Liked It2 of 2 members found this review helpful
“Long ago, someone well rounded in education and interest in much of arts and other spheres, had once said reflectively, that of all the fine arts painting was comparatively most suitable for someone not interested in (or unable to) sell oneself; any performance art in giving one any success does...”see full review » see other reviews »
“Stunning twist at the end, the son whom Julia thought little of, gave her the lecture of her life, telling her she is acting even when she isn't on the stage. But Julia recovered her self-possession, brushed it off and chose to think her son is wrong, when all of us readers know how true the son is. Though Julia is hard to like, perhaps she is the epitome of us all. We are acting all the time, and we don't even know it. ”Siok wrote this review Saturday, September 28, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I was surprised by just how much I loved this book. Usually works written within this period of time don't interest me but this was so well written it breaches through the decades and still has quite a modern feel to it, which as I'm sure it did when published three-quarters of a century ago.”Lela N wrote this review Sunday, July 29, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I thank the patient who recommended Somerset Maugham to me several weeks ago. This is now the second of his works I have devoured and I continue to enjoy his meandering saga style of writing. Somehow, even at the beginning, you know there are going to be no great climaxes of action or tragedy, but life as we know it - only with better vocabulary!
Theatre follows the lives of an actress and her actor husband who finds himself much more of a director and manager of their eventual own theatre. He is handsome, mediocre on the stage and the essential cog of their entrepeneurial machine. She, Julia, is so encompassing as an actress, wildly vivacious at parties and, initially at least, faithful to Michael. Then the bubble of her life and thoughts leads to an almost mid-life crisis affect. The strive for youth and to experience youth (and own or purchase it, in actuality and metophorically) become obsessions. Although always present, her sarcasm and put-downs of others are heightened and at times she "plays" a unladylike and undesirable "part". She becomes a "damned fool" for love and seeks from others the admiration and ego-massage she preserves her husband with. A vacation for her is conveniently turned into a treat for her hosts and her manipulation of all around her is astounding. Shamefully, the tale does not end, it just stops. I'm sure a good play has a scene or two of tying up lose ends and satisfying it's audience. This novel, however, deems the turn of maturity in Julia in dining alone and proving she exists beyond her many parts a sufficient ending. In truth, I believe Theatre to be perpetual. It could go on and on, as a succesful play would show again again.
A pleasant read and a gorgeously old fashioned edition - thank you public library.”
“Long ago, someone well rounded in education and interest in much of arts and other spheres, had once said reflectively, that of all the fine arts painting was comparatively most suitable for someone not interested in (or unable to) sell oneself; any performance art in giving one any success does take into account one's own looks, and while one might be extremely accomplished, if the audience does not like to see one that is the end of it, while anyone with good looks has his or her - especially her - talents ignored or disparaged by those that envy and therefore pretend to disparage beauty.
This is all the more so when age comes in, and even more for any woman, in most performing arts. As it is women in any field whatsoever, nowadays even in marriages in lands where divorces are easy and an everyday reality, tend to lose whatever interest their talent had generated and whatever level of respect they had earned due to their achievements, with age. Most judges are male or young, and respect for age, experience and wisdom is gone down during last century while the only criteria for respect seem to be looks apart from power of money or sheer physical power to hurt the other. Since women rarely are geared toward acquiring one, tend to lose if any of the other, and are seen merely as old even when extremely beautiful, age is seen as a tragedy without solution for women on the whole, with no roles and no regard for anyone over reproductive youth.
Today moreover arts are marketed through other media than personal viewing, and the only winner in this respect is music where it is no longer quite entirely a performing art, what with radio, recording and distribution of recorded music having made watching and listening in person more a luxury post success rather than a necessity before success.
But arts like dance and even acting do depend on looks, and it gets worse with age. Unless one has another sort of clout such as an underworld don approving of one and issuing orders to the contrary an actress or a dancer is pushed aside with age, and the bar is lowered all the time. In this respect thirty is the new eighty. Dance does give a performer another window in starting a school and training others, and thus imparting the skills perfected with age. Acting merely pushes an aged actress to do elderly roles and the bar is lowered on that where an actress playing a mother might in fact even be younger than her screen "son" in real life.
Maugham writes in this book about matters as they were in his time, a century ago. An actress with beauty and accomplishments and consequent fame, with a handsome theatre producer and director for a husband and a perfect son with a perfect life, and wonderful career due to very adoring audiences and long fame well into her forties, might in privacy realise she was not that young and be anxious about losing her youth, her popularity, her fame, her career, while it is still going strong and she is not yet history. And when an opportunity arrives to regain her youth in spirit - perhaps even in fact as a result of the affair - she takes it, and blooms with a return of youth and beauty. This is a story of such an affair and twists and turns.
Julia has more than one adoring fan, and a long standing friend who has always waited on side with proposals over the years and has comfortably settled into a companionship of dinners and other harmless activities together, giving her a glow of not only a perfect home life but also being desired and seen publicly to be so desired.
Now, at a moment of age creeping in, with producers etcetera looking at other - younger and newly established - actresses for the younger roles such as Juliet while making it clear she is intended to play Juliet's mother, she notices a very young man paying her attention, and in a moment of despondence with the loss of her popularity looming on horizon condescends to visit him in his lower middle class bachelor digs. It is as unexpected to her as to the reader when he makes advances without preamble or professing love and she - taken aback at this affront - ends up having sex for sheer lack of protest or defence.
She is surprised, pleased at this proof of her still being attractive, and this continues until she finds him in bed with another, new and very young aspiring actress. He in fact asks her to help the new woman, unaware of her having found about the affair. And he is sullen when confronted with the relationship.
Julia is in a quandary - if she says no, she might not only lose face in being seen as spiteful older woman but in fact might lose it all if the young man blabs about his having had sex with the older woman and her being interested while his dalliance was not serious. If she does help the younger woman, this is a sure step to her being sided to oblivion.
How she deals with this, and to the surprise of reader succeeds completely, having made fools of everyone concerned and regained her supremacy in her position as the reigning diva, is the story told delightfully by Maugham as usual.
Her art, her mastery of her art of acting, is half the reason for her being able to turn the tables and not only keep but regain all that is hers, to keep or discard as she would choose. Her sharp mind and connecting with her son is another factor, while her friend and his support being now discovered for its truth is yet another side story in this to bring a smile to the reader.
Entirely delightful. ”
“The plot was rather slow and nothing really happened... yet this book managed to be completely engrossing... ”e-cubed wrote this review Wednesday, September 1, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I love Maugham, and in this book he's at his most entertaining, if not at the height of his craft. This novel was the basis for the movie "Being Julia," and its an airy, amusing, light-hearted affair where the villains get their comeuppance and the heroes their (not quite) just rewards. Maugham does comment feelingly on the role of actors and the dichotomy of acting/reality that they must deal with. And he also writes lovingly about an aging woman, Julia. ”Mika K wrote this review Thursday, July 29, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No