Book Review: Of Human Bondage (Maugham)


Have I read this before: Yup! In fact, this was the very first book I read when I started my book list back in 7th grade.

Review: This is one of the longer ones (~700 pages in the copy I’ve got) and it doesn’t really pick up until Philip, the main character, leaves England and heads to Paris for art school.

Ah, Philip. I don’t know if it was Maugham’s intention to have the reader get ridiculously frustrated with Philip’s on/off relationship with Mildred (who is the most obnoxious character ever), but if it was, mission accomplished. By like the time he takes her in after she’s destroyed his life for like the fifth time, I was like “COME ON, PHILIP, NO!”

Anyway. Other than that, this was a very appropriate book for me to read at this point in my life. The book basically chronicles Philip’s attempts at “starting his life” and, in this process, all his social awkwardness, self-doubt, career changes, and fear. I don’t remember it being so relatable in 7th grade, but I totally felt it now. Like I said, it takes a little while to get into this book, but I think it’s worth it, especially for those of us in our 20s.

Favorite part: There were a few good lines/sections in here, particularly regarding the idea of free will and determinism. I particularly enjoyed Philip’s conversation with Cronshaw in chapter 45, all about free will vs. determinism. And this quote in chapter 28, as Philip is renouncing his religion: “From old habit, unconsciously he thanked God that he no longer believed in Him.”

Rating: 5/10

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