My Commonplace Book: March 2020

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

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


Once a story you’ve regarded as true has turned false, you begin suspecting all stories.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (2019)


‘Sounds like a witch to me,’ Richard said bitterly. ‘How else would she know those things?’

‘She is a midwife, like her mother before her. Are you like the king now, thinking all wise women and poor women and midwives are carrying out the Devil’s work? Why, he must be the largest employer in Lancashire.”

The Familiars by Stacey Halls (2019)


Highwaywoman Katherine Ferrers, known as ‘The Wicked Lady’

Except for me, not one of the women had spoken; all had let their menfolk talk for them. So much for Winstanley’s ideas of women being equal to men. I wondered though if it was the fact of my class that made me confident to speak. Had I been a serving woman by birth, would I have been so outspoken? Clearly this idea of living in community was harder than I had imagined.

Lady of the Highway by Deborah Swift (2016)


It had proved impossible to civilise us, the documents said. It made me cry to read such things. There was nothing more civilised than my mother’s breast, and myself nestled there.

A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry (2020)


‘It’s good that the museum has someone as single-minded as you to guard over it, Miss Cartwright. Frankly, it’s admirable how dedicated you are to your animals, although one might caution against becoming obsessive, at the cost of other, more important, things in life. A husband, perhaps, children, that kind of thing,’ he said pleasantly, blowing a stream of smoke towards me as I smiled thinly and left, shutting the door behind me.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey (2020)


‘The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife’ by Daniel Maclise, 1854.

She studied the creamy vellum pages with their red capitals. ‘Does the Earl read often?’

‘Indeed, he does,’ Hervey replied. ‘He says it is through the stories that we come to recognise and know ourselves.’

The Irish Princess by Elizabeth Chadwick (2019)


Poirot nodded. “Yes, I saw what happened – but the eyes, Inspector Grange, are very unreliable witnesses.”

“What do you mean, M. Poirot?”

“The eyes see, sometimes, what they are meant to see.”

The Hollow by Agatha Christie (1946)


Favourite book read in March:

The Irish Princess

New authors read in March:

Jane Healey

Countries visited in my March reading:

England, USA, Wales, Ireland, Canada


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

My Commonplace Book: February 2020

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

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


There were no houses across the way from Miss Beulah’s, only a wall of pines. It was a dark, romantic view, and somehow sad. It made her think of the poor little match girl who froze to death, and the other little girl whose cruel stepmother dressed her in newspapers and sent her out in the storm to find strawberries. Snow always made Miss Beulah think of things like that, pretty, childish things with death and tears in the background. Miss Beulah had the imagination of her century and she had read too many books when she was young.

Blood Upon the Snow by Hilda Lawrence (1944)


Wivenhoe Park by John Constable, 1816

Now his brother looked up. ‘Is the suggestion disagreeable to you?’

John thought for a moment before he replied. ‘What is not necessary is not always agreeable.’

The Year Without Summer by Guinevere Glasfurd (2020)


This position was first recorded in the 1340s and by 1471 the description of the role of master of the henchmen was

…to learn them to ride cleanly and surely, to draw them also to jousts, to learn them wear their harness (armour), to have all courtesy in words, deeds, and degrees…to teach them sundry languages and other learnings virtuous, to harping, to pipe, sing, dance, and with other honest and temperate behaving and patience…to have his respects unto their demeaning, how mannerly they eat and drink, and to their communication.

Sir Francis Bryan: Henry VIII’s Most Notorious Ambassador by Sarah-Beth Watkins (2020)


‘You did not see the need for change because the world you lived in suited you best. And we are all blinded by dogmatics and have become too afraid to trust our own thoughts. We have all been manipulated by the acceptance of tradition, our minds already tainted by the time we learn to speak. It is not our parents’ fault, nor our grandparents’; who as a babe has the knowledge and strength to take on every human that existed before them?’

Requiem for a Knave by Laura Carlin (2020)


Belle Bilton, Countess of Clancarty

“Do you love to read, Flo, as I do?” he said. “I cannot get your sister to lift a book.” He waved his hand in the direction of the Corinthian’s library, the quietest room in the club.

“Oh, Isabel is not for literary pursuits, Mr Weston. She prefers to live her story.”

Weston laughed. “What a superb notion! And so superbly put.”

Becoming Belle by Nuala O’Connor (2018)


The storm comes in like a finger snap. That’s how they’ll speak in the months and years after, when it stops being only an ache behind their eyes and a crushing at the base of their throats. When it finally fits into stories. Even then, it doesn’t tell how it actually was. There are ways words fall down: they give shape too easily, carelessly. And there was no grace, no ease to what Maren saw.

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (2020)


‘I’m at the Club. I can be with you in about a quarter of an hour, if that suits you.’

‘Very well indeed, sir. Come along.’

Johnny rang off, and Sally asked, ‘What on earth do you suppose he wants?’

‘I can’t imagine. If this were a detective story, he’d be bumped off before he could tell us. It’s a classic situation’.

Answer in the Negative by Henrietta Hamilton (1959)


Giardini Iblei, Ragusa

We climbed to the top of the city, where the formal gardens, the Giardini Iblei, were laid out: green, shady and quiet. We entered through an avenue of huge old palm trees throwing deep shade across the hot, bright path. Starlings sang in the trees; cats stretched in patches of sunlight. The gardens were flanked by churches; one even stood inside its boundary – an arched door painted green and a saint standing up high beside its tower, one hand raised in benediction, baking in the glare.

The House by the Sea by Louise Douglas (2020)


“I see the past as it actually was,” Maeve said. She was looking at the trees.

“But we overlay the present onto the past. We look back through the lens of what we know now, so we’re not seeing it as the people we were, we’re seeing it as the people we are, and that means the past has been radically altered.”

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (2019)


“In case this turns out to be a high-powered mystery, which I don’t suppose for a moment that it will, remember that an elderly unmarried woman who knits and gardens is streets ahead of any detective sergeant. She can tell you what might have happened and what ought to have happened and even what actually did happen! And she can tell you why it happened!”

A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie (1950)


We make decisions based on what’s best for the realm, not to appease our feelings. The same is true for us. You want to speak of love for eighteen years, but it has never been about love, only promise and property, power and position, and after eighteen years the promise has been unfulfilled, the property has not been possessed, our power is less than it should be, and our position is fragile without an heir.

Thus, do not speak to me of love. I am a king.

The Great Matter Monologues by Thomas Crockett (2020)


Imprisonment of Charles of Orleans in the Tower of London

My mother sought and found solace in reading what wise men and poets had written to direct us to a path in the impenetrable forest which life is. It is an image which was familiar to me when I was a child. My mother said once: Life is a long awaiting of God’s peace. And I know that my father considered himself to be one who had irretrievably lost his way in the forest of long awaiting. We too seek a path in the wilderness, ma mie. Perhaps we shall wander inaccessible to each other, each in a different place. But shouldn’t we try to find each other? Trust and sharing of views, these could bring us together.’

In a Dark Wood Wandering by Hella S Haasse (1949)


‘I understand better than you know, sister,’ said Diana, turning her grip into a hug as Molly’s tears began again. ‘We are women. We lose all that we love. We give everything, we give life, and all around us it is being taken away. I know. It was ever thus. It will ever be thus.’

Killing Beauties by Pete Langman (2020)


Favourite books read in February:

A Murder is Announced, In a Dark Wood Wandering and The Dutch House.

New authors read in February:

Sarah-Beth Watkins, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Henrietta Hamilton, Nuala O’Connor, Thomas Crockett, Pete Langman, Hella S Haasse and Ann Patchett.

Countries visited in my February reading:

USA, England, Indonesia, Switzerland, Norway, Italy and France.


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

My Commonplace Book: January 2020

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

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


“It is a good phrase that,” said Poirot. “The impossible cannot have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.”

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (1934)


Any separation, however brief, made them anxious. It was to tempt fate; they might never get together again. Entropy is the natural law of the universe, everything tends towards disorder, to break down, to disperse. People get lost: look how many vanished during the Retreat; feelings fade, and forgetfulness slips into lives like mist. It takes heroic willpower just to keep everything in place. Those are a refugee’s forebodings, said Roser. No, they’re the forebodings of someone in love, Victor corrected her.

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende (2020)


Engraving of the Foundling Hospital, London, 1753.

These feminine vessels we inhabited: why did nobody expect them to contain unfeminine feelings? Why could we, too, not be furious and scornful and entirely altered by grief? Why must we accept the cards we had been dealt?

The Foundling by Stacey Halls (2020)


‘Why don’t you come, Reggie? Come for a visit. You might even think about getting a job here.’ New Zealand seemed to Reggie to be awfully far away. ‘Well, not when you’re actually here,’ Dr Hunter wrote. ‘Then it’s not far away at all. Then it’s just where you are. You’re here.’

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson (2019)


‘And, of course, it’s simply chance that takes one in the first place into one manner of life rather than another. And one looks back, and imagines one might have chosen better – whereas, really and truly, choice didn’t enter into the matter. What do you think?’

Appleby thought only that the hour was too advanced to enter upon a discussion of the mildly perplexing problem of necessity and free will.

The Long Farewell by Michael Innes (1958)


The south-eastern side of Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar

As the sky turned gold and dense black shadows began to dissolve the light within the pavilions, she gasped in awe at the dazzling brilliance of the Shwedagon illuminated by the dying sun. With light refracting through coloured glass the whole thing glittered and sparkled: a multi-jewelled marvel like no other Belle had ever seen.

The Missing Sister by Dinah Jefferies (2019)


She glanced around but there was no escape and it was, she supposed, a valid question. Eventually she said just one word: ‘Security’.

Malcolm sighed.

‘Security? You disappoint me. Is that all you seek?’

‘If, like me, you had known its lack, Sire, you might value it more highly.’

Blood Queen by Joanna Courtney (2018)


‘We can only recognize saints when the plainest evidence shows them to be saintly. If you think her a saint, she is a saint to you. What more do you ask? That is what we call the reality of the soul; you are foolish to demand the agreement of the world as well.’

Fifth Business by Robertson Davies (1970)


The tower at Dreamland, Coney Island, 1907.

On my right side, a brace of clarinets and trombones pounded music; in front of me, a square tower with a triangle top soared incredibly high, as high as one of the skyscrapers of Manhattan. More immediately I faced a mountain of water, with people riding down in little wooden cars that reached the bottom with an enormous splash. No matter which way I twisted and turned, I couldn’t see the natural water, the beach, or Surf Avenue. I was deep into Dreamland, away from the ocean and the town.

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau (2020)


Yet what a strange allegory it was, the river of time. If he was standing here in the now, then to the left, downriver, the past was disappearing away into the night. Time past could never be changed: what was done was done. If only the past did not stay fixed like dead flies in amber. If only he could live his life again.

The Almanack by Martine Bailey (2019)


He’d always had a quickening of the heart when he crossed into Arizona and beheld the cactus country. This was as the desert should be, this was the desert of the picture books, with the land unrolled to the farthest distant horizon hills, with saguaro standing sentinel in their strange chessboard pattern, towering supinely above the fans of ocotillo and brushy mesquite.

The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes (1963)


Then the writer paused, the scene recollected in his mind’s eye. ‘These three brothers,’ he continued, a hint of regret in his appraising tone, ‘possessed such surpassing talent that their triple bond could only have been broken with the utmost difficulty’ – ‘if,’ that was, ‘they had been able to avoid conflict.’ It was a big ‘if’.

The Brothers York by Thomas Penn (2019)


Favourite books read in January:

The Expendable Man, The Foundling and Dreamland

New authors read in January:

Stacey Halls, Robertson Davies, Dorothy B. Hughes, Martine Bailey

Countries visited in my January reading:

England, Scotland, Canada, USA, Yugoslavia (as it was then), Spain, Chile, Burma (Myanmar)


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

My Commonplace Book: December 2019

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

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


Lejeune shook his head. “It’s not like that at all,” he said. “Evil is not something superhuman, it’s something less than human. Your criminal is someone who wants to be important, but who never will be important, because he’ll always be less than a man.”

The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie (1961)


A house divided against itself cannot stand. A house built on sand will not survive the coming storms and tempests. Such prophecies accurately describe the House of York, and I intend to prove such predictions are correct in all their details.

Dark Queen Rising by Paul Doherty (2018)


Abelard and Heloïse in a manuscript of the Roman de la Rose (14th century)

Novels can make a unique connection – one person is alone, writing, and contact is made miles and centuries away with another person alone, reading. Receiving the message. Not from outer space but from inner space. And there’s instant connection. It’s a sort of magic.

Love Without End by Melvyn Bragg (2019)


“You have to have one person in your life that you know would never do anything to steer you wrong. They may disagree with you. They could even break your heart, from time to time. But you have to have one person, at least, who you know will always tell you the truth.”

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2019)


Of one thing though I am most perfectly certain and that is that the case is more completely topsy-turvy than it ought to be. I like my murders to start at the beginning with the corpse and go on to the end with the conviction. But when you start in the middle with the confession — well, all I can say is, that it’s all wrong!”

Left-Handed Death by Richard Hull (1946)


Winchester Cathedral

“There’s something quite mysterious about the pattern of bells ringing – more so than if it were a melody, which would be too predictable. A little complexity can be a good thing. I think people sense there is a form holding it all together. Must they know what that form is to enjoy it?”

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier (2019)


It looked like the posters you see in tourist offices advertising the Riviera. In spite of the traffic whizzing past them on the road, the place was peaceful. More yachts floating about the sea, family parties sporting on the beaches, little cafes with coloured awnings and parasols and painted chairs and tables. Above the road, villas built on terraces on the porphyry rock, with masses of pink and red geraniums, bougainvillaea, hydrangeas blooming in the gardens, and sheltered by palms, olives and lemon trees.

Death in Room Five by George Bellairs (1955)


‘I have little interest in it,’ I admit. ‘My attentions are directed to abolishing slavery through more active means. But now I am here and I see your people,’ I conclude, ‘I realize not all slaves wear chains.’

The Bastille Spy by CS Quinn (2019)


Anne of Cleves, by Hans Holbein the Younger

‘I haven’t seen it, Madam, but I do not need to. I speak as a friend when I say you are a lovely lady; there can be no denying it. Beauty comes from within; it illuminates the features. Others, I know, have seen this in you. The King may come belatedly to see it too.’

Anna of Kleve, Queen of Secrets by Alison Weir (2019)


‘Well, I find it fascinating that so much of the world craves fame, yet in my experience, it often brings only misery. People believe that it will grant them the right to do or be anything they choose, but in fact they lose the most precious commodity we humans have, and that is their freedom. Your freedom,’ she added.

The Sun Sister by Lucinda Riley (2019)


I never was at table, nor close up to him that first summer; but I looked about me. No man should think because I am a woman and slighter shaped, that my eyes and my thoughts are smaller than theirs. That is a mistake easy to fall into, as others have done.

Call Upon the Water by Stella Tillyard (2018)


Favourite books read in December:

The Sun Sister and The Pale Horse

New authors read in December:

Melvyn Bragg, CS Quinn, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Stella Tillyard

Countries visited in my December reading:

England, France, USA, Germany, Kenya


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

My Commonplace Book: November 2019

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

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


It had made Sarah think mournfully of the wasted potential of Mrs Simpson’s sister, Mina, her talents and intelligence unnurtured as she sought only to marry well. And this was to say nothing of the wasted potential of all those women who inhabited the realm below stairs, where she, until recently, had been confined. How many Shakespeares, how many Newtons – how many Simpsons for that matter – had we lost because they were born of a gender that was denied the chance to shine?

The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry (2019)


If you take the time and the trouble to look at his life he will emerge as a man of courage and ambition, a man of self-doubt and modesty. He could be merciful or he could be ruthless, depending on the situation and whatever he felt was required. But he could equally be seen as someone who was also filled with humanity.

Following in the Footsteps of Henry Tudor by Phil Carradice (2019)


‘Things get difficult,” she said. ‘As one gets more money and more conventional in one’s ordinary routine, conventional people get in. Then the trouble is that the word “conventional” doesn’t mean what it used to any more. I mean, people aren’t necessarily honest or pleasant or kind just because they happen to be conventional. You get them in the house, and they play the devil with you because you’re unprepared and unarmed. You’re simple, unsuspecting, natural people. Everyone can see what you are at a glance. Their conventionality cloaks them. It’s their disguise. They beat you when it comes to it.’

The Allingham Minibus by Margery Allingham (1973)


An Australian goldfield c. 1855

In her entire life, Violet had not been alone for longer than a few hours. What might it be like to be alone in the bush for days, a dog one’s only companion? Yet being alone wasn’t a prerequisite for loneliness. One could be alone in a house full of people. One could find oneself alone, lying abed with a lover. One could find oneself alone in the midst of a conversation.

The Boy with Blue Trousers by Carol Jones (2019)


In my analogy, the production of a man is likened to the manufacture of a photographic print. The flash of creation (by which I mean conception in the case of the human and a timed exposure of light in the case of the photograph) determines the influence of Nature. It is then Nurture (upbringing in the case of the human, or the developing process in the case of the negative plate) which provides the detail, the finesse and the fulfilment of the final outcome. Any photographer, amateur or otherwise, will tell you the many ways in which inadequate skills in the developing room can alter or indeed ruin a perfectly good image.

The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby (2019)


Fiction had never been Jackson’s thing. Facts seemed challenging enough without making stuff up. What he discovered was that the great novels of the world were about three things – death, money and sex. Occasionally a whale.

Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson (2010)


Portrait of Elizabeth Woodville c. 1472

The subject of this present study seems recently to have become known in historical fiction as ‘the White Queen’. But of course, historical fiction is not reality. In reality, as she herself knew very well (and it worried her greatly), it was and is definitely questionable whether Elizabeth Widville should really be accepted as a genuine queen. As for her associated colour, on the basis of the flower emblem which she herself chose and adopted, it seems it would actually be more accurate to call her ‘pink’ rather than ‘white’. An additional advantage of referring to her colour as pink lies in the fact that it also highlights her having been eventually acknowledged as of royal status by both white rose and red rose kings (Edward IV and Henry VII).

Elizabeth Widville, Lady Grey by John Ashdown-Hill (2019)


Perhaps, James considered, for a contented life to be possible, no man could have everything he wanted, because if he did, he would want not to have everything, or else to die. Life was not a life if there was nothing left to achieve.

The Outrageous Fortune of Abel Morgan by Cynthia Jefferies (2018)


‘Beauty is for everyone,’ he continued. ‘It’s not just for the rich. Why should less fortunate people live in cheap and ugly places?’

‘There’s no reason!’ Andreas agreed with enthusiasm.

It was in an equal society that Nikos believed and it motivated every stroke of his pencil.

Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop (2019)


(L to R) Ching-ling, Ei-ling and May-ling – the Soong sisters

‘We learn from observation that no nation can rise to distinction unless her women are educated and considered as man’s equal morally, socially, and intellectually…China’s progress must come largely through her educated women.’

Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister by Jung Chang (2019)


Favourite book read in November:

Those Who Are Loved

New authors read in November:

Phil Carradice, Carol Jones, Carolyn Kirby, John Ashdown-Hill, Cynthia Jefferies

Countries visited in my November reading:

Scotland, Wales, England, China, Australia, Greece, Turkey, Jamaica


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

My Commonplace Book: October 2019

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

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


This is one of the troubles and the wonders of childhood: you imagine things wrongly. And later, when the truth is known – assuming there is an absolute truth – the unwinding of the imagined thing is tangled, because the first image keeps on obstinately breaking through. You’re adrift in mystery and ambiguity.

Rosie: Scenes from a Vanished Life by Rose Tremain (2018)


The art of the murderer, my dear Maurot, is the same as the art of the magician. And the art of the magician does not lie in any such nonsense as “the hand is quicker than the eye”, but consists simply in directly your attention to the wrong place. He will cause you to be watching one hand, while with the other hand, unseen though in full view, he produces his effect. That is the principle I have applied to crime.

It Walks By Night by John Dickson Carr (1930)


The Milky Way, seen from La Silla Observatory

‘Ah, I perceive you think me weak in the extreme,’ he said, with just a shade of pique. ‘But you will never realize that an incident which filled but a degree in the circle of your thoughts covered the whole circumference of mine. No person can see exactly what and where another’s horizon is.’

Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy (1882)


“Nonsense. Why can’t a painter paint something nice and cheerful to look at? Why go out of your way to look for ugliness?”

“Some of us, mon cher, see beauty in curious places.”

Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie (1942)


‘Quite marvellous,’ the stranger replies with unexpected warmth. Iris feels a rush of love for this unfamiliar human, and for all of the people pressed around her. Everyone, with their worries and their joys and their loves and their frustrations, their tears and dreams and laughter – they are all gloriously alike.

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal (2019)


1898 illustration by John La Farge from the original Collier’s Weekly serialisation.

‘It’s beyond everything. Nothing at all that I know touches it.’

‘For sheer terror?’ I remember asking.

He seemed to say it was not so simple as that; to be really at a loss how to qualify it. He passed his hand over his eyes, made a little wincing grimace. ‘For dreadful — dreadfulness!’

‘Oh, how delicious!’ cried one of the women.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)


‘Andy is a grower,’ said Jay earnestly. ‘He’s paid to grow things and growing things is what he’d want to do even if he wasn’t paid.’ He laughed, pleased with himself. ‘I call this the Hardie theory of happiness. You’re happy when what you are is the same as what you do.’

The Daughter of Hardie by Anne Melville (1988)


‘Taxes are high, Haith. Much higher than in the times of my father. What the King takes in taxes they cannot put on the table to feed their families.’

‘These are troubled times. The costs of Henry’s war in Normandy run high.’

‘You can see why Welsh farmers and tenants might struggle to see the relevance of that for them.’

Conquest: The Drowned Court by Tracey Warr (2017)


Large Blue butterfly

‘Remember, my darling, one man’s rubbish might be another man’s gold. But perhaps we are all beachcombers in a way,’ Daddy had said, squinting in the sun. ‘We keep seeking, hoping to find that elusive buried treasure that will enrich our lives, and when we pull up a teapot rather than a gleaming jewel, we must continue to search.’

The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley (2019)


‘Of the arrows the God of Love possesses, it is Frankness I prefer, because frankness is truly noble,’ said Bernadine. ‘The other arrows – Beauty, Simplicity, Courtesy, Company, Beau-Semblant – are the qualities in a woman that may injure a man’s heart while leaving his pride untouched. That woman may get herself a lover and never open her mouth. But the man who falls in love mostly by the wound of his lover’s frankness is enobled, for he accepts her enumeration of his faults, without doubting the loving spirit in which they are given; and she accepts his frankness in return.’

To Calais, in Ordinary Time by James Meek (2019)


Favourite books read in October:

Two on a Tower and The Daughter of Hardie

New authors read in October:

Elizabeth Macneal, James Meek

Countries visited in my October reading:

England, France, Wales, China


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

My Commonplace Book: September 2019

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 credulous creatures we are, really. We believe evidence as though it were gospel truth. And what is it really? Only the impression conveyed to the mind by the senses – and suppose they’re the wrong impressions?’

Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie (1929)


“So it will go,” Merriman said. “He will have a sweet picture of the Dark to attract him, as men so often do, and beside it he will set all the demands of the Light, which are heavy and always will be.”

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (1973)


Illustration of a winged, fire-breathing dragon by Friedrich Justin Bertuch, 1806

She couldn’t decide if she was flattered or insulted. ‘It’s because he remembers so much more than the others. I sometimes think that age is based more on what you’ve done and what you remember than how old you are.’

Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb (2010)


Conscience? It struck me like a blow from a hunting whip, fine and cutting. What was conscience? A jackdaw, picking up one shiny object, then discarding it for another, whatever would suit the occasion. Or haphazardly collecting one bright stone after another, until it had a whole array of glittering trivia in its nest.

A Tapestry of Treason by Anne O’Brien (2019)


Leon Kryder had replied with an exposition of the greater burden of conformity to socially sanctioned behaviour patterns that American adolescents have to bear. Although the individual has a great deal of freedom, it is only freedom to enjoy the same sort of freedom as everybody else of that age and that group.

Death on a Quiet Day by Michael Innes (1956)


Aurora Borealis

‘Why wait?’ Bullmer shrugged. ‘One thing I’ve learned in business – now almost always is the right time. What feels like prudence is almost invariably cowardice – and someone else gets in there before you.’

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (2016)


The truth is not so simple, I thought. The truth is that I am a man, from the soles of my feet to the top of my head. I have a man’s thoughts and a man’s desires. And yet, if you were to look at my skin, Mr Whitford, heaven forbid, you would think I was female. That would be your truth. Whose truth is more important, do you think: yours or mine?

The Anarchists’ Club by Alex Reeve (2019)


You spend months stalking a problem that constantly escapes. Then cover more ground in half a second than your brain can comprehend.

The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis (1989)


Favourite books read in September:

The Anarchists’ Club and The Dark is Rising

New authors read in September:

Lindsey Davis

Countries visited in my September reading:

England, Norway, Italy (Ancient Rome), the Realm of the Elderlings


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