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One Body

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In this searing, frank, and funny memoir by the author of When I Had a Little Sister, a crisis causes Catherine Simpson to reflect-and to see how her body tells the story of her life.

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Catherine Simpson


Shortlisted for the Saltire Non Fiction Book of the Year 2022

By the time she reached her fifties, Catherine Simpson and her body had gone through a lot together – from period pain, an abortion and early menopause to shaming and harassment. But there had been success, joy, love and laughter too: far more freedoms than her mother had, a fulfilling family life and career, and the promise of more gains for her daughters.

So when a cancer diagnosis upends her life, Catherine is forced to reflect on her body, then and now. From having been brought up on a farm where vets were more common than doctors, and where illness was ‘a nuisance’, she finds herself faced with the nuisance of a lifetime.

One Body is the candid, searing and often darkly funny story of how Catherine navigates her treatment and takes stock of the emotions and reflections it provokes, until her cancer is in remission. And how she comes to appreciate the skin she is in – to be grateful for her body and all that it does and is.


‘A deep and soulful meditation on what it means to be a woman … powerful insight into … living through the unenlightened attitudes of the Seventies and Eighties.’
Sunday Times

‘She explores the idea that functionality is connected to an individual’s worth with grace and dark humour.’
Irish Times

‘Simpson reveals – in an often hilarious book – how she confronted her devastating diagnosis, and how it made her love her body again.’
Mail on Sunday

‘A joyful, angry, beautiful air-punch of a book, and so truthful – I felt as though each word was written on my own body.’
Kirstin Innes

‘By turns poignant and searingly honest, this book is a wise and witty reflection on all that it means to have a body.’
Claire Askew

‘Funny, bold, wry and, at times, enraging in the best possible way, this exploration … has an incredible energising quality … imbued with spirit and a real passion for life.’
Mary Paulson-Ellis

‘I love Catherine Simpson’s work … One Body is … the story of what it is like to exist in a woman’s body. It’s fresh, insightful and moving, and it’s a book that every man should read.’
Graeme Macrae Burnet

‘A vivid framing of the mystery, confusion and even terror tangled up with our young bodies in the ’70s.’
Mary Anne Hobbs