Julia meets Julian when she’s flying her husband’s hawk in Wychwood, and so begins a novel which is told in a series of ever illuminating flashbacks. Despite the age gap between them, and Julia’s existing unhappy marriage, they fall deeply in love and make a life for themselves in London. Their daughter, Mira, adds to their happiness and when Julian’s beloved childhood home, Firdaws, is up for sale he does all he can to buy it to recreate his idea of a perfect family home. It is when Mira becomes desperately ill that everything unravels. As we slide back and forth in time we see devastating heartbreak and discover a lie that poisons everything.
Samson is a gloriously evocative writer. She conjures the countryside and all its scents, sounds and sights beautifully, but is equally vivid writing about homes, clothes, life.
“She pokes her stick among the branches, unzipping the sound of angry buzzing, ‘Oh, but so many wasps,’ she says, batting her hands. The smell of the hot fruit has never pleased him, something too much like tom-cat pee. Where she parts the bush he can see a pair of figs hanging like purple testicles and he’s already trying to scoot off but she’s rushing with him, saying what a shame it is that no one gets to eat those delicious looking figs, her little legs working hard, two strides to his one.”
I really don’t want to give anything away and the plot is such that it would be easy to, so it’s best to just say that The Kindness is a novel to immerse yourself in and I imagine it will be a book club favourite.