Perfect Lives Paperback – 5 May 2011
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`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
* The stunningly well received short story collection from the ever-brilliant Polly Samson, out now in paperbackSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The writing is good but too self consciously literary for my taste with simile piled upon metaphor where simple straightforward words would have been more telling and more effective. One sentence which struck me as being particularly clumsy was this one from the story called `At Arka Pana': `Her grandmother's breathing was shale at the shore, her tongue a dehydrated cockle.' I did think this particular story was interesting with teenager Claudine meeting her father and grandmother for the first time in a trip to Poland.
Much of the subject matter is slight and some of the stories have inconclusive endings which veer towards the obscure. The reader is left wondering what exactly was going on between the characters. Was Laura in `Ivan Knows' really part of the circus or was it just the child Ivan's imagination? What exactly was the message that Rose needed to convey to her daughter Anna in `The Rose Before the Vine'? The last story in the book features a television remote control and a talking cat. Oddly enough I thought this to be one of the more successful stories provided the reader can suspend disbelief and accept the talking cat. Many households are dominated by the remote control and this is a slightly humorous look at the issue.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interlocking short stories about life in an affluent seaside town, often taking women - sometimes women financially dependent on men, sometimes on unfaithful or untrustworthy men -... Read morePublished 15 months ago by William Jordan
I really enjoyed Polly Samson earlier work so I'm sure I will like this.Published 15 months ago by Jane
Just finished this book today.
Thoroughly enjoyed it and masterfully written.
Very clever observation of life and depth of characters. Read more
I have enjoyed Polly Samson's yet another of Polly Samson's books. This one is just as riveting as her last. Very cleverly orchestrated. Loved it.Published on 25 April 2014 by Catherine Stalborg
Truly refreshing stories of real life characters and set by a beautiful setting. Each character shares stories and then reappear in a new plot. Brillantly written. Read morePublished on 4 Mar. 2014 by Linda A. Penner
This is a series of short stories set in a seaside town, which are all very cleverly interwoven into each other. Read morePublished on 11 Oct. 2013 by a crane