Books: The Oldest Party

CONVERSATIONS WITH WILLIE by Robin Maugham Simon & Schuster; 188 pages; $10

When he died in 1965, William Somerset (Willie) Maugham was the most famous writer in the world. Eighty million copies of his books had been sold, his plays were performed worldwide, his work had led to several memorable movies, and some 80 of his short stories had been adapted for television. At his famous Villa Mauresque, he employed one of the best cooks on the Riviera, dined off silver plates and entertained royalty. Yet he was miserable. What was wrong? Everything. Or so this instructive and melancholy memoir by Nephew...

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