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Books: Fact & Fiction

If you’re a bookworm, Cambridge’s Trinity Street – home to two of the city’s best-loved bookshops – is the place to go. Each month, the teams at Cambridge University Press and Heffers select their top fact and fiction titles

Fact Picks

The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells

I’ve chosen this title to recommend here as we’re about to have the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth(ish)day on April 23 and I thought it would be nice to give him a shout out. There is very little known about the man himself (hence the “ish”!) and what this biography does is pull together information about those who were closely connected to him, such as his family and fellow dramatists, in order to illuminate Shakespeare from a new angle. This book will help you find a context for his life and work that is missing from other biographies, fleshing-out the scant information we have with some excellent insights from great literary historians.


Venice: History of the Floating City by Joanne M. Ferraro

If you’re considering a Venetian holiday, have been before, or, like me, have looked longingly at photographs, films, and paintings of that extraordinary city, this is the book for you. The author’s love of Venice really shines through in this engrossing social and cultural history. Packed with anecdotes and images, it looks at all sorts of different aspects of life in the city - gondolas, street theatre, food, trade, art, music, medicine, war, architecture, religion, family and relationships. Ferraro makes the unique ‘floating city’ come alive with the experiences of the real people who have shaped it.


The Citizen's Guide to Climate Success: Overcoming Myths that Hinder Progress by Mark Jaccard

Despite the overwhelming and terrifying scientific evidence of the climate crisis, public discourse tends to be dominated by a number of misconceptions and myths. These confuse the picture either by denying climate science or by offering the false hope that solutions will somehow ‘just happen’ or can be achieved by leaving market forces to it. In this helpful book, Mark Jaccard unravels these false ideas and explains how we can all help solve the climate crisis by focusing on a few key, achievable actions. At a time when many feel hopeless and despairing, this book offers some positive news by showing that the technology to achieve deep decarbonisation already exists.


* Selected by Alice Tranah, bookseller at Cambridge University Press Bookshop, 1 Trinity Street, Cambridge CB2 1SZ. Call (01223) 333333.

Fiction Picks

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven, St John Mandel’s previous, award-winning novel, has become something of a cult classic, so there is excitement building around the release of The Glass Hotel. The Hotel Caiette is a five-star glass-and-cedar palace on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island, and the story begins with the owner of the hotel, a New York financier, passing his card to beautiful young bartender Vincent, along with a tip. So far, so glamorous. But an ominous message scrawled on one of the windowed walls of the hotel by a hooded figure, and Vincent’s later disappearance from a ship, means things turn much darker. Greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion all play a part in this book, which moves between the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the wilds of British Columbia.


The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle by Neil Blackmore

We do love a spot of good quality historical fiction! This most enjoyable novel follows the fortunes of the Bowen brothers as they embark on a Grand Tour of Europe. Their expectations are high, and with matching suits and powdered silver wigs in their trunks, they plan to meet the ‘right sort of people’ to help them realise their – and notably, their mother’s – ambitions of joining high society. But their pretensions are soon shown up, and when the captivating Horace Lavelle comes on the scene, their education really begins...


The Split by Sharon Bolton

The highly readable Sharon Bolton returns with another fast-paced thriller, and this one has a Cambridge link. Felicity Lloyd is a resident glaciologist on the island of South Georgia in the Antarctic - a place that should make her feel safely out of reach of her murdering ex-husband, Freddie, who’s just been released from prison. But still, she lives in fear. She knows he WILL come looking for her. And when the background to Felicity and Freddie’s relationship is uncovered back in Cambridge, the person who discovers that information knows he must reach her first.


* Selected by Kate Fleet, events and marketing manager at Heffers, 20 Trinity Street, Cambridge CB2 1TY. Call (01223) 463200.

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