What We Are Reading Today: Life in a Cold Climate by Laura Thompson

Updated 06 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Life in a Cold Climate by Laura Thompson

In an enjoyable biography of an interesting woman, Laura Thompson effectively analyses Nancy Mitford’s work in the context of her life and loves.

Mitford “was obviously a much more complex character than many modern accounts paint her and this book certainly demonstrates this,” said a review in goodreads.com.

A stylish and well-informed writer, Thompson brings a snobbishness of her own to her sympathetic account of Mitford’s life.

Christopher Benfey said in a review for The New York Times: “The firmness of Mitford’s anti-fascist views was put to the test during World War II when she was approached by British intelligence to spy on General de Gaulle’s Free French officer corps in London. A mole was apparently passing information to the collaborationist Vichy regime. Thompson tells us frustratingly little about this episode. Instead, she trains her attention on Mitford’s love affair with one of the officers, Charles de Gaulle’s right-hand man and chief political adviser, Gaston Palewski, a heavyset man with a Hitler mustache and receding hair.”


What We Are Reading Today: The Angel and the Assassin by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

Updated 18 February 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Angel and the Assassin by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

A thrilling story of scientific detective work and medical potential that illuminates the newly understood role of microglia — an elusive type of brain cell that is vitally relevant to our everyday lives, according to a review published on goodreads.com.

Until recently, microglia were thought to be merely the brain’s housekeepers, helpfully removing damaged cells. But a recent groundbreaking discovery revealed them to be capable of terrifying Jekyll and Hyde behavior.

Under the right circumstances, however, microglia can be coaxed back into being angelic healers, able to repair the brain in ways that help alleviate symptoms and hold the promise to one day prevent disease.

Award-winning journalist Donna Jackson Nakazawa began her investigation with a personal interest — when diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder years ago, she was convinced there was something physical going on in her brain as well as her body, though no doctor she consulted could explain how the two could be interacting in this way. 

The book offers us a radically reconceived picture of human health.