upatvilla

On Our Bookshelves:
Up At The Villa

NOVEL: Up At The Villa

AUTHOR: W. Somerset Maugham

YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 1941

REVIEW:

This elegantly written novella tells the story of Mary Panton, a beautiful and wealthy young English widow marking time in Italy during the  “long weekend” between the World Wars and wondering whether she should marry an older suitor.  It’s a romantic thriller in exquisite, minimalist prose (seriously, Maugham wrote fiction the way Count Basie played piano), and it turns on an impulsive decision to offer a ride to a handsome stranger in the middle of the night.

Full of keen insight into human behavior, the novella is a gripping and suspenseful tale.  Not a word is wasted, and you can finish it in an evening (ideally, before driving around the hills above Florence whimsically hoping for a life-changing adventure).

And of the suitor Mary finally chooses? It’s not a spoiler to say that she ends up falling for the one who quotes Samuel Johnson to her.

RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): Four Whistles

HOW TO PURCHASE: Amazon

***

ALSO ON OUR BOOKSHELVES:

Bonjour Tristesse, Francoise Sagan

Bunker Hill, Nathan Philbrick

Burmese Days, George Orwell

Cannery Row, John Steinbeck

Longbourn, Jo Baker

Ringworld, Larry Niven

Rose Madder, Stephen King

The Dancer of Izu, Kawabata Yasunari

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce

The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories, Saki

***

Lead-in Image Courtesy of Malgorzata Kistryn/Shutterstock.com

***

Laura LaVelle can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com