Summary

Larry Darrell is a young American in search of the absolute. The progress of this spiritual odyssey involves him with some of Maugham's most brilliant characters: his fiancée Isabel, whose choice between love and wealth have lifelong repercussions; and Elliot Templeton, her uncle, a classic expatriate American snob.
The most ambitious of Maugham's novels, this is also one in which Maugham himself plays a considerable part as he wanders in and out of the story, to observe his characters struggling with their fates.
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.
©1944 Somerset Maugham (P)2012 Audible Ltd
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By AReader on 04-02-15

One of my desert island books


This is a masterpiece IMO. It's about the meaning of life. The characters seek it in different ways and find it (some in death - not all the endings are conventionally happy). Along the way, there is the wonderfully objective narrator who makes you laugh out loud at times. The exchange about the inscription on Elliott's tombstone, for example. The older I get, the more I think Maugham's approach is the only one to take.

The reading was good, although the narrator might have done a bit better with his French. The American accents were OK to my ear but I don't guarantee them - Americans should listen to a sample first as it's very off putting to hear the wrong accent. But whatever you do, listen to this or read it, once when you are young and once when you are older, and see if your response changes.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Gunnar on 17-12-13

The Golden Age

I first enjoyed Somerset Maughham when taking English as a student. I have not read anything from him since but decided to give this book a try and I am very glad I did.

A thoughtprovoking story, very well read and it has you longing for being well-off and living in the first decades of the 20th centuary.

If you managed to avoid WW1, that is.

Thoroughly recommended.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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