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A Tangled Web: A Review and Analysis of the Oxford Bookworms Collection

A Tangled Web Oxford Bookworms Collection Pdf 15

If you are looking for a collection of short stories that will entertain, surprise, and challenge you, then you might want to check out A Tangled Web. This book is part of the Oxford Bookworms Collection, a series of original and unabridged stories for advanced learners of English. The book contains ten stories by different authors, all revolving around the theme of deception. As the title suggests, the stories show how people weave complex webs of lies, secrets, and tricks, and how they face the consequences of their actions.

A Tangled Web Oxford Bookworms Collection Pdf 15


In this article, we will give you a brief overview of each story, as well as some insights into the techniques and themes that the authors use to create their tangled webs. We will also provide you with some reasons why you should read this book, and how you can download it as a PDF file for free.

The Luncheon by W. Somerset Maugham

The first story in the collection is The Luncheon by W. Somerset Maugham, a British writer who was famous for his novels, plays, and short stories. The story is narrated by a young writer who receives a letter from a woman who claims to have admired his work. She invites him to have lunch with her at a restaurant in Paris. The writer agrees, even though he has very little money and barely knows her. He soon regrets his decision, as he discovers that she is a greedy and dishonest woman who orders expensive dishes and drinks without any regard for his budget. He ends up paying a huge bill that leaves him broke for weeks.

The story is a classic example of deception and irony. The woman deceives the writer by pretending to be interested in his work and his opinions, while she only wants to enjoy a free meal at his expense. She also deceives herself by denying her age and her appetite, trying to appear younger and more refined than she really is. The irony lies in the fact that the writer, who is supposed to be good at observing people and writing about them, fails to see through her lies and falls into her trap. He also learns that she has been married several times, and that she has used the same trick on other men before him.

The Open Window by Saki

The second story in the collection is The Open Window by Saki, a British writer who was known for his witty and satirical stories. The story is about a man named Framton Nuttel, who visits a country house to cure his nervous condition. He meets a young girl named Vera, who tells him a story about her aunt, who is waiting for her husband and brothers to return from a hunting trip. She says that they died in a bog three years ago, but that her aunt still keeps the window open, hoping that they will come back. She also says that her aunt is very sensitive, and that he should not mention the tragedy to her. When the aunt arrives, she talks about the hunting trip as if it were happening today, and Framton believes that she is insane. He is terrified when he sees three figures approaching the house, carrying guns and a dog. He runs away, thinking that they are ghosts. Vera then tells her aunt and the others that Framton was scared by the dog, because he had been hunted by dogs in India.

The story is a brilliant example of deception and humor. Vera deceives Framton by making up a story that plays on his fears and his ignorance. She also deceives her aunt and the others by inventing a reason for his sudden departure. She enjoys manipulating people and creating confusion with her lies. The humor lies in the contrast between the calm and innocent appearance of Vera, and the wicked and mischievous nature of her mind. It also lies in the irony of Framton's situation, as he escapes from one source of stress to another, and ends up worse than before.

The Fly in the Ointment by V.S. Pritchett

The third story in the collection is The Fly in the Ointment by V.S. Pritchett, a British writer who was renowned for his short stories and essays. The story is about a son who visits his father's factory after it has gone bankrupt. He tries to comfort his father, who is bitter and angry about his failure. He also hopes to reconcile with him, as they have had a strained relationship for years. He discovers that his father has been hiding some money from his creditors, and that he plans to start a new business with it. He also realizes that his father has no remorse or sympathy for anyone, and that he only cares about himself. He feels disgusted and disappointed by his father's deception and selfishness.

The story is a powerful example of deception and betrayal. The father deceives his son by pretending to be poor and helpless, while he actually has a stash of cash hidden in his office. He also deceives his creditors by not paying them what he owes them, and by trying to cheat them again with his new scheme. He betrays his son by not showing any love or respect for him, and by not appreciating his efforts to help him. He betrays his workers by not paying them their wages, and by not caring about their welfare. He betrays himself by not admitting his mistakes, and by not learning from them.

The Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde

The fourth story in the collection is The Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde, a Irish writer who was famous for his plays, poems, and stories. The story is about a young man named Hughie Erskine, who is in love with a woman named Laura Merton. He wants to marry her, but he needs to have ten thousand pounds first, as her father demands. He is poor and unsuccessful, and he does not know how to make money. One day, he visits his friend Alan Trevor, who is a painter. He sees a beggar sitting in the studio, posing as a model for a painting. He feels sorry for him, and gives him a sovereign coin. He then leaves, hoping that he will find a way to earn money soon. Later, he learns that the beggar was actually Baron Hausberg, one of the richest men in Europe. The Baron was impressed by Hughie's generosity, and decided to give him ten thousand pounds as a wedding present.

The Umbrella Man by Roald Dahl

The fifth story in the collection is The Umbrella Man by Roald Dahl, a British writer who was famous for his children's books, as well as his dark and humorous stories for adults. The story is narrated by a twelve-year-old girl who tells about a funny thing that happened to her and her mother one evening. They had gone to London for a dental appointment, and after that, they had a banana split and a coffee at a café. When they came out, it was raining heavily, and they had no umbrella. They tried to find a taxi, but they were all taken. Then, a little old man with a white moustache and a wrinkly pink face approached them. He had a fine silk umbrella, and he offered to sell it to them for a pound. He said that he had forgotten his wallet at home, and he needed the money for a taxi fare. He said that the umbrella was worth twenty pounds, but he was willing to part with it for a pound.

The story is a clever example of deception and manipulation. The old man deceives the mother and the daughter by pretending to be a gentleman in need of help, while he actually has a stash of money in his pocket. He also deceives the owners of the pubs where he goes to drink whisky, by stealing their umbrellas and selling them to unsuspecting people. He manipulates the mother and the daughter by appealing to their sympathy and their greed, making them think that they are getting a bargain. He also manipulates the owners of the pubs by acting as a regular customer and paying with pound notes that he gets from his victims. He is a master trickster who robs umbrellas worth twenty pounds for a single pound.

The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

The sixth story in the collection is The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant, a French writer who was famous for his realistic and often tragic stories. The story is about a woman named Mathilde Loisel, who is unhappy with her life as a poor clerk's wife. She dreams of being rich and beautiful, and she envies her friend Madame Forestier, who has many jewels and dresses. One day, her husband brings home an invitation to a ball at the Ministry of Education. He hopes that this will make her happy, but she complains that she has nothing to wear. He gives her four hundred francs to buy a dress, but she still feels unhappy because she has no jewels. She decides to borrow a necklace from Madame Forestier, who lends her one without hesitation. Mathilde is overjoyed with the necklace, which looks like diamonds but is actually made of paste. She goes to the ball and feels like a queen, attracting many admirers. She forgets about her troubles and enjoys herself immensely.

The story is a classic example of deception and tragedy. Mathilde deceives herself by thinking that she deserves more than what she has, and by attaching too much importance to appearances. She also deceives others by wearing a fake necklace that makes her look rich and elegant. She does not realize that happiness does not depend on wealth or beauty, but on contentment and gratitude. The tragedy lies in the fact that she loses the necklace on her way home from the ball, and she has to replace it with a real one that costs thirty-six thousand francs. She and her husband have to work hard for ten years to pay off their debt, living in poverty and misery. They lose their youth, their health, and their joy. At the end of the story, Mathilde meets Madame Forestier again, who tells her that the original necklace was worth only five hundred francs.

The Lady or the Tiger? by Frank R. Stockton

The seventh story in the collection is The Lady or the Tiger? by Frank R. Stockton, an American writer who was known for his humorous and fantastical stories. The story is set in an ancient kingdom ruled by a semi-barbaric king, who has devised a system of justice based on chance. Whenever someone commits a crime, he is put into an arena with two doors. Behind one door, there is a ferocious tiger that will kill him. Behind the other door, there is a beautiful lady that will marry him. The accused has to choose one of the doors, and accept his fate. The king's daughter falls in love with a young courtier, who is caught and sentenced to the arena. The princess, who is as passionate and cruel as her father, finds out which door hides the lady and which door hides the tiger. She also finds out that the lady is someone she hates, and that she would be jealous if her lover married her. She signals to her lover which door to choose, but the story does not reveal what she tells him. The reader is left to wonder whether she chose the lady or the tiger.

The story is a fascinating example of deception and dilemma. The king deceives his subjects by making them think that they have a fair chance of escaping their punishment, while he actually enjoys watching them suffer. He also deceives himself by believing that he is a wise and just ruler, while he actually is a tyrant and a sadist. The princess deceives her lover by pretending to help him, while she actually faces a dilemma between saving his life and losing him to another woman, or killing him and keeping him for herself. She also deceives the reader by not revealing her choice, leaving us to guess what she did. The dilemma lies in the fact that there is no good option for the princess or her lover, and that whatever they do, they will be unhappy.

Sharp Practice by Frederick Forsyth

The eighth story in the collection is Sharp Practice by Frederick Forsyth, a British writer who was famous for his thriller novels and short stories. The story is about a man named John Brackenbury, who is a professional card player and a master of cheating. He travels around the world, playing in high-stakes games and winning large sums of money with his tricks. He uses various methods to deceive his opponents, such as marked cards, hidden mirrors, sleight of hand, and signals from his accomplices. He is careful not to arouse suspicion or get caught, and he always changes his name and appearance. One day, he arrives in Monte Carlo, where he plans to play in a private game with four wealthy men. He manages to get invited to the game by posing as a rich businessman from London. He also hires a young woman named Julie to act as his girlfriend and help him cheat. He expects to win a lot of money from the game, but he does not know that he is about to face a surprise.

The story is an exciting example of deception and revenge. Brackenbury deceives his opponents by pretending to be an honest and naive player, while he actually uses his skills and tools to cheat them. He also deceives Julie by promising to pay her well for her services, while he actually plans to ditch her after the game. He does not realize that one of his opponents is actually an old enemy of his, who has recognized him and has prepared a trap for him. The enemy is a man named Charles Hardiman, who was cheated by Brackenbury ten years ago in London. Hardiman has been waiting for a chance to get back at Brackenbury, and he has arranged the game in Monte Carlo for that purpose. He has also hired Julie to work for him, and to betray Brackenbury at the right moment. He surprises Brackenbury by exposing his cheating methods and demanding his money back. He also reveals that Julie was working for him all along.

The Rocking-Horse Winner by D.H. Lawrence

The Last Leaf by O. Henry

The tenth and final story in the collection is The Last Leaf by O. Henry, an American writer who was famous for his witty and sentimental stories with surprise endings. The story is about two young women artists, Sue and Johnsy, who share a studio in Greenwich Village, New York. Johnsy falls ill with pneumonia and loses her will to live. She becomes obsessed with an ivy vine outside her window, and believes that she will die when the last leaf falls. Sue tries to cheer her up and convince her that she has something to live for, but Johnsy refuses to listen. Sue asks their neighbor, Behrman, an old and unsuccessful painter, to pose for her as she works on a magazine illustration. Behrman hears about Johnsy's condition and her strange fixation on the ivy leaf. He decides to help her by painting a realistic-looking leaf on the wall behind the vine, so that it will look like the last leaf never falls. He does this on a stormy night, exposing himself to the cold and the rain. The next morning, Johnsy sees that the last leaf is still there, despite the wind and the rain. She takes this as a sign of hope and courage, and begins to recover. However, Behrman catches pneumonia from his night out and dies a few days later. Sue tells Johnsy that Behrman had painted the last leaf for her, and that it was his masterpiece.

The story is a touching example of deception and sacrifice. Behrman deceives Johnsy by painting a fake leaf that looks like a real one, hiding his true identity and motive. He also deceives Sue by not telling her what he has done for Johnsy. He sacrifices his health and his life for Johnsy's sake, giving her a gift of hope and love. Johnsy also deceives herself by thinking that she has no reason to live, and by attaching too much importance to the ivy leaf. She does not realize that happiness does not depend on external circumstances, but on inner strength and faith. The sacrifice lies in the fact that Behrman gives up his life for Johnsy's life, and that he creates his masterpiece at the cost of his own death.


In conclusion, A Tangled Web is a collection of short stories that explore the theme of deception in various ways. The stories show how people deceive themselves and others, and how they face the consequences of their actions. The stories also show how deception can be used for good or evil purposes, depending on the intention and the outcome. The stories are entertaining, surprising, and challenging, as they make us think about human nature and society.

Some of the main lessons and messages of the stories are:

  • Appearances can be deceiving: we should not judge people or situations by how they look or seem.

  • Honesty is the best policy: we should not lie or cheat others or ourselves, as it will only lead to trouble and regret.

  • Deception can have unexpected consequences: we should be careful of what we do or say, as it may affect others in ways we do not anticipate or intend.

  • Deception can also be a form of art: we should appreciate the creativity and skill involved in creating illusions or stories that deceive us.

  • Deception can also be a form of love: we should recognize the kindness and generosity behind some acts of deception that are meant to help us or make us happy.

The stories are still relevant and enjoyable today because they deal with universal themes and emotions that we can all relate to. They also reflect our own experiences and challenges in life, as we encounter different forms of deception every day.


  • What is A Tangled Web?

A Tangled Web is a collection of ten short stories by different authors, all revolving around the theme of deception.

  • Who are the authors and editors of the stories?

The authors are W. Somerset Maugham, Saki, V.S. Pritchett, Oscar Wilde, Roald Dahl, Guy de Maupassant, Frank R. Stockton, Frederick Forsyth, D.H. Lawrence, and O. Henry. The editors are Christine Lindop and Alison Sykes-McNulty.

  • What is the title of the collection based on?

The title of the collection is based on a quote from Sir Walter Scott: "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive!"

  • Where can I download the collection as a PDF file for free?

You can download the collection as a PDF file for free from this link:

  • What are some other collections of short stories that deal with deception?

Some other collections of short stories that deal with deception are:

  • The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain by Mark Twain

  • Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger

  • The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke by Arthur C. Clarke

  • The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

  • The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor by Flannery O'Connor


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