Top 10 Books by W.Somerset Maugham

 

William Somerset Maugham is an English playwright, novelist and short story writer. Maugham gained fame by writing compositions based on biographical accounts, human nature, aftermath and anticipation of war. He is not one flashy writer rather his writing flair is characterized by regardless elegance, emotional simplicity, an admirable transparency and sharp observation.

W.S.Maugham’s most famous works include “The razor’s edge” and “Of human bondage”. Other than being an excellent author, Maugham had a doctor’s degree and had a great experience as an obstetrician.

Of Human Bondage

After a few months studying in Heidelberg, and a short patch in Paris as a would-be artist, Philip Carey, an orphan keen for life, love and venture, settles in London to train as a doctor. He there meets a flashy but resistless waitress, named Mildred, with whom he dips into a tormented and masochistic affair.

Read it For:
Of Human Bondage is a classic in every positive sense of the word. It contains all of its complexities, strong feelings, and substance. Everything that you need to know about life is in this book.
Don't Read it For:
The text contains some of the phrases/ dialogues that are out of context and exhausting to read.
What makes this book stand out?:
It's the first and most autobiographical of Maugham's masterpieces.

The Moon and the Sixpence

To follow up on his artistic vision, Charles Strickland, who is a staid banker, a man of wealth and privilege, leaves London for Paris and Tahiti, and in his quest makes forfeits that leave the lives of those closest to him in shreds.

Read it For:
It has a romantic appeal to the placid and unfrequented youth demographic. That's the cause of the simple fact that in a quiet, British sort of way, this is a nearly perfect piece of writing.
Don't Read it For:
The uttermost misogyny of most of the characters is bothersome. The tone of this book is that the lead character has a misleading appearance.
What makes this book stand out?:
The composition is based on the life of Paul Gauguin, The Moon and Sixpence is W. Somerset Maugham's ode to the sinewy powers behind creative maven.

The razor’s edge

Elliot, the snoot, but also the kindest of men; Isabel, looked at to be entertaining, benignant, and tactful; Gray, the quintessence of the regular guy; Suzanne, scheming, nomadic, and friendly; Sophie, bemused, easy, with a condemnable attraction about her; and finally Larry, so tough and so trustful, lost in the world's confusion. The story revolves around these folks who are intimate acquaintances, but less than friends, they meet and part in postwar London and Paris.

Read it For:
Is a story of a man who is on the hunt of the on-key significances of life by turning down opportunities and taking up a "road less taken" lifestyle. A worthy read from W. Somerset Maugham's popular novels.
Don't Read it For:
Maugham's report of upper-crust society in Paris is malicious and wonderfully shrewd at times.
What makes this book stand out?:
Its the most endearing and approachable of Maugham's books. With the right blithering of philosophy and literary proficiencies to keep one challenged too.

The Painted Veil

Divested of the British society of her youth and the small but efficient society, she struggled so hard to reach Hong Kong, Kitty Fane, a beautiful yet love-starved woman, is compelled by her rousing moral sense to re-evaluate her life and learn how to love.

Read it For:
This short masterpiece tells of love, treachery, and a search for real substance in life.
Don't Read it For:
The movie, based on the same plot, is a good deal better than the book. The movie is lovely. The book was just okay.
What makes this book stand out?:
The Painted Veil is a beautifully written assertion of the human capacitance to grow, to change, and to forgive.
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The Magician

In Fin de Siecle Paris, Arthur and Margaret are engaged to get married. Everyone approves, and everyone appears to be enjoying themselves—until the baleful and detestable Oliver Haddo comes along. Working through it is the topic of evil, dexterously interwoven into a tale as memorable for its action as for its surprisingly intense characters.

Read it For:
It's pretty much a horror novel. The Magician is a tale of retaliation, seduction, and things of that nature, written by Maugham after he met Aleister Crowley.
Don't Read it For:
The book seems to miss the structure, purpose and lacks the depth of characters.
What makes this book stand out?:
The Magician is one of Somerset Maugham’s most complex and perceptive novels, a bewitching tale of secrets and calamitous attraction.

Liza of Lambeth

Vibrant and enthralling, down among the dingy slums of Lambeth, eighteen-year-old Liza is the darling of Vere Street. When she meets Jim Blakeston, a married man new to the area, she is instantly mesmerized by his tending.

Read it For:
End-to-end the story setting; it's clear to see that Maugham pictured a visual image of London's streets as well. He explains how this book is his first novel and his go-through living in London at the time of writing it.
Don't Read it For:
Story length could have been a little bit longer since some of the scenes felt hastened.
What makes this book stand out?:
It is Maugham's first published novel - a vividly naturalistic depiction of slum life.

Ashenden: Or the British agent

An assignment whose risk and drama invoked both- his sense of romance and the absurd. This book was written in 1928 and draws inspiration from the author’s experience as a member of a British Intelligence squad during World War I.

Read it For:
The composition cleverly blends autobiography and sarcasm in these coordinated tales of European espionage.
Don't Read it For:
The collection has no flow, and most stories end abruptly.
What makes this book stand out?:
A collection of tales steadied down in Maugham's own experiences as an agent, ruminating the cruelty and savagery of espionage, its intrigue, and treachery, as well as its fatuity.

Cakes and Ale

Alroy Kear, a Social climber, is blandished when he is chosen by Edward Driffield's wife to write the official biography of her celebrated novelist husband, and decided to write a bestseller. But then Kear keys out the great novelist's sybaritic muse (and unlikely first wife), Rosie, the woman who had given Driffield enough material to last a lifetime, but now casts a mortifying shadow over his career and respect.

Read it For:
Wise, witty, deeply satisfying, Cakes and Ale is Maugham at his best and probably a W. Somerset Maugham best book.
Don't Read it For:
There didn't seem to be a lot of focus in this novel. Also, the cover description was entirely misleading.
What makes this book stand out?:
Cakes and Ale is a satire of London literary society between the Wars.

Up at the Villa

On the day her older and prosperous friend asks her to marry him, Mary Leonard demurrers and decides to hold over her reply a few days. But driving into the hills above Florence alone that evening, Mary offers a drive to a handsome stranger. And suddenly, her life is utterly, irrevocably castrated.

Read it For:
The composition touches on themes of love, marriage, war, society, relationships, and scandal all while keeping the dialogue easy and sharp-witted, and the story fast-paced.
Don't Read it For:
At times, the story makes and then it doesn't. Basically, it's a great confusing.
What makes this book stand out?:
Titillating, haunting, and maddeningly nail-biting, Up at the Villa is a masterful tale of enticement and the freakish nature of fate.

Mrs. Caddock

A young woman, swayed away by passion, sees a prospect to break away a dull life and to experience true love. And as passion dies, she recovers herself treed in a loveless, tyrannous marriage.

Read it For:
It shows Maugham's bent for introducing characters as three-dimensional people with naturalistic motivations and needs.
Don't Read it For:
Some of the writing is a little valued and melodramatic compared to his blunt, raw later work.
What makes this book stand out?:
A very worthwhile read, for its emotional wallop and as an interesting glance into Maugham's growth as a writer.

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