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An Evening with Alastair Sawday

20th October, 2021, Steyning Cricket Club

The Kindness


The Kindness by Polly Samson Pub Bloomsbury 8.99

At the outset of this assured second novel by Polly Samson we encounter Julian, prematurely aged at only 29, in a state of deep anguish at the loss of his lover, Julia, and their daughter, Mira. He drifts through his Sussex childhood home, consumed by their absence. Empty photograph frames, beds which no longer hold his sleeping family, this is a house echoing with regrets – but the details of his loss are a mystery. Polly Samson has received much praise for her short story collections and this compelling novel, lyrical but deftly rooted in reality, is a set of interlocking stories which lead the reader to piece together the mystery at the heart of the book while at the same time provide great insight into the inner lives of the protagonists.

The Kindness wears its structural complexity lightly, the voice and the pace so assured that it seems remarkable that this is only Samson’s second novel. It’s a rare achievement to create a book that is at once a wise and tender meditation on the nature of love and disappointment, and a page turner that will keep you awake into the small hours” – Observer