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The Painted Veil Audiobook

The Painted Veil

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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

4.2 (1514 )
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  •  
    Cai 04-20-17
    Cai 04-20-17 Member Since 2016

    Cai

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    "Fantastic narrator elevates a classic"

    I'll read anything narrated by Kate Redding. She has such a natural way about it that it is as if the story comes alive and flows through her, while "she" falls away. But her voice lingers, with snippets of the story replaying after it ends.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C Brown 04-07-17
    C Brown 04-07-17
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    "Unfulfilling"

    It's more of a short story. I guess I was hoping to have the same immersion of characters and story I found in the Poldark series. The story left me with a superficial feeling.

    The narrator Kate Rwadung did a fine job. You knew who was talking and she kept your attention as if you were reading the novel yourself.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly Colorado Springs 03-31-17
    Kelly Colorado Springs 03-31-17 Member Since 2016

    Reading allows me to travel through time; to visit the world's unique and stunning places. To become somebody I am not... It is glorious.

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    "A simple & beautiful tale of love & betrayal."

    The Painted Veil is a quieter, shorter and simpler novel than Of Human Bondage, but it is equally worthy of your time. I will say right up front that I have not seen the movie so I cannot make a personal comparison, but because I always love the book more than the movie I am sure that truth would remain.

    What I love about W. Somerset Maugham's books is the approach h takes to character development. Each of them are deeply scarred people who are often unlikable. They are marred human beings who are often motivated by love for other equally marred human beings who do not return their love. He allows these people to be good, bad, loving and contemptible all at the same time. He gives us little that good without blemish, and I love how complex life is under Maugham's paintbrush.

    Like Philip in Of Human Bondage Kitty and her husband Walter love the wrong people and their love is destructive. They recognize the flaws within their lover, but go forth as though their love alone will change the other. The problem happens when that person finally does something to turn the love to hate and anger. Philip finally stopped loving Mildred after she destroyed everything he owned leaving him penniless and with nothing except his clothing. Walter stops loving Kitty when he finds that she is having an affair with Charles.

    What W. Somerset Maugham does best is to outline the nastiness of people. He gives us characters who are often revolting. He gives us love stories that do not follow the traditional "happily ever after" trajectory; love stories which are messy and real. He writes about a life that is dark and light at the same time. He allows his characters to be unlikable but relatable. He allows their anger to breathe and take over all emotion. For example, when Walter confronts Kitty about the affair he says: I had no illusions about you,' he said. 'I knew you were silly and frivolous and empty-headed. But I loved you. I knew that your aims and ideals were vulgar and commonplace. But I loved you. I knew that you were second-rate. But I loved you. It's comic when I think how hard I tried to be amused by the things that amused you and how anxious I was to hide from you that I wasn't ignorant and vulgar and scandal-mongering and stupid. I knew how frightened you were of intelligence and I did everything I could to make you think me as big a fool as the rest of the men you knew. I knew that you'd only married me for convenience. I loved you so much, I didn't care. Most people, as far as I can see, when they're in love with someone and the love isn't returned feel that they have a grievance. They grow angry and bitter. I wasn't like that. I never expected you to love me, I didn't see any reason that you should. I never thought myself very lovable. I was thankful to be allowed to love you and I was enraptured when now and then I thought you were pleased with me or when I noticed in your eyes a gleam of good-humored affection. I tried not to bore you with my love; I knew I couldn't afford to do that and I was always on the lookout for the first sign that you were impatient with my affection. What most husbands expect as a right I was prepared to receive as a favor.

    Later in the book when Kitty has done much to grow and change Maugham allows Walter to remain in his anger but for the sadness to spill out as well. He doesn't force Walter to forgive, which is also true to life. One can offer change and one can offer apology, but it doesn't guarantee that you will receive the happy ending. Perhaps my favorite scene occurred when Kitty asked Walter when he would stop punishing her and if he despised her. His answer was that he despised himself for loving her. I believe all human beings will feel that way at least once, and that Maugham has captured this feeling better than anyone else ever has.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    He who knows, knows. North-West Hemisphere 03-29-17
    He who knows, knows. North-West Hemisphere 03-29-17 Listener Since 2009

    Let Him Teach You

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    "Superb reading!"

    The story is a riveting slice of life captured in the most minute details through the keen observations and impeccable writing of Maugham.
    It is the reader's performance that enlivened the story. Having listened to audiobooks for over 40 years, I have listened to many good readers. The reader of this book, however, is a great reader with perfectly timed inflections, appropriate accents, modulation, and cadence. The reader is one of the top three or four readers I have had the great delight of listening to for over 7 hours. I will find more books read by her.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris 03-28-17
    Chris 03-28-17 Member Since 2014
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    "So glad I took the chance on this book. Fantastic"
    Any additional comments?

    First off the narrator Kate Reading was phenomenal, the best I've heard in a great while. She is truly a master of narration. The story is 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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aaron 03-25-17
    Aaron 03-25-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Infidelity and Redemption"

    Deep, sad and poignant. This is a masterpiece of tragic literature. If you have not read The Painted Veil, I recommend it as a character study alone. The language is elegant. The reading by Kate reading is touching, yet does not distract from the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Reza 03-16-17
    Reza 03-16-17
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    "Wonderful"
    Any additional comments?

    I highly recommend this book to the younger writers and readers. They will both find an incredible writing and a wonderful story written almost a century ago. Beautiful narration by Kate Reading considerably enhanced the overall performance. Well done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jody THOMASTON, CT, United States 02-17-17
    Jody THOMASTON, CT, United States 02-17-17 Member Since 2013

    Classics, biographies, mysteries.....so many things to read and enjoy!

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    "Magnificent"

    This may just be the best book I've ever listened to. The story is captivating and the narration excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Luv2Read 02-13-17
    Luv2Read 02-13-17
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    "Good read"

    Unfortunately I think the synopsis kind of ruined this book some as it told the entire story in a few sentences leaving little to look forward to. The story is interesting and I wish I hadn't known exactly what to expect. You are lead to believe the 'meat' of the book will be about how Kitty gets on with her life after her husband's death but instead you get none of that and just the story of how it came to be. Kind of a bummer, but still an interesting story.

    The narrator was excellent! She is easy to listen to and does good distinguishing between characters without being overly annoying as some narrators are!

    Overall, this book is worth reading, but be prepared to hear a longer version of the book summary.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah BOERNE, TX, United States 02-12-17
    Sarah BOERNE, TX, United States 02-12-17 Member Since 2013
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    "Surprisingly engrossing!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Painted Veil the most enjoyable?

    The narration was superb!


    What did you like best about this story?

    The character of Kitty was shallow but portrayed in depth, if that makes sense. She sought to understand herself and improve herself, and though she wasn't very good at either, she did progress.


    What does Kate Reading bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She really brought the characters to life. Even when she was using a French accent she was able to distinguish the voices of different nuns. And the accent was totally convincing - this is where some good narrators are quite weak but Ms. Reading was perfect.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Not really, but I did empathize with Kitty.


    Any additional comments?

    Well worth listening to - I would probably never have read it in print.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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