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On A Chinese Screen

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

by W. Somerset Maugham

Rating: *****

I loved this little book made up of Maugham's observations of characters and life during his Far East travels. In a relatively few paragraphs for each, he manages to convey not only the atmosphere but nature of every character. Despite the fact the book is quite old now, the characterisation was fresh and never felt dated. Many of the character vignettes could equally be applied to society today and were well-observed and, in part, contained the right level of dry humour. Some of the people were clearly quite unpleasant and Maugham's gentle and subjective writing never felt superior or sarcastic. Others were somewhat sad and, again, Maugham wrote those with just the right amount of pathos. The descriptive pieces were quite beautiful in their imagery.

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