Wednesday 6 April 2011

W. Somerset Maugham

I have yet to read anything by W. Somerset Maugham, but my friend Barbara-from-Ludlow is a fan, and I feel certain I would like his work. Which is why I went and bought this little lot...

Attractive, no? If you'd like to do the same, The Book People are selling ten novels for £9.99 here. I sound like an unsubtle marketing plot, don't I? Well, I'm not - I just thought I'd let other book-fiends know where they could snap up a deal! I wouldn't use The Book People for small publishers or lesser-known authors, because I know they don't pass on much profit - but I think the estate of W. Somerset Maugham and Vintage Books are doing just fine.

Any WSM-aficianados out there? Where should I start? I also have Theatre, which I'm quite keen to read, but at least now I know I won't run out in a hurry...


  1. Those are indeed very attractive and thanks for the tip.
    I read SM short stories yonks ago and quite enjoyed them. I have Cakes and Ale on my library TBR so hope to reacquaint myself with his work soon.

  2. I thought Ashenden was a nice introduction to Maugham.

  3. Those are lovely covers. I don't think I've ever read any SM either, unless it was an excerpt in a Norton Anthology somewhere along the way? Lucky for me, The Book People don't ship over here! :)

  4. I've been tempted by this collection over the last few weeks... It's very pretty. I read Cakes and Ale last year and although I wasn't blown away by it, I did enjoy it.

  5. I am a fan of Somerset Maugham and have been thinking about getting this collection (although I do already own 4 of the books in it, so... keep dilly-dallying over it). I'd recommend Up At The Villa as a good place to start - it's a perfect novella. Or else The Painted Veil. I really enjoyed both Cakes and Ale and The Moon and Sixpence, but they might not make such good first reads.

  6. I also bought this collection from The Book People, largely attracted by the pretty covers and the incredible price, without having read any Maugham before. I started with 'Up at the Villa' simply because it was the shortest and it proved to be a great introduction. I hope you enjoy discovering a new author.

  7. I think his short stories, especially those set in the Far East, are superb. I have read a few of his books, but the short stories would be a great starting point.

  8. haha as soon as I saw the photo I thought 'ah I bet their from the Book People' I have to admit I have been eyeing them up myself but as I have never read him I think it might be a bit of a risk?

    I did buy their Helen Dunmore set for the same price.

  9. Oooh, what delicious cover art. Quite Wodehousian. But I've not been bitten by the Maugham bug. Perhaps I never will be.

  10. I am tempted to get these. I have to respectfully disagree with bibliolathas. I love Maugham, but if I had started with Ashenden I am not sure I would have continued. Although I started with Of Human Bondage, I think I would recommend starting with The Razor's Edge, or The Painted Veil.

  11. I read Of Human Bondage many years ago and didn't really get it. I think I was too young. However, I'm dying to read The Painted Veil. I watched the movie years ago and really liked it so I'm wondering how true to the book it was.

  12. lovely volummes I like the explorers by him and moon and sixpence ,think about not read a bad book by Maugham I llok at these but had a number of the already ,all the best stu

  13. I've never read anything by him, but I was in the play "The Man Who Came to Dinner" in high school and I remember not knowing who he was!! I've since learned, but that's about as far I've come. Looking forward to your reviews of those very styling covers.

    - Mel

  14. I agree with litlove -- I loved both Up at the Villa and The Painted Veil. I've also read A Christmas Holiday which underwhelmed me. I'm surprised they don't include The Razor's Edge or Of Human Bondage which are his most famous works.

    I haven't read it yet but I've also heard great things about Mrs. Craddock. Not part of the collection but I've heard it's good.

  15. I recommend starting with The Painted Veil or Of Human Bondage. You are in for a treat.

  16. Cristina - hope I've persuaded you into getting them! I did buy some of his short stories seven years ago, on the Isle of Mull I think, but...have yet to read.

    Bibliolathas - thank you! It seems nearly all his works have been suggested as a good intro, so I'll have lots of options :)

    Susan - oh, shame! Or, perhaps, good... depending on which way you look at it :)

    Claire - give in! Such good value.

    Victoria - 'a perfect novella' is probably the combination of three words most likely to sway me, so Up At The Villa is almost certainly the first one I'll try... thanks so much!

    Old English Rose - and seconded, thank you!

    Sue - oo, you have to suggest one not in this bunch! But I do have some of his short stories... somewhere...

    Jessica - oh, only a £10 risk - and those covers are worth £10 on their own! I have bought a set of Daphne du Maurier from them for the same price, and a couple of those Penguin boxsets.

    Susan D - not bitten as in not tried, or tried and not enjoyed? I will definitely try... and even if I loathe him, I'll have those beautiful covers!

    Thomas - more recommendations.. thank you! I shall factor these all in to my reading order.

    Sakura - now that you've mentioned there's a film of The Painted Veil, you remind me that a friend of mine raved about both book and film - I must get the DVD when I read the novel.

    Stu - I think The Moon and Sixpence was the only novel I knew was by Maugham before (for some reason I thought Cakes and Ale was by Compton Mackenzie...)

    Mel - I didn't know he was a playwright too, more to discover!

    Karen - more recommendations that aren't here! But I think another vote for Up at The Villa has sealed it as my first choice.

    Ellen - ah, a WSM fan? He doesn't seem to get mentioned much in the blogosphere. Maybe the Book People will spark off a revival...

  17. I'm a silent reader of your blog, but I just had to comment. I love SM and I recommend starting with The Razor's Edge. It is one of my favorite books ever and I reread it about once a year.


  18. Laura - thanks for that very enthused recommendation! And lovely to have you comment :)

  19. Actually, I detest Vintage's new covers: so much inferior than the gorgeous contemporary photographs of the older Vintage Classics series. But the bunch does look attractive, as a whole. I hope you have enjoyed it. Am always glad to notice other Maugham afficionados on the Web.


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