Bertha Ley comes of age, inherits her father's money, and promptly marries a handsome, calm, and unimaginative man. Bertha is wildly in love with Edward and believes she can be happy playing the role of a dutiful wife in their country home. But, intelligent and sensual, she quickly becomes bored by her oppressively conventional life, and finds her love for her husband slipping away.
Originally rejected by publishers, Mrs. Craddock was first published only on condition that certain "shocking" passages were removed. It was 30 years before the full text could be published.
William Somerset Maugham (25 January 1874 – 16 December 1965) was an English playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest paid author of the 1930s. Maugham was orphaned by the age of ten, but after an unhappy childhood, he flourished when he moved to London to study medicine as a young man, giving him plenty of inspiration for his literary ambitions. His first novel, Liza of Lambeth, sold out in a matter of weeks, prompting Maugham to leave medicine and embark on a 65-year career as a man of letters. By 1914 he was famous, with ten successful plays produced and ten novels published. In 1917, he was asked by the British Secret Intelligence Service (now MI6) to undertake a special mission in Russia; an experience which would go on to inspire Ashenden, a collection of short stories about a gentlemanly spy that influenced Ian Fleming’s James Bond series. Maugham’s most famous works include Of Human Bondage, a semiautobiographical novel, The Moon and Sixpence, Cakes and Ale and The Razor’s Edge. His writing has inspired a string of over 35 film adaptations and has influenced many notable authors, including Anthony Burgess, George Orwell and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
"He is a decade ahead of D.H. Lawrence in his portrayal of a woman with a passionate sexual attraction." (Washington Post)
"Maugham's best work as a novelist.... Ahead of its time." (New York Times)
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An absorbing picture of a marriage
What made this book enjoyable was the strong identification I felt with the main character, sharing in particular her claustrophobia and frustration in her marriage with her dreadful husband and his obdurate ignorance. It does of course reflect the mores of the time in terms of the power relationships between husbands and wives, but has a modern sensibility in relation to a woman's physical passions. In fact it is interesting to note that it some passages were censored for nearly 30 years.
Aunt Polly was in some ways my favourite character because of her acerbic wit, and perceptive insights into the actions and characters of others
This is the only one I listened to
It made me quite angry at times, sharing in Bertha's frustration, but this helped engagement in the book.
The book is not unflawed. I would have liked a little more insight into the husband's motivations, and the character of Aunt Polly could have been developed further, but overall and enjoyable read.