Maugham starts Cakes and Ale with a preface, which I hadn’t thought about writing about, but upon reading it, decided I should. If only because it serves as a nice tonal reminder of Maugham, after weeks off. He talks about characters–how they live in the authors’ minds, growing, changing, developing, only to be set down on paper and lost. He also talks about how this great character he had in mind isn’t in Cakes and Ale because the work doesn’t deserve her. It’s also something of a “sequel” to Of Human Bondage, which I wasn’t expecting. A thematic one, involving a shared (though renamed) inspiration for a character. And then Maugham closes the preface with a nice section on the importance of branding and how an author must do it to stay relevant in between books and to promote the sale of future books. When he says it, it doesn’t sound as mercenary, of course.