cover image The Kindness

The Kindness

Polly Sampson. Bloomsbury, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-1-63286-067-5

Deception poisons two marriages in Samson’s (Perfect Lives) convoluted he said/she said tale of betrayal and acceptance. Julian, a gifted 21-year-old writer, first relates the tortured unraveling of his life with Julia, the older beauty for whom he falls helplessly in love after her own marriage to a brutish abuser implodes. He and a pregnant Julia ultimately move to Julian’s boyhood home, scraping by with his modestly successful books, until their baby daughter’s illness exposes the secret Julia has been hiding. In Julia’s narration, we learn of her attraction to Julian’s boyhood friend, Karl, the lie she’s willing to hide to protect Julian, and the betrayal she ultimately suffers. “You’d think it would be hard to remove every trace of yourself from a life, but really, it isn’t,” Julia says. Their daughter, Mira, doesn’t escape unscathed from this collection of sullen adults. Samson, creates a moving portrait of a family torn by the stress of a sick child—and a sensuous, lyrical account of a failed marriage. (July)