Cakes and Ale
It is also the book for which Maugham wanted most to be remembered.
Why oh why have I not read anything by Maugham before? Not having done so is my loss, and one which I must continue to remedy without delay.
I decided to read one of Maugham's novels because I knew from Gordon Bowker's biography of George Orwell that Orwell was a great admirer of his writing. This particular novel suggested itself because of its subject (a satire on literary London in the early 20th century) and because it's apparently the novel for which Maugham himself most wanted to be remem...more
The book starts off with a bit of a pattern to it. The book is written in first person singular – we will talk a bit more about that later –...more
I like a good satire every now and then. And this one was absolutely delicious. English society, mannerism, a writer's life, all these covered in witty, sharp and ironica...more
Light, rude, witty and snobbish; I put it right up there with his collections of short stories.
Here's my favorite passage:
"The wise always use a number of ready-made phrases (at the moment I write 'nobody's business' is the most common), popular adjectives (like 'divine' or 'shy-making'), verbs that you only know the meaning of if you...more
As a young man in the 1890's, Ashenden knew the British literary icon, Edward Driffield (ostensibly based on Thomas Hardy, which Maugham denied). At that time Driffield was a little known working class writer married to Rosie, an earthy sexually promiscuous woman. Later in life, Driffield rose to fame and acclaim and a second wife. Now, after Driffield's death and bein...more
There is something so so dated about this novel.
OR is it just the embarrassment of something badly written.
Just as there was with "The Moon and Sixpence".
That at least hung together.
I've heard that this novel is about a new wife attempting to make sure that in her famous dead husband's biography the former wife will be hopefully deleted.
That is certainly there.
But so are several other strands.
Maugham says the novel is about a writer's lot.
Elsewhere he says...more
This book has the same crisp and dry clarity and wit I saw in The Moon and Sixpence (1919), honed and polished over ten subsequent years of writing. A light fun read in a way I just don't expect of classics. (The artists – or rather writers – in this book aren't the tortured sort found in The Moon.)
Cakes and Ale's main ingredients (sorry) are...more
Yes, I know you want a review and I am talking way too much. So, without further ado:
Meet Rosie Driffield née Gann, the British version of Holly Golightly, a free spirited barmaid who marries a budding author but is promiscuous enough to start a scandal wherever she goes! Ready to p...more
"One of the difficulties that a man has to cope with as he goes through life is what to do about the persons with whom he has once been intimate, and whose interest for him has in due course subsided."
I Would Go Out Tonight, But I Haven't Got A Stitch To Wear.
At its heart, the main emphasis of Cakes And Ale is a first-love/ older-woman story in the vein of Flaubert's Sentimental Education. But that's the innermost layer of narrative in a structure built up inside brackets and frames, and stori...more
Like any of Maugham's novels Cakes and Ale is a combination of many different stories. It is the story of the youth of Willie Ashenden, the story of a writer (Edward Driffield) and his family and literary life, the story of another writer (Alroy Kear) who is trying to compose the biography of Mr. Driffield and finally this is a story of Rosie, one of the best female characters of this Somerset Maugham (to my opinion). All this stories are closely connected together, the lines of these lives mee...more
But the real transformation in each of his works isn't of the characters, or the plo...more
I didn't find out until after I read the book that the two author characters are thinly veiled caricatures of Thomas Hardy and Hugh Walpole; it's interesting, but not necessary to know.
I enjoyed his tone and many parts of the novel, but I wonder if I wasn't a writer, if I'd have enjoyed those sort of "inside jokes"...more
Cakes and Ale
Modern Library, Hardback, 1950.
12mo. xii, 272 pp. With a special introduction for this edition by Mr. Maugham [v-xii:].
First published by Heinemann in 1930.
This 1950 Modern Library Edition of Maugham's Cakes and Ale is remarkable and has acquired something of a legendary status because of its famous introduction. Written by Maugham himself, as usual with his books, the preface is just...more
Having just re-read Cakes and Ale yet again, and looking back to my two rather superficial pieces about it, I thought it's time for a third ''review'' which at least tries to do justice to a novel I have no hesitation to call brilliant, a novel that has given, gives and no doubt will continue to give me lots of enjoyment and a rare insight into human nature. Since the book is one of Maugham's most notorious ones and created quite a scandal wh...more
The request sparks of Ashenden's own reminiscences of Driffield and his first wife Rosie, and the story jum...more
His parents died early and, after an unhappy boyhood, which he recorded poignantly in 'Of Human Bondage' , Maugham became a qualified physician. But writing was his true vocation. For ten years before his first success, he alm...more