Maugham, in a casual way, describes the delightful events of his holidays and the enjoyment he derived from his friendship with the Driffields. Maugham sets out to be kind on this occasion and he succeeds in his endeavor. Driffield appears to him to an average writer and he is not very impressed by him or his works. Rosie is, in contrast, the most sympathetic portrayal done by Maugham of the female character. Maugham conveys a true portrait of her and she is the best character he draws in the book.
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Shelves: literature This book was a pure delight. Maugham is such an interesting writer and although he did not think himself a great writer, I believe he does have his moments of greatness. I loved Of Human Bondage and this one again uses material from his own life yet again particularly stuff to do with his childhood spent with his vicar uncle and his aunt in the country.
The book starts off with a bit of a pattern to it. The book is written in first person singular we will talk a bit more about that later This book was a pure delight. I loved Of Human Bondage and this one again uses material from his own life yet again — particularly stuff to do with his childhood spent with his vicar uncle and his aunt in the country. There then follows a digression on the nature of friendships with writers a not terribly kind discussion.
There is then the meeting itself where it becomes fairly clear that this writer is interested in what the I in the book knows about another writer who has fairly recently died. The I in the book had grown up in a village where the dead writer had lived part of his early life and then went back to in his final years.
However, about the only thing the I can remember is that the dead writer had taught him how to ride a bicycle. They part, with the other writer less than happy with the outcome of their chat, and this sets the I in the novel thinking back to his childhood and in particular his curious relationship with the dead novelist and his wife — which turns out to be much more involved than he had admitted to the other writer.
This pattern is then repeated. I find jealousy, particularly sexual jealousy, to be a fascinating theme in novels. There was a time when I could be painfully jealous — but over the years I have decided that jealousy is a pointless and stupid emotion.
All the same, it is a beast we are best not to trifle with. If we can learn nothing from Othello, we ought to be able to learn at least that. This is not your usual cautionary tale about jealousy though.
In fact, this is nothing like your usual tale about anything. The idea that perhaps women might actually even enjoy sex may have been deeply shocking, in fact, probably is deeply shocking to some people. At least, people both at the time and now are and were prepared to pretend that such an idea was deeply shocking. There are many quotable quotes and I do like a book with lots of quotable quotes. But the best thing about it was that it never seemed to have to try too hard.
Like I said, it was dealing with a theme that would have been quite controversial in and it did so in a clear, up front and interesting way. Forster, from which I learned that the only way to write novels was like Mr E.
The first person singular is a very useful device for this limited purpose. I enjoyed this book very much. Not as much as Of Human Bondage, but enough — more than enough.
Cakes and Ale
Review of ‘Cakes and Ale’ by Somerset Maugham