Look Inside. Cakes and Ale is a delicious satire of London literary society between the Wars. The lively, loving heroine once gave Driffield enough material to last a lifetime, but now her memory casts an embarrissing shadow over his career and respectable image. Wise, witty, deeply satisfying, Cakes and Ale is Maugham at his best.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Somerset Maugham. Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Cakes and Ale by W. Cakes and Ale by W. Cakes and Ale is a delicious satire of London literary society between the Wars.
Social climber Alroy Kear is flattered when he is selected by Edward Driffield's wife to pen the official biography of her lionized novelist husband, and determined to write a bestseller. But then Kear discovers the great novelist's voluptuous muse and unlikely first wife , Rosie. The lively, Cakes and Ale is a delicious satire of London literary society between the Wars.
The lively, loving heroine once gave Driffield enough material to last a lifetime, but now her memory casts an embarrissing shadow over his career and respectable image. Wise, witty, deeply satisfying, Cakes and Ale is Maugham at his best.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published December 5th by Vintage first published More Details Original Title. Blackstable, Kent, England United Kingdom. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Cakes and Ale , please sign up. This question contains spoilers… view spoiler [Is Rosie really the exemplar of someone who has thrown off the shackles of stuffy Edwardian values and is living a life of freedom and free love?
We don't actually hear her story in her own words until the end of the book and it left me wondering to what extent her free-wheeling life was actually a reaction to the death of her daughter for better or worse.
See 1 question about Cakes and Ale…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Cakes and Ale. Jul 02, Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it.
This is an entertaining book, memorable for the way Maugham gleefully skewers the hypocrites and lays bare the doubleness of both sinner and writer with the scalpel of clinical observation. The major fault of the book, though, is that Maugham never seems to grasp fully the connections between hypocrisy, animal weakness, and artistic calculation--all incidences of the failure of people to achieve—or society to tolerate—a fully integrated human personality.
Maugham expends what little sympathy he has on the socially despised sexual liberality of Rosie, the character who most clearly reflects his own hidden life. But the hypocrites like Kear and the cold, calculating writers like Driffield and Ashenden require of their creator an equal understanding, and Maugham grants them at worst mere sarcasm and at best a prominent, well-lighted place in his Exhibition of Human Contradictions.
I suspect Maugham possessed neither the universal sympathy nor the abstract intelligence to perceive the connections between his characters, how each strives to reconcile personality with performance, private desires with public space. Because of this deficiency, Cakes and Ale --despite its considerable virtues--remains a precariously balanced construction of satire and sympathy, and therefore falls somewhat short of being a great book.
View all 24 comments. May 20, Cheryl rated it really liked it Shelves: vintage , fav-authors. She had the serenity of a summer evening when the light fades slowly from the unclouded sky. There is something luscious about Maugham's beguiling sentences and vocabulary that had me underlining sentences, journaling through the margins, and circling words. Still, I tread through a few of his works because one neve She had the serenity of a summer evening when the light fades slowly from the unclouded sky.
Still, I tread through a few of his works because one never knows what one will find. Cakes and Ale is the juxtaposition of social conventions and free spiritedness; it is the parallelism of high society tea gathering and working class society after-work bar huddle. The book both explains and disdains the idea of judgement and societal frameworks that seemed to define a person in those days and yet it reveals the stereotypes that unfortunately, sometimes unveil themselves in the one stereotyped.
But who is the fearless, arresting, and incorrigible woman Maugham develops into a nuanced female character? This is who I followed in the novel: Rosie Driffield, the mysterious being. Expecting much of the narrator, Willie Ashenden, is a bit heartbreaking because he is dull and judgmental, until he talks about Rosie. Alroy Kear, on the other hand, is a famous writer who must write a biography of his mentor, Edward Driffied; so aside from admiring his ambition, there is little of Kear to know.
Finally, there is Rosie and her husband Edward Driffield the writer whose life story is outlined. Driffield's story without Rosie is not too meaningful, especially since he wrote his many books while with her. He is as mysterious and avant-garde as Rosie, a man who seems to pay no mind to what society thinks of him. Yet with his second wife, Edward becomes a different man who lives the life expected of a celebrated author. His new wife, who has organized the notes for Driffield's biography, does not want any mention of the former wife.
But hidden between the words spoken, is an intriguing and melancholic story that, if not revealed, does not make for an authentic biography. She glowed, but palely, like the moon rather than the sun, or if it was like the sun it was like the sun in the white mist of dawn.
How does a woman, a former barmaid, live a life of unconventionality within a society that draws a clear line between 'gentlemen' and working men, a society that does not allow the vicar's nephew to associate with a novelist? I'm drawing a blank on which classic female Rosie resembles, but perhaps in some small way she is unique: her descriptions, the affecting way she encounters people, the sexual nonchalance, and even the way she still manages to maintain a love-filled marriage view spoiler [until later Every now and then, the narration sneaks into sensory detail that is engaging, the way the story moves is fulfilling, and the omissions later revealed are enticing - just what one would expect from Maugham.
View all 13 comments. Why oh why have I not read anything by Maugham before? Not having done so is my loss, and one which I must continue to remedy without delay. I decided to read one of Maugham's novels because I knew from Gordon Bowker 's biography of George Orwell that Orwell was a great admirer of his writing.
This particular novel suggested itself because of its subject a satire on literary London in the early 20th century and because it's apparently the novel for which Maugham himself most wanted to be remem Why oh why have I not read anything by Maugham before? This particular novel suggested itself because of its subject a satire on literary London in the early 20th century and because it's apparently the novel for which Maugham himself most wanted to be remembered.
Maugham's crystal clear prose and his wry, ironic wit made the audiobook version of this novel an absolute joy to listen to. It has some great characters and an interesting structure which moves back and forward in time. Parts of it - particularly at the beginning - were laugh-out-loud funny. I now understand why Orwell thought so highly of Maugham. It's wonderful to have another prolific writer to explore in depth.
View all 12 comments. Jun 21, Trevor rated it it was amazing Shelves: literature. This book was a pure delight. Maugham is such an interesting writer and although he did not think himself a great writer, I believe he does have his moments of greatness. I loved Of Human Bondage and this one again uses material from his own life yet again — particularly stuff to do with his childhood spent with his vicar uncle and his aunt in the country. The book starts off with a bit of a pattern to it.
The book is written in first person singular — we will talk a bit more about that later — This book was a pure delight. There then follows a digression on the nature of friendships with writers a not terribly kind discussion.
There is then the meeting itself where it becomes fairly clear that this writer is interested in what the I in the book knows about another writer who has fairly recently died.
The I in the book had grown up in a village where the dead writer had lived part of his early life and then went back to in his final years. However, about the only thing the I can remember is that the dead writer had taught him how to ride a bicycle. They part, with the other writer less than happy with the outcome of their chat, and this sets the I in the novel thinking back to his childhood and in particular his curious relationship with the dead novelist and his wife — which turns out to be much more involved than he had admitted to the other writer.
This pattern is then repeated. I find jealousy, particularly sexual jealousy, to be a fascinating theme in novels. There was a time when I could be painfully jealous — but over the years I have decided that jealousy is a pointless and stupid emotion. All the same, it is a beast we are best not to trifle with. If we can learn nothing from Othello, we ought to be able to learn at least that. This is not your usual cautionary tale about jealousy though.
Cakes and Ale by Somerset Maugham (1930)
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Cakes and Ale
Somerset Maugham. Maugham exposes the misguided social snobbery levelled at the character Rosie Driffield, whose frankness, honesty, and sexual freedom make her a target of conservative propriety. Her character is treated favourably by the book's narrator, Ashenden, who understands that she was a muse to the many artists who surrounded her, and who himself enjoyed her sexual favours. Maugham drew his title from the remark of Sir Toby Belch to Malvolio in William Shakespeare 's Twelfth Night : " Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale? In his introduction to a Modern Library edition, published in , Maugham wrote, "I am willing enough to agree with common opinion that Of Human Bondage is my best work But the book I like best is Cakes and Ale Driffield, once scorned for his realist representation of late-Victorian working-class characters, had in his later years come to be lionised by scholars of English letters.
Late in life, Somerset Maugham claimed that this was the favourite among his novels and it is easy to see why, with its wit and provocative themes handled with consummate skill. Ashenden ultimately opts not to contribute to the project having initially supplied his memories of the time they spent together in his youth, and we eventually find out why and what he really thought of the lovely ex-barmaid Rosie and the talented Driffield, a figure closely modelled on Thomas Hardy. As my old English Lit teacher used to say, trust the text not the author, and this is triumphantly proved here. Maugham lied a lot about his inspiration for this novel and was apparently not a very nice man at all; but his work, especially in short form, remains remarkably fresh and insightful. Bigamy, murder, and forgery. Very few villains in books failed to hold the threat of exposure of one of those crimes over some helpless female. Cakes and Ale is a fine portrait of a vanished age and about literary heritage, prestige and pretension — and about what a bad idea respectability really is.
The sky was unclouded and the air hot and bright, but the North Sea gave it a pleasant tang so that it was a delight just to live and breathe. Chapter 3. The sequence of events is fairly straightforward: young Willie Ashenden grows up in the fictional town of Blackstable transparently based on the actual town of Whitstable on the Kent coast, in the care of his conventional uncle who is the town vicar. They get talking and he becomes friendly with them, often meeting with them. One day Willie is flabbergasted to learn that Edward and Rosie have flown the coop, jumped the moon, done a bunk, disappeared, leaving behind a trail of debts and angry shopkeepers.