The Luncheon Summary by Somerset Maugham

An Anecdotal Experience

The story is an anecdotal experience that the writer had with one of his patrons who asked to meet him in person. The writer is in his struggling phase as he has only gotten one book published. He is aware of his financial constraints but is flattered with the interest shown by his fan. 

The fan is actually an older woman who desires to have a meeting in one of the premier and costliest restaurants of the city. Owing to his humility and sense of gratitude, the writer agrees to the conditions.

However, he has to plan in order to save enough finances to able afford such a dining meet. He opts to save money by rationing his diet and eliminates things like coffee altogether. By the time the day of the meet arrives, he has enough money for a decent meal.

Unplanned Things Happen

But the day turns out to be a lot different than what he has planned for. The lady begins ordering some of the most expensive items of the menu. The writer sticks to the most economical piece of meat. The conversation is dull and focused on the menu rather than literature or arts.

The woman orders again and this time is the most expensive beverage-white wine. The writer starts to panic and tries to calculate and estimate the final total in the bill. He assumes that he will have to pay the money as it would be rude otherwise.

The woman orders for ice cream and desserts next and the writer’s heart sinks. He realizes that he is way in over his head. However, he is too polite to express his true situation to his fan.

This also highlights his inability to handle shame or embarrassment since he is ingratiated by the woman’s praise and interest in his work. The woman, on the other hand, continues to gorge on more food.

Not Enough Money

Finally, the waiter brings the cheque and it is even more disheartening than the writer’s calculations had predicted. He does not even have enough money to offer a decent tip let alone spend the entire month of household expenses.

However, the writer does claim his revenge of sorts. After two decades, he comes across the same woman. She is obese and huge whereas the writer is reaping the rewards of his latest piece of literary work. The ending may also indicate a sign of obscure and unhealthy spite and vindication that the writer had been carrying for two decades.

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