The Kindness by Polly SamsonMay 26, 2016
The Kindness by Polly Samson (Bloomsbury, 294 pages)
Reviewed by Karen Martin
for blood, dirt & angels
The story, although a decent enough mystery, isn’t the big deal here. It’s all about texture, sensory input, meaningful details in conversations and subtle body movement.
The Kindness concerns Julian, who as a callow 21-year-old British student meets beautiful, ethereal, quirky Julia, eight years older than he, married to a brute of a man, but mesmerizing enough to make him drop his longtime girlfriend Katie and aim his future in an entirely new direction.
A suddenly successful writing career allows Julian to install Julia in his idyllic rural home of Firdaws, where they are raising their toddler Mira and dodging the interference of Julian’s well-meaning mother Jenna and her wealthy putz of a husband Michael. Life is swell, until it isn’t.
The mystery resolves itself suitably in the end. But what makes The Kindness worthwhile is the need to reread passages that describe catch the tantalizing scent of Jenna’s creative skills in the kitchen, the glowing heat of a flare of desire, an inadvertent recoil from an accidental touch, the fragile muslin of a well-worn nightgown, the rich purple hue of a bottle of merlot, the buzz of wasps outside an open window, the heave of shoulders before tears, and the the effect of a redolent olive-oil rub glow of Julia’s skin.