When Cakes and Ale was first published in 1930 it roused a storm of controversy, since many people imagined they recognised portraits of literary figures now no more. It is the novel for which Maugham wished to be remembered.
©2009 W. Somerset Maugham (P)2011 AudioGO Ltd
"Dost thou think, because thou are virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?" Maugham took this quote from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. The cakes and ale are used as a metaphor for the good life. Or as Maugham points out, what is thought to be the good life.
This is a story of the Victorian era meeting the 20th century, the tastes of popular society contrasting the literary world, and the growth of the first person narrator from a stuffy young man to a world weary adult
This book created controversy when it was published for its thinly disguised portrayals of authors Thomas Hardy (critically acclaimed) and Hugh Walpole (immensely popular at the time but now largely forgotten) and its view of art, critical acclaim, and public popularity.
The dialogue is sharp and engaging and the characters are alive with human emotion, frailties, and desires. Eighty years after publication, Cakes and Ale is still a satisfying and enjoyable novel.
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