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The Razor's Edge cover art

The Razor's Edge

By: W. Somerset Maugham
Narrated by: Gordon Griffin
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Summary

Larry Darrell is a young American in search of the absolute. The progress of this spiritual odyssey involves him with some of Maugham's most brilliant characters: his fiancée Isabel, whose choice between love and wealth have lifelong repercussions; and Elliot Templeton, her uncle, a classic expatriate American snob.

The most ambitious of Maugham's novels, this is also one in which Maugham himself plays a considerable part as he wanders in and out of the story, to observe his characters struggling with their fates.

William Somerset Maugham (25 January 1874 – 16 December 1965) was an English playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest paid author of the 1930s. Maugham was orphaned by the age of ten, but after an unhappy childhood, he flourished when he moved to London to study medicine as a young man, giving him plenty of inspiration for his literary ambitions. His first novel, Liza Of Lambeth, sold out in a matter of weeks, prompting Maugham to leave medicine and embark on a 65-year career as a man of letters. By 1914 he was famous, with ten successful plays produced and ten novels published. In 1917, he was asked by the British Secret Intelligence Service (now MI6) to undertake a special mission in Russia; an experience which would go on to inspire Ashenden, a collection of short stories about a gentlemanly spy that influenced Ian Fleming’s James Bond series. Maugham’s most famous works include Of Human Bondage, a semiautobiographical novel, The Moon and Sixpence, Cakes and Ale and The Razor's Edge. His writing has inspired a string of over 35 film adaptations and has influenced many notable authors, including Anthony Burgess, George Orwell and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

©1944 Somerset Maugham (P)2012 Audible Ltd

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What listeners say about The Razor's Edge

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money money money indeed

A scene in this book was inspired by the authors trip to India and his meeting with a
the famous saint, Ramana Maharshi. So I was expecting a passage to India style novel. And the title is from the Upanishads. But I feel the author brilliantly captured a phrase for his novel but reading, or listening to Razors Edge, one realises it is just a smart title that impressed Hollywood exects but has nothing to do with anything in the book.

I still enjoyed reading about the vicissitudes of the Super wealthy. However, I am not sure that, being like watching Dallas, in that you feel very posh, and escapism is good, well I am not sure escapism in a billionaire manner is what the author had in mind! Or did he and Razors Edge has been misrepresented as something spiritual?

Even the character, Larry wasn't my idea of a spiritual seeker. A well meaning human who slums it in India but has a few million in the bank, as he admits in the novel, is not my idea of a renounced Buddha.
There are scenes in here that I think inspired the later novel, Bonfire of the Vanities. And also Vanity Fair is another novel that Razors Edge can be slotted in that genre. So this is the genre the book belongs rather than a meaning of life story.
Overall not the book I expected but obviously a masterpiece.

The voice reader is masterful too.

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wonderful

Great story. Beautifully written. As always with
Somerset Maughan I felt I got to know the characters well. The narration was perfect.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Blunted over time?

This was a book that I remember first reading in Ireland in 1979 having borrowed it from Pyle library in South Wales and being impressed by the title alone. It was the first book by W. Somerset Maugham that I’d ever read and it made such a positive impression on me at that time that it lead me first to a range of ancillary reading around European philosophy and Eastern religions and then into repeated visits to Maugham’s Œuvre.

Now, after thirty years I re-read on the basis that my son was looking for something to reflect his first awareness and interest in Eastern religions and I suggested that he give it a go. Whilst some of the central narrative remains as sharp as ever, I was disappointed to find that on re-reading it is not the great work of revelation that my mind had honed it to become. There is a lot of superfluous non-activity and a fair bit of fairly non-enhancing detail, so that the final third of the novel left me impatient to get back to the central theme of the action.

Some important highlights and a great stepping stone into other works - I am a big fan of Maugham's stories and novels - but ultimately there was that small let down when I finally completed this one. My son reckons he enjoyed it hugely, however.

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One of the best books I have ever read.

it took me a while to get used to the narrator, but once I did. I loved this book and the performance. I would recommend it to anyone.

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Razor’s Edge

I’m pleased that Audible brought this Somerset Maugham novel to my attention. I’ve enjoyed his Short Stories and didn’t realise he wrote so many Novels. I enjoyed this one very much and as I am visually and audibly deficient I hope Audible can offer me some more that I haven’t read to play directly into my Hearing Aids.

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The Golden Age

I first enjoyed Somerset Maughham when taking English as a student. I have not read anything from him since but decided to give this book a try and I am very glad I did.

A thoughtprovoking story, very well read and it has you longing for being well-off and living in the first decades of the 20th centuary.

If you managed to avoid WW1, that is.

Thoroughly recommended.

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10 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

A fantastic story very well written with wit, love and honesty. Would definitely recommend to anyone.

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captivating!

I couldn't stop listening. Loved every minute. Uniquely written. There's a great sense of awareness, each character is very well thought out, flaws not ignored but accepted and generally celebrated. Thoughtful, written with care and insight

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Well read

I Enjoyed it but felt it was over long. the author tried to tie up too many loose ends.

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A wonderful view of humanity.

I loved this book. The storyline was fabulous with every type of human behaviour portrayed. The narrator was impeccable. He bought to life each character with ease.

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1 person found this helpful