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4.2 out of 5 stars
5
4.2 out of 5 stars
A Bunch of Fives
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£9.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 23 June 2012
Five stories from each of five collections from Helen Simpson.

I'd read just a couple of Helen Simpson's stories in anthologies prior to this 'best of', so this was very nearly all new to me. I found myself enjoying this more and more as I felt Simpson got into her stride in a subject matter - notably women with small and school age children not much covered in anything else I've read, and vividly rendered here - and in a way that provokes thought. I enjoyed most the stories from Yeah Right Get A Life, particularly Burns and the Bankers, which deals with a large work dinner at a ballroom style venue in a large hotel - also a subject matter I can't recollect being tackled in anything else I've read, and a very effective study of work/life balance issues, among much else. The excerpts from the fourth collection are all stories that touch on death, however - something of a surprise - and some of those from the fifth touch on climate change. Perhaps these too are little worked and interesting themes, but I tended to find them less gripping on the whole...

The introduction by the author is interesting - on why she writes short stories when novels sell better - and pointing out that her collections are all in print and many of her stories translated and have for example been dramatised on Radio 4 well after their first appearance. And undoubted success, then - and indeed, this is probably an excellent introduction to and cross-section of her work. I just think for me, perhaps one of the actual collections might have served my purposes better.
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on 2 May 2012
This isn't a new book by Helen Simpson, it's a "best of" collection of stories culled from her previous books: Four Bare Legs in a Bed, Dear George, Hey Yeah Right Get a Life, Constitutional, and In-Flight Entertainment.

For anyone who enjoys short stories and doesn't know which book to pick, this is a good place to get a taste of Simpson's writing as well as some of her best work. "Diary of an Interesting Year" and "Festival of the Immortals" are particularly good, the former being about a woman surviving in a post-major climate change catastrophe world and the latter being a literary festival full of all the great writers of history, as if they never died!

Helen Simpson is an excellent short story writer and I recommend her books, but for anyone looking for a new book by her, there is no new material here.
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on 26 July 2012
A wonderful collection of Helen Simpson's own favourite short stories over the years- she selected the bunch of fives. They are witty,fluently writen and often very funny. They should appeal particularly to women at all stages of their lives.
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on 13 March 2014
A varied selection of 25 brilliantly written,longish short stories, some very funny, some sad, many both at the same time. Perfect for reading on a train journey, on holiday or before going to sleep
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on 9 August 2013
I was pleased with all aspects of this purchase: the product arrived promptly and was in excellent condition and met my expectations.
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