He leaves his betrothed, the beautiful and devoted Isabel. He studies philosophy and religion in Paris. He lives as a monk. He witnesses the exotic hardships of Spanish life. All of life that he can find - from an Indian Ashrama to labor in a coal mine - becomes Larry's spiritual experiment as he spurns the comfort and privilege of the Roaring '20s.
Maugham's theme is the contrast of spiritual content between Larry and the growing materialism and sophistication of those he left behind - and the surprising irony of where both of those paths lead.
©2003 W. Somerset Maugham; (P)2004 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
As Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun . . . While I found this book quite interesting, particularly the historical accounts of WWI and pre and post depression America and Europe, I ultimately found the characters doing what all of humanity has always done . . . chase their tails like cats. There was nothing truly profound or enlightening here, just men and women doing what the human race has always done, seeking self gratification. In the beginning I really liked Larry, well, I even liked him in the end, but by then, I found him to be more like a 1970s hippie, than an injured soul seeking spiritual understanding. Wandering around life with few human attachments, thinking he has lived lives in other bodies, etc. I had hoped that he would find God, the ONE true God. But it didn't happen. Having said all that, Larry's choices and that of all the other friends in the author's tale are not upheld, justified, nor scolded . . . only told . . . and that is the only salvation for this book . . . and the one reason that I could find it an enjoyable listen. The era is one of turmoil, of changes, of a time, particularly in Europe, that I find fascinating . . . that's the part I enjoyed most.
One of the best
His voice and expression captured the characters and the tone of the story very well. Enjoyable to listen to.
Yes - I did listen to it frequently and wanted to return as soon as possible.
A truly unique story - fills in from the Bill Murray movie.
This is the only book of Maugham's that I have actually read (kindle e reader), listened to (audible) and seen the movie (Tyrone Power and Bill Murray versions). I found this audio book version to be the best of the three mediums. Narration was outstanding and I felt more involved with the story and characters than I did with the book and the movies. I would recommend this recording to anyone with any interest in Maugham's books.
When purchasing this, I considered that I watched the movie with Bill Murray in what I recall as his first real foray into serious acting. I was impacted by that movie, though I have few memories of it. So I decided to purchase both the book and the audiobook.
In the novel, the narrator tells the story of Larry Darrell, who was severely affected by the death of his friend, another soldier in WWII. He comes to several self-realizations through time and travels over continents and religions. The book has a brief emotional pull from his lost love, his fiancee Isabel, who turns out to be deficient in character, and from his engagement to Sophie, a wayward girl from Chicago who Larry and the group of the characters meet one night at a bar in Paris. She'd lost her husband and her way through various chemicals and bedfellows.
One thing I will always recall from this novel was the keen observation of man or woman's desire to save someone through sacrifice of self, when referring to the grip of passion over Larry who by becoming engaged to marry Sophie is trying to "save the soul of a wanton woman whom he'd known as an innocent child."
"... self-sacrifice is a passion so overwhelming that beside it even lust and hunger are trifling. It whirls its victim to destruction in the highest affirmation of his personality. The object doesn't matter; it may be worthwhile or it may be worthless. No wine is so intoxicating, no love so shattering, no vice so compelling. When he sacrifices himself man for a moment is [or believes himself to be] greater than God, for how can God, infinite and omnipotent, sacrifice himself? At best he can only sacrifice his only begotten son."
If you've known someone who's fallen for someone else to save him or her, it's quite likely you will likely agree with this statement. The person was sucked into a whirlwind leading, more often than not, to tragedy.
I recommend this book with 4.5 stars, with the proviso that it does get slow in places. I thought the narrator was good, but his narration gets taxing in parts.
Profoundly inspirational story
This is one of my favorite books. I read it annually. Having it read to me was a joy.
I felt compelled to write a review because I wanted to counter the one above - to offer a different perspective. I appreciate that this book was moving to some; however, I found this book to be boring and the narrator annoying. I didn't finish it.
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