While the last 18 months have been undeniably hard for everyone, they have also helped put into sharp focus the things that we really value and hold close.
Local author, Sam Binnie, finished writing her latest novel ‘The Kindness Project’ during the pandemic and found that the loss of physical connection with people during lockdown reminded her of the value of being together and sharing experiences.
The feel-good novel – certainly a departure from her readers’ guide to Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies – has been described as an elegant and uplifting peon to loss and love and kindness and community – relatable to many people after the upheaval of the global pandemic.
In the book, the locals of the Cornish village of Polperran are grieving the sudden loss of Bea Kimbrel, a cornerstone of their small community.
Enter Bea’s reclusive, estranged daughter, Alice, who is keen to tie up her mother’s affairs and get on with her life.
But Alice receives a strange bequest from Bea – a collection of unfinished tasks to help those in Polperran most in need…
Step 1. Help the baker’s ex-wife
Step 2. Find the true calling of the village shop owner
Step 3. Call a truce on a decades-old feud
Step 4. Forgive me . . .?
Each little act of connection brings her closer to understanding her mother and more open to the lives of others. It’s proof that the smallest things can change everything.
“During lockdown, I really began to realise the value of connection,” said Sam.
“We need ‘glue’ in our society to hold things together and the face-to-face connections we make with people are just that.
“As a society, we’ve lost sight of the idea of service, of doing something you don’t have to do, but by doing it, you’re making the world a nicer place for other people.”
Sam has turned her back on social media, maintaining an Instagram account purely to support her writing career.
Instead of losing hours to meaningless connections and listless scrolling, she’s reconnected with nature and is a passionate wild swimmer in the River Great Ouse near her Bedford home.
“I’ve rediscovered the joy of being outside and being with other people,” she said. “Things I saw as boring and old-fashioned, such as using my body for physical exercise, making things, cooking and baking are where the value is.”
It’s a retaliation to the rise of isolation and of individualism, coupled with the bald face of capitalism.
“We need to acknowledge the value of the intangible moments and enjoy them while we can, not through a smartphone camera to share with strangers on the internet,” Sam told the Bedford Independent.
“The book is joyful escapism that encourages people to reconnect. Running from our issues generally makes things worse.”
The Kindness Project will draw you deep into the lives of two compelling women who should never have missed their chance to say goodbye. It will break your heart – and piece it back together again.
The Kindness Project has been compared to the uplifting style of fellow Bedford best-selling author, Ruth Hogan, particularly her debut novel The Keeper of Lost Things, so if you loved that, show yourself a bit of kindness and order a copy from Waterstones here.