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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.
©2006 W. Somerset Maugham (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"[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 listeners say about The Painted Veil

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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!

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

7 people found this helpful

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Magnificent

Now I know why classics are masterpieces.... brilliant and heart wrenching.... wise and magnificent in scope.... this is how art informs and reflects life in all its many mysteries... unforgettably beautiful.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

4 people found this helpful

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Wonderful

He is of course one of the greatest writers of all time. It’s full of human conflict, great detail of a foreign country and last but not least redemption of the human spirit

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Wonderful reading for a masterful work

Not only is this a fabulous book, the reading of it is terrific. I’ve listened to it twice now and may listen to it again.

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Better that the movie version

The principal character grew through reflection on the choices she had made. I enjoyed this very much.

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Beautifully read

The story is gripping as the protagonist grapples with her own mistakes and the consequences of them.
It is beautifully read so that you can truly understand the deepest thoughts of all the characters.
A definite must for anyone who loves historical tragic romances.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Juliet
  • 08-20-08

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

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Helen
  • 11-11-12

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.



13 people found this helpful

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  • Philip
  • 07-05-17

A beautifully read classic...

An evocative classic that opens a unique window into British life in the Far East via the deteriorating relationship between a doctor and his wife. This was my first Somerset Maugham book and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Sophie Ward does a splendid job at narration. Recommended.

10 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jane
  • 02-26-16

Great listen

I loved this book and Sophie Ward reads it beautifully. I was impatient with the characters at first but grew to sympathise and identify with them and got totally caught up in the tale. Very easy to listen to and I finished it in a few days.

9 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Quirkyjay
  • 09-06-17

Gorgeous

Such a charming story, beautifully narrated. I enjoyed the images of Shanghai in the 20's & the insight into the complex relationship of the characters.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • p.hammond@btinternet.com
  • 03-05-13

Love and revenge.



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

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kirstine
  • 12-07-20

Superb, thought-provoking storytelling

This is one of those books that stays in my mind long after I had finished listening. The characters seem so real that the tragedies that unfold left me feeling sad on their behalf. None are flawless which makes it more authentic. The story set in the 1920s reflects the unhappiness and havoc that can ensue when marriage is the only option for a woman, desperate not to be left on the shelf, marries without love. The story makes one think about how people react when they feel betrayed by a loved one and either seek revenge or are forgiving. The emotional pain of marriage breakdown is little different today compared to 100 years ago but the social upheaval is thankfully far less damaging. Although sad it is a wonderfully well-told story beautifully narrated. Highly recommended.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mirium
  • 02-06-08

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.

16 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • StaceyG
  • 01-15-21

A book from a by gone era

A well written story that develops to a good ending. The story is not politically correct at times referring to a child with hydrocephalus as it and as an idiot. Also Chinese babies are considered ugly. If you can get passed that it’s primarily a story of a woman’s lot in life during colonial times contrasted with the male experience.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • tim
  • 08-16-20

Highly recommended

A great story, believable characters, and a beautiful, persuasive narration that kept my interest throughout.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jo Bartlett
  • 10-01-21

Beautiful

A beautiful and emotional story showing life and love in a different time. Life changes, society changes, but not so human nature.
Thoroughly enjoyed this novel and the narration was superb.

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  • Samantha
  • 04-03-21

Brilliant, want more like this

Lovely haunting story, beautifully read. Wish there were more audio books like this one. listened to it multiple times.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mavep
  • 02-18-15

A masterpiece

A delicate morality tale, sensitively told and beautifully read .
A pleasure to listen to, and more than once. A favourite.