One Body

Catherine Simpson

Catherine Simpson

Catherine Simpson is a novelist, journalist, poet and short story writer based in Edinburgh. Her memoir When I Had a Little Sister was published by 4th Estate in February 2019 to great acclaim, and her debut novel Truestory was published in 2015. In 2013 she received a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. Her work has been published in various anthologies and magazines, published online and broadcast on BBC Radio. Born on a Lancashire dairy farm, she is now based in Edinburgh. One Body, Simpson’s latest book, was published in 2022.

One Body

A retrospective

by Catherine Simpson

  • RRP: £9.99 (print) / £6.99 (ebook)
  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781913393342
  • Ebook ISBN: 9781913393359

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“A deep and soulful meditation on what it means to be a woman … powerful.” Sunday Times

“An often shocking reminder of the insidious sexism at large … lucid and warm.” Times Literary Supplement

‘It packs the wallop of a wrecking ball but reads as easily as a page-turner.’ The List

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.

From the author of When I Had a Little Sister:

‘A poignant memoir…seeks to find a way to address the unspoken. Simpson is a precise and skilled writer. This memoir…is a considerable achievement.’ Cathy Rentzenbrink, The Times

‘Riveting and bleakly funny…heartrending… compassionate and beadily observed.’ Observer

‘A superb memoir.’ Sunday Times

‘I found this book gripping and heart-wrenching. It sticks with me still.’ Mail on Sunday

Prizes and awards

SHORTLISTED Non-Fiction Book of the Year at Scotland's Book of the Year from the Saltire Society


“A memoir that is not only a journey through the bleak, blasted wasteland of cancer but a deep and soulful meditation on what it means to be a woman.” Sunday Times

"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

“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

”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

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

“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

“Simpson movingly recounts her experience with breast cancer in this exquisite memoir … by turns witty and frank … It’s this candor that makes Simpson’s narrative shine.” (Sept.) Publishers Weekly

“A cracking read.” Janice Forsyth, BBC Scotland

‘It packs the wallop of a wrecking ball but reads as easily as a page-turner.’ Lucy Ribchester, The List

“Brave and bold … written with unflinching honesty.” Lancashire Evening Post

“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

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

“As social history, One Body is an often shocking reminder of the insidious sexism at large in the culture … Simpson is a lucid and warm survivor.” Times Literary Supplement

“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