Tag Archives: biology

Circles and Squares: A Novel of a biography

Today I am sharing my thoughts on CIRCLES AND SQUARES, a book on the Hamstead Modernists who were indispensable in the Avant-Garde Art Movement.

(This blog post may contain affiliate links. That means I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links. It does NOT COST you EXTRA)

(This blog posts also contain a review copthat was sent to me by publishers. However, all opinions expressed are my own and in no way influenced by external parties)

Circles and Squares
Circles and Squares, by Caroline MacLean

Hampstead in the 1930s. In this peaceful, verdant London suburb, Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson have embarked on a love affair – a passion that will launch an era-defining art movement.

In her chronicle of the exhilarating rise and fall of British Modernism, Caroline Maclean captures the dazzling circle drawn into Hepworth and Nicholson’s wake: among them Henry Moore, Paul Nash, Herbert Read, and famed émigrés Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus, and Piet Mondrian, blown in on the winds of change sweeping across Europe. Living and working within a few streets of their Parkhill Road studios, the artists form Unit One, a cornerstone of the Modernist movement which would bring them international renown.

Drawing on previously unpublished archive material, Caroline Maclean’s electrifying Circles and Squares brings the work, loves and rivalries of the Hampstead Modernists to life as never before, capturing a brief moment in time when a new way of living seemed possible. United in their belief in art’s power to change the world, her cast of trailblazers radiate hope and ambition during one of the darkest chapters of the twentieth century. 

my review

CIRCLES AND SQUARES was more of a biography of some very iconic Modernists, wrapped in a novel format. As a person who is not especially fond of biographies, I thought this now was actually done quite well. The narrative blurs the lines between fiction and nonfiction, and the reader is left waiting on the various events and escapades (sometimes scandalous) of these people.

I also loved the inclusion of the pictures – it felt like I was reading about people who are alive. The touch is reality is always kept tangible via the photographs. I quite enjoyed this book and I think any Art History Major would love to have this book!

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Can You Die of a Broken Heart? , Dr. Nikki Stamp, 2018

Title: Can you die of a broken heart?

Author: Dr. Nikki Stamp

Publisher: Murdoch Books

Marketed and Distributed in India by: Bloomsbury

Format: Paperback

Language: English

Pages: 223


When actress Debbie Reynolds died a day after her beloved daughter, Carrie Fisher, the world diagnosed it as ‘heartbreak’. But what’s the evidence? Does emotional upheaval affect the heart? Can love, or chocolate, really heal our heart problems? And why do we know so much about heart attacks in men, when they are more fatal in women? 

Heart and lung surgeon Dr Nikki Stamp takes us into the operating theatre, explaining what she sees in patients with heart complications and how a life-saving transplant works. Stamp fell in the love with the heart as a child and continues to be fascinated by its workings and the whole-of-life experiences that affect it. Rich with anecdotes, and insights for maintaining heart health, Can You Die of a Broken Heart? is a blockbuster from a uniquely positioned young specialist.

My review:

I received a copy of this book from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review.

For a non-fiction, Can You Die of a Broken Heart? came as a really surprising read. From reading the synopsis itself, to other reviews about this book, I was hooked on and picked it up as soon as I could. Being an erstwhile biology student, I loved it because of the scientific facts provided, however keeping in mind the fact that I haven’t really read any science for years now, this book was really well-written for the layman as well. Meaning, if you are afraid that it might be full of scientific and biological jargons, then rest assured, for it reads perfectly well. The first thing that really strikes the reader is the conversational style of writing that really piqued my interest and kept me committed till the very end of the book.

Stab the body and it heals, but injure the heart and the wound lasts a lifetime.

With this quote by the famous Mineko Iwasaki (Japanese businesswoman, author and former geiko; and a person who really intrigued me), the author starts to answer the eponymous question. In the same vein, I do think that everyone should read this book, specifically women, because as the author writes, “Women are much more likely to be affected by broken heart syndrome”. I sure am making my mother read this one.

What really is interesting is my acknowledgement (finally!) of the fact that hearts can get hurt because of emotions. I thoroughly refused to believe that once, but now, after reading of so many instances, and being given such great explanations by the author, I finally understand its truth. Emotions can hurt us, after all.

“… bereavement is as bad for your body as it is for your soul.”

So can you die of a broken heart?

In short, yes you can.

The relation of stress (the modus operandi, as the author says), genetics, lack of sleep, and hence the instability in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, sugar, depression, obesity, as well as mindfulness practices, yoga, destressing strategies, self-compassion, exercise, love (!), healthy food habits, proper sleep etc., are all well elucidated, making it easy to understand for all.

Chapter 4: The Medical Mysteries of a Woman’s Heart is the first chapter that I read after the Introduction, of course, following which, I went back to Chapter 1, and read it all serially (also read the 4th chapter again). The reason why I think that every woman should read this book is stated in the very first paragraph of this chapter – “Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women?”

Organ donation, the heart transplant process itself, and various other facts are all explored and explained by the author. The overall language used makes for a very fluid reading and the insertion of various anecdotes really increases the relatability for the reader.


I quite enjoyed this book and I rate it a 4/5 stars.

About the reviewer

Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc.  She can be contacted at nayanikasaikia98@gmail.com .