©2008 The Executers of the Estate of W. Somerset Maugham 2008; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
It's not so much a memorable moment as a theme.. How wonderfully revealing this novel is for exposing the things we will sometimes do to one another in order to fulfill our own needs.. And how can it be any other way? We are shown through Maugham's masterful use of the English language how one man's personality points fall somewhere so opposite those whom he comes in contact with on the many spectrum of life. And also how his points on those spectrum determine how his relationships play out and how he effects each person he meets. It is ugly - his truth - but is it truly his fault, being who he is? There are too many memorable moments to name just one. An incredible exploration of the darkness within us all and the overwhelming need for one and all to give of themselves or take for themselves to meet their own own needs of emotional survival. Is Charles Strickland a madman or a genius? You be the judge.
There is a random meeting between the narrator and Strickland that underscores the narrator's assessment of Strickland and his base personality. It is particularly revealing and is focused on his point-blank questioning of Strickland regarding a very serious issue.
It would have to be Charles Strickland, because it would be once in a lifetime to be in the presence of genius or madman and have the opportunity to decide for oneself which of those he truly is.
Well worth the time and money to just put yourself into this story as you listen and to explore where you might come out in the end...
"Great story - Excellent narrator"
Much of the enjoyment of an audio book lies in the narrator; Hardy Robert was excellent. Each character was brought to life and the ?cast? was easily distinguished from one another by his varied rendition of their voices, which seemed to fit perfectly with my mental image of them.
"Compelling story, well read"
I agree with the previous reviews, odd though that may seem, as they appear contradictory.
Yes, Robert Hardy reads the story very well. His voice is very suitable.
Yes, the subject of the story is in many ways distressing. It is based loosely on the life of Van Gough. Strickland abandons his wife and children to be a painter. He has no feeling for any other person but is driven by his single minded pursuit of his art. Bad things happen to people he is involved with ( I won't spoil the story for those who don't know it). Eventually he dies in unfortunate circumstances.
Maugham is as always cynical or perhaps realistic about human motivation. However, in the case of Strickland he is perhaps less judgmental. The book raises the question of the value of art; can it be a higher good than mere happiness? Are Strickland's motives actually purer than those people who simply want a comfortable domestic life?
At the same time the narrative is compelling.
I recommend this audiobook.
"Not great, apart from the Reader."
I had read some Somerset Maugham short stories before and greatly enjoyed them. Others may, of course, view this story differently, but I found it long, inconsequential, dull and, ultimately, unpleasant. The two stars I offer are in recognition of Robert Hardy's brilliant reading. Had it not been for this, I wouldn't have bothered to persevere. And if, like me, you think Robert Hardy's reading is the only good thing about this Audiobook, try his reading of Evelyn Waugh's 'Vile Bodies' - it happens, also, to be one of my favourite books but Mr Hardy's interpretation of it is brilliant.
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