The Razor's Edge (1944) by W. Somerset Maugham is one of those classic novels that is essentially two stories in one-that of the narrator and the protagonist of the book like The Great Gatsby and Breakfast at Tiffany's. In this story the narrator is the author himself, but the protagonist is Larry Darrell, a typical American Midwestern, who returns from WWI traumatized by the chaos he has seen and decides to undergo a lifetime spiritual journey much to the consternation of his family and friends. I suppose this conceit allows Maugham to make certain sweeping generalization about American innocence and European experience, but it also allows Maugham to engage in some eastern spiritualism as Larry wanders from place to place looking for experience and a spiritual awaken which predictably comes in India. There are several other characters that allow Maugham to characterize and analyze different types of people like Elliot the snob and social climber, Isabel his niece and Larry's former fiance who is a typical simple Midwesterner who is at heart a hypocrite, Sophie the good girl gone to seed among others. It is a traditional big novel of ideas-it is all about life, sex, and death-the kind that we do not see so much these days.