I looked up the Wikipedia entry for Cakes and Ale, which might have been a mistake. Apparently I misread the preface and this novel will be the one with the character–Rose–Maugham had kicking around his head for a while. The first chapter is mostly exposition, mostly in the second person, with the narrator discussing another author. The narrator is also an author. Lots of writing going on. It’s a quick chapter, with a good tone, but the present action consists of the narrator smoking a pipe and thinking about his friend, that other author. It’s a character sketch, really. Genial, engaging, but just a character sketch so far.