Monday, 21 November 2011

Review of Perfect Lives by Polly Samson

Published by Virago.
Perfect Lives

Samson's stories are like perfectly formed jewels hidden in the slipcase of a novel.

 Eleven short stories with many facets. The reader travels through the UK, Poland and Germany visiting past, present and looking to the future. Beautifully composed with a lyrical quality, the narrative develops into well orchestrated vignettes which echo in the reader's mind after the story is concluded.

'She grew up with the delicate weight of her grandmother's dreams draped around her shoulders like a well-chosen shawl.'

Simple but effective imagery such as the red rose on snow in 'Leaving Hamburg' add poignancy.

A touch of humour in 'The Birthday Present' as the stroking of Hermes brown leather calf develops into an affair that is not a predictable mid-life crisis.

These stories are devoid of sensationalism , but abundant in intelligence and evocation, Samson's jewels become beads on a well strung necklace, Each is beautiful alone but linked together they form a complex pattern of familial relationships that demand to be restrung or rather re-read to appreciate their true value.


  1. Hello, this is Estelle. It was lovely to see you on Tuesday at the Virago book club even for this book. Your review is so beautifully written. I hope to post mine in the next day or so (although if course it won't be as well written!).

  2. Estelle what lovely comments. The Virago book evenings are always good events aren't they! I shall look for your review on the Virago book club forum. Look forward to meeting up in the early new year for the next one.