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26 November 2009 @ 05:08 pm
The Painted Veil - W. Somerset Maugham  
Title: The Painted Veil

Author: W. Somerset Maugham

20th Century Classics

Plot Summary:

'She did not know what to say. She was undecided whether indignantly to assert her innocence or to break out into angry reproaches. He seemed to read her thoughts. "I've got all the proof necessary" '. Kitty Fane is the beautiful but shallow wife of Walter, a bacteriologist stationed in Hong Kong. Unsatisfied by her marriage, she starts an affair with Charles Townsend, a man whom she finds charming, attractive and exciting. But when Walter discovers her deception, he exacts a strange but terrible vengeance: Kitty must accompany him to his new posting in remote mainland China, where a cholera epidemic rages. First published to a storm of protest, "The Painted Veil" is a classic story of a woman's spiritual awakening.

My Raing: 5/5 - BRILLIANT - READ IT!!!

My Review: See comments (spoilers!)

Live Long and Prosper!

Roshni (mememememeee)mememememeee on November 26th, 2009 05:09 pm (UTC)
I saw the movie first and since then I have always wanted to read the book. But everytime I borrowed it from the library it had a horrible cover and I could never bring myself to read it. Even the picture I have posted on this entry wouldn't have made me want to read it - not really. The cover that drew my attention to the book is of a sible woman in a red dress, against a white background with a fan in her hand and her head bowed low as if she has the weight of the world on her shoulders. And I wanted to find out what had happened to this lady.

And I am so glad that I did! Kitty Fane is a product of the time and her mother. She marries Walter to escape the disapproval of her mother and the fact that her younger, less attractive sister is getting married first and has made a better match.

He is completely in love with her - head over heels. And she really, really isn't. He bores her and she knows she bores him. They have nothing in common. In Hong Kong she falls head over heels in love with Charlie Townsend, a much older, much wealthier and very much married man.

Walter gives Kitty a choice and when Townsend leaves her hanging she takes the only way avaliable for her and decides to accompany him to a part of China which is suffering from a cholera epidemic. In China Kitty has a lot of time to think and the conclusions she reaches show just how well Maugham has written and developed her character. She may be shallow and vain and thoroughly selfish, but it is Walter who is truly blind.

I love this book and this story. To me it didn't read like a love story and I can understand why it was met with shocked and horrified audiences. She and Walter don't magically fall back in love. Their problems aren't magically sorted out and they don't magically have the best holiday ever in China. Kitty is most thoroughly a very likeable human character and I wanted her to win so badly as I read the book.

In China, volunteering with the Mother Superior and other nuns to look after orphaned children and living next to Waddington, another secondary character all help to make Kitty more spiritually aware. I don't actually think that spiritual is the right word to use but it fits.

Since I had seen the movie I expected the ending and I wished so much that I had read the book first. the film highly romanticises all the event and the ending is heart breaking. But I don't think thta Maugham was looking for people to feel that much of a gut-wrenching emotion. At least I didn't, maily because Kitty didn't. I was so invested in her character that I found myself agreeing with everything she did and said in the novel and that happens very rarely for me.

I highly recommend this book for you all. It is really brilliant and I don't know how Maugham isn't more common a name. If this book is anything to go by, the rest of his work much be brilliant.

I am also going to make my Ma read it, not that it will take much convincing. She wanted to read it first but I managed to sneak it away from her when she wasn't looking.