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In the Driver's Seat

3.44  ·  Rating Details  ·  103 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
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 mean
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published May 8th 2007 by Knopf (first published 2005)
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Terri Jacobson
May 26, 2014 Terri Jacobson rated it it was amazing
An excellent group of short stories by this British writer. The collection is diverse and masterful. Simpson writes with a great sense of humor and appreciation for irony. The stories are told the point of view of women, most of whom are at midlife or entering old age. Her subjects include grief, terminal illness, the aging body and even the Iraq war. Some examples of the writing I especially like:

"My mind had been behaving like a bonfire: feed it a dry and crackling little worry and it would le
Alicia Beale
Jan 05, 2008 Alicia Beale rated it liked it
First ran into the book last spring at a reading with Helen Simpson and Lorrie Moore. Simpson was very nervous, but not shy just anxious in front of an American crowd who had come to see Moore and probably had never heard of her. In time her humor won the crowd over and it was easy to see why a publisher would put Moore & Simpson together. Simpson's stories are much shorter and tighter in purpose than Moore's stuff. Yet you do long for a couple longer and more ambitious pieces while reading ...more
Perth Library
Helen Simpson gives the reader a refreshing spin on everyday events in her collection of short stories, In the Driver's Seat, thanks to her quirky point of view. All in all, Jill enjoyed the ride.
Nov 10, 2007 Siobhan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone on planet Earth
These stories are wonderful, and I am indebted to my well-read friend Andrew Corbin for letting me borrow his copy. Because now I might just steal it, FOREVER. No. Just kidding, Andrew. You can have it back if you will have Chinese food with me.

I read the last story twice, so tender and moving and intelligent it was. And I kept laughing at loud in the subway at funny, alive turns of phrase like this one, describing a guy jumping into a pool and losing his center of gravity on the way: "he met th
RH Walters
Feb 18, 2010 RH Walters rated it liked it
Middle-aged women is a Library of Congress classification I was surprised to discover! I'm my new favorite genre. I came to these stories because a critic thought Simpson did a better job with middle-aged women and our issues compared to someone else (was it Hadley?) and I liked these, although they didn't linger with me.
Jul 30, 2008 Sandra rated it really liked it
Wonderful voice for sharp wit and insight about women facing tension, conflict in contemporary suburbia. Even though she is a British writer, the lives of these women and men translates well across the Atlantic. Her previous collection, Get A Life is equally entertaining with her unique voice.
Jul 26, 2007 Shawn rated it it was ok
Many of these stories take a familiar approach -- a seemingly mundane domestic surface, like driving the kids to school, runs over the top of a bunch of summary about the story's real core. A lot of nice, tart writing here, but I just don't find much narrative energy or freshness of effect.
May 06, 2008 Christiane rated it liked it
Very minimal. Some of these stories were over before they even seemed to begin, as if they were sketches and not full stories. And many of them deal with like characters: women taken for granted and the men who take them for granted. The last story is the most complex and is worth the read.
Carol Hunter
Jul 30, 2007 Carol Hunter rated it it was ok
I usually don't read story ccllections but I ordered this because it had such great reviews. I enjoyed the well-written stories, but realized, once again, that I prefer to sink into a good novel.
Sep 15, 2010 Lisa rated it really liked it
This is a lovely little book of well-crafted short stories, illuminating touching, heartbreaking, everyday events in the lives of ordinary people like you and me.
Nov 05, 2007 Laura rated it liked it
Most of the stories are somewhat forgettable, and really depressing. I liked it anyway, enough to read more of her work, but not enough to buy the book.
Jul 31, 2007 Jenny rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Lorrie Moore
Why o why o why have I only now discovered Helen Simpson? She is totally AMAZING and I kept reading parts aloud becuase they made me laugh so much.
Kathleen Jackson
May 05, 2014 Kathleen Jackson rated it did not like it
Could not finish boring
Jan 23, 2008 Mitzi rated it really liked it
Book of short stories. They were all uplifing without being maudlin or hokey. Lots of musings about time, relationships.
Apr 24, 2011 Aran rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-fiction
Small and uninspired for the most part, though I liked the one about the woman driving the kids to school. Overall meh.
Aug 22, 2007 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Perfect short stories about various and sundry domestic horrors, esp. those things called "Children." Ick. Never.
Mar 10, 2008 Amy rated it it was ok
This book has a beautiful cover and begs to be picked up. The stories, however, fell kind of flat for me.
Elizabeth Simons
Sep 01, 2010 Elizabeth Simons rated it really liked it
Uneven. Not as intense as Getting a Life. The last story in book, Constitutional was exceptional.

Just wasn't engaged by her characters. A week later, I can't remember a single story .
Aug 25, 2007 Keren rated it liked it
A collection of short stories about women. A good travel or beach read.
Nov 11, 2007 Cyndy rated it really liked it
highly enjoyable, fast read; stories stand alone and work together too
Jul 01, 2007 Katrina rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone with a sense of humor
Loved these stories. At times Simpson is scathingly funny.
May 26, 2009 Hilary rated it really liked it
excellent and I am not a big fan of short stories
Ayelet Waldman
Her stories are so marvelously bleak!
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Helen Simpson is an English novelist and short story writer. She was born in 1959 in Bristol, in the West of England, and went to a girls' school. She worked at Vogue for five years before her success in writing short stories meant she could afford to leave and concentrate full-time on her writing. Her first collection, Four Bare Legs in a Bed and Other Stories, won the Sunday Times Young Writer o ...more
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