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The Painted Veil | [W. Somerset Maugham]

The Painted Veil

First published in 1925, The Painted Veil is an affirmation of the human capacity to grow, change, and forgive. Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, it is the story of the beautiful but shallow young Kitty Fane. When her husband discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to a remote region of China ravaged by a cholera epidemic.
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Publisher's Summary

First published in 1925, The Painted Veil is an affirmation of the human capacity to grow, change, and forgive. Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, it is the story of the beautiful but shallow young Kitty Fane. When her husband discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to a remote region of China ravaged by a cholera epidemic.

Stripped of the British society of her youth and overwhelmed by the desolation around her, she is compelled by her awakening conscience to reassess her life. She takes up work with children at a convent, but when her husband dies, she is forced to return to England to her father, her one remaining relative, to raise her unborn child. Though too late for her marriage, she has learned humility, independence, and how to love.

Listen to the classics: download more from W. Somerset Maugham.

©1925 W. Somerset Maugham; (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Audie Award Finalist, Classic, 2007

"[Maugham is] the modern writer who has influenced me the most." (George Orwell)
"An expert craftsman....His style is sharp, quick, subdued, casual."(New York Times)
"The Painted Veil, with its sadness, its moral tension, its irony and compassion, its building evocations of lust and terror and remorse, is a work of art." (Spectator)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (653 )
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4.2 (294 )
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4.3 (296 )
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Kenneth Cary, NC, United States 01-02-12
    Kenneth Cary, NC, United States 01-02-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    76
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    249
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    Story
    "Well written but disappointing"

    Let me start with the best part of this book: I love Kate Reading. I think she could read anything and make it worth listening to. Her timing is impeccable as always and her voice is smooth and perfect.

    The story started out REALLY well and went places I never expected but it was like the author got tired of the characters and finished the book in haste. He could have gone so much farther with the development of Kitty. It happens but to me it was disjointed and very abrupt at times. At base I don't have a problem with how the story ended but I think Maugham could have filled in the gaps a little, drawn out the time line more and brought her to exactly where she ended up while giving more detail to how she got there.

    It wasn't a bad story just a missed opportunity.

    I would recommend it still however since it is so unique.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christian Cardinale 12-13-11
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    "An enthralling story of love and death."

    Somerset Maugham is so good at analysing human feelings in a desperate situation. This story is gripping because it deals with inexorable fate and the pain of betrayal, death and redemption. How a woman could get duped by the man she loves, and the slow process of awareness of the existence of charity and goodness when she finds herself unwillingly amidst the victims of a cholera outbreak in China . This trial will work as an eye-opener for her, when she realises how devoted her husband is and how useless she is in comparison, but she can't change her inner feelings and feels miserable. The unfaithful wife becomes repentant and has learnt the lesson of life, but ironically she is not yet master of her destiny and can't resist the seductiveness of her former lover and hates herself for it. She finds appeasement only when her bereaved father accepts to take her along to a distant island.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. K. T. Coyle Grants, NM 12-12-11
    K. K. T. Coyle Grants, NM 12-12-11 Member Since 2007
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    140
    3
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    Story
    "Dark, Tragic, Charming"
    What made the experience of listening to The Painted Veil the most enjoyable?

    I had watched the movie recently and the first part of the movie matches the book spot on. The ending is significantly different, but powerful and important. I consider it a very feminist novel.


    What other book might you compare The Painted Veil to and why?

    I feel it follows the same traditions as many Edith Wharton novellas and short stories.


    What does Kate Reading bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

    I have appreciated the range Kate Reading brings to every book I have heard her narrate.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine Washington, DC, United States 11-05-11
    Catherine Washington, DC, United States 11-05-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    92
    6
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    "Lovely"

    I have never read anything by this author before, and enjoyed listening to this piece. The story seems very modern. Although I would have appreciated more detail about the rural parts of China where some of it takes place, I suppose it's not suprising that a story written at this time only focuses on the Europeans there and their very limited interactions with actual Chinese people. I really loved the narrator. I think anyone who enjoys a good Masterpiece Theater production will enjoy this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Swierczewski Ozone Park, NY, United States 09-13-11
    Swierczewski Ozone Park, NY, United States 09-13-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "A Great Story Told By A Wonderful Narrator"

    This was the first audio book read by a female narrator that I completely enjoyed through all of the different voices. Each character portrayed had their own distinct voice and thankfully the male characters were not given a hoarse and throaty imitation of what a man might sound like but a genuinely personal touch. Kate Reading was an excellent choice for a superlative novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Hamtramck, MI, USA 05-14-07
    Christopher Hamtramck, MI, USA 05-14-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dante spoiled it"

    Perhaps it is because I am the type of person who prefers to see a movie without having seen its trailer, but because this book points out at the beginning that it is based on a verse from Dante which pretty much spells out the plot, I felt like I knew too much. I wish I could have heard this book without knowing the general direction of the plot.

    Perhaps it is because I never grew to sympathize with the main character that I failed to be moved. She began as a spoiled and snooty product of a very unlikeable mother. She remained this way through most of the book until a rather cliched form of awakening. This is where the plot deviates from Dante's poem, unfortunately, since in Dante she gets tossed out a window.

    Yes, it was written and read well. This was my first attempt at Maugham-- it was good enough that I may try him again, but I am not rushing to it.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shaddi Laguna Niguel, CA, United States 04-20-09
    Shaddi Laguna Niguel, CA, United States 04-20-09 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good Narrator; lousy story!"

    I've rarely read a book where I have had so little compassion for and understanding of the heroine. I listened to the entire book in an effort to like it. The narrator was the only reason I continued to listen to the book while I was stuck in traffic. I don't think that I would have been able to finish this book if I were just reading it. Boring!

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phyllis United States 08-21-12
    Phyllis United States 08-21-12 Listener Since 2009
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    15
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    "A GREAT BOOK TO READ, SEE MOVIE & BOOK TO LISTEN"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Painted Veil to be better than the print version?

    YES I DO. SO MANY TIMES THE READER IS ABLE TO TRANSPORT YOU THE THE LOCATION OF THE BOOK AND THIS READER CERTAINLY DID.


    What other book might you compare The Painted Veil to and why?

    ????


    What about Kate Reading’s performance did you like?

    GREAT READER


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    .....


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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