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Extended Audio Sample The Trembling of a Leaf: Little Stories of the South Sea Islands, by W. Somerset Maugham Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (531 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: W. Somerset Maugham Narrator: Frederick Davidso Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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When noted English writer W. Somerset Maugham set off for the South Seas to regain his health, his experiences would become the bedrock for the stories represented here. These are among Maugham’s best work, as well as some of the best stories ever written about the exotic South Seas.

“Mackintosh” is a taut psychological study of two officials on a remote tropic island. “The Fall of Edward Barnard” is a story about what is important in life, a precursor to Maugham’s well-known novel, The Razor’s Edge. Love is always a subject of the tropics, and Maugham’s deft, ironic handling of the theme in “Red” and “Honolulu” is masterful. “The Pool” tells a poignant and tragic tale about the pitfalls for love across cultures. Maugham’s most famous story, “Rain,” about the ironic consequences of obsession, was adapted for both theater and film.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An unforgettable study of the effect of the South Seas upon the mind, body, and soul of...man.”

    New Republic, 1921

  • “Each separate tale is begun by inspiration and completed by artistic perfection.”

    Saturday Review

  • The Trembling of a Leaf…marked a triumphant return to the genre of which [Maugham] was to become a master.”

    Selina Hastings, The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham

  • The Trembling of a Leaf, the first of his collections of Far East stories…[is] an impressive achievement…Maugham had happily discovered that the fragments of experience he encountered on his travels could be easily transformed into well-crafted short stories, and with this volume he began an enormously fruitful period.” 

    Robert Calder, Willie: The Life of Somerset Maugham

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Elsa | 2/13/2014

    " I adore these stories more than I can say. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jillian | 1/18/2014

    " If you loved The Moon And Sixpence you will love these short stories. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jill | 1/10/2014

    " Not loving the compilation of short stories. They are well written, but Somerset Maugham's novels are so much better. He is a fabulous writer and is great at development. While I think the themes in these stories (particularly in the third story) are powerful, and he has powerful motifs, I just don't feel like they have the same quality as his novels do. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Skipp | 12/31/2013

    " This was a gift from a friend. I didn't think I'd like it but it was a very readable collection of short stories. The prevailing theme is early 20th century West meets East in the South Pacific. Maugham pulls out some great plots from the conflict of European colonials living in exotic locations. The character descriptions are really what won me over and convinced me to try Maugham's longer novels. "

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