My Commonplace Book: May 2019

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

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

~

‘I am come on a painful errand. I am sorry not to find you looking better.’

‘So you have said. But if it is painful, shall we not do best to get it over with? Hard things are best said quickly.’

The Adventurers by Jane Aiken Hodge (1965)

~

Then all at once she turned to me, her face pale, her eyes strangely alight. She said, ‘Is it possible to love someone so much, that it gives one a pleasure, an unaccountable pleasure to hurt them? To hurt them by jealousy I mean, and to hurt oneself at the same time. Pleasure and pain, an equal mingling of pleasure and pain, just as an experiment, a rare sensation?’

The Doll: Short Stories by Daphne du Maurier (2011)

~

James IV of Scotland

But this tantalising clue unfortunately does not lead to finding a full version of the tale that the king lived for three full years after Flodden. It is like a bookmark stuck between the leaves of a legend, imprinted with some of the words but not enough detail. Where was James supposed to be for those three years – on the road to Jerusalem perhaps, or in the dungeon of Home Castle? And how did he finally die?

The Afterlife of King James IV by Keith J. Coleman (2019)

~

And so the barge drives onwards, through the river din, for the river is wakening, quickening, as they pass. Sounds carried over the water: church bells, waterman’s oaths, paddles and thrumming steam-engines, children playing and the ever-present sound of the water-birds that fly overhead. Onwards drives the barge. Past quays and boatyards, warehouses and landing stages, houses and spires. Past ramshackle old public houses that teeter down to the water. Onwards drives the barge. Amid mail boats and passenger boats, paddle and screw steamers, rowing boats and skiffs, steam-yachts, steam-ferries and tugs. Watercraft of every size negotiating the beneficient, polluted, bottomless, shallow, fast-rushing, mud-slickened, under-towed Thames.

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd (2019)

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Charles II performing the royal touch, said to cure scrofula or ‘the king’s evil’.

We exchanged glances, he and I, and I guessed that we were thinking along the same lines: that both of us took orders from people who preferred not to know precisely how their wishes were carried out, especially beforehand; that sometimes they preferred to hint at their desires to us rather than speak them plainly; and that in a manner of speaking we were their left hands, which operated in the dark, so their right hands might be seen to be spotlessly clean by the unforgiving light of day.

The King’s Evil by Andrew Taylor (2019)

~

A dog is a great promoter of friendly intercourse. Our interest and liking for Bob had quite broken down the natural stiffness of the good servant. As we went up to the bedroom floors, our guide was talking quite garrulously as she gave us accounts of Bob’s wonderful sagacity. The ball had been left at the foot of the stairs. As we passed him, Bob gave us a look of deep disgust and stalked down in a dignified fashion to retrieve it. As we turned to the right I saw him slowly coming up again with it in his mouth, his gait that of an extremely old man forced by unthinking persons to exert himself unduly.

Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie (1937)

~

The mourner banquets on memory; making that which seems the poison of life, its ailment. During the hours of regret we recall the images of departed joys; and in weeping over each tender remembrance, tears so softly shed embalm the wounds of grief.

The Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter (1809)

~

The French Revolution. 1804 engraving of a painting by Jean-Louis Prieur.

My waking moments were bitter with remorse at the way in which I had abused my freedom when I had had it. One takes liberty for granted, and until it’s gone one doesn’t realise that one has been imprisoning oneself all the time.

The Way to the Lantern by Audrey Erskine Lindop (1961)

~

Favourite books read in May:

The Way to the Lantern, The King’s Evil, Dumb Witness and Things in Jars. Yes, four favourites this month!

New authors read in May:

Keith J. Coleman, Jess Kidd, Jane Porter, Audrey Erskine Lindop

Countries visited in May:

Scotland, England, Ireland, Germany, France

~

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

My Commonplace Book: April 2019

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

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

~

‘Books were my companions,’ I said at last, raising my voice above the wind sweeping the leaves and her skirts. ‘And I am grateful I could learn something, no matter how I came to do so. It was a way to know that lives could change, that they could be filled with adventures. There were times I pretended I was a lady in a novel or a romance myself. It might sound foolish. But it made me feel a part of a world that otherwise I could never belong to.’

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins (2019)

~

‘I daresay there isn’t a better liked man in England, and as for you ladies – ! The caps that have been set at him! You will be the envy of every unmarried woman in town.’
‘Do you think so indeed, Papa? How delightful that would be! But perhaps I might feel strange and unlike myself. It wouldn’t be comfortable, not to be acquainted with myself.’

Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer (1956)

~

Margaret Tudor

Idleness was considered to be the gateway to sin and so the young Tudor princesses were never for a moment left to their own devices, but rather provided with a constant round of activities such as needlework, which could be picked up whenever they had any spare time to fill. Although they undoubtedly had some toys, such as the usual dolls – in Margaret’s case as elaborately painted and dressed as any court lady – and carved wooden figures, right from the start their activities were all designed to prepare them for a useful and productive adulthood.

Margaret Tudor by Melanie Clegg (2019)

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Moreover, I have very strong views on the subject. I believe that an author who cannot control his characters is, like a mother who cannot control her children, not really fit to look after them.

The Return of Mr Campion by Margery Allingham (1989)

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What I’m saying is, I had secrets of my own, and I kept other people’s. People tended to tell me things; I think they thought I was a safe bet, not because they were interested in me, but because they were so interested in themselves. That’s how it is, you see. Some people consider themselves to be the stars of life, and they relegate everyone else to the shadows at the back of the dress circle.

After the Party by Cressida Connolly (2018)

~

Portrait of Casanova by Alessandro Longhi

‘Because, Mademoiselle, if thoughts are not allowed to circulate freely, there can be no other freedom. But those in power do not wish it, because the more people think, the more learning and intelligence they acquire, and that flies in the face of their leaders’ plans for their subjugation.’

Casanova and the Faceless Woman by Olivier Barde-Cabuçon (2012)

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“I believe everything out of the common. The only thing to distrust is the normal.”

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (1915)

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If he could last another year or so, they might give him his Wooden Foil with the silver guard, and he would be free. But his mind never got beyond the first triumphant moment of gaining his freedom, any more than it got beyond the sting of the death blow, because he had been born a slave and knew no more of what it would be like to be free than he knew of what it would be like to die.

The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff (1965)

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But the truth isn’t solid, like the earth; she knows that now. The truth is water, or steam; the truth is ice. The same tale might shift and melt and reshape at any time.

The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea (2019)

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Mevagissey (the inspiration for Trewissick in the novel)

“First of all, you have heard me talk of Logres. It was the old name for this country, thousands of years ago; in the old days when the struggle between good and evil was more bitter and open than it is now. That struggle goes on all round us all the time, like two armies fighting. And sometimes one of them seems to be winning and sometimes the other, but neither has ever triumphed altogether. Nor ever will,” he added softly to himself, “for there is something of each in every man.”

Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper (1965)

~

He paused by the table as she chopped the herbs, then scraped the leaves and stems together and chopped them in the opposite direction. Bianca sensed his thoughts were still elsewhere, and she let him be.

It occurred to her that companionship exists in these small moments. Moments spent in thought, isolated, secret and silent. They string together and make a lifetime of partnership.

The Alchemist of Lost Souls by Mary Lawrence (2019)

~

‘No. The South Seas. I know that. That’s exciting enough to start with, while I’m learning to explore.’

‘You don’t learn to explore, boy. You explore in order to learn.’

Gordon puzzled over this and failed to understand.

The House of Hardie by Anne Melville (1987)

~

Favourite books read in April:

Sprig Muslin and Over Sea, Under Stone

New authors read in April:

Sara Collins, Melanie Clegg, Susan Cooper, Olivier Barde-Cabuçon, Cressida Connolly, Caroline Lea, Mary Lawrence, Anne Melville, John Buchan

Countries visited in April:

England, Jamaica, Scotland, France, Iceland, China

~

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

My Commonplace Book: March 2019

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

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

~

‘Very few people are interested in art,’ he replied.

‘That’s true,’ I agreed. ‘But the lack of an audience should never be a deterrent to the artist.’

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne (2018)

~

Down in the toilet-goods stockroom Moke and Poke, self-styled because they were both named Mary Smith, managed between them to spill a few drops of “Chinese Lily” perfume. They apologised profusely to each other for such carelessness and removed the evidence with fingers that flew swiftly and accurately to ear lobes and neck hollows. It was a crying shame, they said. The buyer would have a fit if she knew and they wouldn’t blame her…They exchanged long looks and rubbed their elbows in the remains.

Death of a Doll by Hilda Lawrence (1947)

~

Dick Whittington buying a cat, illustration c. 1850

“The doctor always mistrusts an alibi. Nine times out of ten the fact that anyone has an alibi pretty nearly proves them the person who did it. An innocent person seldom has an alibi. He doesn’t need to go round making one, or looking for one, because he doesn’t know one is likely to be wanted.”

Who Killed Dick Whittington? by E & MA Radford (1947)

~

“Man, you are young!” he exclaimed. “You are like the rest of us. You carry your life in your hands. Don’t nourish past griefs. Cast the memory of them away. There’s nothing which narrows a man more than morbidness.”

The Great Impersonation by E. Phillips Oppenheim (1920)

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John Ball encourages Wat Tyler’s rebels – 1381

“Tomorrow, on Corpus Christi day, let us go to the King,” he concluded, “and show him how we are oppressed. And we shall tell him that we want things to be changed, or else we will change them ourselves!” He stopped, waiting for the noise to die down. “The time has come for us to cast off the yoke of bondage and live as free men!”

A King Under Siege by Mercedes Rochelle (2019)

~

There was some sadness in how that could happen, Tai thought: falling out of love with something that had shaped you. Or even people who had? But if you didn’t change at least a little, where were the passages of a life? Didn’t learning, changing, sometimes mean letting go of what had once been seen as true?

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay (2010)

~

‘I’m not willing to give more money. And business is just what it is – a man of business builds a bridge and waits for people to pay tolls to cross it; a man of the spirit seeks across the bridge himself, pays with his faith and opens his heart.’

The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey (2018)

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The new world was the same as the old. The houses were different, the streets were called Closes, the clothes were different, the voices were different, but the human beings were the same as they had always been. And though using slightly different phraseology, the subjects of conversation were the same.

The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side by Agatha Christie (1962)

~

The Welsh mining village from How Green Was My Valley, 1941 film version

“And another thing let it do,” my father said. “There is no room for pride in any man. There is no room for unkindness. There is no room for wit at the expense of others. All men are born the same, and equal. As you saw to-day, so come the Captains and the Kings and the Tailors and the Tinkers. Let the memory direct your dealings with men and women. And be sure to take good care of Mama. Is it?”

How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn (1939)

~

Althea folded her lips tightly for a moment. Then she said, ‘I choose to believe whatever my ship tells me about himself. If he tells me I have forgotten, then I don’t ask him to recall anything about it. Some memories are best left undisturbed. Sometimes, if you forget something, it’s because it’s better forgotten.’

Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb (2009)

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‘You’ll be good at all the things I was never good at,’ he had said, smiling at me, and when I had said: ‘I want to be like you,’ he had said that wasn’t important because the most important thing of all was that I should be myself. ‘If you try to be someone other than yourself you’ll never be happy,’ he had said. ‘You’ve got to be honest with yourself so that you can be honest with other people.’

Cashelmara by Susan Howatch (1974)

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Favourite books read in March:

How Green Was My Valley, A Ladder to the Sky and my re-read of Cashelmara

New authors read in March:

E and M.A. Radford, Hilda Lawrence, E. Phillips Oppenheim, Richard Llewellyn, Samantha Harvey

Countries visited in March:

England, USA, Wales, an alternative version of China, Germany, Italy, the fictional Rain Wilds, Ireland

~

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

My Commonplace Book: February 2019

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

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

~

Seredith turned away and dropped the knife into the open drawer by my side. ‘Memories,’ she said, at last. ‘Not people, Emmett. We take memories and bind them. Whatever people can’t bear to remember. Whatever they can’t live with. We take those memories and put them where they can’t do any more harm. That’s all books are.’

The Binding by Bridget Collins (2019)

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There was only one Drake, but also there was only one Beauvallet. The Spaniards coupled the two names together, but made of Beauvallet a kind of devil. Drake performed the impossible in the only possible way; the Spaniards said that El Beauvallet performed it in an impossible way, and feared him accordingly.

Beauvallet by Georgette Heyer (1929)

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The family of Philip IV of France, depicted in 1315.

Alas, in love, it is not enough to have the same desires; they must also be expressed at the same time.

The She-Wolf by Maurice Druon (1959)

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‘I am so fixed upon my own struggles I confess I barely give the plight of Africans a thought. Tad had his troubles too, yet he cared only for the enslaved, the dispossessed.’

‘He saw the world as a sculptor sees a block of stone. Not how it is. How it could be.’

Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (2019)

~

“Things are never so frightening in front of you as they are behind you. Remember that. Anything seems frightening when it’s behind your back and you can’t see it. That’s why it’s always better to turn and face things – and then very often you find they are nothing at all.”

Giant’s Bread by Mary Westmacott (1930)

~

Mount Longonot, Kenya

A vast golden valley of sun-bleached grass, speckled by scrub and flat-topped thorn trees and seamed with dry gullies; hemmed in to left and right by the two great barriers of the Kinangop and the Mau, and dominated by the rolling lava falls and cold, gaping crater of Longonot, standing sentinel at its gate.

Death in Kenya by M.M. Kaye (1958)

~

“I am going to dictate, and I hope that this time you will not interrupt at what I consider a dramatic moment. Let me think. I must repeat the first part, I suppose. Another time, sergeant, warn people at the beginning. It saves them from boring themselves, which is after all the most heinous of crimes.”

And Death Came Too by Richard Hull (1939)

~

Until then I had thought each book spoke of the things, human or divine, that lie outside books. Now I realized that not infrequently books speak of books: it is as if they spoke among themselves. In the light of this reflection, the library seemed all the more disturbing to me. It was then the place of a long, centuries-old murmuring, an imperceptible dialogue between one parchment and another, a living thing, a receptacle of powers not to be ruled by a human mind, a treasure of secrets emanated by many minds, surviving the death of those who had produced them or had been their conveyors.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (1980)

~

Favourite books read in February:

Giant’s Bread and Beauvallet

New authors read in February:

Bridget Collins, Laura Shepherd-Robinson

Countries visited in February:

England, Italy, France, Spain, Kenya

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

My Commonplace Book: January 2019

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

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

~

“You think you’re very clever, Carlton,” she said. “And so you are, my dear, as a rule. But it’s not very clever to underestimate one’s opponent. That’s one of the most elementary of tactical errors, isn’t it?”

Rogues’ Holiday by Maxwell March (1935)

~

Hatshepsut

Success in Egypt was an abstract for which others could easily take credit, leaving the real person responsible for some actions or monuments unknowable for generations, lost to cultural memory, making Hatshepsut’s name more unpronounceable as the generations crept by. Doing everything right ensured Hatshepsut’s lost legacy.

When Women Ruled the World by Kara Cooney (2018)

~

She thought – was this religion? – a snare to make one fall into the hands of one’s enemies? Were holy things always to be abused, and words of love and worship turned into a death-trap? Should one man’s belief be set up against another’s, and men kill each other for not holding the same ideas, it would mean wars without end throughout the world, for it was the glory of men’s minds to hold different thoughts, and the only thing by which they could be judged was their actions, right or wrong.

Elizabeth, Captive Princess by Margaret Irwin (1948)

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ABC Railway Guide

“Words, mademoiselle, are only the outer clothing of ideas.”

The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie (1936)

~

The sand itself, in contrast with the surrounding sea, seemed the home of weird noises, compounded of the ceaseless lapping of the ripples on the edge of it, the eerie cries of unseen gulls, and the intermittent wail of the distant lighthouse. It was an uncanny feeling, alone on this lost corner of the earth, which belonged neither to the realm of the sea or of the land.

The Secret of High Eldersham by Miles Burton (1930)

~

‘We all think, Leo, but none of us know. Matters of the heart are like the river. They bend this way and then that way, and sometimes there are rocks around the corner. Sometimes. But sometimes not. You never know.’

The House on Half Moon Street by Alex Reeve (2018)

~

Sometimes during a great emotional crisis the mind rallies. The gentlest spirit sometimes revives as though it had received from some unsuspected depth a new lease of courage and endurance.
It is at such times that hitherto helpless, unsophisticated souls goaded by circumstances so terrible as to be almost outside their comprehension make an unexpected stand, receiving from their reserves a small measure of that exhilaration in the face of danger normally possessed only by their stronger brethren.

The Devil and Her Son by Maxwell March (1936)

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There is no principle worth having that does not exact a price. We must recognise the cost of our principles and take responsibility for that cost. We must not deny the consequences of our own actions.

Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss (2014)

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Radcot Bridge

What we see on a map is only the half of it. A river no more begins at its source than a story begins with the first page.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield (2018)

~

Here lay the tragedy. Western man is so constituted that he cannot abide contentment. It is the unforgivable sin. He must forever strive towards some unseen goal, whether it be material comfort, a greater and purer God, or some weapon that will make him master of the universe. As he becomes more conscious he becomes more restless, more grasping, forever finding fault with the warm dust from which he sprang and to which he must return, forever desirous of improving and so enslaving his fellow-men.

The Breaking Point by Daphne du Maurier (1959)

~

Favourite books read in January:

The ABC Murders, Once Upon a River

Where did my reading take me in January?

England, Ancient Egypt, Italy, Greece

Authors read for the first time in January:

Kara Cooney, Sarah Moss, Miles Burton, Alex Reeve

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

My Commonplace Book: December 2018

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

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

~

My heart pounding, I look only at Hogarth. I know he must understand. His own training in art was unconventional, limited, yet he persevered to become the best. And he has not devoted his talent to celebrating the wealthy; he paints servants, soldiers, the people of the London streets.

“Would it be enough for you, Mr Hogarth?” I say. “To be shut up in the same room, day after day, painting flowers for silk dresses or for teacups and plates, and not telling the story of the world with your brush?”

The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau (2018)

~

He shook his head slowly. ‘I am not the person I was born. Neither are you. I know no one who is. Truly, Fitz, all we ever know are facets of one another. Perhaps we feel as if we know one another well when we know several facets of that person. Father, son, brother, friend, lover, husband…a man can be all of those things, yet no one person knows him in all those roles.’

Fool’s Fate by Robin Hobb (2003)

~

I have often found that the best way to persuade anyone to do something they suspect is to explain that they really need not do it.

The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay (1936)

~

I was alarmed. Up until then I had thought it was all quite simple. If you were nice-looking men wanted to marry you, and if you were not you saw it for yourself in the mirror and decided to do something else.

The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West (1956)

~

But my husband does not believe in redemption: Elias thinks that people are moulded like jelly by their choices and, once set, they can never be anything else.

Blackberry and Wild Rose by Sonia Velton (2019)

~

Plaque commemorating the Battle of Worcester

She turned away, stared out across the land. ‘Violence never changes anyone’s mind, just drives their convictions deeper. And it’s such a waste, when all that power could be used to build something, not knock it down.’

Spirit of the Highway by Deborah Swift (2015)

~

She was equally definite about the arrangements for the festival. The strengths of the Victorians were three, she remarked, and she spoke as one who knew: Common Sense, Knowing One’s Own Mind, and Thrift. The first thing to remember was that nothing, nothing whatever, which was valuable, or entertaining, or nutritious, in the widest possible sense of the words, must ever be wasted.

Campion at Christmas by Margery Allingham (2018)

~

A man held his soul in his hand like a pearl, and if he were to drop that pearl in the ocean he would never get it back.

A Column of Fire by Ken Follett (2017)

~

View to the east from Zennor Head

John William had set himself like an arrow on this one thing, leaving no space for anything else, and leaving no space for it to fail to happen either. She had never thought in that way herself, about wanting things. She had only thought that you had what you had, and that was all. Now she realized that she was far behind him, and that it was no longer just because of the few months between them. But there was danger in wanting anything that much, and showing that you wanted it.

Zennor in Darkness by Helen Dunmore (1993)

~

“Well, dreams take time to come true and even then, they’re not always in the places we expect to find them. I suppose we have to be patient and concentrate on what we have today.”

The Moon Sister by Lucinda Riley (2018)

~

“Let me tell you, Magyar. A woman is a woman, and a face is a face, and after a while the face isn’t pretty or plain anymore, it is this woman’s face, and you love her.”

Rakóssy by Cecelia Holland (1967)

~

Favourite books read in December:

Fool’s Fate, The Fountain Overflows and Blackberry and Wild Rose

Where did my reading take me in December?

England, France, Scotland, Spain, Hungary, Robin Hobb’s fictional Six Duchies and Out Islands.

Authors read for the first time in December:

Mavis Doriel Hay and Sonia Velton

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Happy New Year – and happy reading in 2019!

My Commonplace Book: November 2018

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

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

~

We know what causes the plants to grow and multiply, so to feed the planet and ourselves. We know how to harness the hidden forces of the world to pump water from the mines, to send engines down tracks, to speed our massive ships to the far ends of the Earth. We know what fixes the stars in their heavens.

But the engine which powers all these transitions, the mighty organ that is the Mind of man, remains an essential mystery to us.

Savage Magic by Lloyd Shepherd (2014)

~

“The spell for finding books,” she whispered, closing her eyes before pronouncing the incantation. “Abracadabra, Alakazam, Angela Thirkell and Omar Khayyam.”

I had never seen my sister so excited.

The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley (2018)

~

Illustrated page by Ernest Clegg.

She shook her head and mopped up a drop of paint with a damp cloth. “Not yet. But at least my lack of forward planning isn’t worrying me quite so much now.”

“That’s good,” he said. “If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my life, it’s that worrying over your future can be a waste of energy.”

The Poppy Field by Deborah Carr (2018)

~

She loved the way a photograph could tell an entire story and preserve it in a single moment. She hoped she’d be able to take more pictures inspired by her heart and not just by her head, and, if she could manage to get out and about and grasp something of the mysterious quality of the ordinary people, she’d be happy.

Before the Rains by Dinah Jefferies (2017)

~

But above all, there were books. Books were my consolation. For if I could not walk into the bright, blowing world I could, at least, read of it; books, I was told, contained it all.

House of Glass by Susan Fletcher (2018)

~

Agatha Christie never described it, nor did any other mystery writer I can think of: that moment when the detective works it out and the truth makes itself known. Why did Poirot never twirl his moustache? Why didn’t Lord Peter Wimsey dance in the air? I would have.

The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz (2018)

~

Jan Willem Pieneman’s ‘The Battle of Waterloo’ (1824).

Some of the senior officers were looking grave; here and there a rigid, meaningless smile was pinned to a mother’s white face, or a girl stood with a fallen mouth, and blank eyes fixed on a scarlet uniform. A queer, almost greedy emotion shone in many countenances. Life had become suddenly an urgent business, racing towards disaster, and the craving for excitement, the breathless moment compound of fear, and grief, and exaltation, when the mind sharpened and the senses were stretched as taut as the strings of a violin, surged up under the veneer of good manners, and shone behind the dread in shocked young eyes.

An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer (1937)

~

“Yes — by my every hope of Heaven!” I cried passionately.

She continued to survey me with that quiet smile of mocking scorn.

“I have heard it said,” quoth she, “that the greatest liars are ever those that are readiest to take oath.”

Bardelys the Magificent by Rafael Sabatini (1906)

~

Although plenty of young Italians were filled with excitement, they were the minority. ‘The news of war’ noted Mussolini’s son-in-law and Foreign Minister, Count Galeazzo Ciano, in his diary, ‘does not arouse much enthusiasm. I am sad, very sad. The adventure begins. May God help Italy.’

The Desert War by James Holland (2018)

~

Prospero, Ariel and sleeping Miranda from a painting by William Hamilton

Is the island magic? Felix asks himself. The island is many things, but among them is something he hasn’t mentioned: the island is a theatre. Prospero is a director. He’s putting on a play, within which there’s another play. If his magic holds and his play is successful, he’ll get his heart’s desire. But if he fails…

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood (2016)

~

You seek a false comfort when you demand that I define myself for you with words. Words do not contain or define any person. A heart can, if it is willing.

The Golden Fool by Robin Hobb (2002)

~

To be entirely engrossed with today, with meals and motor-cars and work and play, is a short-sighted selfishness. Have time to remember the child you were, give him a deep thought now and then, be sensitive to all you can of the past, and it will reward you with bright shoots of everlastingness. To live in the present moment is easy, any animal does it: to live in eternity is really to live.

The Trap by Dan Billany (1950)

~

Favourite books read in November:

The Golden Fool and The Sentence is Death

Where did my reading take me in November?

England, North Africa, India, France, Canada, Belgium – and Robin Hobb’s fictional Six Duchies.

Authors read for the first time in November:

Deborah Carr, Lloyd Shepherd, Dan Billany and James Holland

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