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About the book
  • Published: 3 January 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784701987
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 160
  • RRP: $19.99


Britain’s finest short story writer returns with a sparkling new collection

Cockfosters is a funny, frank and forceful story collection dealing with ageing, ambition and the patterns of repetition and renewal found in long friendships and marriages. It opens irresistible new windows onto the world from Arizona to Dubai and from Moscow to Berlin. Turning both a panoramic and a zoom lens on the way we live now, these stories range through hitch-hiking in Bohemian forest-land to cresting the waves of the Aegean to the mending of hearts and the recovery of lost property at the end of the Piccadilly Line.

Helen Simpson writes with great warmth, wit and candour about the complexities of modern life, and this new collection shows why she is hailed as one of the best short story writers at work in the world today.

  • Pub date: 3 January 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784701987
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 160
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Helen Simpson

Helen Simpson's sixth short-story collection, Cockfosters, follows Four Bare Legs in a Bed (1990), Dear George (1995), Hey Yeah Right Get a Life (2000), Constitutional (2005) and In-Flight Entertainment (2010). A Bunch of Fives: Selected Stories (2012) includes five stories from each of her first five collections. She has received the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, the Hawthornden Prize and the E.M.Forster Award. She lives in London.

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Praise for Cockfosters

“This collection is a joy”


“Helen Simpson is a vital (and pleasurable) voice”

Melanie White, Independent on Sunday

“These uplifting and sensitive tales act like a guide to ‘the next phase’ – whatever that may bring.”

Imogen Lycett Green, Daily Mail

“Cockfosters is elegant, sane, and – while remaining firmly rooted in ordinary life – gently ground-breaking.”

Theo Tait, Sunday Times

“Over the course of a quarter century, Simpson has assembled a body of work that delivers one of literature’s richest accounts of the post-war lives of girls and women.”

Sarah Crown, Guardian

“[Simpson’s] stories are chamber pieces, acutely observed domestic miniatures, and born of modesty.”

Jon Day, five stars, Daily Telegraph

“Reading Simpson’s stories makes you feel less alone in the world: she’s one of those writers who just seem to hit the nail on the head. She’s funny, too.”

Cressida Connolly, Literary Review

“Invigorating, aggressive wickedly funny short stories on the modern gender wars, exhausted motherhood and anxieties about work and getting older.”

CA, four stars, Metro

“From varifocals to the menopause, a virtuoso of the short story turns her attention to the ageing process.”

Justine Jordan, Guardian

“Elegant, understated and quietly funny stories.”

Cathy Rentzenbrink, Stylist

“Clever, affecting and frank, but above all, terrifically entertaining.”

Stephanie Cross, Lady

“Sometimes one gets the sense that her stories are some kind of futuristic instruments, wearing the disguise of the short story, planted into the heart of evolving contemporary life to take hyperaccurate readings of the inner weather and shifting equilibria of a certain class of society.”

Neel Mukherjee, Spectator

“Cockfosters isn’t just carefully crafted stories, Helen Simpson has also tackled some pertinent feminist issues in an incredibly sharp, honest and accessible way.”

Georgie Lane-Godfrey, four stars, Stylist

“Sad and tender, sometimes political or formally inventive, and always beautifully observed.”

Belfast Telegraph Morning

“Exhibits a wit and tenderness that makes her one of our best story writers.”

Max Liu, Independent

“In my stocking, to savour during the fug I hope to find [this book].”

Sara Wheeler, Observer

“For Christmas, I’d like [this book].”

Kate Kellaway, Observer

“Warm, funny and acutely observed.”

Lorien Kite, Financial Times

“Themes of dealing with the force of ever-looming old age, the ups and downs of friendship, marriage and love, and the strength of female identity are expertly weaved together in Simpson’s crafty concoction of social commentary and character study. This is all of our lives and social taboos laid bare in comedic style, with the trials and oddities of modern life deftly illuminated.”

Cheryl Caira, Scottish Woman

“Bitterly comic.”

Katy Guest, Independent on Sunday

“A collection of warm and witty gems reflecting the complexities of modern life.”

Kate Figes, Mail on Sunday

“An unmissable collection of near-perfect short stories.”

Saga Magazine

“Humour folded into every story.”

Maggie Fergusson, Intelligent Life

“Full of minutely observed details of life that sparkle in her hands: funny, knowing, true. She is a master of dialogue… She can get more life onto a page than most can in twenty… An exceptional collection of stories.”


“Simpson has a fine ear for the cadence of everyday speech.”

Emily Rhodes, Times Literary Supplement

“Simpson sharpens her fiction to a fine point, the better to dig into social wounds”

Anthony Cummins, New Statesman

“A slim and fairly devastating volume... Simpson is truthful, funny, and sharp… The result is elegant, sane and, while remaining fairly rooted in ordinary life, gently ground-breaking.”

Theo Tait, Sunday Times

“A collection of well-turned short fiction.”

William Leith, Evening Standard

“Helen Simpson has been hailed as a true chronicler of what it means to be a woman. Her new collection explores the menopause years, to which there is no better, braver or funnier guide than Simpson.”


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