve never read anything by Ann Patchett, but I do have a copy of The Dutch House which I’m hoping to read soon. I’m looking forward to it!

    • Helen says:

      The Anna of Kleve book turned out to be probably my least favourite of the four so far, but it was still interesting and I learned a lot about Anna that I didn’t already know. My review should be coming in the next day or two. 🙂

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