Supposedly this is a thinly-disguised telling of the life of Paul Gauguin. It's an interesting enough tale: a normal British guy with a normal life decides he can't take it anymore, leaves the wife and kids without really explaining himself, and moves to Paris to become an artist. After a while, Paris isn't exotic (or whatever) enough, and he moves to Tahiti... The thing I want to hear more about is what made him do it, or what the tipping point was, or what it is he's looking for, or at least how he feels about leaving his kids behind. Maybe Maugham didn't write about any of that because he didn't know how Gauguin would have answered those questions, but don't blame the reader for feeling a little cheated.