Polly Samson is the brilliantly clever author of The Kindness
– almost impossible to describe without dropping clanging plot spoilers, The Kindness is, like Paradise Lost by which it was inspired, the story of a marriage in crisis, of betrayal, of people doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. Intricately and deftly plotted, The Kindness is a book you’ll want to read twice, firstly because you’re desperate to discover the heartbreaking mystery of what has destroyed the love between Julia and Julian, and secondly for the richness of the language, the exquisite descriptions and for the echoes of Milton’s epic poem.
[Start reading The Kindness right away on kindle.]
The Books That Built Polly Samson:
Little House in the Big Wood, Laura Ingalls Wilder
“We moved from London to this genuinely cut off village in Cornwall and my grandmother sent me the first of these [The ‘Little House’ books]. In order to get the second I had to write a review and send it to her and that continued throughout my childhood. We never stopped writing to each other”
Buy Little House in the Big Woods in paperback or download the Kindle edition of Little House in the Big Woods
My Cousin Rachel, Daphne Du Maurier
“[Living in Cornwall] I felt I owned Daphne Du Maurier for such a long time – she was our Cornish writer and we would see her going about. My Cousin Rachel is the most pleasurable of all books… the reader is a detective all the way through, trying to decide if Rachel is an angel or a demon. I’m convinced she is innocent – the dogs adore Rachel and Du Maurier who loved dogs would never have had dogs being friendly to a murderess”
Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys
“My son was reading Jane Eyre for A’Level – I hadn’t read it; I read Wide Sargasso Sea first. Rochester [in Wide Sargasso Sea] is a fortune hunter, he’s dissolute – she’s pushed at him – you see him taking this tragic, fragile, desperate girl and destroying her. It really changes your reading of Jane Eyre – you can’t accept this story of the madwoman in the attic”
Buy Wide Sargasso Sea (Penguin Modern Classics) in paperback.
Money, A Suicide Note, Martin Amis
“Martin Amis had something way ahead of his peers: it’s the language, it’s so exuberant. Parking his car outside his flat is ‘I beached the can outside my sock’ – how great is that? I don’t understand how he became so unpopular [as a public figure] – everyone liked him, I liked him – I think it’s because he’s a brilliant writer who believes he is a brilliant writer. He and Will Self suffer from the same problem, the don’t have any modesty, he can’t hide that light, every sentence is worth reading aloud. It [Money] doesn’t feel like satire anymore; it feels much closer to the truth.”
Our Spoons Came From Woolworths, Barbara Comyns
“It’s a book about poverty and it’s deeply autobiographical: it’s about a very young couple and they decide on a whim to get married – it seems like two children let loose in London – he [Charles] is an absolute pig, Sophia earns all the money and he stays at home and paints. It’s this girlish, guileless voice [that gives Spoons its charm] you laugh out loud but underneath it all its the most desperate tragic tale of poverty – it makes a good case for the welfare state. it’s so sad and yet she remains so upbeat.”
Buy Our Spoons Came From Woolworths: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC) in paperback or download Our Spoons Came From Woolworths: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC Book 105) on Kindle
The Lost Daughter, Elena Ferrante
“This is one of the early stand-alone novels: they are almost more interesting [than the later ‘My Brilliant Friend’ tetralogy] … they feel so raw, so real and because she [Ferrante] is anonymous she is able to write more honestly than anyone else today….You get her interior life in a way that you would never get from anyone else. No one else would write quite as openly about the really foul thoughts that all of her characters have. They’re thoughts I do have but I’d never write them down: I would love to be anonymous and write them down – it’s that recognition – you think ‘I’m not the only one’ …”
The Kindness by Polly Samson is published by Bloomsbury, price £8.99
To read the first chapter and find out more please click here.
To start reading The Kindness immediately, download on Kindle by clicking the link.