A sensational new short story collection from Britain's master of the genre.
Deeply funny and thoroughly entertaining, Helen Simpson's new book of short stories deals with - among other things - time and change.As they chart tantrums, funerals, pregnancy, war and love affairs, these stories unroll with piercing wit and sympathy.One woman finds grief for her lost lover is assuaged by involvement in some carpentry repair work. Another grows increasingly angry as the grim reaper scythes through her circle, with farcical and tragic results. Elsewhere, a foreign correspondent receives an unwanted ultimatum, a south London builder avenges the duping of his adored mother, and a chlorinated changing-room encounter brings about a much-needed break with the past. And in the title story, a circular walk on Hampstead Heath leads to revelations involving feats of memory, a Shakespearian heroine, crossword clues, nonagenarians, and new life.
“It's a safe bet that...this slim volume will be hailed as a book of the year. Helen Simpson's short stories are the real thing...one of our most talented writers has produced a collection to savour”
“A justly acclaimed expert at the short story form, Simpson deftly weaves in humour with the miserable subjects of spiritual and physical death, to give us a rich tapestry of life's best and worst moments”
“A masterful contemporary exponent of the genre. Simpson now deserves to be compared with Flannery O'Connor and Alice Munro”
Robert McCrum, Observer
“[H]er stories come laced with such wit, dark humour and an ear for dialogue that's as sharp as Alan Bennett's”
“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”
Jane Shilling, Sunday Telegraph
“Briskly melancholic, dazzlingly pertinent short stories about women's lives and how they survive”
“Subtle, emotional, humorous, painful and acute”
“Together with the biting humour, there is aching sadness and real tenderness, making this collection up there with the best of this genre”
Michelle Stanistreet, Sunday Express
“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”
Stevie Davies, Guardian