My Commonplace Book: May 2021

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.


In the corner sat the old fellow as he always sat, astride a childish stool, sharpening the horseshoe nails a Crocker son had cut from an iron rod; hunched over an ancient anvil this gatfer sat beneath a window festooned with cobwebs, and put a point on the nails with a small hammer. Did the old man ever move from that spot, night or day, or was he welded to it? Perhaps he had been there for ever, tapping at the nails since the first horses were shod a thousand years ago, crouching with his little hammer like a hobgoblin smith at the oldest forge in the known world.

The Horseman by Tim Pears (2017)


Illustration by Walter Crane: “Sing a song of sixpence”

“Is St. Mary Mead a very nice village?”

“Well, I don’t know what you would call a nice village, my dear. It’s quite a pretty village. There are some nice people living in it and some extremely unpleasant people as well. Very curious things go on there just as in any other village. Human nature is much the same everywhere, is it not?”

A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie (1953)


The lane twisted, turned, then became narrower as we drove towards Clogagh.

At this moment, I felt it was a metaphor for my life:

What if I was to turn left instead of right in my own life at this moment? Is all life simply a series of twisting and turning paths, with a crossroads every so often when fate allows humanity to decide their own destiny…?

The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley (2021)


Daphne du Maurier

The child destined to be a writer is vulnerable to every wind that blows. Now warm, now chill, next joyous, then despairing, the essence of his nature is to escape the atmosphere about him, no matter how stable, even loving. No ties, no binding chains, save those he forges for himself. Or so he thinks. But escape can be delusion, and what he is running from is not the enclosing world and its inhabitants, but his own inadequate self that fears to meet the demands which life makes upon it.

Myself When Young by Daphne du Maurier (1977)


Favourite book read in May:

The Missing Sister

Authors read for the first time in May:

Tim Pears

Places visited in my May reading:

England, Ireland, New Zealand


This hasn’t been a great month of reading for me, due to a combination of health problems over the last week (nothing too serious, I hope) and being in the middle of several very long books at the same time. I’m sure I’ll be back to my normal reading and blogging routine soon.

Have you read any of these? What did you read in May and do you have any plans for June?

10 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: May 2021

  1. FictionFan says:

    The Christie quote is so Miss Marple! No idyllic villages in her life! I’m not so sure about the du Maurier quote – it might reflect her as an individual but I’m unconvinced by it as a generalisation of writers…

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I love the Miss Marple quote! And no, I can’t imagine most writers would describe themselves that way, but du Maurier seems to have been quite a shy and insecure person.

  2. Alyson Woodhouse says:

    A friend recommended the Seven Sisters series to me a while back, and I was thinking about putting the first one on my Summer TBR to see how I get on with it. The only thing which has been putting me off is that there are so many, and I don’t have as much patience as I used to for long, sprawling series.

    • Helen says:

      I’ve been reading each one as it’s been published – one a year – but I can see how starting the series would seem daunting now that there are seven of them!

  3. jessicabookworm says:

    Helen, I haven’t read any of these, but my May was a good month for me reading wise, as I finished five books and in June I look forward to throwing myself into my 10 Books of Summer list. Take care, happy reading and I hope you feel better in June. 🙂

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