Nine novels, in two volumes, by W Somerset Maugham
Liza of Lambeth
Down among the drab slums of Lambeth, eighteen-year-old Liza is the darling of Vere Street. Vibrant and bewitching, she is adored by the steady, loyal Tom. But then Liza meets Jim Blakeston, charming and worldy, new to the area, and married. Soon the streets are wise to their passionate affair and Liza's fall from grace is fast and fatal. Written while Maugham was a medical student, and his first published novel, Liza of Lambeth is a vividly realistic portrayal of working-class London life.
Cakes and Ale
Both a wickedly satirical novel about contemporary literary poseurs and a skilfully crafted study of freedom. As he traces the fortunes of Edward Driffield and his extraordinary wife Rosie, one of the most delightful heroines of twentieth-century literature, Maugham's sardonic wit and lyrical warmth expertly combine in this accomplished and unforgettable novel.
Julia Lambert is in her prime, the greatest actress in England. Off stage, however, she is bored with her handsome husband, coquettish and undisciplined. She is at first flattered and amused by the attentions of a shy and eager young fan, but before long Julia is amazed to find herself falling wildly, dangerously, in love.
The Moon and Sixpence
Charles Strickland, a conventional stockbroker, abandons his wife and children for Paris and Tahiti, to live his life as a painter. Whilst his betrayal of family, duty and honour gives him the freedom to achieve greatness, his decision leads to an obsession which carries severe implications.
The Narrow Corner
On his way home from a remote Pacific island, Dr Saunders travels with two strangers: the treacherous Captain Nichols, and Fred, a handsome Australian with a shadowy past. Driven to shelter from a storm on the island of Kanda, the trio meet good-natured Erik Christessen and his fiancée, the cool and beautiful Louise.
The Painted Veil
Kitty Fane is the beautiful but shallow wife of Walter, a bacteriologist stationed in Hong Kong. Unsatisfied by her marriage, she starts an affair with charming, attractive and exciting Charles Townsend. But when Walter discovers her deception, he exacts a strange and terrible vengeance: Kitty must accompany him to his new posting in remote mainland China, where a cholera epidemic rages...
At the age of twenty-three, Charlie Mason is endowed with good looks, good manners and a cheerful disposition. Following three years at Cambridge and one working in his father's business, he is looking forward to a jaunt in Paris with one of his oldest friends. Yet Paris is not what he expects - in just a few days his young eyes are opened to the tragedies and ugly dramas of its underworld.
Up at the Villa
Mary Panton walls up her desires in a beautiful villa high up in the hills above Florence, as she calmly contemplates her disastrous marriage. But a single act of compassion begins a nightmare of violence that shatters her serenity. She turns for help to the notorious Rowley Flint, and through him comes to realise that to deny love, with all its passions and risks, is to deny life itself.
The Razor's Edge
Larry Darrell is a young American in search of the absolute. The progress of this spiritual odyssey involves him with some of Maugham's most brillant characters - his fiancee Isabel, whose choice between love and wealth have lifelong repercussions, and Elliot Templeton, her uncle, a classic expatriate American snob.