The book I have has a very dull cover. It was surprising I even picked it up. This one is so intriguing it would draw you in to read the book. I understand there are four volumes of short stories and I am determined now to track them down!
Volume 2 deals with the Englishman of the colonial era in full force - set in Malaysia, Borneo, South America and a couple on the Continent the stories are wonderfully told - an almost Eastern story teller ambiance of step by step stories leading to a twist in the tale, a quirky character and a sadness that the story is to end.
Dealing with relationships throughout the stories, the pressure that loneliness puts on one and how it can alter people is a recurrent theme throughout this book. Planters, administrators of the British Empire led a lonely life at the top - maintaining a stiff upper lip, maintaining standards which were difficult to maintain and for men a very lonely life of home and club. The existence of a secret life of native mistresses and half caste children was a fascinating aspect of their lives told in some of the stories.
Maugham is not critical of the culture he talks about but he is matter of fact about it - describing it and telling it as it is - no frills or furbellows attached! you take the harsh reality with the good times, the easy life of servants and being in power along with the harsh climate, antagonistic labour and insecurity for your life.
Beautifully descriptive, beautifully told you have got to read these books.