I finished this simple novel by W. Somerset Maugham on a lazy, rainy summer afternoon. The mood outside matched my own and was somehow reflected in the book I had just completed; because sometimes you just want a story. Not an adventure story full of violence and intrigue and ‘twists’; not a mystery full of death and suspense; not a political thriller where the characters fight each other for temporal power. Just a story; a story about the musings of men as they meander through life – but a good story after all.
Theater is just this kind of book. It’s the simple tale of an actress and an affair and what it teachers her about herself and the world she has chosen. There is no great moral of this story. There is no epic struggle for good against wrong. There is no hero, or heroine. There are just people, making decisions as people are wont to do – good decisions and bad decisions alike – as they seek from their lives a greater significance or a lesser tedium.
Of course a story like this takes great skill to write – and Maugham does it easily.
As I read this story, surrounded as I was by the magnificent Rocky Mountains in a lovely village tucked away from great significance, I wondered if I could write such a novel. I am, perhaps – ok probably – not a great writer like Maugham. Nevertheless, inspired by a simple story and against the backdrop of the fresh clarity all around, I decided I must give it a try. I hope I can find the words that refresh and soothe; as has W. Somerset Maugham in Theater.