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Extended Audio Sample Cakes and Ale: or The Skeleton in the Cupboard Audiobook, by W. Somerset Maugham Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (4,506 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: W. Somerset Maugham Narrator: Neil Hunt Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2016 ISBN: 9781461811381
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Of all Somerset Maugham’s novels this is the most entertaining and arguably his best ever. Rosie is a barmaid with a heart of gold and a skeleton in her closet. Maugham’s portrait of her makes his novel fairly glow with witty observations of the contemporary literary scene. Features Willie Ashenden, who resurfaces in Maugham’s Ashenden.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth | 2/19/2014

    " This was very, very funny, and the unexpectedness of that made me like it even more. Can't wait for The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham, coming out in May. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sharon Zink | 2/12/2014

    " This is a story of the narrator's account of his friendship with a woman of loose morals. I enjoy the writing of W. Somerset Maugham, whatever he writes about. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sylvie | 2/11/2014

    " Not my favorite of his works. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katharine Hawkinson | 2/10/2014

    " Really hard for me to get into- first couple chapters were a snoozer. However, I kept pushing and soon found myself addicted to the story. Not a bad read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ingrid Thomson | 2/7/2014

    " I love Somerset Maugham and read this book when I was reading Thomas Hardy, as it was known at the time of publication as a roman a clef on Hardy and the literary scene after WW I. It was that, and the characters are great, but, the ending is really shocking and affected me for weeks. Beware. This is a great read, but be ready for a jolt at the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erni Bär | 2/6/2014

    " This is a book by a real writer. W.S.Maugham knows HOW to tell a story! This one's well equipped with sideswipes to once wellknown British writer contemporaries of this master of his guild adding some tasty spice to the work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Russell Traughber | 2/3/2014

    " Not his best, but a good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erni Bär | 2/1/2014

    " This is a book by a real writer. W.S.Maugham knows HOW to tell a story! This one's well equipped with sideswipes to once wellknown British writer contemporaries of this master of his guild adding some tasty spice to the work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danielroffle | 1/31/2014

    " Very affecting look at an era of literature that was already a distant memory when this book was published. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nick | 1/31/2014

    " A very wry and stylish demolition of snobbish British literary circles in the 1930s in general and Thomas Hardy ('Ted Driffield') in particular. The sensuality of Ted's first wife, Rosie Driffield, leaps off the page and one of her lovers and narrator Ashenden's appropriately love-struck defence of her character feels rightly awkward and out of (or ahead of) its time. Despite Ashenden's utter disdain for the over-elevation of much of Driffield's output by the literary 'pseuds' like his friend Alroy Kear, the Victorian and Edwardian era fixations on 'what makes a gentleman' (which runs thematically through much of Hardy's work) is further satirised here. While Ashenden learns that Driffield and some of the minor characters did not act in gentlemanly ways at certain times in their lives, he nevertheless appears to experience a certain schaudenfreude from the way that the more snobbish literary characters like Kear are readily 'deceived' by such occasional caddishness. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nora | 1/26/2014

    " Though well written, this book's pace is at times tedious. More of a critique of authors and the literati of his time, Maugham uses this book to reveal the vanity, self-importance, and hypocriticism of mainstream writers and their community. The novel and its characters seem but a vehicle to convey Maugham's cynicism about his peers while at the same time spouting maixms about his profession. Not to say that I did not enjoy the humour and the writing, and though the style is antiquated it is at the same time thoroughly tangible and pleasing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sharon Zink | 1/23/2014

    " This is a story of the narrator's account of his friendship with a woman of loose morals. I enjoy the writing of W. Somerset Maugham, whatever he writes about. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kirsten | 1/21/2014

    " What a refreshingly subtle book. After reading some of heavy-handed crap that passes for "insightful" and "witty" today, this book was a relief. Even the satirical narration possessed more sincerity than any of the "nudge, nudge, can you believe these people?" stuff in some contemporary fiction. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a sad, old-fashioned reader. I love the modernists. But let's do it with style, eh? Read this book for further instruction. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katharine Hawkinson | 1/14/2014

    " Really hard for me to get into- first couple chapters were a snoozer. However, I kept pushing and soon found myself addicted to the story. Not a bad read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Noelle Duncanson | 1/14/2014

    " Amusing. Liked his commentary on being a writer - cracked me up! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jim | 12/9/2013

    " My first Maugham novel and it won't be my last. A bit of a slow starter but made up for it along the way. A witty and satirical look at Edwardian writing society. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sylvia | 12/6/2013

    " Good and bad is not as distinctive as black and white and a woman is never 100% a whore or a saint. Maugham has successfully deconstruct what the society in his time name as women who's thirst on men are impossible to quench. He's few steps ahead of his time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Judi | 12/1/2013

    " I loved my first exposure to Somerset Maugham. Witty, wry, satirical. I shall add Of Human Bondage to my list and would love to read an biography of Somerset Maugham. Savory. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mickey | 11/5/2013

    " The focal point of this book was an irrepressible woman. (Somerset Maugham) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Larissa | 10/19/2013

    " I love the way that Maugham writes outside of the main story. The narrator is always slightly detached from the main characters, which makes you feel like you're hearing the story from a friend of a friend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Molly | 8/20/2013

    " This book is pretty funny, and it's generally compelling. It's small too, so it's a nice quick read. Be prepared: there is an appallingly racist moment (which isn't all that uncommon in Maugham). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Masashi | 7/28/2013

    " i read japanese translation. didnt start flowing until about 100pages into the book, probably because the book contains a lot of references to british culture and writers of whenever the book was written, but after that, becme a fun reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ali | 7/5/2013

    " Although I liked the tone of the novel, and the voice of the narrator, especially in the beginning and when the narrator related stories from his childhood, I found parts of it to be quite dry and almost preachy in its cynical outlook on the literary world. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alex Drinkwater, Jr. | 5/12/2013

    " NOBODY writes like this anymore. Such a shame . . . "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rosminah | 3/4/2013

    " It was a bedside book for over a year. Meaning it was at my bedside, but it took forever for me to read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jennifer Murphy | 11/26/2012

    " Although I found Maugham's dry, satirical humor pretty amusing, this book just felt like it was going nowhere. I was bored with it, frankly--too bored to do much more than skim through two-thirds of it. Moving on... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Desilva | 10/22/2012

    " Maugham is hysterical. There is a paragraph in here that comments on constipation that is fantastic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maureen | 9/15/2012

    " as with all of Somerset Maugham's books a look into the complex emotions revealing the human spirit with riveting detail "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Noelle Duncanson | 9/13/2012

    " Amusing. Liked his commentary on being a writer - cracked me up! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharon | 8/29/2012

    " My trying to write about how excellent his writing is is futile. He was a genius. And/or lived in a time where you had to be able to write well in order to get published... though his protagonist might quibble about that. (Ashenden didn't see "Twilight" coming.) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deborah | 7/29/2012

    " He can do no wrong!! Great author. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shane | 7/12/2012

    " A short and simple book about an author battling through art and superficiality. It's told so casually that it feels like it's happening around you. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dave | 6/3/2012

    " Written with a wit as dry as toast. This is charming and funny in a sly way. Loved it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Imogen | 11/20/2011

    " Not as good as 'The Painted Veil'. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maureen | 9/27/2011

    " as with all of Somerset Maugham's books a look into the complex emotions revealing the human spirit with riveting detail "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 E.J. Matze | 9/26/2011

    " I am a great fan of Maugham's writing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ali | 9/9/2011

    " Although I liked the tone of the novel, and the voice of the narrator, especially in the beginning and when the narrator related stories from his childhood, I found parts of it to be quite dry and almost preachy in its cynical outlook on the literary world. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tara | 7/7/2011

    " All of Maugham is excellent and worth reading. Maugham was a very interesting guy who worked in all sorts of industries: medicine, MI6 spy, military, etc. All of his literature takes place at the turn of the last century. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robin | 4/10/2011

    " This book felt like a different kind of read, although I'm not sure why. My first Maugham, and I liked it a lot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sonia | 1/31/2011

    " If you like Maugham, you will love this. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emily | 12/26/2010

    " Is it possible not to love Somerset Maugham? If so, please don't tell me about it. Great characters. Great social commentary. Great sense of humor. Whether he intended it as such or not, I ultimately read this one as a beautifully clever rewrite of Tess of the d'Urbervilles. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ian | 12/1/2010

    " Delightful read, full of quintessentially English Waspish wit. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharon | 11/3/2010

    " My trying to write about how excellent his writing is is futile. He was a genius. And/or lived in a time where you had to be able to write well in order to get published... though his protagonist might quibble about that. (Ashenden didn't see "Twilight" coming.) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 8/27/2010

    " Not my favorite Maugham, but not bad. Unfortunately the forward alluded to it having been based on a real person and I spent much of the book trying to figure out who. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Judi | 5/30/2010

    " I loved my first exposure to Somerset Maugham. Witty, wry, satirical. I shall add Of Human Bondage to my list and would love to read an biography of Somerset Maugham. Savory. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 T.M. | 5/17/2010

    " Another of Maugham's quasi-autobiographical novels. I enjoyed it more than Human Bondage. Not as philosophical, but more great characters. A good story about writers and the literary world of pre-war Britain. "

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About the Author
Author W. Somerset Maugham

William Somerset Maugham (1874–1965) was born in Paris, the son of a British embassy official, and grew up in England. He studied medicine and officially qualified as a doctor before turning to writing. One of the twentieth century’s most popular novelists as well as a celebrated playwright, critic, and short-story writer, he also served as a secret agent for the British during World War I.

About the Narrator

Neil Hunt is an audiobook narrator whose readings include books by W. Somerset Maugham, Nevil Shute, and John Masters.