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In the Driver's Seat

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eBook published by Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
A dark, dazzling, surprisingly funny new collection of stories (“Masterly” —Adam Mars Jones, The Observer; “A virtuoso performance” —Jane Shilling, The Sunday Telegraph) about single women and wives in various phases of midlife—anxious mothers, besotted mothers, beset mothers—in a (futile) search for security and consolation.

Helen Simpson’s stories are short but by no means small. One story takes the Iraq war as its subject; another describes a smoker’s reprieve from death by lung cancer; in another, a simple tale of home maintenance—a woman in a conversation with the carpenter replacing her door after a break-in—becomes a deftly sketched study of grief. In still another, Simpson manages the seemingly impossible—producing laughter at terminal illness and untimely death (this might be the first story in which the amputation of a limb provides a happy ending). And finally, the story entitled “Constitutional”—a pun on one of the word’s meanings: a walk taken for the benefit of one’s health—deals with memory, family, Alzheimer’s, oak trees, pregnancy for the over-forties, stolen photographs, and crossword puzzles.

Helen Simpson’s stories move and disturb us as they light up the human gift for making the best of it—whatever it is.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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A dark, dazzling, surprisingly funny new collection of stories (“Masterly” —Adam Mars Jones, The Observer; “A virtuoso performance” —Jane Shilling, The Sunday Telegraph) about single women and wives in various phases of midlife—anxious mothers, besotted mothers, beset mothers—in a (futile) search for security and consolation.

Helen Simpson’s stories are short but by no means small. One story takes the Iraq war as its subject; another describes a smoker’s reprieve from death by lung cancer; in another, a simple tale of home maintenance—a woman in a conversation with the carpenter replacing her door after a break-in—becomes a deftly sketched study of grief. In still another, Simpson manages the seemingly impossible—producing laughter at terminal illness and untimely death (this might be the first story in which the amputation of a limb provides a happy ending). And finally, the story entitled “Constitutional”—a pun on one of the word’s meanings: a walk taken for the benefit of one’s health—deals with memory, family, Alzheimer’s, oak trees, pregnancy for the over-forties, stolen photographs, and crossword puzzles.

Helen Simpson’s stories move and disturb us as they light up the human gift for making the best of it—whatever it is.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Product Details
eBook (192 pages)
Published: December 18, 2008
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Vintage
ISBN: 9780307486233
Other books byHelen Simpson
  • In-Flight Entertainment

    In-Flight Entertainment
    "A masterful contemporary exponent of the genre. Simpson now deserves to be compared with Flannery O'Connor and Alice Munro." — Observer Poignant, perceptive and dazzling, in this, her long awaited new collection, Helen Simpson offers acute portraits of lives in transition: of changes for the better, lives stalled and in freefall; of love, loss, and sudden revelations. Warm and funny, the stories are also threaded with a sense of anxiety and fear: of growing old, of commitment, and, most worryingly, of the growing threat to the environment. In the title story, Alan, on a transatlantic flight, is delighted by an unusual upgrade to a first class seat, but is to find his journey disturbed by portents of doom; a family discussion over the fate of a trapped squirrel unexpectedly veers to nearly reveal a shocking truth; and a boy contemplates a parallel life after asking his mother for help with his creative writing homework. Elsewhere Patrick, newly deaf and belligerent, is forced to re-examine his life with the help of a supernatural hearing aid; a profound, heartfelt and distracted prayer is offered for a friend's health and safety; and in "The Festival of the Immortals", two old friends look back on their lives with joy and regret, as they wait to heckle Charlotte Brontë. Moving deftly between the domestic and the fantastical, from tragedy to comedy, this is a remarkable collection from a master of the genre; each story brilliantly realised, beautifully captured and utterly engrossing.

    Getting a Life

    Getting a Life
    Stories
    Hilarious, dark, and thoroughly entertaining, Getting a Life proves Helen Simpson to be one of the finest observers of women on the edge. Set in and around contemporary London, these nine stories explore both the blisses and irritations of domestic life. An ambitious teenager vows never to settle for any of the adult lives she sees around her. Two old friends get tipsy at a small cafe and end up revealing more than they intended. In a boutique so exclusive that entrance requires a password, a frazzled careerwoman explores the anesthetizing effect of highly impractical clothing. And in the mesmerizing title story, a mother of three takes life one day at a time, while pushing the ominous question of whether she wants to firmly to one side.

    Afternoon Tea

    Afternoon Tea
    Afternoon tea is the english meal-time institution, a social as well as a culinary event. It is precisely this atmosphere which is embodied in the Palm Court Tearoom at the Ritz in London, which for many years has been one of the most delightful and traditional places to take tea. The London Ritz Book of Afternoon Tea captures the essence of this traditional British occasion and provides the reader with all the Ritz expertize in the ceremony as well as over 50 recipes, illustrated with passages from Dickens to Oscar Wilde and charming drawings.

    Justice for William

    Justice for William
    The Story of Wendy Crompton: Mother of a...

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