Do you cover up or reveal it all; seek revenge or just reassurance; let the truth be naked as the day or cloaked in a night-time story? The men and women of Polly Samson's debut fiction all have stories to tell, pasts to forget, futures to forge. Manipulative or meek, used or using, all are aware of the power of truth, deception and little white lies to get what they want or sometimes what they deserve. Some are concerned with the economies of speech, those little 'kindnesses' which protect our loved ones but really ourselves; some investigate the warped logic which adults serve out to children to keep them 'innocent'; all are concerned with the beds we make and the lies we tell in them. . .
Although quite cunning, Samson's (Perfect Lives) central characters often succumb to an unexpected fate in this equally haunting and satisfying collection of linked stories. The vengeful and deceitful manage to infiltrate both romantic and familial relationships: a lonely girl pierces her father's condoms in "Wasted Time"; a dejected woman hires a gorgeous nanny to tempt her ex in "The Right Girl for the Job"; and a teenager tests her mother's limits in "Subterfuge." The stories are masterfully plotted, but the beauty is in the details the author is a lyricist, after all. A "snug-fitting" conductor's glove, a shattered Easter cup, and a silky gray scarf push characters to the brink of madness. A bed of moss roses brings a man and his gardener together for a moment in "Wasted Time" before they are alienated again, and a quest for rugs in Turkey tear a man and his wife apart in "Turkish Carpets." The stories disrupt and erupt just like the relationships so honestly examined within them. Through birth and redemption, there are moments of hope and goodness, but it is the stuff that unsettles that makes this collection so deeply touching.