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The Painted Veil
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The Painted Veil

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  18,551 ratings  ·  1,942 reviews
Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, The Painted Veil is the story of the beautiful but love-starved Kitty Fane.

When her husband discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to the heart of a cholera epidemic. Stripped of the British society of her youth and the small but effective society she fought so hard to attain in Hong Kong, she is compelled
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Paperback
Published September 1st 1992 by Penguin Classics (first published 1924)
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Emily May
Aug 11, 2012 Emily May rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily May by: Tatiana

This is so good.

The Painted Veil, first published in 1925, is now considered a classic. That fact - combined with the cover, description and the reviews - had me switching into classic-reading mode. That might sound like I've gone a bit mad, but I mean that I approach classics with a different frame of mind and a greater tolerance for slow-moving plots, airy-fairy language and characters I cannot relate that much to. You know what I mean, you cannot expect fast-paced action if you want to appre
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Petra Xtra Crunchy
This book is about the time when society women didn’t work, especially not in the hot and fetid colonies, and this was set in Hong Kong. They sat at home and painted their nails and dreamed of love in the afternoon and sometimes they did it too. Kitty did, she had an affair and her husband found out. He was a good man, as she was to find out, but once crossed, his soul was dark with thoughts of the ultimate revenge – death, either socially or in reality.

He gave his wife a choice, divorce, which
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Catie
May 08, 2012 Catie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Catie by: Tatiana
There’s something so affecting about tragedy created by social mores – tragedy that only exists because it’s born in a certain place and a certain time. While reading this book I just kept thinking, what if? What if women were allowed to seek their own status and power and weren’t completely dependent on that of their husbands? What if girls weren’t isolated but allowed to travel and gain experience or an education? What if marriage were optional? What if divorce were a simple thing? But I guess ...more
Tatiana
There is something infinitely fascinating to me about stories like this - a clever, passionate man falling in love with a pretty but fickle woman who, he knows, will never understand and appreciate his worth, and yet, he can't resist. This is why I have always obsessed over Gone With the Wind and enjoyed reading The Painted Veil once again.

I still can't decide if I like the novel or the latest movie adaptation more.

The movie gives food to my romantic what-could-have-been fantasies.


But I can't n
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Jessica
Jan 03, 2008 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: friends, but I recommend the movie MORE!
I agree whole-heartedly with other reviewers -- the movie was better! I saw the movie first and loved it. It is a brilliant and beautiful love story -- and who can resist Edward Norton's stoic, yet smoldering interpretation of Walter.

You can appreciate the movie better once you read the book and get to know the characters as they were originally intended. The movie does a good job of interpreting those characters honestly and uses dialogue verbatim from the book. But, in the movie, Walter and K
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Jason Koivu


Maugham handles language beautifully, telling the nice, compact story of a vacuous socialite who doesn't take life serious enough and finds herself in a very serious situation.

His economy of word fails his purpose only once, but it is an important failure and mars The Painted Veil in a way that diminishes it enough to keep it from attaining the echelon of "masterpiece" status. Our heroine Kitty's transformation (view spoiler)
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Martine
What do you do when you discover that the wife you love despite the fact that she is shallow as hell and obviously despises you is having an affair? For Walter Fane, a bacteriologist working in early-twentieth-century colonial Hong Kong, the choice is easy. Either he will divorce his wife, which will disgrace her and leave her destitute (she was never taught to work or be independent, having always been expected to make a brilliant marriage), or, as a penance, she will have to accompany him on a ...more
Hannah
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ruth
I read this as an audiobook, right after The Abstinence Teacher and Special Topics in Calamity Physics, both of which were so poorly written I couldn't finish them. Coming into Somerset Maughm's lucid prose was like being let out of a cage.
Tea Jovanović
Jedna od meni najdražih Momovih knjiga... Potpuno zanemarena kod domaćih izdavača... Po ovom romanu snimljen je i divan film... Pokušavala sam godinama da animiram srpske izdavače da ga objavljuju, ali oni su jurili samo hitove sa bestseler lista... Ali ne gubim nadu... :)
Regina
4.5 stars. A forbidden love affair. Analysis of gender roles. Philosophizing over the truth of a religious path in life. Criticism of class structure. Woohoo, I am THERE. This novel has it all. Before I get to the content and the societal critique this book presents, I need to say this book is beautiful. The words, the phrases, the descriptions and the character growth is amazing. Maugham is an artist and for nothing else, these are reasons to read this book.

I now realize that my high school fa
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Tânia F
Foi uma leitura relâmpago e a confirmar Somerset Maugham como um dos meus escritores de eleição. Depois de ter lido há pouco tempo "Servidão Humana" seguiu-se "O Véu Pintado", há em comum nestas duas obras, a facto de Maugham conseguir transmitir ao leitor um profundo conhecimento da alma humana, das suas contradições, nas obras dele não costuma haver as personagens boazinhas ou mazinhas, acho que revemos um pouco de nós em cada uma das suas personagens, de achar que faríamos e pensaríamos o mes ...more
Brian
I read this book shortly after I finished reading Maugham's "Of Human Bondage," and not too long after seeing (twice) the movie version starring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts. I found the story very interesting and the plot intriguing. I also found the differences between the film and book fascinating. I actually preferred the way the film version played out, relative to the main character Kitty Fain, the part played by Naomi Watts. Kitty has her faults but also finds redemption in both the film ...more
Rose
The film would have you believe that The Painted Veil is about the relationship between a man, Walter Fane, and his young wife, Kitty, but the novel centers on Kitty. At 25, Kitty Fane makes the mistake of her life when, in a panic at the thought of her younger sister marrying before she does, Kitty marries the next available suitor. Walter, a serious and dedicated bacteriologist, is a terrible match for impulsive and frivolous Kitty. They move to China, where Walter spends his days working as a ...more
Heather
One of the things I love most about Maugham is how well he portrays the human condition. Even the shallowest of characters are richly rounded. In my mind’s eye, The Painted Veil captures the human capacity to love what is not good for them, scoff at what is, and allows us readers to see first hand how incapable many of us are at coping with the realities of life. How wonderful life would be for us all if it were fiction.

The Painted Veil tells the story of Kitty Fane, a simple minded, vein, and f
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Keertana
I read this, cover-to-cover, in one sitting and ended the novel perplexed, haunted, and utterly unsatisfied. The Painted Veil has been likened to my ultimate favorite, Gone With the Wind, and I was expecting quite a lot from this slim novel. In some ways, it definitely delivered, if not exceeded my expectations. I adored the vain and foolish Kitty, her equally mistaken-prone husband who wasn't merely the victimized party of adultery. I pondered over the ambiguity of equality in the novel, the co ...more
Hend
beautiful love story.i loved both the novel and the movie....
the great difference between Kitty's shallow soul ,spoiled and selfish and Walter who believe in sacrificial service and volunteers to go work in remote rural village under siege from cholera.
while Walter is madly in love with her...

Kitty married to Walter whom she does not love and she has nothing in common with him...the novel is an emotionally charged journey...the
devastating emotional consequences of infidelity and betrayal...
the r
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Ana
Successfully finished for the Dusting off the shelf read-a-thon.

If you are looking for a book with a happy ending, walk away. Now.
If you are looking for a likable MC, walk away. Now.
If you for some reason like reading books that leave you empty and clutching tissues. Read this. Now.

“If it is necessary sometimes to lie to others, it is always despicable to lie to oneself.”

Kitty Fane is the product of an overbearing mother whose sole purpose for her daughter was to marry well. Kitty was born bea
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Kelly
To be honest it was only the last few chapters of this book that really redeemed it for me and pushed it up to three stars from two. Before that, had it not been for a lovely turn of phrase now and then, and the articulate expression of the writing, I really might have thought this done by a /fantastically/ average old fashioned romance novel writer. The story is a quite run-of-the-mill morality tale, one that fills our shelves even more vapidly nowadays in the chick-lit genre. Shallow, frivolou ...more
Lucy
Kitty is a beautiful young woman, raised by her shallow and socially aggressive mother to be equally shallow and ambitious. In spite of her beauty, Kitty finds herself unmarried at the age of 25 and losing her place as her mother's beloved when her much younger and less attractive sister, Doris, becomes engaged to a baron. Embarrassed by her sister's superior match, desperate to leave the disappointed glare of her mother and panicked that another decent offer won't come her way, she says "yes" t ...more
Furqan
I was disappointed by Maugham’s unashamedly imperialistic attitude and to a large extent the story inadvertently reinforces the notion of the “White saviour” and provides justification for benevolent colonialism, because it’s obvious that those wretched coolies rolling in their own shit can’t really help themselves, so they must be put under the protective supremacy of the White imperialist. Kitty shows a fine example of the colonial mentality and how under the colonial gaze the native “Other” i ...more
Rebecca
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bookshop
My friend, who was visiting from Singapore, brought with her several books to read along the way and this was one of them. She said it was good and I was intrigued by this "Vintage chick-lit".

It turned out that she was right. Unlike the chick-lit of our age, it does have a moral message. Prior to reading this book, I read a chick-lit written by a Brit and it made me so sick with boredom: fat, plain, average Jane meets ordinary but oh-so-gentlemanly John who in the end turns out to be some millio
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Sue
This is a difficult book for me to review, having read and heard much about it, having heard it discussed as a novel about a woman learning about love. While I appreciated this novel on many levels, it was not that for me. In fact I did not find that Kitty Fane learned about love, rather she learned about lust, disappointment, hatred, others' moral codes, respect and lack thereof, and ultimately to try to stand up for herself.

My problems with the book stem from her character---or how she is wri
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Diane
This is another beautiful but tragic novel that was so powerful in places that I had to set the book down, stare out the window and ponder the situation. The story involves an unhappily married couple, Kitty and Walter, and how Walter seeks his unusual revenge when he learns his wife had an affair. He gives Kitty a choice: either travel with him to a remote Chinese village to deal with a cholera epidemic (Walter is a bacteriologist) or he'll file for divorce. Kitty realizes that her husband is h ...more
Maria Yohn
This novel broke my heart in so many different ways. I have to say that I found the lead character, Kitty, to be exasperating, and I alternated between wanting to punch her, to feeling profoundly sorry for her, to wanting to punch her again, to ultimately coming to some understanding of her humanity. That's really what this novel is all about-humanity and all the ugliness, the disappointment and the glimmers of redemption that come with it. I had a very difficult time seeing the world through th ...more
Lona


لم أجد نصاً معقداً مكتوب بفلسفة عميقة، ولا حدث رئيسي يستوجب الانتظار مئة صفحة لاكتشافه.. بكل بساطة ومن المشهد الأول ندخل الحدث لنعرف أن الرواية بعد ذلك ما هي إلا تداعيات هذا الحدث


(view spoiler)
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Diane S.
This is only the second book I have read by this author and I liked this one much better. It's setting in Hong Kong during the cholera epidemic was very interesting. When Kitty was caught cheating on her husband, Dr. Walter Fane, his speech to her and his ridicule of the other man reminded me so much of Scarlet and Rhett, Rhett of course talking about Ashley. Found this fascinating. The convent and the nuns was an additional element of interest, their beliefs, the wonderful way they took care of ...more
Trevor
This has been my least favourite book of Maugham’s. The start of it is not nearly as well written as other of his books have been. It is mostly written in ellipsis, and this give it a feeling of being almost written so as he could fill in the details later. This one is not written in first person singular, but rather what I think I was once told should be called first person directed. It is written by a narrator, but that narrator is unable to see anything other than what the main character is a ...more
Nikki Nielsen
The setting is 1920's Hong Kong and China. Young Kitty Fane is a spoiled and self-righteous brat that I hated in the beginning. She marries a man that loves her more deeply than her shallow soul could comprehend simply to not be outdone by her younger sister. She betrays her husband and he gives her a choice; they can either divorce, or she can travel with him to a remote area of china where the Cholera epidemic is raging. When shunned by the lover she thought would marry her, she decides to go ...more
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William Somerset Maugham was born in Paris in 1874. He spoke French even before he spoke a word of English, a fact to which some critics attribute the purity of his style.

His parents died early and, after an unhappy boyhood, which he recorded poignantly in 'Of Human Bondage' , Maugham became a qualified physician. But writing was his true vocation. For ten years before his first success, he alm
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More about W. Somerset Maugham...
Of Human Bondage The Razor's Edge The Moon and Sixpence Cakes and Ale Theatre

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“How can I be reasonable? To me our love was everything and you were my whole life. It is not very pleasant to realize that to you it was only an episode.” 949 likes
“If a man hasn't what's necessary to make a woman love him, it's his fault, not hers.” 503 likes
More quotes…