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Getting a Life: Stories
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Getting a Life: Stories

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  116 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Hilarious, dark, and thoroughly entertaining, Getting a Life proves Helen Simpson to be one of the finest observers of women on the edge. Set in and around contemporary London, these nine stories explore both the blisses and irritations of domestic life.
An ambitious teenager vows never to settle for any of the adult lives she sees around her. Two old friends get tipsy at
ebook, 208 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Vintage (first published October 5th 2000)
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The first few and last couple of stories were the strongest in this collection, I thought. Those were the ones that showed off her greatest strength: very wittily and powerfully capturing the frustrations/worries/fatigue of raising kids--women practically drowning in the struggle of it, aware of losing themselves in it. Sounds grimmer that it reads, but when it comes down to it, it IS grim...
Here is upper-middle-class London and the people who populate it. The women in these stories struggle with decisions in marriage, parenting, and life. Sometimes I felt that enough was enough, but then a story would pop up which put me back on the reading path.

That story was Wurstigkeit. This translates somewhat to English as a couldn't-care-less attitude. What the story really focuses on is shopping or the 'sausageness' of shopping. As the stories in this book weave their way around the loss of
Hard to understand why this book hasn't been rated or reviewed yet; it came out in 2002, was reviewed in the NYTRB and is fantastic. It is a beautiful collection of stories around themes of motherhood. In places LOL funny, one of them I laughed so hard on a plane I thought the flight attendant would radio for help. Many other places wrenching and bleak; husbands/fathers come off uniformly badly, and the children are all equal parts bratty and irresistible. I caught whiffs of life when mine were ...more
I enjoyed the first couple of stories, but I struggled to get through the full collection. I didn't see these stories as sarcastic at all as other readers mentioned, and I had a hard time getting through the descriptions that went on for pages (it seemed) about kids yelling, crawling, not listening, etc. and mom just being dragged under it all. I stopped reading it and I really hate doing that but I just couldn't finish. I'll be donating this to the library.
I got snowed in while trying to get home over the holidays. I ended up calling a friend I've known for a number of years, who handed me a stack of books to read. He said this one was hilarious. I....don't know what he was talking about.

I thought this was about how depressing it is to be a 30-something female with children. I read it, because I didn't have a lot of options and I was trying really hard to give it a chance, but I finished it and, yep, it was not for me.

Bridgette Readers-advisor
Solid collection of short stories on motherhood and marriage.
I picked this up on a recommendation but I could only get through a few stories. The tales of modern family and motherhood are supposed to be in a sarcastic, black humor vein, but they just struck me as cold and obnoxious. I guess it's supposed to be feminist or something but it's just dour. Reminded me of Mary Gaitskill, with less sharpness or skill.
A pretty grumpy view of motherhood/adulthood. Lots of selfish, boring husbands who drink too much. She writes well and because the characters reappear in various stories, you get drawn in. Supposed to be "sparingly tragic and unsparingly funny" but forget the funny, and tragic is too overblown for most of the women.
If you are a woman and want to be turned off from having kids then read this short story collection. All of the stories have a common theme running through them of women losing their personal identity after getting married and having kids.
May 29, 2007 Maile rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: short story lovers
Shelves: short-stories

remarkable collection of intertwined short stories that explore the lives of londoner women who've made different choices about marriage & raising children. a lot of beautiful language and insights.
Re-read this recently (April 2011) and was surprised at the change in times a decade makes -- it is a very, very "millennial" collection. Ms. Simpson's voice was as amazing as ever.
Funny, satiric set of stories about modern women in London who are slightly on the edge....due to work, family, etc. Great dialogue and a nice black comedy vibe going on.
Very funny, some terrific turns of phrase. British women struggling with motherhood and work and work dinners with long-winded Burns toadies.
Ayelet Waldman
The stories were amazing but, oh my God, were they bleak. Mothers on the edge of despair. We've all been there, in some fashion or another.
I had this on my to read list forever, and was very disappointed. It was more making fun of the things I love. Not my kind of thing.
I really enjoyed the first couple of stories, but I got bored after that and struggled to get through the full collection.
Martha Johnson
I couldn't get grounded in this. I don't know if it was the short stories or my impatience. We weren't well paired.
A bit too dull, and I cared for none of the characters, but Simpson does have a grasp of her stories to an extent.
I just started this book yesterday, but am already enjoying it!
Not nearly as engaging as her earlier stories.
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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
More about Helen Simpson...
In-Flight Entertainment In the Driver's Seat The London Ritz Book of Afternoon Tea Hey Yeah Right Get A Life Four Bare Legs in a Bed

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