Mailing List

Friday, December 8, 2023

AshendenAshenden by W. Somerset Maugham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well now! This was a delightful set of secret service short stories by the inestimable Somerset Maugham.

Being who I am, I find it hard to judge ANY kind of spycraft story except through the lens of Bond, but I'm happy to say it's not only on par, it's much older and doubly fascinating for that reason.

There's murder, intrigue, lots of trains, and even a story taking place on the eve of the Russian Revolution.

But there's something about this that I got a much bigger kick out of: it's almost like all these stories weren't really about spycraft at all. Almost all of them were fascinating character studies that were oddly reminiscent of Hemingway in their clear brevity and sharp anti-moralistic scenes. It's all up to us to make up our minds. It was really quite delightful.

A point I should make, however: Maugham WAS an agent for England in RL. Ashenden, the agent in the stories, was also a writer. I know we should never associate a writer's product, their characters, with the author, but COME ON....

This was all well before Flemming, too. The similarities are almost so hardcore that Flemming stole the whole shtick from Maugham. Delightful, no?

View all my reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment