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The Painted Veil | [W. Somerset Maugham]

The Painted Veil

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

(P)2001, 2007 BBC Audiobooks Ltd

What the Critics Say

"[Maugham is] the modern writer who has influenced me the most." (George Orwell)
"An expert craftsman....His style is sharp, quick, subdued, casual."(The 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 (172 )
5 star
 (77)
4 star
 (65)
3 star
 (21)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (3)
Overall
4.0 (90 )
5 star
 (33)
4 star
 (35)
3 star
 (16)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (1)
Story
4.2 (90 )
5 star
 (41)
4 star
 (33)
3 star
 (11)
2 star
 (1)
1 star
 (4)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Karen Vancouver, BC, Canada 02-22-09
    Karen Vancouver, BC, Canada 02-22-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    81
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    Overall
    "Better than the movie"

    I was very taken with the movie of "The Painted Veil." While I still think the film very fine, this novella proves itself better precisely in those places where the film-makers altered the story. Kitty never becomes perfect, and the ending is hopeful, not triumphant. The reading, too, is very well done. Good male voices, as well as the female.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicole Waldorf, MD, USA 03-26-09
    Nicole Waldorf, MD, USA 03-26-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
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    50
    4
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    1
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    "WONDERFUL NARRATOR!"

    After watching the movie, I wanted to read the book. It was obviously a better book. Much more human ending. The narrator brought the book to life in such a way that it truly moved me. Thank you! Great buy!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AudioAddict Austin, Texas, USA 10-03-13
    AudioAddict Austin, Texas, USA 10-03-13 Member Since 2013

    I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    387
    ratings
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    173
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    Story
    "A novel about personal growth"

    STORY - (British Classic) Occasionally I'll hear a classic when I'm in the mood for a beautifully descriptive, simple story with deep character development. The Painted Veil is simple, well told and enjoyable, but I wish there had been more descriptions of this area of China and its people.

    The main thrust of the book is Kitty's transformation after she and Walter (husband) move to a cholera-stricken region and she volunteers in a convent/hospital. Lots of character development. There are some sad undertones, but the book is not dark.

    PERFORMANCE - Well done, nice French accents for the nuns.

    OVERALL - This book is probably more for women, as it's mostly about Kitty's thoughts, feelings and her personal growth. Classics aren't my favorite genre, so it takes a great one to get 4 or 5 stars from this reviewer. This one was just okay.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RtooDtoo Oakland, CA 02-28-10
    RtooDtoo Oakland, CA 02-28-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    "Amazing story"

    This story really took me by surprise. I thought it might be a dated and quaint journey into another time. While parts of it are quaint, its substance is timeless. It has all the major ingredients of a great story: lust, love, betrayal, adventure, pathos, and an anti-hero(ine) central character who transforms in a plausible way. The woman reading it is a little wooden, but her posh accent is actually quite enjoyable and works well with the story.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 05-18-12
    Ellen Chesterton, IN, United States 05-18-12 Member Since 2008

    I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    148
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    "Early Imperialism and the flapper"

    I can't tell you why I love this glimpse into the twenties and early 20th century china. The romance belies romance and kicks the gooey love stuff to the curb. But I came to love the doctor in this book, even if his wife was too shallow to manage that herself. And she in her own way learns to be kind. It's a very interesting book about imperfect lives.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Colin Seattle, WA, United States 11-29-12
    Colin Seattle, WA, United States 11-29-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
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    "Great reader -- OK story"

    It was the reader that drew me in. I listened to the ten minute sample and I was hooked. The story is not gripping all the way through. Some of the characters stay frustratingly distant, but Kitty grows and deepens with every page, and watching her navigate her world is fascinating.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Krista Golden, CO, United States 11-08-12
    Krista Golden, CO, United States 11-08-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    32
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    5
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    Performance
    Story
    "Fools in China"
    Would you listen to The Painted Veil again? Why?

    I would listen again; the reader was impeccable. Natural, believable, soothing. The narration was probably the best I have ever listened to.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I most enjoyed that the characters are all so irreparably flawed and damaged. It was human. It was clear that their issues were a product of both the times and just the sheer fact of being honestly alive. Yes, some of their concerns were trivial. Yes, some of their reactions were overly dramatic. Yes, it was like listening to a train wreck as it happens. Isn't life really like that?


    Which character – as performed by Sophie Ward – was your favorite?

    Kitty Fane. Of course, that was the main character and her perspective throughout the book, but she just did it SO WELL.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Painted Veil and why?

    For me, the most memorable characters were all of them—I know, that's a cheater's way out, but none of the lives and situations are really cleared up or explained, so I was left wondering about nearly everyone, even if they had died. What were their real motivations? What would they or should they or could they have done differently? Did they ever find out that (fill in secret or lesson here)? Did anyone else eventually become a victim of the Cholera? I will never know the answers, and will likely think about those loose ends for a long time to come.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mavep Albury, Australia 09-13-12
    Mavep Albury, Australia 09-13-12 Listener Since 2007

    Love reading, and now listening to books being read. I like poetry and classic literature and also detective fiction and some thrillers.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    Story
    "Great story, moving and satisfying."
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Painted Veil to be better than the print version?

    Yes. It is so beautifully read, like listening to a play.


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

    Perhaps Wuthering Heights as it has great characters and an atmospheric quality.


    Have you listened to any of Sophie Ward’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I haven't but would certainly do so again.


    If you could take any character from The Painted Veil out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Not sure.


    Any additional comments?

    A beautifully told story of a shallow young woman who learns what is important in life through hardship and the self-giving lives of some French nuns. I thought the ending touching and satisfying, without being sentimental.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Washington Court House, OH, United States 12-02-12
    Nancy Washington Court House, OH, United States 12-02-12 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    2
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    Performance
    Story
    "Watch the movie - skip the book"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I'm not sure who would enjoy this book - but the movie was better. Better ending too.


    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Manuel Vigo, Spain 11-30-12
    Manuel Vigo, Spain 11-30-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    Story
    "A FAKE!"
    If you could sum up The Painted Veil in three words, what would they be?

    Romantic, Vintage, Psychollogic


    Any additional comments?

    Yes, your system to let oneself to transcribe your audiobooks to CDs, WAS a very good one, BEFORE you changed everything to VERY BAD. It is completely unnacceptable that it is now so difficult to burn the CDs. SHAME on you!

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 10 results
Sort by:
  • Juliet
    Compton Martin, Bristol, United Kingdom
    8/20/08
    Overall
    "The Painted Veil"

    Fantastic story. One of those that when it ends, you want to double check it really has finished because you were enjoying it so much

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • carolyn
    ipswich, United Kingdom
    5/8/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant"

    Great story about a woman who gets herself into a bit of a pickle with an affair in china at turn of century

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Helen
    United Kingdom
    11/11/12
    Overall
    "Beautiful"

    Beautiful, serene, quite affectionate style of writing, I did enjoy this book despite its often old fashioned language, the whole thing was very captivating and special.



    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mirium
    SAFFRON WALDEN, Essex, United Kingdom
    2/6/08
    Overall
    "Bleak but compelling"

    Typical Somerset Maugham - compelling and desperately sad. I wanted to listen to this after seeing the film. As expected, the book is much bleaker and more complex, without the reconciliation between Kitty and Walter that made the film more of a straightforward romance.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Elizabeth
    Newbury, United Kingdom
    4/1/12
    Overall
    "A brilliant novel"

    I found the writing compelling, and rather fascinating, and it's a great idea for a story (although Maugham's casual racism is a bit off-putting at times). Unfortunately the narration is monotonous and she doesn't really attempt to separate the different voices. It's a shame as it would be hugely enjoyable.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • p.hammond@btinternet.com
    Leicester, England.
    3/5/13
    Overall
    "Love and revenge."



    A story that will be told forever. Love, revenge and life doesn't end after a fall

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-6 of 6 results

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