REVIEW9:47 AM 6 AUGUST 2016
This book chronicles the life of Phillip, from orphaned young boy to around thirty, set in the late 19th century and yet the story is so exquisitely told that a much longer period seemed to pass. Maugham tackles some weighty themes too, such as the meaning (or not) of life, class, death, gender, poverty, the relevance of ‘moral’ behaviour. There are very few books that I would consider starting again immediately, but with “Of Human Bondage”, I could, safe in the knowledge that there would still be much to mull over within the text. Notwithstanding the beautiful use of language, at times the book seems quite profound and I found myself savouring some delightful passages. Certainly the themes retain a contemporary resonance and the tension between individual and wider social values continue to echo modern dilemmas. This was my first exposure to Maugham and yet this book has been elevated , on this one reading, to my personal shortlist of ‘great’ books. The plot appears simple and yet is intricate in the unfurling, the underlying issues are challenging and it is hard not to reflect on one’s own capacity for rational behaviour. At the very least it is an interesting examination of aspects of the human condition, which everyone should have on their ‘must read’ list. I must read it again very soon! Simply a great read!