As a master of the short story, W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) was the highest paid author in the 1930's. He was born in the British Embassy in Paris, on January 25, 1874.
He wrote with a sense of irony and wit. Often, he would express a cynical attitude towards life and his love of traveling found its way into his writing. He didn't confine himself to one genre, but also wrote novels, essays and plays.
His purpose was to entertain his readers, although you do learn the subtleties of human nature from many of his stories. His keen eye for the minute details of life is combined with his writing style in such away as to capture and keep your attention. It is said that due to becoming an orphan at the age of 10, he was shy and tended to be more of a passive observer rather than an active participant. This explains some of the detachment that you feel in various stories.
"I have never pretended to be anything but a story teller. It has amused me to tell stories and I have told a great many. It is a misfortune for me that the telling of a story just for the sake of the story is not an activity that is in favor with the intelligentsia. In endeavor to bear my misfortunes with fortitude." (from Creatures of Circumstance, 1947)
In this collection you will find stories that are filled with tales of the South Seas, Europe and America. They are concise and persuasive and evoke a time and place where you completely are absorbed into a story that often has a nice unforeseen twist right at the end. Either you are surprised, laughing, sad life took a certain turn, or very amused.
My Favorite Stories in this Collection :
The Vessel of Wrath: A tale of love between a missionary and a drunken reprobate that has a most surprising ending. It deals with how humans draw foregone conclusions and how people can change for the better.
The Force of Circumstance: Story of almost unavoidable circumstances and deals with the emotions a woman feels when she finds out her husband has had children with a native woman in the village and seems to have neglected to inform her.
The Colonel's Lady: A wife publishes her poetry without her husband's knowledge. He can't understand her or why everyone loves her writing. The reader might not understand him, but might understand his wife's need to express her creativity in her own way as obviously, he is not aware of that part of her life.
The Round Dozen: Amusing and almost unavoidable ending.
These are stories you can read when you have an hour here or there to read a few stories at a time. Some are short enough to be read in 15 minutes or less and are only a few pages long. I enjoyed the slightly longer ones as the character development intensifies and Maugham's powers of observation have time to play out to the full extent.
An escape to another time and place.
~The Rebecca Review