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Perfect Lives by [Samson, Polly]
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Perfect Lives Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Length: 230 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

`Accomplished . . . Focusing, sometimes comically, sometimes compassionately, on apparently prospering, well-organised and contented people, Samson traces tremors of disruption threatening the stability of her characters' relationships and themselves' --Peter Kemp, Sunday Times, Books of the Year

'A collection of short stories that makes you invent excuses to retire to a private place for a quick injection of reading' --Bella Freud, Evening Standard, Books of the Year

`Perfect Lives links together various characters in the same town in a narrative daisy chain that allows the reader to know Samson's characters better perhaps than they know themselves. A breezy, artless writer, Samson is mercilessly accurate at lampooning middle class self-deception' --Metro, Books of the Year

'Terrific. Funny, beautifully observed and often poignant, they're the best thing Samson has produced yet . . . This is a writer who misses nothing' --Cressida Connolly, Spectator, Books of the Year

'Subtle and complex . . . Perfect Lives is an echo chamber of cause and effect, and art and life, and life and loss' --Carole Cadwalladr, Observer

Book Description

* The stunningly well received short story collection from the ever-brilliant Polly Samson, out now in paperback

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 476 KB
  • Print Length: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (4 Nov. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0049U3RDO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #79,911 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This collection of short stories burrows beneath the surface of other people's lives. The first story 'The Egg' introduces us to Celia Idlewild, who seems to have everything; perfect life; perfect house; perfect children as well as the most exquisite grand piano.(Pianos feature a lot in this collection.) Only, the more we read, the more we see that happiness and perfection is only a thin veneer coating the reality of her life. (Even the splendid piano has a dark secret.) Subsequent stories introduce us to people whose lives touch those of the Idlewilds.There's Richard, now a piano tuner, whose crippling stage-fright destroyed a promising career as a concert pianist and the woman he meets whose love of her wreck of an old piano, alters his perspective on perfection. We also meet people he has known in the past and see life through their eyes. In other stories the author peels away the layers of a humdrum marriage but also reveals its close intimacy.She is particularly adept as showing us how children think and feel of the way adults behave. In every story, the more that is stripped away, the more detail is added to these people's live, so much so that I immediately had to go back to the beginning and reread each story.

Polly Samson's prose has a deceptively light touch, which to me is the mark of a great writer. She tells you all you need to know without labouring the point. If you like your fiction spare; fiction that requires readers to make the connections for themselves, then 'Perfect Lives' is for you. Sometimes bleak, but ultimately uplifting, these stories remind us of the eternal resilience of the human spirit.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Polly Samson has skilfully created a small world, a community in miniature; that glitters prism like with situations thoughtfully viewed from many angles. Her magical, sparkling prose is entrancing, so please don't gobble this box of delights all at one sitting, enjoy one at a time, maybe before sleep; then put the book aside and think it all through before returning to this top drawer work.

You will be rewarded by worlds within worlds, sharply observant writing and a background of classical music that may tempt you to search out the pieces and play them for yourself. Meistersinger Prelude,Overtures & Preludes / Die Meistersinger Chopin's [ASIN:B0037TTQ4M Chopin: Late Masterpieces (Barcarolle/ Mazurkas/ Nocturnes/ Sonata No.3)]]Barcarolle in F sharp I think is what was implied but please correct me, both roll along behind the stories, adding depth and quality.

`Leaving Hamburg' is exquisite, perfect and haunting. Because of the connections you might find yourself going back to a previous story to enjoy it with deeper understanding. `The Man Across the River' is a truly terrible tale of the commonplace worthy of Roald Dahl. It has the unusual angle of looking at the Greenham Common protests from a child's eye view.

Short stories with musical references are also available from Kazou Isiguro in his Nocturnes selection,Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfalla similar kind of writing and equally satisfying.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In this collection of short stories, Samson focuses on the emotional lives and relationships of a loosely-connected group of middle-class people, all having some association with an English seaside town.

This is very cleverly done, with someone who was previously a main character appearing later as a walk-on part in someone else's life, and vice-versa. For example, we see the same woman through the eyes of a shy piano tuner in one story and her over-critical mother in another. Neither portrayal gives the whole picture, but taken together a character emerges. This mirrors real life, with all the various roles people assume and the various biased positions from which they are viewed. The recurring cast of characters has a cumulative effective; for example, in the first line of 'Ivan Knows', a story appearing near the end of the collection, the reader's enjoyment is increased, and curiosity piqued, by their knowing who both Ivan and Lucy are:

"Ivan almost choked on his candyfloss when he saw Laura Idlewild flying past in her blue bra."

The solipsism of the teenager wittily and accurately described in 'At Arka Pana' is offset by the reader's knowledge of her mother's assessment of her in 'Leaving Hamburg', and it is a joy to meet the afore-mentioned Ivan in 'Ivan Knows', having only seen him fleetingly as a small child in other stories. Themes as well as characters recur, being picked up and examined from all sides, and I think this is a book that will repay re-reading.

The stories include first person and third person narration, with one of the best, 'The Birthday Present', being addressed to a 'you' with whom the narrator is obsessed. The identity of the addressee is witheld, although its nature gradually dawns on the reader.
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