Magazine article The Spectator

'The Kindness', by Polly Samson - Review

Magazine article The Spectator

'The Kindness', by Polly Samson - Review

Article excerpt

The Kindness Polly Samson

Bloomsbury, pp.294, £14.99, ISBN: 9781408861875

Julian is clever, handsome and spoiled, a gilded youth who has all the girls wanting to mother him, and a mother who wants to mother him even more than they do. Part of his appealing vulnerability is that he has no father; another part is that he has a potentially fatal allergy to wasps. One hot summer day he is saved from anaphylactic shock by Karl, a medical student who is researching sperm motility. They become friends. Julian provides samples for Karl's research, and -- well, what Karl notices under the microscope provides the basis for the plot. You can see it coming, as the actress said to the bishop.

Julian meets Julia, eight years older, married to an abusive husband with amber eyes, a hawk called Lucifer and a freezer full of baby mice. (Would you really freeze baby mice, individually? They're no bigger than baked beans.) Julia is everything Julian 'ever desired: right down to the muscular brown calves that emerged from her cut-off blue jeans'. Her eyes are 'blue as a Siamese cat's'. Perhaps the similarity in their names is meant to imply that they are one another's counterparts. It's a bit odd, otherwise, and no one ever remarks on it.

Julian abandons Katie, his childhood sweetheart who has 'yellow speckles in her eyes like grains of pollen'. She turns vengeful. He slips out of his mother's suffocating grasp. He has already had to leave Firdaws, the beloved cottage where he grew up. He throws in his lot with Julia, who is pregnant and penniless. That baby miscarries. Five years later, during which time the penniless bit has been solved, thanks to Julian's benevolent stepfather, Mira is born. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.