This final classic collection of stories reveals Somerset Maugham's unique talent for exposing and exploring the bitter realities of human relationships. Brilliant tales of love, infidelity, passion and prejudice, the stories range from 'The Lotus Eater' in which a man has a vision of a life of bliss in the Mediterranean, to the astringent tales of 'The Outstation' and 'The Back of Beyond' in Malaya and South East Asia. Largely set in favourite Maugham country, this colourful collection brilliantly evokes the numbered days of the British Empire.
When war broke out in 1914, Somerset Maugham was dispatched by the British Secret Service to Switzerland under the guise of completing a play. Multilingual, knowledgeable about many European countries and a celebrated writer, Maugham had the perfect cover, and the assignment appealed to his love of romance, and of the ridiculous. The stories collected in Ashenden are rooted in Maugham's own experiences as an agent, reflecting the ruthlessness and brutality of espionage, its intrigue and treachery, as well as its absurdity.