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Christmas Holiday Paperback – December 5, 2000


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Delany isn't the only author Vintage is keeping afloat. Published in 1939, 1937, and 1940, respectively, these novels follow Maugham's popular theme whereby people whose seemingly steady lives become completely and utterly altered. Note also that Up at the Villa was made into a feature film in 2000, which may draw additional readers. Maugham is always a quick and pleasant read.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"The sheer unmatched skill with which Mr. Maugham [tells] his tale[s] would fill any novelist with envy." --Chicago Tribune

"Brilliant." --The New York Times

"It is very difficult for a writer of my generation, if he is honest, to pretend indifference to the work of Somerset Maugham...He was always so entirely there." --Gore Vidal
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (December 5, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375724613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375724619
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,150,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

One of the worthiest Maughams.
reader 451
His insights into the complexities of human relationships reveal his incredible talent with words.
C. Shaw
In any case, a fun read and a good story.
M. H. Bayliss

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By "opusv5" on January 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
This may not be Maugham's greatest work, but it is effective and well told. Charley, a young, benevolent, middle-class Englishman goes on holiday to Paris at Christmas-time. There, with a sardonic childhood friend, he undergoes a rite of passage common to youths of earlier eras: a visit to a brothel, here an expensive one (the Sèrail) where he meets Lydia, a Russian prostitute who works there ostensibly to help her convict husband, but, she confesses to him, where she is actually expiating the sin of murder committed by her husband through selling her body to despised and despising men. She has had a difficult life: impoverished childhood, early marriage to a charming youth who hides his criminal activities from her until committing a murder for which he is sentenced to Cayenne. Lydia, aware of his malevolent side, nonetheless has always loved and always will love this man and here Maugham convincingly portrays the irrationality, pain, and depth of love. After spending several days dining, dancing, visiting the Louvre, sharing a bedroom but never bed, Charley and Lydia part, he to his comfortable home and job in England, she back to the Sèrail. Yet after returning to familiar surroundings he notices that all is not as it was: he has been changed by this "holiday" and, as he reflects, the bottom has dropped out of his world.
Maugham was deprecated, perhaps due to jealousy of his success, by some literati of his day. Yet he did have a good control of language, solid descriptive skills, and a definite talent for narrative, all evident in "Christmas Holiday", making it a book that rings true and remains with one afterward.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By M. H. Bayliss on April 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Although this may not be the masterpiece of 20th literature, I have to admit that it was a very absorbing read. As we follow Charly, the well-bred perfect English gentlemen, through his week long vacation in Paris, we become ensnared in the life story of the prostitute he befriends and her web of friends and acquaintances. The story itself is interesting in its own right, but what really makes the narrative flow is how Maugham lets us peer into the psyches of various characters, all from different social strata. My personal favorite was Berger, Lydia's husband who despite his rogue behavior was one of the more memorable (and even likable) characters. Simon, Charly's friend was drawn perhaps a bit too extremely, but Maugham does use that to some effect. In any case, a fun read and a good story.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By C. Shaw on July 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
Maughm has the unusual talent of baring truths about human nature in a most simplified fashion. His insights into the complexities of human relationships reveal his incredible talent with words. Maughm has been my absolute favorite writer for years...His unpretentious writing style reveals intelligence in the most positive way, extending out to anyone who loves to hear a wonderful story.
"Christmas Holiday" begins and ends in one exhilirating whirlwind, without ever a moment of slight boredom. Maughm writes with a fluidity that cannot be matched by any other writer. He is simply the best at his art - storytelling.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Nelson on May 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
I've read most of Somerset Maugham's major novels, and many of his short stories. He is one of my favorite English authors, mostly because of the skill with which he so easily marries place, time, and scenery into the drama at hand. The motivations and actions of his characters are generally believable and in tune with their characterization. Christmas Holiday is no exception, although in my book it's far behind his three best novels, "Of Human Bondage", "The Razor's Edge", and "The Moon and Sixpence". I like the story, but after two readings continue to find it less memorable than the novels just mentioned, or many of his South Pacific short stories.
Charley Mason, a middle class college student from England is given a holiday in Paris by his Babbit-esque father during Christmas-time. He gladly accepts, and there, looks up his philosophically engrossed friend, Simon. Simon has been living a spartan lifestyle, filling his head with fascist political idealogy. No matter how friendly Charley tries to be, Simon pushes him away in a misguided attempt to make himself "hard" and impervious. The interactions between Simon and Charley remind me of those between Anthony Beavis, Helen Amberley, and Mark Staithes in Aldous Huxley's, "Eyeless in Gaza". Both novels, which were written in the late 1930's, portray the tense build-up to WWII, and the brewing hostility of zealous fascists. Maugham certainly came across people seduced by fascist ideaology at this time, and Simon is the fictional incarnation of these uncompromising dogmatists.
The bulk of the story evolves around Charley's lengthy discussions with a young Russian prostitute named Lydia, introduced to him by Simon.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By fleur de lys on May 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
"Christmas Holiday" takes place in a period of interlude between the two world wars in England and France when the worst in world affairs was not over but yet to come. For Charley Mason, the young Englishman the gift of 5 days in Paris his parents have given him turns out to be less the anticipated celebration and more of an unsettling interlude in his own life. It develops for him into a revelatory journey that blemishes his happy heart and privileged home life. He reunites in Paris with a troubled boyhood friend Simon now a news reporter who he hasn't seen for two years. Charley is bewildered and tries to gain perspective on Simon's seeming metamorphosis into a self-confessed misanthropist and insensitive manipulator. It is Simon who lays out all the sores of humanity for Charley's tender sensibilities to collide with. At the Sérail, a cabaret where bare breasted dancing girls glitter in harem pants and turbans and can be taken upstairs for a price, Simon pairs Charley with "Princess Olga" the working name of an enigmatic Russian girl named Lydia. Charley is ensnared by Lydia's anguished life story, her orphaned state, her poverty and unreasonable devotion to a convict husband whose imprisonment and guilt she feels she must share through her own continued suffering. For a brief time the reality of Charley 's respectable, comfortable and secure existence becomes entwined with those whom fate has not so similarly blessed. His"Holiday" changes him forever.

Here again Maugham's gift for telling a story is evident. He uses words with a facility that brings a narrative to life in a way that engages the imagination and enables the reader to vividly picture the characters and events. A recommended read.
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