Publisher's Summary

Bertha Ley comes of age, inherits her father's money, and promptly marries a handsome, calm, and unimaginative man. Bertha is wildly in love with Edward and believes she can be happy playing the role of a dutiful wife in their country home. But, intelligent and sensual, she quickly becomes bored by her oppressively conventional life, and finds her love for her husband slipping away.
Originally rejected by publishers, Mrs. Craddock was first published only on condition that certain "shocking" passages were removed. It was 30 years before the full text could be published.
William Somerset Maugham (25 January 1874 – 16 December 1965) was an English playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest paid author of the 1930s. Maugham was orphaned by the age of ten, but after an unhappy childhood, he flourished when he moved to London to study medicine as a young man, giving him plenty of inspiration for his literary ambitions. His first novel, Liza of Lambeth, sold out in a matter of weeks, prompting Maugham to leave medicine and embark on a 65-year career as a man of letters. By 1914 he was famous, with ten successful plays produced and ten novels published. In 1917, he was asked by the British Secret Intelligence Service (now MI6) to undertake a special mission in Russia; an experience which would go on to inspire Ashenden, a collection of short stories about a gentlemanly spy that influenced Ian Fleming’s James Bond series. Maugham’s most famous works include Of Human Bondage, a semiautobiographical novel, The Moon and Sixpence, Cakes and Ale and The Razor’s Edge. His writing has inspired a string of over 35 film adaptations and has influenced many notable authors, including Anthony Burgess, George Orwell and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Public Domain (P)2012 Audible Ltd
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Critic Reviews

"He is a decade ahead of D.H. Lawrence in his portrayal of a woman with a passionate sexual attraction." (Washington Post)
"Maugham's best work as a novelist.... Ahead of its time." (New York Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Peter on 07-07-2018

Early Maugham - and it shows

This was published in 1904, near the start of Maugham's career. The plot is hackneyed - well-educated, idealistic young heiress to a small country estate marries a practically-minded farmer and finds, unsurprisingly, that he's a boor in her eyes. She is astonished that, far from rejecting him as an uncouth gold-digger, the country neighbours strongly approve of his values, his bluff personality and his skills as a manager. Bertha Ley endures years of loveless marriage but makes no real attempt to escape her lot, despite having money of her own. The story, like most novels of the period, is weakened by Maugham's inability to take us beyond the bedroom door, although even so he was forced to censor it. I found Bertha a complete bore (I lost count with how many times she rushes to her room and throws herself weeping on her bed at some slight) and all my sympathies were with her husband who is tolerant beyond belief. The general tone is relieved by the patches of ironical humour from the narrator and the remarks of Bertha's witty aunt. It's amusing that, when a boyishly handsome young lover appears to try to woo Bertha from the straight and narrow, it's Maugham himself who finds his creation an irresistible gay love object. The narrator, who has a high-pitched, rather childish voice, does an excellent job with unpromising material. Even a master story-teller like Maugham had to learn his trade.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Vanessa on 13-12-2013

An absorbing picture of a marriage

What made the experience of listening to Mrs Craddock the most enjoyable?

What made this book enjoyable was the strong identification I felt with the main character, sharing in particular her claustrophobia and frustration in her marriage with her dreadful husband and his obdurate ignorance. It does of course reflect the mores of the time in terms of the power relationships between husbands and wives, but has a modern sensibility in relation to a woman's physical passions. In fact it is interesting to note that it some passages were censored for nearly 30 years.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Aunt Polly was in some ways my favourite character because of her acerbic wit, and perceptive insights into the actions and characters of others

Have you listened to any of Beth Chalmers’s other performances? How does this one compare?

This is the only one I listened to

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me quite angry at times, sharing in Bertha's frustration, but this helped engagement in the book.

Any additional comments?

The book is not unflawed. I would have liked a little more insight into the husband's motivations, and the character of Aunt Polly could have been developed further, but overall and enjoyable read.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By MJ on 10-04-2013

Hard going!

Maugham is writing here tediously long and repetitive passages of his version of the over-emotional and trite sentimentality of 'woman'. Completely without any depth, it has little or no story, poor character development, no humour and no justification except to illustrate that this author had a long way to go in his perception of character to achieve his later greatness.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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