A selection of words and pictures to represent April’s reading
a notebook in which quotations, poems, remarks, etc, that catch the owner’s attention are entered
“What a beautiful situation,” he said, “The house nestles so contentedly.”
She smiled. “That is very poetic, Master Marcus. I have never thought of it like that.”
“That is because you are used to it. Rare beauty is treated as something quite ordinary by those who see it every day.”
I began to see how people could need drink to cover up embarrassments, and I remembered many sticky church functions which might have been improved if somebody had happened to open a bottle of wine. But people like us had to rely on the tea-urn and I felt that some credit was due to us for doing as well as we did on that harmless stimulant.
She glanced uncertainly at Timothy, who said at once, “Sit down and answer the kind policeman truthfully, my child.”
She obeyed but said reluctantly, “It sounds so unlikely!”
“Most of the stories I have to listen to do,” observed Hemingway. “And they’re not always lies either!”
Surely those were the things that mattered – the little everyday things, the family to be cooked for, the four walls that enclosed the home, the one or two cherished possessions. All the thousands of ordinary people on the earth, minding their own business, and tilling the earth, and making pots and bringing up families and laughing and crying, and getting up in the morning and going to bed at night. They were the people who mattered, not these Angels with wicked faces who wanted to make a new world and who didn’t care whom they hurt to do it.
And then, something mysterious happened. Now that her body had had time to adjust, and the same for her mind, once she realised she wasn’t going to drop from the air she was suffused with elation, streaming out of her fingertips and toes and hair and eyes and she just couldn’t believe she was there, up, up, up, above the world. It was so beautiful, so beautiful!
“A foolish, foolish situation. Each, as an individual would pull the other out of the water; each would succour the other, even at considerable danger to himself. But each, as the representative of his tribe, will batter the other with great guns and small; sink, burn and destroy at the drop of a hat. A foolish, foolish situation, that must be dealt with by men of sense, not by gamecocks stalking about on stilts and high horses.”
Her most recent life – four years at a good college, and then a few years of shelving books – had given her a vague sense of freedom with no disorder attached, apart from her inner misery.
In other words, nothing in her previous experience had prepared her for the feeling of being suddenly locked in a monastic room with a stranger five thousand miles from the Blue Ridge Mountains, holding an urn containing the ashes of another stranger.
But when he was alone, when the door had closed with a certain air of finality on one whom he knew to be at least a faithful friend, a wave of melancholy swept over his young, impetuous heart.
He thought of his truly precarious position, and how this house, his pension, his servants, his very clothes, and the money in his pocket might melt away like fairy gold which, gleaming over-night, is but withered leaves in the morning.
Everything depended on France.
Mr Misfortunate by Marjorie Bowen (1919)
He never cried. He could often feel a cry trying to come up from his heart, but he always forced it down. Because this was how Emilie had told him to behave in the world. He had to master himself. The world was alive with wrongdoing, she said, but Gustav had to emulate his father who, when wronged, had behaved like an honourable man; he had mastered himself. In this way, Gustav would be prepared for the uncertainties to come.
The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain (2016)
“You must not let your artistic talents go to waste. It is such a lovely thing to be able to show the world how you see it, the shadows and the light, and the spaces in between. We miss those details in everyday life. Art reminds us of what we have no time to see.”
We are never quite the same person with everyone, he found; the clash of personality upon personality strikes out a different flame in every case and those we love the best are those whose impact upon us creates most light and warmth.
So I was ugly. So what? I was sturdy and squat, a bit squashed, with features uneven, I knew. But so were some of my favourite mountains: lumpy, offkilter, with mismatching planes and pointy bits.
And I was clever. This woman, Daisy’s mother, was wrong.
The Valentine House by Emma Henderson (2017)
The lines of the troubadour’s song revolved again and again in my mind.
Love is soft and love is sweet, and speaks in accents fair;
Love is mighty agony, and love is mighty care;
Love is utmost ecstasy and love is keen to dare;
Love is wretched misery. To live with it’s despair.
The Shadow Queen by Anne O’Brien (2017)
Favourite books read in April: They Came to Baghdad, The Wild Air, Towers in the Mist