Category: Fiction / General
Publication date: 2 December 2004
Number of pages: 128
Mary Panton walls up her desires in a beautiful villa high up in the hills above Florence, as she calmly contemplates her disastrous marriage. But a single act of compassion begins a nightmare of violence that shatters her serenity. She turns for help to the notorious Rowley Flint, and through him comes to realise that to deny love, with all its passions and risks, is to deny life itself.
Set in the scented summer hills of Florence, W. Somerset Maugham's sensuously narrated novel is a great read from one of the twentieth century's lesser acclaimed (undeservedly so) novelists. The plot centres on the recently widowed Mary Panton who has come to recuperate from her husband's death and sad marriage in an aristocratic Florentine villa - generously loaned by well-off English friends. An act of rash bourgeois compassion catapults into a tragic act of violence that destroys Mary's tranquillity 'up at the villa'. In her anguish she turns for help to the notorious scoundrel Rowley Flint. This could seriously jeopardise the love and good opinion of Edgar Swift (an honourable and highly esteemed government official who has been in love with her since she was 15 when, as a friend of her father's, he came to know her). For an elegant, well crafted succinct piece of reading you cannot be without Up at the Villa. (Kirkus UK)
What the papers say:
"A writer of great dedication" Graham Greene "One of my favourite writers" Gabriel Garcia Marquez
William Somerset Maugham, famous as novelist, playwright and short-story writer, was born in 1874, and lived in Paris until he was ten. He was educated at King's School, Canterbury, and at Heidelberg University. He spent some time at St. Thomas' Hospital with a view to practising medicine, but left to focus exclusively on writing. In 1927, he settled in the south of France, and lived there until his death in 1965.
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