Looking for something to read over the festive period, I saw this on the shelf and just couldn't let it pass. I expected something on the lighter side of the spectrum and so was initially taken aback by the dark thread that runs right through its center. However, this was no bad thing; it just took some mental readjustment before pressing on. The protagonist in Christmas Holiday is Charley, a young, well bred man who heads off to Paris to escape for a bit of fun and adventure over the Christmas holidays. Once he gets there, however, he is brought into close contact with the harsher side of humanity that he has, up to now, not had to contend with. There is much realism and sadness in this book but at the same time it is an addictively absorbing read.
*** 1/2 (well worth reading although it's not quite on par with Maugham's short stories)
They looked at it for a while.
'Stunning, isn't it?', he said then, giving her arm an affectionate pressure.
'Yes, it's all right. What business is it of yours?'
Charley turned his head sharply. Non one had ever asked him a question like that about a picture before.
'What on earth d'ya mean?' It's one of the great portraits of the world. Titian, you know.
'I daresay. But what's it got to do with you?'
Charley didn't quite know what to say.
'Well, it's a very fine picture and it's beautifully painted. Of course, it doesn't tell a story if that's what you mean.'
'No, I don't' she smiled.
'I don't suppose it's got anything to do with me really'.
'Then why should you bother about it'
"...the bottom had fallen out of his world". (closing line)