Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mini-Review of "Theatre" by Somerset Maugham

As I get into the rhythm of reading several Somerset Maugham novels in a row, I begin to sense some of his persona leaking through the narrative of his stories.  We now know that he lived as a closeted bisexual for much of his life, and that fact of biographical history sheds some light on the female characters he portrays whose libido often exceeds that of their more passive male companions.  We have such a pair on display in "Theatre."  Julia has become the most celebrated stage actress in London.  Her husband Michael, a former mediocre actor and now her manager and theater owner, seems to be living a repressed and celibate life within their marriage after the union had produced a son who follows a well-worn path to Rugby and Cambridge.  Julia, on the other hand, has a long running affair with a callow youth who steals her heart and uses his closeness to her fame as a stepping stone to meet influential society people and beautiful young actresses.

As he does in many of his novels, Maugham uses the action in which his colorful characters engage to comment upon aspects of society that he finds boring and odious.  The behind the scenes gossip from the world of the London stage is intriguing and titillating, and his observations on the nature of love and of fame make this novel an entertaining read.



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