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Cakes and Ale book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Cakes and Ale is a delicious satire of London literary society betwe. Complete summary of W. Somerset Maugham's Cakes and Ale. Kear has nothing but praise for the old man's books, but Ashenden says that he never thought. Cakes and Ale struck me as quite an odd book. It has many passages in it that are amusing, interesting, and eminently quotable, such as the.

May 20, Cheryl rated it really liked it Shelves: 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 never 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: 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 14 comments. Jun 21, Trevor rated it it was amazing Shelves: 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.

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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. In fact, this is nothing like your usual tale about anything.

The idea that perhaps women might actually even enjoy sex may have been deeply shocking, in fact, probably is deeply shocking to some people. At least, people both at the time and now are and were prepared to pretend that such an idea was deeply shocking. There are many quotable quotes and I do like a book with lots of quotable quotes. But the best thing about it was that it never seemed to have to try too hard.

Like I said, it was dealing with a theme that would have been quite controversial in and it did so in a clear, up front and interesting way. Forster, from which I learned that the only way to write novels was like Mr E.

The first person singular is a very useful device for this limited purpose. I enjoyed this book very much. Not as much as Of Human Bondage , but enough — more than enough. View all 3 comments. Jul 09, Werner rated it it was ok Recommends it for: Maugham fans; students of modern English literature. Recommended to Werner by: It was a common read in one of my groups.

This particular book was adopted as a common read in one of my Goodreads groups, which is how I came to read it previously, I'd actually never heard of it. My previous exposure to Maugham's work was only through a couple of his short stories. As an introduction to his long fiction, this novella was perhaps not as successful as might have been wished; I didn't rate it as highly as a couple of my Goodreads friends in the group did.

The Goodreads description for the book is reasonably accurate, th This particular book was adopted as a common read in one of my Goodreads groups, which is how I came to read it previously, I'd actually never heard of it. The Goodreads description for the book is reasonably accurate, though would-be biographer Kear doesn't suddenly "discover" the existence of his subject's spectacularly unfaithful first wife Rosie; he's known about her all along --and knows she's going to be a difficult "skeleton in the cupboard" to deal with in writing the kind of sanitized biography he wants to write.

But it doesn't deal with the role of Willie Ashenden, Kear's fellow novelist, as narrator and viewpoint character, and keeper of voluminous and scandalous Driffield family secrets that are strategically disclosed to the reader as the book progresses.

Ashenden who is also the protagonist of the earlier Maugham novel Ashenden, or the British Agent is a character clearly modeled on the author himself; they share a substantial body of biographical details, and Maugham was known as "Willie" to his friends. As such, Ashenden serves as the mouthpiece for Maugham's own viewpoints and lectures on matters related and unrelated to the plot. Part of Maugham's agenda in writing this work, as the description makes clear, is to deliver a devastating satire on the self-contained, status-obsessed little world of the ca.

Another target of his satire is the class snobbery of his Victorian and Edwardian boyhood and youth: This viewpoint was stronger in England than in America; but it's not wholly dead in either country, even today. Maugham does a commendable job at calling this kind of prejudice out and exposing it for ridicule.

Cakes and Ale: Or the Skeleton in the Cupboard Summary & Study Guide Description

Ultimately, though, his main message here is of a piece with that of some other early 20th-century writers: The main carrier for this particular cargo is Rosie's character, which is carefully sketched as noble, warm, kind, generous, all-around adorable --and "innocently" promiscous, with Ashenden's narration used to stack the deck and direct the reader's impressions. Rosie's comment at one point, "Enjoy yourself while you have the chance, I say; we shall all be dead in a hundred years and what will anything matter then?

Let's have a good time while we can," is a perfect capsule statement of the philosophy of existential meaninglessness and absolute hedonism; and if Rosie isn't educated enough to think of it in those terms, Maugham definitely was. In the 85 years since this was written, of course, the Western world has changed epochally.

Maugham's view is now accepted orthodoxy for the ruling political and socio-economic elites and the media, and the popular masses that uncritically accept it, exemplified by the abolition of legally-binding marriage in the s.

For more critical observers, though, who consider the current explosion of impoverished female-headed households and the resulting train of social pathologies this has fostered in the unmoored generations raised in these, the epidemics of AIDS and other STDs, the skyrocketing of out-of-wedlock childbirths to rates previously unprecedented in human history, the development of the flesh trade and pornography into worldwide billion dollar growth industries with powerful political influence, and the creation of a culture in which one third of all women can expect to be sexually assaulted or abused in their lifetime, it is a defensible conclusion that the message has not worn well with time.

The novel is a quick read, with an unintimidating style, and Maugham's skill at characterization is much in evidence though I personally don't find Rosie as unqualifiedly winsome as some readers do.

But Maugham's frequent asides of obiter dicta on various abstractions or side subjects tend to be boring, off-beam, and as generally irritating in a first-person narrator as they sometimes were in 19th-century third person narrators think, Thackeray at his worst.

And the discussion late in the book over whether or not Rosie is a "white nigger," because of her "thick lips and broad nose" is likely to offend any reader who has enlightened racial sensibilities. View all 15 comments. Dec 03, Chrissie rated it really liked it Shelves: I like this a lot, so four stars is what I shall give it. There is not one measly thing I feel I need to grumble about! I have narrowed down what I like about the book to three things.

These are summarized in the three following paragraphs.

Cakes and Ale

The setting is London and Blackstable, Kent, a fictitious town modeled on Whitstable, on the north coast of Kent in sou I like this a lot, so four stars is what I shall give it. The setting is London and Blackstable, Kent, a fictitious town modeled on Whitstable, on the north coast of Kent in southeastern England, near Canterbury.

Satirical irony is fused into almost every line at the start.

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Then, as the story line picks up, your attention shifts to that. The humor remains throughout, but with less prominence because the plot has captured your interest. Satire comes in many forms. Here, first you think about what is said and then you laugh when you realize what is implied and what is actually being said. The humor is amusing, not nasty. You enter the story at a tilt. Who is the story really about?

It is not whom you guess at the start. You make another guess, and that proves wrong too. The reader is circling around and getting deeper to the core. Along the way, you are gradually gathering information. John Donne's line "No man is an island," aptly fits. How the story is approached is what I am praising and what this says about interactions between people.

What lies under the surface of the characters' behavior? This is the core of the novel. You come to know whom the story is really about and how one person's life is rolled up in another's. You look at a person, make a judgment from what you see, but that judgment can be completely off mark! To understand another properly one must go below the surface, beneath what is visible.

Maugham has a way with words. He captures the essence of his characters. This is achieved through how he draws them, through what they say, what they wear, what they do and how they interact with each other. And often through humor. The audiobook is extremely well narrated by James Saxon. I have given the narration five stars. It is to his credit that I laughed rather than becoming annoyed in the high society of London.

He captures that world perfectly, without getting me annoyed, instead making me laugh. On closing the book, I sat back and thought about the title. Better beans and bacon in peace, than cakes and ale in fear.

Which do you prefer? I like this message too. Cakes and Ale is by far my favorite by W. View 2 comments. Aug 02, Sketchbook rated it it was ok. Someday there'd be bios, he knew, and he wanted control, if possible, of the content. Who has it, who doesn't and how some play the promotion game -- literary teas, salons At MOMs Villa Mauresque, , he was ordering diaries, letters, personal papers grilled.

Who has it, who doesn't and how some play the promotion game -- literary teas, salons, At Homes, courting critics.

Cakes and Ale: Or the Skeleton in the Cupboard Summary & Study Guide

MOM offers witty and deadly examples of the upward Fame Game. MOM also had something else in mind. His story is wrapped around a pushy, very popular novelist Alroy Kear who preens his careerism as he preps a bio of a lauded Victorian novelist Edward Driffield based on Thomas Hardy, recently deceased.

MOM writes with his usual adroitness, moving easily from present to past. You will be impressed by his technical dexterity. The Kear character is based on Hugh Walpole does anyone read him today? Jealousy, you know.

A gadabout charmer, Walpole was liked by many, a mentor to many and with a good nature. MOM, a cut above him as a novelist, couldnt bear Walpole's personal and professional likeability.

Though MOM smugly, perhaps calls this a favorite novel of his, it isnt that good when all is said and done.

The central woman named Rosie, Driffield's first wife, has won pundit praise for "delicious" characterization. Rosie, MOM let it be known -- or, flaunted?

So next came Syrie and Gerald Haxton.

A good sport, Sue liked sex and slept around; she also had a warm, maternal personality. In this story, Rosie Driffield sleeps around right and left, and her husband doesnt seem to know or care.

It just doesnt make any difference. This fanciful "plotting" makes no sense. The real Rosie didnt have a husband. The fictional Rosie does. MOM is blinkered. Other than Rosie's busy sex life we know v little about her or why she later leaves her getting-famous husband. MOM doesnt try to provide an answer. Driffield himself is a mere sketch: I think MOMs stuffed peppers are unbelievable here because he simply didnt care.

He wanted to sound off on Fame and he just wanted to insult Walpole who'd been a friend for some years. Virginia Woolf chortled. Her body "was made for the act of love. View all 11 comments. Cakes and Ale is a 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 ov Description: Brazilliant has located an online version.

Read here The full title is Cakes and Ale: The narrator is Ashenden, so does this mean Cakes and Ales is also semi-autobiographical? The skeleton in the cupboard seems to be a certain Rosie, a sweet barmaid with a broad libido - Edward Driffield's first wife. And Oh Larks! Factoids from wiki: View all 9 comments. Apr 01, F. I was given this book by a girl I dated a couple of times last year.

Nothing lasting developed between myself and this young lady, but I am thinking of getting in touch with her again to thank her once more — as I was given this book by a girl I dated a couple of times last year. Nothing lasting developed between myself and this young lady, but I am thinking of getting in touch with her again to thank her once more — as her judgement has proved very much correct. This is sharp and clever examination of literary reputations and the critics, poseurs and other interested parties who fuel them.

Our narrator is asked for his reminiscences of a great author — Edward Driffield — who the narrator had met while he was a young boy and Driffield was a struggling writer. Since his death Driffield has been hailed by polite literary society as lion, a man whose work reflects impeccable taste of the world around him.

Sep 30, Haaze rated it really liked it Shelves: Somerset Maugham Maugham's novel initially seems to focus on the literary world of England. The main character, Ashenden, is connected through space and time with the social world of an ascending author. At first I thought the novel only was a vehicle used by Maugham to criticize the literary world, i.

Maugham subtly weaved layers of circumstances between the different characters while simultaneously combining the present with vivid and engaging recollections from boyhood.

It became a journey through memory with all its different facets from happiness to sorrow. I did get the feeling that Maugham shifted in his moods quite a bit while writing this novel.

Cakes and Ale

Sometimes he was extremely sarcastic and funny throwing literary barbs everywhere. At other times he is very nostalgic and sweet bringing forward the realms of memory and love with great poetic gusto. The novel truly shines in those chapters. It is a marvelous blend of life sparkling among these pages.

It is lovely and will be reread. The novel has also sparked my interest in exploring additional works by Maugham. Cakes and Ale took me by surprise. It made me think about nostalgic moments in my own life and the flow of time.

A wonderful novel! Somerset Maugham has always remained one of my favourite authors and re-reading this was a delight. Much of this novel is autobiographical and, indeed, Maugham himself always said it was his favourite. Driffield has recently died, leaving his widow, and former nurse, looking for a biographer to help present the vision of his life that she approves of.

Ashenden knew Driffield well, and also his first wife, Rosie. This is very much a satire of literary London and you sense that Maugham is having a great deal of fun in writing this.

He is keen to point out literary trends; gleefully pointing out that nobody remembers many of the people he met at literary soirees at the time. He certainly takes a side swipe at Evelyn Waugh another favourite author of mine and is at his best when sniping at the literary world and also laughing at himself as a young, priggish and snobbish youth.

As Ashenden recalls his life and his relationship with Driffield, it is Rosie who really comes to life on the page. Her character, charm, beauty and humour which draws everyone around her; like moths to a flame. This is a wonderful book and I am not surprised that Maugham wanted to be remembered for it.

It contains much of himself and he obviously uses his young life to good effect, while cleverly poking fun at literary pretentions and how reputations are created. Nov 21, Lavinia rated it really liked it Shelves: Random reading. I wanted to read Maugham and I chose this one for no particular reason. I was almost tempted to put the book back on the shelf because of the uninspired Romanian translation - Life's pleasures - which sounds totally cheap, but I congratulate myself for checking the English title; at least it sounds interesting: I like a good satire every now and then.

And this one was absolutely delicious. English society, mannerism, a writer's life, all these covered in witty, sharp and ironica Random reading. English society, mannerism, a writer's life, all these covered in witty, sharp and ironical observations.

I've noticed that many readers around here consider the novel to be Rosie's story, but from my point of view it's not clear whether it's Rosie's, Driffield's or Willie's. I think they call it talent.

Definitely try Maugham again.

Nov 11, Sarah rated it really liked it Shelves: I love books about sluts. And Rosie Driffield was a big ol' slut. Everyone who knows Rosie loves her. Everyone that doesn't know her hates her. She's a former barmaid and very much known for her promiscuity. Rosie slept with nearly every man that she met if she took the slightest liking to him, and she didn't feel even remotely bad about it. When Willie Ashenden was a boy, Rosie and her husband Edward befriended him.

Many years later, he is asked to give his own personal recollections of Mr. Dri I love books about sluts. Driffield, a known author of the time, to Alroy Kear who is also an author. Kear is writing a book on the late Mr. Driffield at the request of Edward's second wife. As Willie is reminiscing, he recalls his own affair with the lovely Rosie and comes to discover just how free she was with her favors. I was ready to read William Somerset Maugham again and decided on "Cakes and Ale" not knowing what I had in store for me but looking forward to it nonetheless.

A couple things; as I read this story I started enjoying it even though he was a tad verbose at times but when I came to the middle part and the last half I was thoroughly enjoying this story and after reading the last paragraph and thinking of it all, I loved it! I enjoyed it but I did need my whole attention and mind which made it take longer plus looking up books, authors and other things unknown.

Thank you, Maugham for all that. My "to read" list increased! I kept wondering if Maugham actually felt and thought as the main character, Willie Ashenden did in certain authors and books.

I love books that can be wordy and Victorian but had to laugh at Maugham because he did start to become what he did not like in other novels, verbose. Can anyone read them now? I thought the opinions of others must be better than mine and I persuaded myself that I thought George Meredith magnificent.

In my heart I found him affected, verbose, and insincere. A good many people think so too now. Because they told me that to admire Walter Pater was to prove myself a cultured young man, I admired Walter Pater, but heavens how Marius bored me!

I also wondered how much of this story was from his life and I found this from Wikipedia. But the book I like best is Cakes and Ale Thomas Hardy was Driffield but with differences.

Alroy Kear was suppose to be Hugh Walpole, it was not to pleasant for Walpole but there nonetheless.

This is not a biography of either but they are the driving force for the made up characters. In comparing the first and the second wives, you see such a difference in characters that is such a stark contrast. Should one be themselves or what society expects of them? One is praised for her behavior yet seems false and the other is more genuine and real but too common. Also the differences when going back home and seeing how you once saw people and life with eyes of inexperience and society's rules.

This has a bit of bildungsroman story which you see the changes in Ashenden which make this a sort of "comimg to age" novel. Alroy Kear looking to make everything seem pretty in its package and bending the truths to be so and Ashenden seeing the beauty in imperfection that makes us more human and more perfect in the truth than false perfection.

There is so much to this story you can think about and wonder about that makes it a great read IMO. The story in brief; Ashenden is wanted by fellow author Kear to remember the great author Driffield, who he knew in his youth.

What you get is an elusive portrait of him but he becomes a little clearer when Rosie, his wife is part of the picture. This story is more about her and through her we find out a little more about him, yet still he is an enigma. As always Maugham did not disappoint me! View all 6 comments. Rosie scandalises her snobbish neighbours who live and breathe Victorian morality. I have now read most of W. Mar 20, Mikey B. It has twists and turns, a wide variety of characters, and humour sprinkled about.

Some of the story is on the snobbery of the literary world. And more importantly, on accepting people as they are. Rosie is married to a literary figure and is disparaged because of her carrying on with an assortment of other men. Maugham is telling us to let all that be and take her as she is — a fine human being. We can say that Maugham was ahead of his time of the double standard that it is acceptable for men to have affairs — and not women.

This is a well-rounded story with delineated characters and a fine atmosphere that ranges from the English countryside to the streets of London. Apr 30, Laura rated it liked it Shelves: You may read online here. Opening lines: I have noticed that when someone asks for you on the telephone and, finding you out, leaves a message begging you to call him up the moment you come in, and it's important, the matter is more often important to him than to you.

View all 4 comments. Aug 29, Hunter Murphy rated it it was amazing.

The more I read Maugham, the more fascinated I am. In this book, he satirizes the "literary life. Thanks for this beautiful review, Cheryl and these quotes that give me a glimpse into his writing. I just started to read him in-depth sometime last year. Before that, it was a few pages or chapters here and Agna, I hope you find his work enjoyable. Before that, it was a few pages or chapters here and there. 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. In fact, this is nothing like your usual tale about anything. The idea that perhaps women might actually even enjoy sex may have been deeply shocking, in fact, probably is deeply shocking to some people.

At least, people both at the time and now are and were prepared to pretend that such an idea was deeply shocking. There are many quotable quotes and I do like a book with lots of quotable quotes. But the best thing about it was that it never seemed to have to try too hard. Like I said, it was dealing with a theme that would have been quite controversial in and it did so in a clear, up front and interesting way.He wanted to sound off on Fame and he just wanted to insult Walpole who'd been a friend for some years.

Ashenden goes on to conclude that the value of first-person narration is that in an increasingly confusing life, it makes sense to focus on our own limited experience, which is, after all, all we can really be sure of and hope to understand. So next came Syrie and Gerald Haxton. The problem is not a lot is publicly known about Driffield's first wife and he wrote some of his best books during that time. Item specifics Condition: