The Painted Veil

The Painted Veil

by W. Somerset Maugham
4.2 64

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Overview

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, The Painted Veil is the story of the beautiful but love-starved Kitty Fane. When her husband discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to the heart of a cholera epidemic. Stripped of the British society of her youth and the small but effective society she fought so hard to attain in Hong Kong, she is compelled by her awakening conscience to reassess her life and learn how to love.

The Painted Veil is a beautifully written affirmation of the human capacity to grow, to change, and to forgive.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307787637
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/05/2011
Series: Vintage International
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 92,776
File size: 410 KB

About the Author

W. Somerset Maugham was one of the twentieth century’s most popular novelists as well as a celebrated playwright, critic, and short story writer. He was born in Paris but grew up in England and served as a secret agent for the British during World War I. He wrote many novels, including the classics Of Human Bondage, The Razor’s Edge, Cakes and Ale, Christmas Holiday, The Moon and Sixpence, Theatre, and Up at the Villa.

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The Painted Veil (thINKing Classics) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 64 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Few writers of the past century could evoke a sense of mystery and atmosphere like W. Somerset Maugham. And while almost all readers are familiar with his major works (Of Human Bondage, Up at the Villa, The Razor's Edge, Cakes and Ale etc, the film versions of these having added to that international knowledge), few have had the pleasure of reading the rather private but equally satisfying 'feminist work', THE PAINTED VEIL. Now with the announcement that this novel, too, is soon to be released as a motion picture, hopefully many will read the book before, remembering how mesmerizingly well how Maugham can spin a tale. As with all of Maugham's novels, the stridency of class plays a role in this work. In a disturbing opening chapter Maugham places us in the room where Kitty is in the midst of seduction by Charlie Townsend and the adulterous couple shudder at the noise that would indicate that Kitty's bacteriologist husband Walter Kane may be spying on them. The intrigue is set and then the novel retraces the territory that placed the couple en flagrante in the middle of the incipient scandal that will alter the lives of all concerned. Kitty, the elder daughter of a fussy couple in London who had 'shamed' Kitty into finding a husband when Kitty's younger, unattractive sister is engaged, hurriedly marries the shy but solid Walter Kane who is about to be shipped off to Hong Kong. Once into Hong Kong Kitty's sensually hungry eye is met by the handsome but married with three children Colonial Secretary Charlie Townsend and they begin a torrid affair. When Walter discovers his wife's adultery he threatens to divorce her (thereby making public the scandal that would ruin Charlie's career) if she doesn't accompany him to Mei-tan-fu, China where a cholera epidemic is destroying the town. The situation finds Kitty struggling with her disdain for Walter whom she never has loved and eventual loathing for Charlie who proves to be the cad he is by putting his career and marriage over the 'silly thought' of running away with Kitty! Distraught, Kitty joins Walter on the trek to Mei-tan-fu where she gradually adjusts to the situation with the help of the consul Waddington who encourages her to fill her hours with helping the nuns care for the sick and the orphaned children. Kitty's life begins to change as she sees the manner in which Walter is focused on mankind, enhanced by the admiration he gains from the nuns. She discovers she is pregnant (whether by Walter or Charlie she does not know) but soon all attention shifts when Walter succumbs to cholera and Kitty, wanting to stay with the nuns who have helped her see that life does have meaning), returns to Hong Kong, has one last distasteful experience with Charlie whose wife has become the solid friend Kitty has always needed, and sets off for England. Once in Europe she receives a telegram that her mother has died and she returns to London to be with her sister and her distant father. Circumstances alter and Kitty finally finds in her lonely father the need to be loved and pledges to join him as he moves from London to a colonial position, awaiting the birth of a daughter who will be given all the love and training of equality Kitty has never known. Aside from Maugham's gift in creating characters so real we can visualize them, make them part of our reading lives, he also had the gift of descriptive writing about strange places that is as fine as any writer of his day. 'The morning drew on and the sun touched the mist so that it shone whitely like the ghost of snow on a dying star'. In describing the destination in China 'Mei-tan-fu with its crenellated walls was like the painted canvas placed on the stage in an old play to represent a city. The nuns, Waddington, and the Manchu woman who loved him, were fantastic characters in a masque and the rest, the people sidling along the tortuous streets and those who died, were nameless supers.' The novel is full of these absorbing pictures.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Painted Veil is a tragic tale of unrequited love in marriage. The main character, Kitty, is a selfish, vain woman with very few redeeming qualities. This book is not a light read. If you enjoy classic literature along the lines of Wuthering Heights, you'll probably enjoy The Painted Veil. It certainly keeps you thinking long after it's done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept me interested and absorbed to the end. There were some surprises and "twists" in the plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had seen the movie and then stumbled upon the book at the bookstore. Was pleased to find that the movie had stayed fairly close to the story although the movie played up the romance between Kitty and her husband more than the book. I found the book hard to put down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everyone in my book club liked this book. This book is short--fewer than 300 pages--but it is a well-developed story with strong characters, lots of irony, and a satisfying conclusion, even though it wasn't a "happily ever after" ending. If you've seen the movie and liked it, you'll like the book, too. There are some significant differences between the book and movie. The characters in the book are more well-developed and honestly portrayed than in the movie. The movie's ending, too, was more forgiving than in the book. This book is a good choice for someone who has never read Maugham.
Music_Muse More than 1 year ago
I became interested in this novel after watching the film version of the story staring Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, and Liev Shrieber. The movie was fanatatic, so I picked up the book. The story lines match closely, alhtough they have different endings. The plot is often melancholy, maintaining a disheartening yet hopeful attitude. The characters are human and the events are ones that were ordinary for life in the British Empire, its colonies, and China in the early 20th century. It's easy to read with short, engaging chapters. You won't want to put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautiful journey into the soul.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw an old bw movie but not a newer one but would think that he tried to kill her are you sure he died in new movie and not her or am i thinking of rains of rampour dated but a good read abd no longer in print except on nook
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw the movie first and chose to read the book afterwards to see what I missed. I'm sorry I did. The first third of the book is very well-written and follows closely to the movie. I felt it gave me additional understanding of the characters' motivations. After that it went downhill. Kitty Fane never really becomes likable or sympathetic. If you enjoyed the movie because of its portrayal of a husband and wife who grow to care about and appreciate one another after making mistakes, you will not find that here. That was a screenwriter who rewrote the story to make it beautiful and haunting with a satisfying ending instead of the book ending which left me feeling hollow. If you loved the movie, think twice about reading the book.
Tuette More than 1 year ago
I loved this story and his beautiful descriptions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the best romance book you can ever read. You will become angry sad and evan delighted. This book takes you through the hard concepts of love
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A touching story about the lies one tells and harsh reality of finding out who someone really is. Very good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is one of my favorites and although it was written many years ago it still grips the reader and makes this book hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mavis1129 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book but didn't like the ending. It seems like things started going down hill after Walter dies. Kitty is a difficult person to sympathize with. She started out as an overindulged youth and then turns into a heartless wife. There were times, after finding out about the affair, when she says that Walter is evil. Even after realizing she was duped by her lover, she thinks that Walter wants to kill her by taking her into the cholera epidemic. In reality he saved her reputation. She didn't make amends with him until he was on his death bed. Even though she was awful to him, I was secretly hoping that Kitty would fall in love with Walter and things would work out.
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Mona Bultena More than 1 year ago
I love this book! A very Good Read!
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