The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham

The Moon and Sixpence
W. Somerset Maugham
(Penguin Books, London: 1944)

First published in Great Britain by William Heinemann Ltd. in 1919.

READ: March 2007

I hadn't read this kind of book in a while (you know, "real" literature) and wasn't sure what to expect, but it had an interesting premise as being loosely based on Paul Gauguin's life.

Well, once I picked it up, I almost couldn't put it down, and finished it in a compulsive burst of reading. I think it took me three days, and only then because I had to stop reading for sleeping and working. The narrator, a writer (go figure), is likeable enough, but the main subject, Charles Strickland, is a thoroughly disagreeable, unlikeable man. Yet somehow it didn't matter. The book is cleverly written in such a way that I spent my time not wondering what is going to happen to Strickland, which would have held much less interest for me (we know the outcome from page one anyway), but in a way that compelled me to see how the narrator learned more about Strickland. It's really quite good. Disappointing lack of anybody resembling Vincent van Gogh, however. ;)

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