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The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

The Painted Veil (original 1925; edition 2006)

by W. Somerset Maugham

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Title:The Painted Veil
Authors:W. Somerset Maugham
Info:Vintage (2006), Edition: Movie Tie-In, Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham (1925)



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English (103)  Spanish (2)  Catalan (1)  All languages (106)
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
This is the second Maugham novel I've read recently -both as part of a course on Film of the Book. It's made me realise what an impressive writer he is. Considering it's written by a man, I don't think I've read a more convincing depiction of an unhappy marriage and a desperate affair written from the woman's point of view. It's a very persuasive account of the position of middle class women in the 1920s, in particular their dilemma when caught between the traditional pressure to marry and not be left on the shelf and the growing move towards more independence and sexual freedom for women.
Her personal dilemma, caught between her miserable marriage and her affair with a complete shit of a married man makes her instantly sympathetic although a very flawed character. Her husband, Walter, is an interestingly ambiguous character, especially since we only see him through his wife Kitty's eyes. For me, the main weakness of the book is Maugham's harping on about a higher spiritual existence, something he also did at great length in The Razor's Edge, the other novel of his I've read. ( )
  stephengoldenberg | Apr 6, 2016 |
The equation goes like this:
Plague sacrifice incredible writing=a very happy reader. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
You know, I've got to take a star off because this book really stewed in my brain for the last few days and now I'm angry.

Endings can make or break a book, and this one was one of the broken variety. The author managed to avoid the lame Austen-like finish, but only after a distinct flirtation with it. He then narrowly missed the depressive Waugh finale that would have been infinitely better in a literary sense but equally would have been, well, depressive. Only then did the author point the novel toward Dostoyevsky Ville and put his foot down.

I can't believe that I worried so much through the novel that this well drawn, strong and confident female character would be ruined in some lame "Road to Damascus" moment and have her psychological journey thrown to the garbage - and then it happened. In the last freaking sentence.

This book could have been a four star without the words "...if she could follow the path that now she dimly discerned before her, not the path that kind funny old Waddington had spoken of that led nowhither, but the path those dear nuns at the convent followed so humbly...".

Just allow her to exit stage left with her changed and very human heart intact please, instead of making her rely on yet another man for her happiness; this time of course it’s the man upstairs but that’s by the by.

I can't possibly give it a one star because Maugham is one of the greats, but this ending man, it's enough to drive a man to drink.

EDIT: I've seen the film version now and I agree with the other reviewers who have said that it's better than the book. The film gives the two main characters some of their humanity back and manages to rescue a satisfying ending from the poor end to the novel.
( )
  MartynChuzz | Feb 22, 2016 |
The story begins with the very unlikable Kitty Fane. She is selfish, vain, and is bored with her husband. After an adulterous affair, Kitty travels with her husband to an area stricken by cholera.

Kitty begins to work in the nearby convent while the nuns nurse those stricken with the disease. During this time, Kitty attempts to repair her broken marriage. Just when she begins to make amends, tragedy strikes. Kitty is left alone to face her demons.

I enjoyed watching Kitty's character evolve throughout the story. I first noticed the change when she began embracing the orphans in her care instead of being repulsed by them. She begins to understand that, in the face of so much suffering, her problems are very small. Kitty begins to empathize with others and make better choices. In the end, Kitty is stronger than she realizes and her tragedy is really the beginning of a new life. ( )
  AlexisLovesBooks | Jan 26, 2016 |
At times thoroughly depressing and at others transformative, this book is brutal in its exploration of conscience. It can seem melodramatic, but is nevertheless worthwhile. Well captured in the Edward Norton/Naomi Watts version of the film (which I recommend). ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
W. Somerset Maughamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Frampton, MeredithCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kushnir, OksanaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reading, KateNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Törngren, Thorsten W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, MeganCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"...the painted veil which those who live call Life."
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She gave a startled cry.
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The Painted Veil was mistakenly combined with The Narrow Corner and thus the non-English titles may be incorrectly combined. If you identify an incorrectly combined book please "separate" it and combine it with the correct work. Thank you.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307277771, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:00 -0400)

This is the story of Kitty Fane, the adulterous wife of a bacteriologist stationed in Hong Kong. When her husband discovers her deception, he exacts a terrible vengeance: Kitty must accompany him to the heart of a cholera epidemic in China.

(summary from another edition)

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