The Narrow Corner Paperback
On his way home from a remote Pacific island, Dr Saunders travels with two strangers: the treacherous Captain Nichols, and Fred, a handsome Australian with a shadowy past.
Driven to shelter from a storm on the island of Kanda, the trio meet good-natured Erik Christessen and his fiancee, the cool and beautiful Louise.
A tense, exotic tale of love, jealousy, murder and suicide, which evolved from a passage in Maugham's earlier masterpiece, The Moon and Sixpence.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 224 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 05/04/2001
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780099286882
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Review by edwinbcn
Published in 1932, W.Somerset Maugham novel The narrow corner harks back to the author's experiences in the Far East. The novel features some remarkably beautiful and sensuous descriptions of life in China, the beauty of the land and the people, and the purity and devotion of the main character's Chinese boy. In those days, having a "Chinese boy" was a very standard part of the expat's lifesyle, and the "boy" referred to a young male manservant, who would serve the Master from sun-up to late night, preparing tea, cooking meals, boiling water for shaving and preparing opium pipes, etc. For Somerset Maugham who was extremely discrete regarding his own personal life and privacy, it has been suggested that the tender descriptions of the "Chinese boy" in The narrow corner are a reflection of his interest in Asian men.The plot of The narrow corner are reminiscent of novels by Jack London while the setting, cruising the Malayan archipelago, where the Dutch were the colonial masters, may remind readers of the novels of Joseph Conrad.The narrow corner starts out slowly, with Dr. Saunders being called upon by an old Chinese relation to leave Fuzhou and come to operate on his eyes offering to pay him extremely well. After the operation, Dr. Saunders is stuck on the island, and when Captain Nichols, with the young Australian Fred Blake in tow arrives, he is tempted to offer for passage on their vessel. Captain Nichols is a bit of a boastful character, and unreliable at not just that, while Fred hides a dark secret. When the three of them put in at another island. On the island, under Dutch rule, Dr Saunders will wait for the Dutch packet boat Princess Jualiana , which can take him to a larger island. They mix with the local resident foreigners, a mixed bag of oddballs, and the handsome Blake falls in love with the daughter of an eccentric Englishman called Frith. Their presence and Blake's involvement with Louise leads to the suicide of the Danish Erik Christessen.While not spectacular, and the plot development in the second part of the novel being a bit obscure, The narrow corner is a beautifully written novel, that might interest quite a few readers.All the novels and short stories, as well as essays by W.Somerset Maugham were re-issued in new editions by Vintage in 2001. All book covers are styled in the art deco style of the Roaring Twenties, which unfortunately means that the cover for The narrow corner would give interested readers a completely wrong idea about the content and style of the novel.