My Commonplace Book: August 2020 – and 20 Books of Summer comes to an end

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

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


“Leave it alone? Our very own murder mystery – if it was murder!”

“It was murder, I think. And that’s just why I should leave it alone. Murder isn’t – it really isn’t – a thing to tamper with lightheartedly.”

Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie (1976)


‘Of course I am a hero,’ he said, getting up and laughing very cheerfully. ‘Every man is a hero of his own tale. Surely, Dr Maturin, every man must look on himself as wiser and more intelligent and more virtuous than the rest, so how could he see himself as the villain, or even as a minor character? And you must have noticed that heroes are never beaten. They may be undone for a while, but they always do themselves up again, and marry the virtuous young gentlewoman.’

The Surgeon’s Mate by Patrick O’Brian (1980)


She was conscious of a glow of spurious strength, followed by a rush of confidence, as she climbed out of the traitor’s hell into which she had hurled herself.

“Lost causes are the only causes worth fighting for,” she told herself.

The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White (1936)


Portrait miniature, thought to be Catherine Howard by Hans Holbein c. 1540

She had never stitched so much embroidery. Where once she had done nothing but dance, she could not now bear to have music, for she felt so fragile that it must surely break her. Music evoked joy or sadness; it brought back memories or lifted the soul. She could not take any of that now. She was merely existing, trying not to think too much. When her musicians knocked at her door, she told her women to tell them that it was not the time for dancing.

Katheryn Howard, the Tainted Queen by Alison Weir (2020)


People want love. People demand love. They prescribe love. They proscribe it, too. People make mistakes, and people grow afraid, and they fail and hurt each other. Some people talk about love like drunkards, and their words end up meaning nothing. But some people cannot talk about love; it kills them to do so, and with time, passing straight through the hurt itself, we come to see the nature of their love. We come to see how transformative it was, and what an honour it was to have it in our lives.

The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle by Neil Blackmore (2020)


“Oh dear,” she said impulsively, “I wish you could be happy.”

…But the hard-eyed Cornishwoman was looking at her with an odd surprised kind of approval. “A perilous wish!” she said. “For where one may be made happy by harmless things, another may find happiness only in hurting. But good may come of it.”

Greenwitch by Susan Cooper (1974)


Favourite books read in August:

Sleeping Murder, Greenwitch

New authors read in August:

Neil Blackmore, Ethel Lina White

Countries visited in my August reading:

England, Italy, France, Canada


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


This year’s 20 Books of Summer challenge has also come to an end now. I only managed to read 13 of the 20 books on my list, but I hadn’t expected to do much better than that so I’m quite happy!

Here are the books I read, with links to reviews where available:

1. Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz
2. A Time to Die by Hilda Lawrence
3. The Silver Collar by Antonia Hodgson
4. The Honey and the Sting by EC Fremantle
5. Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten
6. The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi
7. When We Fall by Carolyn Kirby
8. Katheryn Howard, the Tainted Queen by Alison Weir
9. The Silken Rose by Carol McGrath
10. Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie
11. City of Dragons by Robin Hobb
12. The Surgeon’s Mate by Patrick O’Brian
13. Greenwitch by Susan Cooper

Here are the books I didn’t read (although I have started two of them). I will have to make these autumn or winter reads instead of summer ones.

14. These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer
15. The Land Beyond the Sea by Sharon Penman
16. The Green Gauntlet by RF Delderfield
17. Confusion by Elizabeth Jane Howard
18. The Wheel of Fortune by Susan Howatch
19. Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
20. The Horseman by Tim Pears


How was your summer reading? Did you take part in 20 Books of Summer – and did you complete your list?

20 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: August 2020 – and 20 Books of Summer comes to an end

    • Helen says:

      I have read two books by RF Delderfield and loved them, so I’m still hoping to read The Green Gauntlet soon. I’m in the middle of the Sharon Penman book at the moment and enjoying it.

  1. Judy Krueger says:

    I enjoyed your Commonplace Book as much as I always do. Though I don’t always leave a comment, I do read all of your reviews and I can not thank you enough for introducing me to Dorothy Dunnett and quite a few other authors.

    • Helen says:

      I haven’t had much time for commenting myself lately but hope to get caught up with visiting my favourite blogs soon. Dorothy Dunnett is one of my favourite authors, so it’s a pleasure to introduce her to new readers!

  2. Sandra says:

    You’ve done much better than me, Helen! Several on the list of those you’ve not yet read are books I’ve very much enjoyed. The Horseman, The Green Gauntlet and Confusion are all from series that would be in my top five. I hope you enjoy them too when you get to them.

    • Helen says:

      I have started reading Confusion and am enjoying being back with the Cazalet family again. I’m hoping to have time to read The Horseman and The Green Gauntlet before the end of the year as well.

  3. Calmgrove says:

    Oh, a fair few excellent — some even quite moving — quotes here, thank you. And the odd one quite amusing: “Murder isn’t – it really isn’t – a thing to tamper with lightheartedly.” And yet Christie made her mark and her living with it, didn’t she — she really did get away with murder!

    And well done on your summer reading, many of us seem to have got a lot of titles under our belt despite a few comments along the lines of world events making one listless or not in the mood for books. Myself, I found them the best antidote.

    • Helen says:

      Thank you! I didn’t expect to read all of the books on my list so I’m happy with the number I did read. It’s been such a strange summer – there were times when I couldn’t concentrate on reading at all and others when it was, as you say, a good antidote.

  4. jessicabookworm says:

    I haven’t read any of your August books, however I have a copy of Katherine Howard: The Tainted Queen that I am looking forward to reading after Anna of Kleves. I also took part in the Summer Reading Challenge but only finished 6 of my 10 books, although one of them was Wolf Hall, so that must count for at least two books, right?! 😉 Well done on reading 14 books! 😃

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