So, Cakes and Ale happened. Let's talk about this. It's about an author who is old and who is having flashbacks of his younger days when he hung out with ANOTHER author who has recently died. The dead guy was considered a Super Genius and The Last Great Victorian and whatnot and WAS PROBABLY Thomas Hardy even though Maugham was all what? I did no such thing. This character has nothing to do with Thomas Hardy even though he has pretty much everything in common with Thomas Hardy except POSSIBLY hair color. Wait, did I get the hair color wrong? SHIT.
That's really the most interesting bit: reading this slightly-boring-but-not-difficult-and-mildly-entertaining thing that to most people is an obvious sketch of Person A and then reading the introduction wherein Maugham spends several pages explaining that it can't be Person A because Person A's wife had a different favorite color and Person A was from a different -shire and Person A's uncle liked MILK, not BEER, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
There's also a fair bit of focus on Person A-who-isn't-Person-A-why-are-you-still-saying-that's WIFE, who marries the great literary genius even though she's a bit of a trollop and was a bar wench and is very pretty in an country sort of way, etc.
So she's subjected to a good bit of snobbery because she's a country-pretty bar-wenching trollop, but We The Readers are supposed to like/pity/empathize with her because she's "natural" and has "feelings" and follows her natural feelings, which are generally summed up in how much she sleeps around. Because other than the sympathy-inducing sleeping around, she never really does/says anything that inclined me to like her. It reminded me of Tess of the D'Ubervilles in it's "don't you love this character because she's a soft and down-to-earth" thing, and also in my reaction: no, I don't love her. She's boring and silly and vapid and I don't care.
Anywoot, my experience with Maugham thus far (this book included) further cements him as a Just Fine and Commercially Successful period writer who is entertaining but challenging in pretty much zero ways.
Three stars out of your mom.