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The Trembling of a Leaf

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,089 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
This collection features one of Maugham's most famous tales, "Rain," concerning the clash between a missionary and a prostitute. It also includes "Macintosh," a psychological study of the competition between two officials; "The Fall of Edward Barnard," a tale of social rebellion that foreshadows The Razor's Edge; "The Pool," and other compelling stories of life in the trop
Paperback, 198 pages
Published September 4th 2002 by Dixon-Price Publishing (first published 1921)
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Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset MaughamThe Painted Veil by W. Somerset MaughamThe Razor's Edge by W. Somerset MaughamThe Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset MaughamAshenden by W. Somerset Maugham
The best of W. Somerset Maugham
13th out of 20 books — 21 voters
Secrets of the Realm by Bev StoutTreasure Island by Robert Louis StevensonMaster and Commander by Patrick O'BrianMoby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman MelvilleTwenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Nautical Tales
346th out of 443 books — 325 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,932)
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Jul 24, 2016 Perry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Man's Conflict as Old as the Hills: His Inherent Sexual Nature versus His Moral Fibers, Bonds of Loyalty and Religious Beliefs
He Will Not Win Unless He Walks Away from the Battlefield

I consider Maugham as one of the top two or three short story writers of all time. His best one was "Rain," which is one of the most powerful and symbolic short stories in the canon of Western lit. The tale explores in a most profound way the inescapable nature of all men as sexual beings (here, heterosexual men).

Oct 20, 2012 Shane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maugham, like my other favourite author, Graham Greene, walked the roads less travelled of the former British Empire, and like Green, was a spy, and a man with dark secrets and skeletons in his closet. What better person to write about flawed and vulnerable characters!

In these tales, occurring around the western islands of Samoa which were occupied by New Zealand and its colonial master, Britain, Maugham brings to life the isolation faced by the westerner; he skillfully depicts how island life s
Read Rain, skimmed the Pool... O.K. If you like this sort of stuff... A bit of melodrama based on a moral code that seems rather remote today....
Dec 28, 2012 Realini rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rain and other South Sea Stories by Somerset Maugham

Somerset Maugham is one of my absolute favorites. As answer to one of those questions what books would you take with you on a deserted island, books by Maugham will be on the short list.

His short stories kept me good company while I have spent days and weeks in various hospitals, with a duodenal ulcer, but also witching to escape the Communist system of giving people jobs.

In short; I was studying geology-geophysics, at the University of Buchare
Aug 10, 2010 George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: somerset-maugham

“…and the mystery of the sunset, the deep silence of the water, the lithe grace of the coconut trees, added to her beauty, giving it a profundity, a magic which stirred the heart to unknown emotions.”—page 114

“His manner was not agreeable. It was sycophantic, and yet behind the cringing air of an old man who had been worsted in his struggle with fate was a shadow of old truculence.”—page 115

W. Somerset Maugham, storyteller par excellence, is a master of the character flaw; cr
Aug 16, 2012 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although my kindle addition was politely put shitty, 'Rain and Other South Sea Stories' is still decent. It's stories that take place in the South Seas, obviously. Little more,little less. Maugham's prose is plain;yet, his stories are interesting in concept and things in the way of characters and plot tend to be very well done. For the most part at least. 'Rain' was the best story and well above average for both Poor Old Willie and literature in general, 'Macintosh' and 'The Rise and Fall of Ed ...more
Rob Bliss
I didn't have this book, I read 'Stories of the East' by Maugham, but I can't find that one on Goodreads. Some of the same stories repeated.

Maugham is an olive. An acquired taste. Very British during its empirical days, the use of 'boy' as a servant used throughout. "He wore white ducks...", -- what the hell are those?

Anyway. Its age lines show. Maugham is like Kipling ... a writer of a bygone era, now to be classified as historical literature as opposed to contemporary. The themes, of course,
Gláucia Renata
Presente de minha amiga skoobiana Marta, é uma coletânea de 6 contos publicados originalmente em 1936 que tem como tema a relação entre os nativos das belas ilhas do Oceano Pacífico e os estrangeiros (missionários, marinheiros, administradores), contrastando seus costumes e diferenças culturais.
São eles:
1) Makintosh
2) O Degenerado
3) O Poço
4) Honolulu
5) Chuva
6) Vermelho

Narrativa simples e direta, a maioria tem um final bem previsível. Destaco O Degenerado, meu preferido e Vermelho. O prefácio tra
John Parks
Feb 29, 2008 John Parks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Maria, Rosemary, Monica, Sam, Rocky, everybody really
Recommended to John by: Jeremy
Sometimes stories are better told in 25 pages than in 250 . Maugham is a master and I think his best writing is in the short stories in this compilation. Some of my all-time favorite stories.
Aug 08, 2015 Margaret rated it it was ok
This is my least favorite Maugham book. I never felt anything for the characters or felt drawn into any of the stories. An American appeared in one of the storylines and I had a laugh over the stereotypical handling. The narrator failed with the attempt of an American accent which ended up usurping the believability of the story and therefore cheapened it. In the same story there was a character that apparently was a young woman but was referred to constantly as a "little girl" which confused me ...more
May 24, 2016 Maggie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
Did I enjoy it? I did. Like with any short story collection there were stories I liked and stories I didn't care about, but overall this was pretty good.
Would I read it again? Unlikely, but not because it was bad, just because I don't tend to reread short story collections. Occasionally I'll reread stories from the collections, but not the collection as a whole.
Who would I recommend it to? If you enjoy Maugham's writing, specifically his stories focusing on British Imperialism, you'll probably e
Aug 23, 2015 Joel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been reading a great deal of W. Somerset Maugham lately; and I daresay it will continue. His tales of the human condition – of heartfelt mistakes and foolish blunders – juxtaposed against the matter-of-factness of imperialism in turn of the century Victorian England make for charming stories. They are so naturally international – about a time when Englanders thought of the world as their own and acted accordingly – that they teem with an unpretentious multi-culturalism.

These days we are ac
Nov 14, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The man knew how to tell a story. I wish he could've told the stories without using the word "half-caste" quite so much…but eventually I realized the mixed-race characters had a symbolic meaning in the stories, which are all about the collision of cultures (specifically Empire vs. South Sea colony). Maugham's trademark mastery of irony is evident in many of the stories. A man despises his boss's paternalistic attitude toward the natives, and we despise him too, but the story takes this to a dark ...more
Jun 04, 2013 Matthew rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers in stage-three culture shock
Shelves: pacific
In this quietly powerful collection of stories, Somerset Maugham uses the Pacific islands as a laboratory of emotion. He uses the settings to ramp up several different variables, heat, rain, isolation, beauty, distance, then measures their effects on the human heart.

In "The Fall of Edward Bernard" a young man goes off to Tahiti to confront the changes life on the island has wrought on his best freind's perspective and priorties. In "Rain", the most famous story, a missionary becomes obsessed wi
Patrick Baird
May 16, 2013 Patrick Baird rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This collection is a version of "The Trembling of a Leaf," first published in 1921. Maugham's clear prose holds up well, as do his stories. For the most part, these tales detail the doomed exploits of white colonialists in Hawaii, Borneo, Samoa, and Malaya, most of whom come to despair and death due to romantic or sexual entanglements. I'm guessing that Maugham, who was very popular in his day, was cannily exploiting his readers' hunger for tales of exotic lands and the allure of the forbidden. ...more
Sep 03, 2015 Alix rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pretty good collection, although I think most of the stories would have worked better as novels. As is often the case in Maugham's writing, the best part is characterization, there's less focus on plot; these stories would have benefited from being explored further. I particularly enjoyed The Pool , it is probably my favorite in this collection. Very touching description of what it means to be displaced, and how you always carry your home within you.
It had been years since I'd last read Maug
Jan 08, 2015 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Leslie by: Joan Garland
Shelves: short-stories
Very good short stories, mostly set in Samoa. They vary in length from long (almost the length of a novella) to one less than a page.

This must have been terribly shocking to the hypocritical and pious while being nothing new to those without blinkers, when published first - 20th century was nothing if not one that shredded many such veils of pretension from established societies of west.

The story takes place on a voyage in Pacific where a woman of certain profession is having fun along with a few of males around - after all being alone most of their lives far away from home was tough on the guys, and an accommodating
Max Tomlinson
Nov 16, 2014 Max Tomlinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you’ve ever wondered where British writers like John Le Carre, Graham Greene and Len Deighton drew much of their influence, look back to W. Somerset Maugham, one of the most popular writers of the early 20th Century. There’s a reason Maugham achieved that status.

With elegant, precision-like prose that drills into the human condition while maintaining its empathy, these short stories showcase Maugham’s considerable skills as a writer and stand the test of time. This collection may hearken back
Dec 04, 2013 Enas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
λιτό και άμεσο το γράψιμο του μομ, ο οποίος καταφέρνει να δημιουργήσει ολοκληρωμένους χαρακτήρες μέσα σε πολύ λίγες σελίδες και αυτό είναι το μεγαλύτερο πλεονέκτημα της συγκεκριμένης συλλογής διηγημάτων.
οι περισσότερες ιστορίες εκτυλίσσονται σε μέρη τροπικά (βρετανικές αποικίες) και καταφέρνουν να κρατήσουν το ενδιαφέρον του αναγνώστη ακόμη και αν (φαινομενικά τουλάχιστον) δεν έχουν σαφή υπόθεση.
Jun 25, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite story in this fine collection of short fiction isn't "Rain", Maugham's most beloved short story, but "Red". As always, W. Somerset Maugham is a master of language and human emotion. If you haven't read "Razor's Edge" or "Of Human Bondage" yet, start here. As always, a longer review of this title appears at
Juan Escalante
Feb 25, 2015 Juan Escalante rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cada cuento de este libro es un knock out literario, logra retratar fielmente la condición humana y las pasiones más complejas que abruman a los hombres.
Sep 16, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
A collection of stories about the life on the Pacific Islands. "Rain", the last story in the collection was my favorite.
Feb 17, 2008 Pamina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The atmospheres described in this book are unique.
Mar 24, 2013 Carmen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite writers. Exquisite!
Portia S
Jul 02, 2014 Portia S rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: w-s-maugham
UGH, I love Maugham more than Haxton. ><

The word of this book was "obsequious," meaning: obedient or attentive to an excessive or servile degree.

There was not a single story within this compilation that felt like a task or a drawling read.

Each of these revolved around the interactions of Americans and Europeans with the SPI people off the East coast of Australia. It dealt mainly with those persons from Tahiti (French Polynesia) and Samoa. Unlike other reviews, I will not give short synop
Islands. All these stories take place on islands, primarily Samoan islands during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Or should I say they take place on islands under British imperialist rule? Yes, it's the "white man's burden" point of view that creates the tension in most of these stories. In the best, "Rain", it's a missionary couple who infest the island with their poisounous views and cause the trouble. Demon alcohol does it's work in most of the stories too.

In this collection Maugham present B
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
Somerset Maugham writes like no other. His style is impeccable and his prose beautiful and no matter how tragic or sad the story he tells, it always come through as strangely poetic.

In The Trembling of a Leaf, the stories are striking, evocative and exotically romantic. They tell of classes, races, violence, trouble in paradise and the meaning of existence. I understand that some readers might find them offensive as they might not be considered politically correct these days (especially when it
Jim Fonseca
Sep 08, 2013 Jim Fonseca rated it it was amazing
There's a politically incorrect expression used in this book, "going native," but that is a lot of what these stories are about. Brits from the sun-deprived northern climes (and in one case, an American) arrive in the tropical South Pacific isles, mainly Tahiti, to shed their clothes and their work ethic and to drink and chase island women. But there is trouble in paradise and these stories focus on murder, suicide, prostitution and the clash of races and classes. These are great stories that ha ...more
Tammy Frederici
Jun 23, 2016 Tammy Frederici rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
Short stories can be very intense. So much to say in what felt like a handful of pages. The missionary influence teetered on the edge of sinister power. Maugham's descriptive language "eyes filled with inhuman fire" will stay with you for awhile. Wowzer, I must be naive, I truly did not see the ending coming.
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William Somerset Maugham was born in Paris in 1874. He spoke French even before he spoke a word of English, a fact to which some critics attribute the purity of his style.

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 almost l
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“Is that what we come into the world for, to hurry to an office, and work hour after hour till night, then hurry home and dine and go to a theatre? Is that how I must spend my youth? Youth lasts so short a time, Bateman. And when I am old, what have I to look forward to? To hurry from my home in the morning to my office and work hour after hour after hour till night, and then hurry home again, and dine and go to a theatre? That may be worthwhile if you make a fortune; I don’t know, it depends on your nature; but if you don’t, is it worth while then? I want to make more out of my life than that, Bateman.” 4 likes
“She gathered herself together. No one could describe the scorn of her expression or the contemptuous hatred she put into her answer.
"You men! You filthy dirty pigs! You're all the same, all of you. Pigs! Pigs!”
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