My Commonplace Book: September 2021

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

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


What a host of little incidents, all deep-buried in the past – problems that had once been urgent, arguments that had once been keen, anecdotes that were funny only because one remembered the fun. Did any emotion really matter when the last trace of it had vanished from human memory; and if that were so, what a crowd of emotions clung to him as to their last home before annihilation?

Goodbye, Mr Chips by James Hilton (1934)


Illustration from Carmilla, serialised in “The Dark Blue” 1872

But, I suspect, in all lives there are certain emotional scenes, those in which our passions have been most wildly and terribly roused, that are of all others the most vaguely and dimly remembered.

Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu (1872)


Hélène liked order. It made her feel safe and in control, even at a time when they were neither safe nor in control. When the world you relied on became unreliable, you did what you had to do. And this was her way of maintaining internal sanity.

Daughters of War by Dinah Jefferies (2021)


Portrait of Katharine Parr

‘Time is of all losses the most irrecuperable,’ he said to her one day, ‘for it can never be redeemed for any price nor prayer.’

Katherine Parr, the Sixth Wife by Alison Weir (2021)


In that moment, as whenever I was truly happy, I vanished from my own consciousness. It could happen in a forest, in a field, on a river, by the seashore; it could happen while I was reading a captivating book.

An Evening with Claire by Gaito Gazdanov (1930)


“Only the creatures of the earth take from one another, boy. All creatures, but men more than any. Life they take, and liberty and all that another man may have – sometimes through greed, sometimes through stupidity, but never by any volition but their own. Beware your own race, Bran Davies – they are the only ones who will ever harm you, in the end.”

The Grey King by Susan Cooper (1975)


Ruins of the Southern Pyramid at Mazghuna

Marriage, in my view, should be a balanced stalemate between equal adversaries.

The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters (1985)


“People are capable of surprising one frightfully. One gets an idea of them into one’s head, and sometimes it’s absolutely wrong. Not always – but sometimes.”

Crooked House by Agatha Christie (1949)


“Whatever happens, it is not the end while you still have breath in your body. No matter what, you pick yourself up and you learn from your mistakes – you do not let them drag you down.”

A Marriage of Lions by Elizabeth Chadwick (2021)


Favourite books read in September:

Crooked House, A Marriage of Lions and The Grey King

Authors read for the first time in September:

Gaito Gazdanov

Places visited in my September reading:

England, Austria, France, Russia, Egypt, Wales


Have you read any of these books? What are you planning to read in October?

9 thoughts on “My Commonplace Book: September 2021

  1. Constance says:

    I’ve read The Grey King and I just got a Dinah Jefferies book from the library because of your recommendation. I don’t think I own that Chadwick although I should.

    The Gazdanov quote reminds me of my favorite line from the Crown, which of course I realize is made up:

    “That’s the thing about unhappiness. All it takes is for something worse to come along and you realize it was actually happiness after all.”

    I have thought about this so much since the pandemic began!

    • Helen says:

      A Marriage of Lions was just published a few weeks ago. I hope you get an opportunity to read it soon – I loved it!

      Yes, that’s a great line from The Crown, and very relevant!

  2. Lexlingua says:

    That quote from Marriage of Lions is really powerful, and it makes me regret that I’ve never read a Chadwick book till date. And I have to add, that the portrait of Katherine Parr is really beautiful.

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I loved that quote. I’ve enjoyed nearly all the books I’ve read by Elizabeth Chadwick and A Marriage of Lions is a great one. I found a few portraits of Katherine, but that one was my favourite!

  3. jessicabookworm says:

    For once, I have read one of these: Crooked House, which I loved so I am very pleased to see it was your favourites reads of the month. I am also very much looking forward to reading Katherine Parr, The Sixth Wife by Alison Weir. 👑

    As for my reading plans for October, I simply hope to finally finish the weighty The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas and to start my R.I.P reading! Take care and happy reading in October. 🎃

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