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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 (1688 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Alifa Jerusalem, Israel 09-25-11
    Alifa Jerusalem, Israel 09-25-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    51
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    "The Painted Veil"

    The recent film based on this 1924 novel, while lovely, does not stick to the original, much more complex, and rather demanding story. This is a book that from beginning to end makes you think deeply about mother-daughter relationships, love, guilt, repentance, courage, revenge, self-knowledge and self-sacrifice, and sexual predators. Much of the story takes place in the exotic setting of a remote Chinese village afflicted with an epidemic of cholera. Maugham draws his characters precisely and with sympathy, and has his usual sharp eye for the British bureaucrats who ran the Empire. This is a story that repays re-reading and re-hearing, providing much food for thought about human nature and how we grow psychologically and spiritually.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Senior Citizen #8 05-15-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Odyssey of atonement"

    By upbringing our heroine is unprepared to appreciate love and compassion. Even though married, she thinks nothing of having an affair and hurting her husband. Slowly she awakens to the greater beauty and depth of life after her shallow lover abandons her to certain death.
    This is a poignant tale of an odyssey of atonement she continues even as the novel ends.
    Kate Reading reads Maugham beautifully.
    This is a morality tale, though not preachy. It is the slow dawning of love and compassion for others.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Connie Shawnee, KS, United States 03-27-09
    Connie Shawnee, KS, United States 03-27-09 Member Since 2016
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    "Wonderful!"

    A wonderful story with excellent narration. This is the first classic novel I have listened to via audible. I so enjoyed the characters and the thoughts of the novel.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    maria aguirre 11-27-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
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    "A wonderful journey"

    Quite simply this book was a very enjoyable listen. I liked the visual journey I imagined as the scenes were described and I thought the ending was unpredictable.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    angela atchison Texas 04-04-16
    angela atchison Texas 04-04-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    "Great Story"

    It was a little difficult to follow at the beginning, but increasingly got better. The story itself was just wonderful. To see the change in the main character, Kitty, throughout the book was eye opening. This story helps you look at your own life and attitude.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Locust Fork, AL, United States 02-23-13
    Laura Locust Fork, AL, United States 02-23-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Too Depressing"

    I saw the movie adaptation years ago and didn’t realize it was a book until about two years ago. I enjoyed the movie and I’ve been trying to go and read the books that some of the movies I’ve seen were based on. This experience didn’t quite work out as I had planned.

    Nothing really stood out about any character in this entire book. They just felt so flat. I think they were supposed to come off as raw and real, but I just ended up hating them. Kitty was selfish and silly. She went on and on about how much she didn’t like Walter because he was boring. The reality was he was an intelligent, mature adult who worked for a living. She’d never worked a day in her life and was still more interested in parties than anything. I think Walter thought she would grow up eventually, and she did. I just couldn’t like her. Charlie was a class-A jerk. If there’s anything I did like about Walter, it’s that he could see that from the start. Kitty was naïve and vain enough to think Charlie loved her. The only good characters in the book were minor characters Kitty meets in the village she and Walter move to. I don’t need to love characters, but I do need to feel connected to them and I never felt that.

    I spent most of this book waiting for something to happen that never happened. I just wanted Kitty to make things right and learn from her mistakes. I’m not sure that she ever did though. She went through a period of loathing herself and building up hate for Charlie. She also eventually gained respect for Walter and who he was, but that turned into pity instead of love. ***Spoiler Alert*** Then, after all of her self-loathing, after knowing that Charlie was a total asshole, she still sleeps with him right after her husband dies! I’m not buying the overcome with passion bs. She was just heartless. She was a pitiful, pathetic excuse for a human being. ***End Spoilers*** I just feel like she never learned anything. I truly think the most she got from the whole ordeal was that she shouldn’t marry on a whim.

    There might be some people ready to kill me for this, but the film wins. I’ll admit that it’s partly because there’s some romance in the film and there’s not any in the book. It’s mostly because I actually like Walter and Kitty in the film, even if Kitty is a total idiot in the beginning. The book is just too depressing. I will say this: they changed some major plot points in the film. It makes me wonder how those decisions are made. Does someone just wake up one morning and say, “I should make a movie adaptation of The Painted Veil, but it has some pretty awful characters and a super depressing plot. Oh well, I’ll just change that.” That makes no sense to me. I’ll grant that my reaction to this book is due to the fact that I saw the film first, but I’m not sure I would have finished the book otherwise. I only finished it this time due to curiosity about what was different.

    I did listen to this on audio. Unfortunately, I can’t say much about that because I was too distracted by how much I wasn’t enjoying the actually story. I think Kate Reading did a good job. I’ve listened to audiobooks by her before and enjoyed them. I just didn’t like the story overall so it’s hard for me to make a good call on the narration.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melissa Upper Marlboro, MD, United States 05-24-11
    Melissa Upper Marlboro, MD, United States 05-24-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Interesting story"

    I bought this as part of an Audible sale (can't remember why exactly I picked it), but I ended up enjoying it. The story of an unfaithful wife, the lengths to which her husband went to punish her, and her search for redemption. Quite a few interesting characters. Kitty makes you want to smack her several times during the book, but you end up rooting for her to make the right decision (and you totally agree with her self-loathing after her mistake the second time around); eventually she comes around. Waddington is a gem, as are the nuns in the convent. Not a very long read/"listen" and it moves along well. I enjoyed the narration.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan Woodbridge, VA, United States 04-05-11
    Jan Woodbridge, VA, United States 04-05-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Dreadfully Slow, Not a Big Plot."

    Although this book was originally published in 1925, I thought that it would take me to a different time and place. It definitely did that, but I was looking for a deeper plot. It was very boring to me. Don't get me wrong, this book was well written and the narrator did a fantastic job, but the story line itself did nothing for me. This book received raved reviews, but I truly did not see what all the fuss was about. It was ok. Unfortunately, I will not listen to this one again...

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 07-07-13
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 07-07-13 Member Since 2017
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    "Such a Good Story!"

    Even if you've seen the made for TV movie, listen to this book! Maugham's writing is brought to life by Kate Reading's superb narration. How she does so many different voices so well is a mystery. The story centers on the response of a husband who discovers his spoiled wife has cheated on him. Was his initial intent to put her in such peril that her death would be imminent? How did she adapt and grow in response to her husband's leadership? Mostly set in China during a cholera epidemic, it is a worthy story that is a great listen.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andras Borbely 09-12-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Excellent narrator!"

    It can be very distracting when a narrator is taking on different voices and accents, but Kate Reading's effortless performance and pacing added to the overall experience.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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