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Rain and Other South Sea Stories

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,554 ratings  ·  122 reviews
W. Somerset Maugham led many lives, including that of a doctor in London's slums, a successful playwright and novelist, an agent for British Intelligence during World War I, and a world traveler. In 1917, he took the first of many voyages to the Pacific Islands and the Far East, where his keen sense of observation found inspiration for some of his finest writing.
Rain and
Paperback, 166 pages
Published September 23rd 2005 by Dover Publications (first published 1921)
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Jim Fonseca
There's a politically incorrect expression used in this book, "going native," but that is a lot of what these stories are about.


Brits (mostly men) 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.


The stories are
Diane S ☔
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor
The short story Rain, may be one of the best short stories I have ever read and I am an avid short story reader. The human condition, religion, power, lust, a tropical setting, outsiders vs. natives against the backdrop of the constant, seemingly never ending rain. Thought this was a very powerful story and though come could say the language and situation is dated, I don't necessarily consider that true as there are still missionaries serving all over the world and there are new cultures being ...more
The Male's Ancient Conflict: His Inherent Sexual Nature vs. His Moral Fibers, Bonds of Loyalty and Religion
If you play with fire....

I consider Maugham as one of the top two or three short story writers of all time. His best is "Rain," 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*).

On a Pacific island quarantined during the tropical wet season, two
Each story is reviewed one by one, following the order they occur in the book. Not all the stories are set in South East Asia, as the title erroneously indicates.

1,Pacific 3 stars
This is best seen as a preamble. It draws the setting for the South Sea stories that follow. The Pacific may shift from a raging sea to the calm surface of a mirror like lake. Only after having delved into the stories, did it occur to me why it had been placed here. It is good as an introduction.

2. "Mackintosh" 3
Oct 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 27, 2013 rated it liked it
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....
Daniel Villines
Jun 06, 2017 rated it liked it
The colonial era in the South Pacific was filled with self-righteous imperialists whose own good opinions of themselves were only overshadowed by their racist opinions of the native inhabitants. Maugham, captures this aspect of life and places it up front in every story. I understand that attitudes were different during Maughams life, and that Maugham, given his dedication to capturing life as it is, could not write stories that were otherwise. Nonetheless, this aspect of the book makes each ...more
Jul 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 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 115

W. Somerset Maugham, storyteller par excellence, is a master of the character flaw; crafting
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Maugham was a great writer. He had that going for him.

His subject matter, however? Ugh. I need to say as little about this as possible, because these veins of stories are best left to die slowly, so different, better stories can take their place.

Big Themes are Colonialism and missionary work.

Let's look at the geographic location of Hawaii and Samoa. Now, let's look at it from the viewpoint of "conquerors," colonizers, opportunists, traders, and evangelists. Readers are seeing through the eyes of
Stef Smulders
Jul 22, 2019 rated it liked it
The author has a wonderful, smooth way of introducing the setting and characters of a story. The ones I read are entertaining but also a bit alike, as the have the same setting and a similar ending. I think I liked Mackintosh most, with Rain as a good second. In Mackintosh the characters are depicted very clearly whereas in Rain the men are a bit alike, at first at least. Maugham has a fine sense of humor but uses it very sparingly in these stories, which is a pity. The psychology isnt always ...more
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Am hugely enjoying Somerset Maughams stories, so much so that after I have finished each one I read it again. Theyre very subtle and full of profound and detailed analyses of human character. Each has a twist in the tail which is why I want to go back and read it again. He is a master of prose and of exploring what it means to be human. He also depicts the extraordinary heart rending beauty of South Sea islands like Tahiti and Samoa so powerfully that he has me wanting to buy a plane ticket and ...more
Feb 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a fan of short stories but I really liked this collection, Maugham is one of my favorite authors so that's probably why. The stories aren't interlinked although they all follow the same theme in a way. They are all about people that have escaped to "warm weather" countries, due to health and other reasons. I can't pinpoint a favorite, they all brought all some sort of emotion in me, sadness, laughter, incredibility...
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 10, 2018 marked it as own-unread  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short, classics, linked
Available free online here:

This is the same book as Rain and Other South Sea Stories, which I have read.
John Parks
Feb 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Paul Cornelius
W. Somerset Maugham is unsurpassed as a chronicler of broken and wasted lives. He only flounders when he tries to redeem someone, such as the unbearable Larry Darrell in The Razor's Edge. Nothing of the sort is at work in this collection of short stories, which includes one of Maugham's most famous and influential works, "Rain," the story of an on the run prostitute, Sadie Thompson, who is vehicle for revealing the base corruption in men's souls. Although set mostly in the Samoan Islands, ...more
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-our-trip
Since we'll soon be visiting several of the South Pacific Islands, I'm reading classic literature about the islands beforehand. We'll be at The Sadie Thompson Building in Pago Pago, Samoa, where Maugham wrote one of the stories, "Rain." I planned to only read it, but all the stories were so delicious I couldn't stop. His stories and his writing are exceptional and timeless. I'll certainly remember his stories, especially when we're in Tahiti, Samoa, and Honolulu. (There are several ...more
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rain si really excellent short story. I enjoyed it very much. Others are OK, we could learn from it about those times and events.
I picked up the book at some local exchange and I didnt regret it.
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful set of stories, including the well-known Rain. I could do without the disparaging talk of half-castes and the use of the N word, but the attitude of the white man's superiority was a true representation of its time. Very evocative of the time and the South Pacific of the 20s and 30s.
Aug 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ive 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
Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it

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
Apr 18, 2016 rated it liked it
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

Little Stories of the South Sea Islands


L'extrême félicité à peine séparée par
une feuille tremblante de l'extrême
désespoir, n'est-ce pas la vie?

Opening: THE Pacific is inconstant and uncertain like the soul of man. Sometimes it is grey like the English Channel off Beachy Head, with a heavy swell, and sometimes it is rough, capped with white crests, and boisterous. It is not so often that it is calm and blue. Then, indeed, the blue is arrogant. The sun shines
May 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 11, 2014 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 muchbut 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
Patrick Baird
May 06, 2013 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
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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 ...more
Jun 10, 2015 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.
Jun 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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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

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As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of young ...
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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.” 5 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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