The Kindness

The Kindness

3.27 (630 ratings by Goodreads)
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'He followed her eyes skyward to a bird that was falling, turning and turning, like a heart that had leapt free. It fell, and as it did it became a falcon. He was transfixed.'

Julian's fall begins the moment he sets eyes on Julia.

Julia is married and eight years his senior; he is a gifted English student, a life of academia ahead. Ignoring warnings from family and friends they each give up all they have to be together. Their new life in London offers immense happiness, especially after their longed-for daughter Mira is born.

When Julian hears that Firdaws, his boyhood home, is for sale he sets out to recreate a lost paradise for his new family. Once again, love blinds him. It is only when Mira becomes terrifyingly ill that it is impossible for Julia to conceal from him the explosive secret that she has been keeping at the heart of their lives.

Lyrical, haunting and exquisitely rendered, Polly Samson's second novel explores a deception that comes wrapped as a gift, a betrayal clothed in kindness, and asks if we can ever truly trust another. The result is an unforgettable story of love, grief, betrayal and reconciliation, masterfully plotted and beautifully told.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 31mm | 591g
  • Bloomsbury Circus
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1408861879
  • 9781408861875
  • 1,610,897

Review quote

Cumulatively addictive: intriguing, cleverly structured, lyrical without pretension and thoroughly engrossing ... The book is hard to put down. I finished this story of loss, lies and flawed communication at two in the morning, desperate to know the truth. As a second novel, this really was worth the wait * Sunday Times * Dark, sensual and clever. I loved this book so much I finished it then started re-reading it to see how she did it * Jojo Moyes * Lush, lyrical prose ... The Kindness is to be read more than once, not merely to enjoy again the beauty of the writing and the considerable insights into human experience, but to test the earlier narrative with the knowledge of what is to come * Independent * 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 * It is a beautifully-written and intricately-constructed piece of writing; shining, poetic and sumptuous; a portrait of a sunlit lake, which at any moment may reveal itself to be the scene of a tragedy. Polly Samson is a writer of great insight and sensitivity; her novel is moving, wistful, wise and ultimately hopeful; grown-up in all the right ways, but still with a simplicity that comes directly from the heart * Joanne Harris * A gorgeously chilling novel about grief and betrayal, with writing so visual and gripping that I can picture the house at the centre of the drama, Firdaws, almost as well as if I had grown up there myself. Samson seems to write in colours, and fans of her 2010 short story collection Perfect Lives will find this novel well worth the wait * Independent on Sunday * Samson is a richly sensory writer ... A sumptuous, serious story about how an act of immense love can at the same time be one of terrible betrayal, and how we deceive ourselves as much as we deceive one another * Daily Mail * Compelling ... Atmospheric and vividly told, the book is a poignant examination of love, guilt, betrayal and the deception that can lie at the heart of every relationship * Tatler * Family proves far from idyllic in this poetic, sensual story of betrayal and lies. Writer and lyricist Samson's prose is dazzlingly evocative, as she explores how relationships are rarely what they seem * Glamour * Secrets and misunderstandings fuel Polly Samson's involving, melancholy and cleverly constructed second novel ... This is a mature and haunting novel about love and loss that asks if we all, in the end, see what we want to see **** * Metro * This is elegant, witty writing, informed throughout by generosity and wise perceptiveness. Dealing with many kinds of love, and with misunderstanding, betrayal, grief and forgiveness, the novel dares to posit, ultimately, the possibility of redemption. It is a book to cherish, to recommend, to return to * FT Weekend * Beautifully written and plotted with serpentine cunning, Samson's novel is what might be called a love story for adults: unsentimental, at times harsh, but ultimately uplifting * Mail on Sunday * Intensely evocative ... Samson treats this difficult subject with candour and compassion ... The novel's effortlessness, its readability, sweeps everything in its wake ... This is a book to relax into **** * Daily Telegraph * Polly Samson's mastery of the English language is powerful and impressive * Daily Express * Polly Simpson's The Kindness is a dark, twisting thriller of the emotions which shows how one secret can affect many lives * Sunday Herald * My novel of the year is Polly Samson's The Kindness: a moving family drama, beautifully written, with twists engineered like a thriller -- Stephanie Merritt * Observer * The plot is intricate and dynamic, the surprises continuing to the very last page. It is unsentimental, unflinching, witty, elegant, perceptive and generous writing. It's a long time since I read a novel I loved - and admired - as much -- Sue Gaisford * Tablet * If there were a prize for the best opening line in a novel this year, I would award it to The Kindness ... There's a background web of allusion - as that first word signals - to Paradise Lost. And it reminds us (as did Robert Graves in The Story of Marie Powell: Wife to Mr. Milton) that the epic poem is, at its centre, about marriage and marital betrayals -- John Sutherland * The Times * Addictive, cleverly structured and intriguing relationship story of lies and flawed communication * Sunday Times Summer Reading * Beautifully written, lyrical and haunting ... The secret of their disappearance is revealed with perfect pacing and evocative description * Sunday Express *
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About Polly Samson

Polly Samson is the author of two highly acclaimed story collections and a novel, Out of the Picture, which was shortlisted for the Authors' Club First Novel Award. Her most recent linked story collection, Perfect Lives, was a Sunday Times Fiction Choice of the Year and was read on BBC Radio 4. She has been shortlisted for the VS Pritchett Memorial Prize and The Edge Hill Short Story Prize. She recently wrote the introduction to Daphne du Maurier's The Doll: Short Stories. She has written lyrics for three bestselling albums and was a Costa Book Awards judge in 2007. Polly Samson lives in Brighton.

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Rating details

630 ratings
3.27 out of 5 stars
5 15% (97)
4 27% (172)
3 33% (209)
2 17% (107)
1 7% (45)
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