Somerset Maugham is by far the most sucessful physician turned author of all time. More movies have been made from his works than any other writer.
Liza of Lambeth is the first novel of Somerset Muagham, published just after he graduated from medical school. It draws on his experience working as a physician for a few months in a working class section of London. While there he saw the harsh lives of women, often with ten or more children beaten by their husbands in rages brought on by alcohol.
Liza is about twenty, works in a factory and lives with her widowed mother. Alcohol, especially beer fuels all social life, before we judge to harshly there was no clean water to be had. The novel does a good job of letting us see the inevitable ruin of Liza when she takes up with a married man twice her age with six children. Liza has a decent suitor but he just a bit dull. Her mother is kind of a chain puller and a serious drinker also.
There is a very well done exciting rather brutal fight between Liza and the wife of the man she is involved with. There are several scenes of spousal battery, which was considered more or less normal, though it was illegal.
The down fall of Liza is very melodramatic and comes as no surprise.
Liza of Lambeth reminded me of the works of Balzac and Zola set in the poor quarters of Paris.
It is a short work, estimated reading time under two hours. I found it interesting to experience the first work of Maugham. I have so far read his master work, On Human Bondage, The Moon and Sixpence, The Magician and a few short stories.