Up at the Villa Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 27 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Up at the Villa.
This section contains 533 words
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Up at the Villa Summary & Study Guide Description

Up at the Villa Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Up at the Villa by W. Somerset Maugham.

Mary Panton is recovering from the ordeals of losing her husband and dealing with attorneys in the mess that's left of their financial situation, when she has the opportunity to spend some time as a guest at a Tuscan villa owned by the Leonards. She finds herself spending a great deal of time seeing the sights, but then stops the running around and spends time at the villa, on the porch or in the garden, and it's there that her soul begins the process of recovery. She is joined by a family friend, Edgar Swift, who has always loved Mary and now seems to waiting for the perfect moment to ask her hand in marriage. Mary remains unsure right up to the moment that Edgar, who is leaving to accept an appointment as governor of Bengal, asks for her hand in marriage. Rather than giving him an answer, Mary asks for a few days to think it over and promises an answer on Edgar's return.

Mary is obligated to attend a party hosted by the Princess San Ferdinando and spends some time with a young flirt named Rowley Flint. Rowley is thought by many to be a ne'er-do-well, though he explains that he's simply a young man with money, so he has no need of a career. He flirts with all the women, and when Mary drives him home, Rowley proposes marriage. Mary says that he isn't serious and that an affirmative answer from her would frighten him, but says that it's her conversation with him that makes her certain she should accept Edgar's proposal. Over the course of her conversation with Rowley, Mary says she'd often thought that if she encountered a poor person whose life she could touch, she would do so with anything in her power.

It's also at this party that Mary meets a young violinist named Karl Richter. Karl and Mary meet by chance later that evening. Mary learns that Karl, a refugee, is doing whatever he can to make ends meet, having fled his homeland and the Nazi regime. Mary finds herself drawn to Karl because of his story and she finds herself in the position to touch this man in the way she'd described to Rowley. They make love, and when Karl begins talking of their future together, Mary explains that she has a fiancé and that they can't be together, ever again. Karl threatens her, saying that she will never forget him and then, using the handgun given to her for protection by Edgar, shoots himself. Terrified, Mary calls on the only person she can think of for help, Rowley. When he arrives and discovers that facts make it impossible to now call the police with the story of a suicide, Rowley helps her dispose of the body. Mary, citing the need for honesty, tells Edgar of her indiscretion. He doesn't withdraw his proposal, but tells her that he won't take the governorship for fear that her crime will someday come to light, disgracing not only them personally but the office he is slated to hold. Mary, realizing that she doesn't really love Edgar, sends him away. When Rowley renews his proposal, Mary accepts.

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