Cakes and Ale, Chapter Three

I love how Maugham basically made a career out of doing Philip Carey stories. Not really Philip Carey’s stories, but stories with Philip Carey narrating. In Cakes and Ale, I believe the stand-in is named Ashenden. The stand-in is for both Maugham and Carey. As this chapter opens with a flashback to the narrator’s upbringing with his vicar uncle, shades of Of Human Bondage and The Summing Up cast all over the place. The chapter’s actually quite strong—even if Maugham opens it with a sentence with six commas—and a nice exposition on the narrator meeting this famous author in his youth. There’s a lot of personality in the writing, which makes it pleasant to read. A few nice moves—ones no one should ever repeat, of course, like Maugham waiitng a bit to describe a character just to make him seem sillier. But well executed nonetheless.

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