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Mrs Craddock (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) Paperback – December 1, 1992
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A young woman, carried away by passion, sees a chance to escape a dull life and to experience true love. But she discovers that little in her marriage to the dutiful and sensible Edward meets her expectations. And as passion dies, she finds herself trapped in a loveless, oppressive marriage.
About the Author
William Somerset Maugham was an English author, playwright, and doctor best known for the semi-autobiographical novel Of Human Bondage. Orphaned at a young age, Maugham was raised, unhappily, by his uncle, who urged him into a medical career despite his talent and interest in writing. Maugham gave up his career in medicine after his first novel, Liza of Lambeth, sold out its initial printing in several weeks, and next ventured into playwriting with Lady Frederick, which was such a success that by the following year Maugham had four plays running simultaneously. Maugham worked for the British Secret Service during the First World War, travelling all over the world before making his home in the south of France after Second World War and using his experiences as inspiration for new stories. Before his death in 1965, Maugham published many more successful novels including The Letter and The Razor s Edge, both of which were adapted into feature films. Maugham has been remembered as one of the most influential and successful writers of his era, and is believed to have been the highest paid author of the 1930s.
Top customer reviews
"Oh, it drives me mad to think of the devotion I waste on you," she cried. "I'm a fool! You are all the world to me, and I, to you, am a sort of accident; you might have married anyone but me. If I hadn't come across your path you would infallibly have married someone else."
"Well, so you would you," he answered, laughing.
By the time I got to this passage, I was extremely tired of Bertha and her complaints. Yes, she is the intellectual and stylistically superior of the two of them, but her self-absorption, impulsiveness and cold heart left me feeling cold as well.
I am struck at how many reviews of this book, as well as literary essays about it, find Bertha so sympathetic as a character. When the book opens, she is turning 21 and in love with Edward Craddock, a tenant farmer on the estate she inherited from her parents. Headstrong and passionate for Edward, she marries him despite warnings from those in "her class" that it's a mistake.
She quickly discovers that they were right, but for different reasons. Edward is incapable to loving her in the consuming way she demands, but few men could have measured up to her unrealistic expectations. I became bored with the book because there was so little movement in the story -- Bertha becoming more crabby and hostile to Edward, Edward infuriating Bertha by remaining jovial and intellectually incurious.
Things become more interesting when Bertha makes good on her threat to leave Edward, and spends many months with her Aunt Polly, the most interesting character in the book. Shrewd and ironic, Polly offers some relief from Bertha's incessant whining.
I found Edward much more sympathetic than others have. For someone supposedly so simple-minded, he proves himself able to manage a growing estate with skill and earns the respect of the community. And his intellectual limitations, no matter how infuriating, are balanced by his seemingly infinite patience with his arrogant wife.
Maugham's writing is so skillful that I gave this 4 stars despite the tedium of the first half of the book. This snippet of conversation between Bertha and Edward is one reason why. In this scene, Edward complains that Bertha spends so much time reading:
"I don't pretend to have any book-learning. I'm a practical man and it's not required. In my business you find that the man who reads books comes a mucker."
"You seem to think that ignorance is creditable."
"It's better to have a good and pure heart, Bertha, and a clean mind than any amount of learning."
"It's better to have a grain of wit than a collection of moral saws."
At the end, Bertha attains her wish of being without Edward, but one doubts that she will ever find happiness.
his collected works. That would give the reader a better idea of his genius.
Most recent customer reviews
The story line seemed weak to me since reading several of the W S Maugham novels.Read more