In the Driver's Seat

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Dec 18, 2008 - Fiction - 192 pages
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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.

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User Review  - Kirkus

Relationships, death and motoring connect 11 pithy stories by a celebrated British doyenne of the form.The first, "Up at a Villa," sets the tone of anxious middle-class discontent, when a struggling ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - elkiedee - LibraryThing

Constitutional, Helen Simpson’s 4th short story collection, is a slim volume (133 pages) containing 9 stories about midlife crisis. These stories are about women and men in their late 30s/early 40s ... Read full review


Up at a Villa
The Years Midnight
Early One Morning
The Tree
The Phlebotomists Love Life

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About the author (2008)

Helen Simpson is the author of three collections of short stories, Getting a Life, Four Bare Legs in a Bed (winner of the Somerset Maugham Award) and Dear George, as well as one novel, Flesh and Grass. She lives in London with her husband and two children.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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