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I love words that can take me into other worlds.
These stories are wonderfully produced. Somerset Maugham isn’t for everyone. His stories, now 75-80, were written in an era less respectful of different races. However, if you get past the irritating terms he uses to denote non-whites, you will see that his real contempt is for the pompous but so often stupid colonials who thought, simply because their country had claimed another, that they personally were rulers and that their worth was so much more than it was. Despite the unevenness of the stories (which knocked it down a star in my rating), Maugham never loses his deliciously scathing wit, razor-like intelligence, and acute eye for the wicked or ironic observation. Moreover, his stories offers a glimpse into a lost world. Having lived over a decade in Southeast Asia, I loved his ability to call up the steamy languidness of the tropics.
However, what makes these stories genuine delights, is the reader. Robert Powell is the master of any accent—and can do 4 or 5 characters at once, keeping each of their voices distinct. Truly a bravura performance that makes for a great audio-book.
You can't go wrong. Somerset Maugham with his sophisticated understanding and emrace of the ambiguities of the human character. And a great reader. Savor . . .
I have heard Robert Powell on other audiobooks and enjoyed his readings very much, and I had read other books and short stories by Somerset Maugham, so I felt that I sort of knew what I would be getting with this download. I enjoyed each story and Powell's delivery very much. I have been thinking if this title would be a good introduction to either this author or this reader to someone unfamiliar with both, and I think it might be. Maugham's writings straddle the popular/literary fence, and Powell is a wonderfully evocative reader. Anyone who enjoyed The Painted Veil would I think enjoy these stories, too.
"Far Eastern Tales (Unabridged)"
Spell-binding story-telling in the inestimable tones of Robert Powell.
"Evocative of the age but a bit depressing"
Somerset Maugham's a wonderfully observant writer and Robert Powell has a beautifully modulated voice and a superb grasp of accents, so I was really looking forward to this audiobook. The stories are certainly evocative of the age (1920s), the steamy Far Eastern locations, and the insulated British way of life in those colonial outposts. Unfortunately I found the themes in the majority of these tales to be rather depressing: loneliness, marriage break-ups, murder and cowardice. So although I found many of the stories interesting, I won't be listening to this again.
One star off immediately because the audiobook's been lazily chopped up into 1-hour segments, which makes it impossible to find the start of each story.
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