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The Trembling of a Leaf

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  916 ratings  ·  72 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 — 18 voters
Secrets of the Realm by Bev StoutTreasure Island by Robert Louis StevensonMoby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman MelvilleMaster and Commander by Patrick O'BrianTwenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Nautical Tales
313th out of 412 books — 254 voters

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Community Reviews

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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....
Alexander Arsov
W. Somerset Maugham

The Trembling of a Leaf
Little Stories of the South Sea Islands

I. The Pacific
II. Mackintosh
III. The Fall of Edward Barnard
IV. Red
V. The Pool
VI. Honolulu
VII. Rain
VIII. Envoi

Heron Books, Hardback, 1968.*

First published by Doran in 1921.

* Contains a 1935 Preface for The Collected Edition.


This is a book of immense historical significance for Somerset Maugham if not for the twentieth century literatur
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

“…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
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,
Patrick Baird
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
Jan 08, 2015 Leslie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Leslie by: Joan Garland
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.
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
Max Tomlinson
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
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.
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
John Parks
Feb 29, 2008 John Parks rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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.
A collection of stories about the life on the Pacific Islands. "Rain", the last story in the collection was my favorite.
Perry Hall
One of the most potent short stories in the Western Lit canon: Rain, by Somerset Maugham.

A Pacific island quarantined during the tropical wet season. Two couples in the same building as a prostitute. One husband and wife are missionaries. One a mild-mannered doctor and his wife. The doctor is the narrator of this story best illustrating the powerful struggle between a man's religious beliefs and nature (man's natural desires). If you have not read it, I won't spoil for you one of the most dramat
Portia S
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
Jun 04, 2013 Matthew rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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 ✘✘
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
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
Maugham is one of my favorite writers and I believe he writes short fiction as well as he does novels. RAIN is one of the best stories I've ever read. I'm always astonished at how incredible short-fiction writers (Hemingway is the perfect example) manage to engage a reader so fully as to have as strong of an impact as a much longer work has. RAIN creates a level of unease, of discomfort, as a reader is forced into facing his or her own prejudices, hypocrisies, and judgmental and critical behavio ...more
Don't recall the stories that well. But the opening piece ("The Pacific", one page of poetic prose), the opening "Honolulu", and the "Envoi", are incredibly beautiful. I look at them often.
I have read the collection of Somerset Maugham's short stories previously but this book is a great starting point for anyone looking for a flavour. It comprises 6 short stories, viz., 'Mackintosh', 'The Fall of Edward Barnard', 'Red', 'The Pool', 'Honolulu', and 'Rain'. Re-reading the stories only reinforced my appreciation for Maugham's writing. It is precise, powerful, and profound. In the space of a short story he manages to build characters to such depth that they come alive before you and a ...more
Michael B
This was one of the works, besides Mark Twain's short stories, that made me want to go to the South Pacific. Something I actually did and will treasure forever.
Catherine  Mustread
Listened to the title story on Classic Tales Podcast. An encounter between a missionary and a prostitute has tragic consequences.
Nisha D
I listened to Rain through the Classic Tales Podcast, it was well done. This was an interesting story about missionaries and their ethical and religious bias.
Basil H
Some of the characters in this story absolutely enraged me, which I suppose is what a good story is supposed to do. Still infuriating.
Matt Silva
I normally shy away from short story editions, preferring novels. But each of these offerings from the blue Pacific, including the portrayal of Sadie Thompson in Rain, could be fleshed out to a novel. I could also go into almost all of Maugham's novels and drop a five-star on them (except, his classic Of Human Bondage, which I find tedious), such are his gifts as a writer. All these stories are morality plays, but Maugham is never preachy or profound. He is a story teller. Once more, pay attenti ...more
Juan Escalante
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.
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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 alm
More about W. Somerset Maugham...
Of Human Bondage The Razor's Edge The Painted Veil The Moon and Sixpence Theatre

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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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