Couldn't go along with this. Perhaps due to translation, though every effort seems to have been made in that direction. Perhaps due to the heroine beiCouldn't go along with this. Perhaps due to translation, though every effort seems to have been made in that direction. Perhaps due to the heroine being a prototype violent-hipster-I-don't-care chick, and one that sort of prefigures the one in the Girl-Who series by Stieg Larsson. Of which I am not enamored.
Wants to be anarchic, searing, nihilist, hard-edged modern. Alain Robbe-Grillet packing heat. Comes off as a kind of homage to pulp or B-films with a veneer of philosophy to smear genres. Or something.
What makes me dislike this more than absolutely necessary: Quentin Tarantino would really really love it. Case closed. ...more
Toward the end of this very short novel, a novella really, just as the posturing and dithering is giving way to the puzzle being solved, I turned a paToward the end of this very short novel, a novella really, just as the posturing and dithering is giving way to the puzzle being solved, I turned a page of the book and a card dropped out. A Lottery ticket, something I'd never buy for myself. As this was a library copy, I thought it was probably safe to assume it was some long-expired specimen used at some point for a bookmark. And if so, used by somebody who had gotten nearly all the way through the novel-- and stopped.
Maugham's Up At The Villa is that rarity among the author's work-- a lightweight, resolutely upbeat summer's day kind of read. Even in his earlier, more adventure-y south-seas days, Mr Maugham was always one to belabor the 'why we must' aspects of his characters' situations, generally falling into chasms of 'we can do no other' after lots of, well, posturing and dithering.
Here the characters don't seem freighted by the anxieties of his other creations, and why should they-- we're on a Brit expat holiday in the heathery, perfumed hills above Florence, where wine and romance flow naturally out of the art-directed rock formations.
"Am I telling you something you don't know when I tell you that I've been head over heels in love with you since you were a kid with bobbed hair?" What did one say to that? One laughed brightly. "Oh, Edgar, what nonsense you talk."
Maugham has given in to a little bit of pop-genre plotting on this one, a little bit of mysterioso riding just beneath the placid surface, maybe only to keep the pace going. Surprisingly it's actually a kind of semi-noir James M. Cain (or Ossessione, Visconti's cinematic translation)--spin to the storyline. If that kind of spin can be said to exist at posh dinner parties amidst billowing cloud, cypress branches in shadowplay, and broad vistas of the Mediterranean.
Well, one does with what is found at hand. And what's here is by no means insignificant; judging by how often it happens, the effervescent, in-tune summer romp is harder to pull off effectively than the gloom and doom of other genre outings.
So hop in the Fiat, we'll have a glance round the Uffizi while we're debating where to have luncheon, dawdle over white wine and flirt with whoever shows up. Andiamo!
As for that Lottery ticket, going by the dates printed on the back, it is still valid, unexpired, and if things work out I'll be posting my next Goodreads review from the shores of the blue Mediterranean. ...more