I own a First Edition of this book(it is for sale) and have read it, but when I viewed the original film with Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney and Anne Baxter, it really touched me!
Larry Darrell, who has served in World War I as a pilot, is touched deeply by the war. He comes back to his fiance' (Anne Baxter), but is restless. He goes off to Paris and than India to find the meaning of life.
During his time in Paris his fiance' visits him. She toys with the idea of tricking him to get him to marry her, but instead releases him and returns to America with her family.
In America she becomes engaged to a very rich man, marries him and bear two daughters. But in her heart she still loves Larry. In asides with her uncle, a hilariously funny man who is always doing the "right thing" and meeting the "right people", she confesses her feelings about Larry.
When the American stock market crashes Anne's husband loses all his money. However, her uncle sold his stock and holdings before the crash, making a good deal more money to add to his pile! The uncle brings Anne, her husband and children to Paris, where he now lives, and supports them.
Unfortunately, since losing his money Anne's husband has been ill, becoming very incapacitated.
Larry leaves India and meets The Author, who is narrating the story, in Paris. He goes with Mr. Maugham to see Anne, her husband and children.
Larry is able to "cure" Anne's husband. However, Anne's repayal of Larry's generousity and her understanding of him is quite limited, therefore lies the rub...
I won't give away the rest of it, because you need to experience it yourself.
Anne Baxter won an Oscar for best supporting actress in this film!
Hollywood how about some films like this one!