The Facts of Life

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William Somerset Maugham was born in Paris in 1874. He spoke French even before he spoke a word of English, a fact to which some critics attribute the purity of his style.

His parents died early and, after an unhappy boyhood, which he recorded poignantly in Of Human Bondage, Maugham became a qualified physician. But writing was his true vocation. For ten years before his first success, he almost l

❴Reading❵ ➶ The Facts of Life  Author W. Somerset Maugham –
  • The Facts of Life
  • W. Somerset Maugham
  • English
  • 28 May 2019

10 thoughts on “The Facts of Life

  1. says:

    The Facts of Life by William Somerset Maugham
    Published in International Magazine in April 1939
    At the first sight an ordinary story turns into a great lesson for everybody not without the elements of comedy. W. Somerset Maugham is widely well-known by his short stories about everyday life. The great number of such stories leave behind them only good feelings. “The Luncheon” – the story of his own too – is quiet similar in the style, intrigue and lesson which it learnt us. “The facts of life” is not definitely something extraordinary among his other stories but not inferior to other stories of the author.
    “The facts of life” was written in 1939, the world of early 20th century upper-crust English society. The book is rather short, 15 pages, but tells a lot about that world. The story is about Nicky Garnet, the son of well-known broker and a good bridge player. The story is told by his father Henry, who told it just because he was «in a damned awkward situation» and didn’t know what to do. So his old friends were ready to give him some advice if they could. Nicky was a successful boy for his age, pleasant appearance gave the girls’ attention to him, model behavior made his parents to be proud of him, the great success in the lawn tennis made his father adore him. The plot of the story is about one lucky day of Nicky’s life. The day when he went to Monte Carlo to take part in the tournament. He didn’t make much a go of it, but didn’t go unnoticed. Before the trip his father had said him very important advice. They were that there were three things especially that he wanted to warn Nicky against: one was gambling, he shouldn’t gamble; the second was money, he shouldn’t lend anyone money; and the third was women, he shouldn’t have anything to do with women. Nicky promised that he wouldn’t forget it and he didn’t. But it didn’t mean no to do it, that he thought. So he made up his mind to go to the Sporting club where he tried everything which was forbidden. He won twenty thousand-franc notes in the roulette, he lent the money to unknown woman and spent a night with her. But everything was better than he had expected. So, the question was what was the problem of his father? Henry just didn’t want his son think that he was a clever and canny boy but Nicky was just very lucky one. You can ask what the lesson I’ve talked about? The lesson is you should follow the given advice, because there are few people as lucky as Nicky and his case is just a funny story and nothing more.
    The book is easy to read and suitable for both adults and children. This story will definitely cheer you up and even make you think over some moments especially about these “three things”. The style of the book is art and it makes the book more colourful and intriguing. To speak about the main characters, they aren’t believable, Nicky is too successful and his father is too naïve and kindly. Even the “hussy” seemed not to be such a bad guy like she could be. But it’s a comedy and it must be like this, so it’s even better that it’s so surreal. The most intriguing moment was the scene when Nicky tried to steal his own money. It was the climax of the story, as for me, it made me pretty worried and by that it fulfilled its function. To be honest I expected something like the woman’s own money except of his, but the ending was rather unexpectable and certainly funny.
    The story is short and this is its charm. It's hard enough to criticize anything in such a story, but the end seemed to me open, as if something was not enough clearly for me, but the very history of Nicky seemed to be complete and meaningful, maybe the beginning was a little delayed, but that did not stop me from enjoying the book in full.
    I strongly recommend to read such funny books when you are in a bad mood, or you are going to the long trip and don’t know what book you should take. This one will definitely leave you with positive feelings and you’ll understand that it won’t be a wasted hour. If it seems to be a small book you can take other short stories of Maugham like “The Marriage of Convenience” or “The Luncheon”, which I’ve said before. It takes not so much time but the plot is quiet attractive and gripping as well.
    To sum up, “The facts of life” isn’t a great book which everyone should read but a suitable book for traveling, to relax or to start the acquaintance with W. Somerset Maugham.

  2. says:

    Recently I have read a short story by William Somerset Maugham, one of the best known English writers of the 20th century. He was not only a novelist, but also one of the most successful dramatist and short-story writers. Somerset Maugham has written 24 plays, 19 novels and a large number of short stories. The most mature period of his life began in 1915, when he published one of his most popular novels such as "Cakes and Ale", "Theatre", and "The Razor's Edge". His works are characterized by a clear unadorned style and a shrewd understanding of human nature. Realistic portrayal of life, keen character observation, and interesting plots coupled with beautiful, expressive language, simple and lucid style place Somerset Maugham on a level with the greatest English writers of the 20th century. The story I read a few days ago was named «The Facts of life» and this is what I am going to write a few words about.
    At first glance the story «The facts of life» seems to be an unremarkable instructive tale where the father named Henry Garnet was «in a damned awkward situation» because of «that damned boy» of his. The first thought that comes to your mind is: «Oh, again these teachings, the problem of the relationship between the parents and their children, children make the same mistakes as their parents did, nothing unusual». Nevertheless, in the process of narration everything turns out to be not as simple as it seemed to be.
    Nicky Garnet, a protagonist, was «a son that any parent might have been proud of». He was a successful boy with pleasant appearance that attracted the girl’s attention. In social intercourse he was easy, polite, and quietly gay. The plot of the story revolves around one day of Nicky’s life i.e. the day when he went to Monte Carlo to take part in the tennis tournament. Before leaving Nicky's father gave him three very important pieces of advice: not to gamble, not to lend money and not to deal with women. The son promised to keep his father's words in mind and went to Monte Carlo where on the last evening he broke all the promises at once. It would seem what could be worse? But in this case, the situation is not so obvious. According to the law of the genre Nicky was expected to lose all his money in roulette but instead of it he won twenty thousand franc notes, lent the money to unknown woman who gave it back after a while, spent a night with her, not to allowing made a fool of himself, and even accidentally robbed her. As a result, the father remained without the authority and respect of his lucky son.
    The whole story is rather humorous and ambiguous. The plot is intricate, it doesn’t let the reader relax. Till the very end you think that everything is just about to ruin, but in the end everything turns out to be even better than you thought. However, what is the main lesson we should learn from this story? Obviously, not everyone is as lucky as Nicky Garnet, and everything that happened to him that day is just a series of coincidences. «Fate has no right to play one tricks like that». Of course, in the long run that's better to be born lucky than to be born clever or rich, but it is better to follow the parents’ advice and not to test your fate.
    In conclusion, I would like to say that this story is really worth reading. It will not take you a lot of time because it is short and entertaining, so you will definitely be in a good mood after that. I highly recommend it to everyone who would like to spend his time with benefit and with great pleasure.

  3. says:

    Review by Valeria Sokolyan
    I am going to write a few words about a book I have recently read. The book is written by the well-known Britain writer of the twentieth century William Somerset Maugham. The title of the story is “The Facts of life”.
    The plot of the book is incredibly exciting and rather interesting. The story tells us about a Nicky Garnet who was a son that any parent might have been proud of. Nicky was six foot two, lithe but muscular, with broad shoulders and a slim waist, and he held himself gallantly erect. As a boy he did everything that was expected of him. His school reports were excellent. He was wonderfully popular, and he ended his career, with a creditable number of prizes, as head of the school and captain of the football team. But this was not all. At the age of fourteen Nicky had developed an unexpected gift for lawn tennis. This was a game that his father not only was fond of, but played very well, and when he discerned in the boy the promise of a tennis-player he fostered it.
    Once he had been taught by the professionals and by the time he was sixteen he had won a number of tournaments of boys of his age,he has persuaded father let him went to Monte Carlo,but father said that Nicky wasn’t enough good at tennis, he was not eighteen yet and he only went up to Cambridge last October, he wouldn't stand a chance against all those cracks.
    There was some arguments in the family because mum wanted son went to Monte but dad was adamant some time but finally he had let Nicky to Monte Carlo and gave him 3 strong advice,the first was don’t gamble,the second one was don’t lend anyone money and the final one was don’t have anything to do with women.
    Unfortunately,Nicky broke his promise but it didn’t come a trick over him. Firstly,he decided to play cards and to his surprise he won twenty thousand francs.Secondly,he lent unknown woman the thousand francs and she returned it.Thirdly,he had nice evening and the night with that woman but he could made mistake and this situation would have another unexpected end because dad would be out of conceit with him.The story was that in the deep night when Nicky was sleeping that baffling person took up his coat, slipped her hand into the inside pocket and drew out all those beautiful thousand-franc notes that Nicky had been so proud to win. She put the coat back and placed some other clothes on it so that it should look as though it had not been disturbed, then, with the bundle of notes in her hand, for an appreciable time stood once more stock-still.
    To cut a long story short,our main character noticed what that gun-moil did and when she was sound asleep Nicky very slowly pulled money out of the pot.Then he took a hot bath,had a good breakfast and went to the airport where he was counting the money he had and recognized there were more money than he haswon.Nicky understood he had grabbed everything he felt in the pot and it was the little hussy's money-box and he had taken out not only his own money, but her savings as well.
    On the whole, the book is good. It is worth reading.There are some humorous,sad,nervous and enlightening moments.If you like such breathtaking and thrilling stories,a suprising twist in the end , I advise you to read this book. I am sure you’ll get a great pleasure.

  4. says:

    For homework we read "The Facts of Life" by William Somerset Maugham. The author is famous for his plays, novels and especially short stories. I like this work of his because it shows that we may need both luck and wits. Part of solving the mysteries of life involves using the right method. Some people feel that they need luck, and others feel that they need to be clever. This story showed us that both forces come into play, and maybe people need both luck and wits. See for yourself.
    This story is about Henry Garnet, an ordinary man, and his 18-year-old son Nicholas. During the game, Henry tells his friends about his son’s travel to Monaco, where he took part in a tennis tournament. Henry hesitated and didn’t allow the boy to go there at first. Nicky was a responsible and sensible guy and his mother really wanted him to take part in the tournament. So, Henry warned his son against three things and let him go there. But the boy encountered the three things and still nothing bad happened to him. Henry was infuriated by Nicky’s behavior. He asked his friends for advice, because he was sure that his son did not respect him anymore. But none of them knew how to deal with the situation.
    I really liked the characters of the story. Henry Garnet is a carrying father; he wants his son to be a good person. It is not enough for him that Nicky is safe; he needs his son to listen to him and respect him. And Nicky is young, so I suppose it is normal for him to be foolish.
    To my mind, this story is worth reading; moreover, it will not take you a lot of time. It makes you think whether it is better to be lucky and not to learn a thing or to make a mistake and learn from your experience. It is tricky because if the boy didn’t listen to his father advice and got in trouble, he would know for himself that his father was right. Nevertheless, Nicky could lose all his money in the casino or he could be robbed. But the boy did what he wanted to do and nothing bad happened, so he thinks that he can get away with anything. So, what do you think, is it better to be lucky or clever?

  5. says:

    Do you enjoy reading books about successful people? If you do, you should read “The Facts of Life”. It was written by William Somerset Maugham, a British playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest-paid author during the 1930s.
    The author describes a young man Nicholas Garet who arrived in Monte-Carlo to take part in the tennis competition. His father gave him three advice:, not to play casino games, not to get drunk and not to have love affairs with women. Nicholas successfully didn’t follow these advice. But I think some people would understand him. As the saying goes: “Forbidden fruit is sweet”. It means that if there is something a person is forbidden to do, he or she will immediately do it. So, Nicholas gambled and ironically became a winner. Then he was seduced by a woman who thereafter stole his money. And there was a thing that I loved most in the story. Nicholas took not only his money back but also woman’s money and he proved to his father that his advice were wrong.
    All things considered, I can say that this story is very interesting, entertaining and it has an unpredictable plot. It teaches us to understand that everything is in our hands and only we can decide whether to follow advice or ignore them. I strongly believe that “Every man is the architect of his own fortune”.

  6. says:

    The short story "The Facts of Life" by William Somerset Maugham tells the story about a young man who participates in a sport tournament in Monte-Carlo. He gets three pieces of advice from his father: not to gamble, not to lend money, not to have a deal with women. He didn’t follow any of the advice his father gave him and readers could see the consequences.

    As in other of Maugham's stories, the plot is intriguing, the conclusions about the moral of the story would be different for readers according to their attitude toward the actions and behavior of the main characters.

    Here is the link to the story:

  7. says:

    William Somerset Maugham was born in 1874. He was not only a novelist but also one of the most successful dramatists and short-story writers. The technique of short-story writing always interested Maugham. De Maupassant and Chekhov influenced him but he adopted his own unique technique which is characterized by realistic and psychological presentation of the events. This is the very technique that is used in one of his short stories: “The facts of life”.
    So this fascinating story is about a young ambitious guy Nick who both wants to work hard and achieve success and to have fun doing prohibited for him things. He studied at the university and also is a good big tennis player. And this character trait, not to afraid doing something risky, has been giving me a feeling that this boy is confident and can find the way out of problems himself . But , unfortunately, his father haven’t understood it till the end of this short novel. During the whole book he considers his son to be a small child who must be taken care of. He is even afraid of letting him go to Monte Carlo because he thinks that Nicky will get involved in risky activities . However, thanks to the Nicky’s mother and Henry’s friends father finally decided to give his son a chance to go alone and show that he has become a young adult who can be responsible for his actions and in case of getting into troubles can find ways of solving problems himself without any help.
    So this short novel has a very exciting plot because the end is unpredictable and you even can’t understand what is going to happen next. Maugham's narrative voice is wonderful. He is serious at times, but also very witty, which makes for an engaging read. It feels absolutely real, as though I'm not reading but watching the scene or listening to the story that has happened with a friend of mine. As for the language, Maugham uses short sentences that make the plot vivid. What is more, the amazing type of language he uses is very easy to understand and it helps us to get insight into human nature of the hero.
    All in all, this beautifully written story is very true to life and depicts an ordinary person with his wishes, goals to achieve and weak points. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who desires a real life story and who prefers reading something short but very exciting than long but boring a little bit novels.

  8. says:

    I am going to write a few words about a story I have recently read. The story is written by a well-known writer of the twentieth century William Somerset Maugham.
    W. S. Maugham was an English novelist, playwright, and short-story writer whose works are characterized by a clear simple style, and a deep understanding of human nature.
    Today, Maugham is probably best known as a short story writer. His clear and economical style makes easy reading and his short stories have been reprinted frequently in collected editions. Maugham said himself: "I have never pretended to be anything but a story teller."
    A distinctive feature of the works of Maugham is the simplicity of the text. He does not describe everything in detail and tries to carry the text to any reader. Thus his works are always live and natural. I can say that all the author`s works are easy to understand.
    The comedy «The facts of life» is about how sometimes kind fate can be. Gambling, money and women were the things that Henry Garnet had forbidden his eighteen years old son Nicky to have deal with when he decided to set off for the tennis tournament in Monte Carlo. Henry knew what he was talking about as he himself was a gambler. He didn’t want his son, pride of the family and University, to take the wrong way. But, of course, the young man turned out to be not as well-behaved when he got into one of the casinos of the city.
    I can say for sure that this story is very interesting. I like it because the author only describes lives and feelings of the characters but he does not evaluate their actions and thoughts. And, as far as I’m concerned, this is very important stylistic feature that helps the reader in the perception of the story.
    On the one hand, the plot is very simple and elementary but on the other hand things are developing dynamically and that`s why the reader cannot be bored. The beginning of the story is relatively easy but when Nicky begins losing after the winning, that’s when things start to get interesting. I thought he would lose all his money and would have to deal with it. But the guy is very lucky and even hit the jackpot. Then, when he decided to spend the night with a strange woman in the hotel, I’ve been totally convinced that she would rob him and run away with his money. But Nicky was twice lucky and he got his money back and even stole from the woman although he didn’t want to. The interesting thing is that against his father`s warnings, it was Nicky who wiped everyone`s eye. Henry told his son do not gamble but he did and won a lot of money. Father forbade his son to deal with women and lend anyone money, but luck`s always been with Nicky. However, I still believe that the boy considerably regretted that he hadn’t listened to his father when he saw how the woman was hiding his money into the flowerpot.
    In conclusion I want to say that if I were Nicky I would risk, too. As said the stranger that Nicky had met in the club «It's idiotic to leave Monte without having tried your luck.» Of course, it`s better to know when to stop. But at the age of eighteen when you only getting ready to leap into adulthood, it’s natural to have a sense of adventure.
    So, if you have some free time and you need a distraction, I recommend this story.

  9. says:

    Have you ever read short stories with intriguing plot and deep meaning? "The Facts of Life" by William Somerset Maugham is of this kind. The author of this story was born in 1874. Apart from short stories, his work included essays, criticism autobiography and travel books. A good part of the success of Maugham's stories derives from the technique that he used. Maugham used this style in "The Facts of Life" as well.
    This story tells us about a middle-aged broker Henry Garet and his gifted son Nicholas, who was sent to Monaco in order to take part in tennis tournament. He was an honor of his school and college and no one guessed that he could pull such a trick. He didn't follow father's advice about gambling, women and lending money and risked. And Nicky came off victorious. I believe that this boy is a real daredevil and this trait helped him to find the way out of problems himself. But his father was upset and didn't understood that his son is smart because he stopped being a role model for Nicky. The plot of this novel is very unpredictable. Who would have thought that this young fellow would make a scoop and outwit a sly woman? Maugham's sentences are short. They balance one another so it makes reading simple and exciting. The type of language he uses is easy to understand, it helps us to enter the spirit of things and heroes. The author's writing is sympathetic and satirical at a time. It helps to make this pleasant comedy meaningful.
    In conclusion, it is fair to say that this story is realistic, but vivid and fascinating as well. It is about ordinary people with their troubles and flukes, wishes and goals. This story is exactly worth reading . I believe that everybody who is fond of literature will enjoy it.

  10. says:

    William Somerset Maugham is more widely known as a writer of short stories than a dramatist, novelist or critic. For the fact that he is the most widely read story writer of the XX-th century. Maugham defines a short story as “a piece of fiction, of any length you choose, which deals with a single situation, but this situation, may be a mood, a character or an event.”
    «The facts of life» is a short but rather curious and instructive tale. The author managed to teach us a couple of great lessons through the short humorous story. The main hero is Nicky Garnet –young, successful and ambitious guy. As a boy he did everything that was expected of him. His school reports were excellent. He was wonderfully popular, and he ended his career, with a creditable number of prizes, as head of the school and captain of the football team. After all he had all the qualifications for becoming a great tennis-player. Nicky was a son that any parent might have been proud of.
    So, there`s nothing strange that one day Nicky went to Monte Carlo to the tennis tournament. His father was against this trip at first but could do nothing when Nicky asked to give him a chance. Finally, Nicky`s father said there are three things he wanted to warn about: one is gambling, the second is money, and the third is women.
    Nicky remembered this wise advice but that didn`t keep him from doing all things which were listed. Luckily, Nicky was born with the stars on his side. He gambled, and made twenty thousand francs ; he lent money to a complete stranger but got it back later; he met a woman and had a fantastic evening and then a night with her. Unfortunately everything is not so fascinating as it seems. The woman which our hero has met turned to be a robber and only due to the fact Nicky was a light sleeper he managed to keep the money he was so proud to win.
    Eventually everything ended well, but where`s that life lesson the main hero is usually taught? Why his father was so upset about his amazing luckiness? The words which old man said at the end of the story explained us all his sufferings :”he doesn’t see that it was just a fluke, he thinks the whole thing was due to his own cleverness”. The fate may play a bad trick on Nicky then, I think. Sometimes we`d better follow such wise advices given us by older people and more often listen to our brain not to our whims, because there are few people are as lucky as Nicky is.
    I`m sure this story is worth reading as well as other Maugham`s stories . His stories speak for themselves. They are distinguished by their lucidity and liveliness. “The facts of life” is good both for adults and children. It`s easy for reading and understanding, it keeps reader`s attention up to the last line and makes him to think about the plot ,about Nicky and his future over and over. Whether he`ll stay a lucky and careless guy or will become more serious and experienced? Who knows. But what`s more important it makes the reader to think about his own life .

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