Three short stories are introduced by author W. Somerset Maugham in the second of his anthology film trilogy. In "The Verger," a church verger of seventeen years is fired by his new straight-laced vicar when it's discovered that he cannot read or write. Forced to make life-altering decisions, the life-long bachelor proposes to his landlady and becomes an entrepreneur. In "Mr. Know-All" an obnoxiously pushy and irrepressibly boorish dealer in jewelry alienates all his fellow passengers on an ocean cruise despite his cheerful nature and generosity, but later is sensitive enough to realize that sacrificing his ego at a key moment is important to a woman's happiness. "The Sanatorium" revolves around the lives of tuberculosis patients at an exclusive Scottish sanatorium including a pair of doomed lovers who choose quality over quantity of life. Written by
Three delightful tales spotlighting a British cast
Somerset Maugham introduces three short stories that he has authored. The first two are particularly humorous and uplifting and a bit ironic and they are also very short at about 20 minutes each. The first concerns a man over 50 who is fired by the church for which he works because he cannot read and refuses to learn. At first blush he'd seem to be too stubborn for his own good, but he turns out to be more adaptable than his former employer could ever dream. The second involves a fellow with a tremendous ego who at the same time is very generous as he takes a shipboard journey. In the end he must choose between his generosity and his ego as his dominant trait.
The third tale, at about 40 minutes in length, had the potential to be the downbeat one in the bunch and doesn't sound that intriguing at first - it involves the lives of a group of sufferers of "consumption"
tuberculosis - that are being treated in a sanatorium, which was a
long term process prior to the introduction of antibiotics. This one turns out to be as upbeat as a story could possibly be in such a setting. The practical in me has me asking a couple of questions that go unanswered. First, there are several patients who may or may not be recovered who apparently have set this place up as their home of preference since they have been there so long and have made social ties they do not wish to break. Why would any doctor of scruples allow this to go on? The sanatorium is spacey and charming and doesn't seem at all medical or antiseptic, so I can see how lonely people with an illness in common wouldn't want to leave, but it seems like it would be the doctor's obligation to force the patients back out into the real world once cured. Second, since apparently recovery takes months or years, who is paying for all of this? Money never comes into the equation as a concern for any of the patients.
I'd recommend this one. Some of Maugham's work can be dark and depressing but these three stories are quite uplifting.
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