My Commonplace Book: May 2020

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

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


It’s extraordinary how we go through life with eyes half shut, with dull ears, with dormant thoughts. Perhaps it’s just as well; and it may be that it is this very dullness that makes life to the incalculable majority so supportable and so welcome. Nevertheless, there can be but few of us who had never known one of these rare moments of awakening when we see, hear, understand ever so much – everything – in a flash – before we fall back again into our agreeable somnolence.

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad (1900)


Grytviken, South Georgia

South Georgia is more beautiful than he could have imagined. Ribbon-thin streams pour over mountains that shine gold in the early sun. The water of Cumberland Bay is aquamarine, still as glass. Even the derelict whaling station is picturesque at a distance, a scattering of rust-red buildings along the curve of the coast…The mountains are astonishing, circling along the bay, towering above the tiny buildings, sweeping almost down to the sea edge. A single dirt track links the two settlements of Grytviken and King Edward Point, but elsewhere roads don’t exist. Human life can barely survive here.

The Split by Sharon Bolton (2020)


The ghost climbed out of a hackney carriage.
His head twitched from side to side as he checked to see if anyone was following him. Rachel Savernake was sure he’d failed to spot her. She stood deep in the shadows, on the opposite side of Westminster Bridge Road. A veil masked her face. Like the phantom, she was dressed in black from head to toe. During the half hour she’d waited for him to arrive, not one passer-by had given her a second glance. Women in mourning were a familiar sight outside the private station of the London Necropolis Company. This was the terminus for the funeral train.

Mortmain Hall by Martin Edwards (2020)


Princess Henrietta (Minette), painted by Peter Lely

It was at this moment that Minette grew up; for it was at this moment that she was recognised to be grown up and of importance. It is the unimportant who are kept back longest as children, discouraged from taking their place in the world, since there is no place for them to take. She had been one of these, but now that was changed.

Royal Flush by Margaret Irwin (1932)


To Amyot, as to every true lad in love, the world held no foreboding at all. He was a lad out of nowhere, innocent of allegiance to the gods of our country. He only knew the sky was clearer, every leaf brighter, every bird’s note somehow acuter, more intelligible.

Castle Dor by Daphne du Maurier (1961)


Favourite book read in May:

The Split

New authors read in May:

Martin Edwards

Countries visited in my May reading:

England, South Georgia, France, Patusan (fictional country)


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

11 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: May 2020

  1. Judy Krueger says:

    Reading your quote from The Split, I thought I was with Rebecca West! And I was attracted to the novel. Can’t wait for your review.

    • Helen says:

      I love Sharon Bolton’s books – we didn’t see as much of South Georgia in this one as I’d hoped, but it was still an interesting read. I’m very behind with reviews at the moment but hoping to catch up soon!

  2. jessicabookworm says:

    I’m afraid I haven’t read any of these books, but one day I would like to read Castle Dor, just to say I have read ALL of du Maurier’s novels. 😉Happy reading in June. 🙂

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