Wednesday, September 19, 2012

REVIEW: Up At The Villa - W. Somerset Maugham

Title: Up At The Villa
Author: W. Somerset Maugham

Why I read this: Library book club selection

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In Up at the Villa, W. Somerset Maugham portrays a wealthy young English woman who finds herself confronted rather brutally by the repercussions of whimsy.
On the day her older and prosperous friend asks her to marry him, Mary Leonard demurs and decides to postpone her reply a few days. But driving into the hills above Florence alone that evening, Mary offers a ride to a handsome stranger. And suddenly, her life is utterly, irrevocably altered.
For this stranger is a refugee of war, and he harbors more than one form of passion. Before morning, Mary will witness bloodshed, she will be forced to seek advice and assistance from an unsavory man, and she will have to face the truth about her own yearnings. Erotic, haunting, and maddeningly suspenseful, Up at the Villa is a masterful tale of temptation and the capricious nature of fate.

My Opinion :

I don't think I need to totally rehash that Somerset Maugham is a magician with the written word. The prose throughout this book was wonderful! A sheer treat to read...NO  a decadent indulgent treat to read! :) What got me was how frugal he could be with words AND STILL have the writing be not evocative, but beautiful! Hemingway has most of this talent too, but every so slightly less beautiful, less poetic, ...less ...ADORNED.

But don't get me wrong, never once is the writing 'gaudy'. It's a straightforward story about a young vibrant woman at a crossroads in her life and the outcome of an impulsive act that makes all her decisions for her. In Maughams telling we know her, Mary, we know she is confused and indecisive, we know Edgar is stalwart and logical, we know Rowly is a playboy with a good heart. And it doesn't take very long to know these things. And yes, students of  literature and creative writing, we are shown this and not told this. 

This is one of those throw-your-pen-down-and-wad-up-all-the-notebook-papers type of book. The kind that makes those of us who dabble and dream just want to throw in the towel.

Those of us who love to read and are looking for some phenomenal story telling with a side of reality, pick this up! 

Our book club at the library met to discuss this book. We had a lively discussion on the motivations of the principals and a lot of varied opinions on the true nature of character. AND we had some great italian themed food!! 

On that topic
My book club meets Thursday to discuss (ok well there are 2 of us going to be there to discuss) By The Iowa Sea by Joe Blair. That should be fun too! 

AND - with all this great reading I am intimidated by my assignment due this week in my fiction writing class on characterization. I want to show. I want to be concise. I want these people to LEAP from the page and have my instructor begging me to submit more about what is happening in this story. And when I sit down to attempt mind freezes. Just stops. I have the characters but can't seem to pull a scenario together that personifies them...but I'll keep at it. I'll just let that pot simmer for a bit and see what happens.

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