Books of the year 2011: Stewart Wood

Of Human Bondage - W Somerset Maugham

 

This year, for the first time, I read W Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage (Vintage Classics, £9.99). It is an accomplished portrait of the agony of a romantic obsession, conveying how irrational, euphoric and helpless it is to love someone. Maugham's characters are flawed and fragile -one minute sensitive and loving, the next brutal and vicious. It is scathing about the appalling condition of those who were unlucky enough to be ill and poor in Edwardian Britain, as well as about the coldness of the hero Philip's relationships with his family. But it is also a book littered with fascinating digressions about national character, God, bullying and chartered accountancy. I loved it.

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