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Cornflower book group

« Past, present, future | Main | On the shelf »

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Moira

Bother! I bought it and haven't got round to reading it yet. Will put it on the holiday pile.

Chris

Wonderful. I loved Elliot Templeton's fabulously outrageous snob. The whole world depicted was from a bygone age, delicious. I'm glad that Larry saved himself from an appalling marriage, and ran off to live life. I too cared about the outcome. I liked Maugham's weaving in and out of the story, it seemed far more personal, as if he were telling a tale to a friend.

Susie Vereker

Yes, an interesting and enjoyable novel, laced with Maugham's dry, misanthropic but often amusing slant on life. Thanks for suggesting it, Cornflower. A re-read for me, I soon realised. Have been reading a few Maugham novels and short stories (some brilliant) recently. Maugham didn't have a high opinion of women, it's clear, and Isabel is another of his shallow females. I loved Elliott and guess we all have one or two Elliotts in our lives, even if the modern version is keener on celebs than duchesses.
Larry is a mysterious man and one admires Maugham for creating this searcher for the truth. I'm afraid that, in order to finish the book, I rather rushed through the last chapters where he may or may not have found it.

Ruthiella

I did enjoy The Razor’s Edge very much. I checked it out from the library thinking I would just peruse the first chapter, since I had other books I was reading. Three days later, I finished it. I agree with Chris, it was as if I was listening to someone leisurely recount a story to me over drinks in a comfortable room. It is written is such a smooth, almost hypnotic style which carried me along. It isn’t something I thought about consciously while reading, but as you astutely point out, Elliot and Larry really do represent two diametric approaches to living. But I don’t feel as if Elliot was really any the worse off in the end. I think my favorite character was Isabel. She was in some ways so sharp and aware and in others, completely deluded and manipulative.

Alex in Leeds

I was less enthusiastic about it in the review I've just posted (http://alexinleeds.com/2013/05/25/review-the-razors-edge-by-w-somerset-maugham/) but only because I found that I prefer my WSM closer to the dramatic end of the scale rather than the gossipy end. I thought this was a bit too nostalgic and told-over-dinner for my tastes though I really appreciate the way he breaks so many stylistic conventions without seeming outrageous. I agree though, Elliot Templeton might just be my favourite Maugham creation I've read so far. :)

B R Wombat

My first Maugham and an enjoyable read. Thanks for suggesting it!

Chris

I thought Elliot was fabulous.

michi

I enjoyed this book too. I admire the author's deep insight and sharp observation about human beings, but I felt he was quite critical about women's looks which made me feel a bit uneasy sometimes ( "should I start using anti- ageing cream?" " I'd better go on diet"). I don't know which character was my favourite. Larry is obviously a most likeable character but I sometimes found his unworldliness irritating. In spite of their snobbishness and selfishness, I sometimes was in favour of Elliot and Isabel's pragmatic views. This was my first book by W S Maugham, and I'd like to read his other works, maybe Of Human Bondage next.

This month is my first Cornflower Book Group anniversary. Looking at the list of the titles I've read for CBG in the past year, I cannot help being amazed with its variety: it has expanded my literary horizons so much. How lucky I am to have found this wonderful book group: friendly, unique and inspiring. Thank you!

Mr Cornflower

Well, what a treat! I vaguely recall reading The Moon and Sixpence many years ago and not greatly caring for it, but this was a revelation. Sharply observed, surprisingly frank and sensible about sex for its period (and remember Maugham was nearly seventy when he wrote it), and in Elliott Templeton providing us with one of the great literary grotesques of all time. In his sad and desperate decline he rather reminded me of Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, managing to be both hilariously camp and strangely touching. And did anyone else find there was just a little bit of the trust fund prig about Larry Darrell? It always helps to have a modest private income and to be within reach of an American Express office when searching for the Absolute.

Anji

This book was a treat to read and while I had read other Maugham books, I hadn't read the Razor's Edge. I was absorbed by it and I agree with you Cornflower it was everything you said it was and more.

Great choice Cornflower.

cindy

In a way I wish I hadn't read this post. I read this book 30 years ago, and now want to read it again, as I remember it vaguely as a great read, but now only vaguely remember why. I also adored Of Human Bondage, particularly after the first few chapters, in fact it's a favourite of mine.

 Barbara MacLeod

A great read with lots of threads to unpick and explore!

I have not quite finished it as I am reading the last bit where the author says that “ the reader can skip this chapter without losing the thread of the story”. Not me ... as this is the whole point of the story - Larry’s spiritual enlightenment.

Yes, like Mr C. I have to keep pushing away the background fact in the story , i.e. having a bank balance to support “loafing” certainly helps. That being said, I liked the way the author made himself one of the characters enabling us to follow the ebb and flow of Larry and the other friends’ lives.

Larry is charismatic. We see him in this circle of friends, all of whom are very fond of him and each other. There are many forms or types of love and the relationships in this story highlighted some of them. However, there was one form that was conspicuous by its absence - a real An Elephant in the Room That Wasn’t Talked About - and that is homosexual love. Published in 1944 it is quite understandable.

Yes, a great writer and social observer.

Martina

My first Maugham and it won't be the last! Very much enjoyed this choice, Cornflower. The characters, especially Ellott, were memorable. Thinking things Gatsby at the moment made this a particularly resonant read.
A delicious moment for me was when The narrator reveals himself and confides, that he wasn't present for the subsequent incidents but would use his imagination!! And his ironic invitation to skip the final sections which as he notes are the core of the novel !!

Thanks again for guiding my reading choice so wisely and for the discussion which has added so much to my appreciation.

Rebecca

Due to the craziness of the end of the school year, I just finished the book now, and I am a bit conflicted: I felt it was both very boring and very readable at the same time. Nothing really happens, does it? In fact, Maugham admits he doesn't know what happened to Larry; Larry never really changes as a character; much of the action, if it can be called that, comes out of order or in retelling. Still, I was involved in the book, at least until Larry's Indian sojourn, when, for the first time, the "told over dinner" style began to pall. Even the revelation about Sophie's death didn't alter anything. So: one of the most interesting aspects of the book for me is the question of what makes it interesting? And I agree with Mr. C: Larry was a little too good to be true to me, and his trust fund seemed a tad too convenient. Still, I'm glad I got to read the book!

Moira

Finally got round to reading this! I loved it and will seek out more Maugham.

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