Leah's Reviews > The Moon and Sixpence

The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham
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's review
Nov 18, 2009

really liked it
Read in November, 2009

Once I started reading this book, it was hard to put it down. It has a sort of Gatsby-esque quality to it, as the novel's subject is observed from a distance, reported on, spoken to, but never truly understood. From the first pages, it's evident that this character is going to be one of contradiction; the narrator says early on "his faults are accepted as the necessary complement to his merits." And there are many, many faults to be accepted.

Maugham's language is inherently beautiful, eloquent and rich without pretension. Each turn of phrase is articulate and resonates with the reader. And Maugham's first-person narrator never really intrudes on the story, even when participating in it. There's a distance there that allows the reader to follow the story of Charles Strickland (based on Paul Gaugin) through the narrator's account, following the artist without getting too close to him. And considering the type of man Strickland is, one wouldn't want to get too close to him—so the narrative technique is a perfect vehicle of style for the novel. It's just brilliantly done.

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