A sensational short story collection from Britain's master of the genre.
Charting tantrums, funerals, pregnancy and love affairs, these stories unroll with piercing wit and compassion. One woman finds grief for her lost lover is assuaged when she invests in a new front door. Another grows increasingly frustrated as the grim reaper scythes through her circle, with farcical and tragic results.
Elsewhere, a chain-smoker’s brush with death appears to help him reassess his priorities, a south London builder avenges the duping of his adored mother, and a phlebotomist’s relationship is pushed to it limits by her preoccupation with war. And in the title story, a teacher’s circular walk on Hampstead Heath leads to revelations about mourning, ageing, and new life.
‘A masterful contemporary exponent of the genre. Simpson now deserves to be compared with Flannery O'Connor and Alice Munro’ Robert McCrum, Observer
A masterful contemporary exponent of the genre. Simpson now deserves to be compared with Flannery O'Connor and Alice Munro
Simpson's use of language is remarkable: she handles prose with the risky precision of a trapeze artist, swooping and tumbling through empty air, seeming certain at moments to succumb to whimsy or sentimentality but at the last moment recovering her grasp on the deftly constructed framework of her narratives. It's a virtuoso performance; its effect on the reader both consoling and exhilarating
She is a virtuoso... Briskly melancholic, dazzlingly pertinent short stories about women's lives and how they survive
Subtle, emotional, humorous, painful and acute... It's a small masterpiece
The brilliance of the conceits and the complex economy that shapes the best of these tales, match and surpass any of Helen Simpson's earlier writing