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It had been a long time since I read one of the classics When I saw The Painted Veil on sale at Audible.com, I thought it would be a nice change of pace I wasn t wrong This book proved to be far better than I expected The Painted Veil is set in England and China, taking place in the 1920 s It is a story of love, betrayal, revenge and redemption I definitely wasn t prepared for some of the twists and turns that this story took, but I enjoyed every minute.Kitty Fane moved to Hong Kong with her husband, Walter An incredibly intelligent man, Walter is also socially awkward He loves Kitty, but is rather unapproachable and aloof Eventually, Walter grew on me, but he isn t the type of warm fuzzy character that you bond with immediately From the start, it is made very clear that he is head over heels in love with his wife.Likewise, it is immediately evident that Kitty does not return the sentiment Kitty is beautiful, vain and shallower than a kiddie pool While Walter married for love, she makes not ifs, ands, or buts about the fact that she did not It is clear that she married Walter solely so that she would not be one upped by her younger sister s upcoming nuptials In fact, Kitty seems to loathe Walterat least, initially.So, it was no big surprise that Kitty spent her days in the arms of the charming, and also married, Charles Townsend, while Walter was busy at work No doubt, the dumb twit was just the most recent in what was bound to be a long line of extramarital conquests for Charles Stupid Kitty believed that he was as in love with her as she was with him Poor fool.Unlike his wife, Walter has no illusions He knew that Kitty didn t love him the way he loved her, but he wanted her so badly that he was willing to marry her anyway He may have known that she didn t love him, but he did expect for her to be faithful.When he discovers her adultery, he gives Kitty an option He will grant her a divorce, if Charles will agree in writing to divorce his wife and marry Kitty immediately thereafter Or, Kitty can accompany Walter into rural China where he has accepted a job assisting with the medical management of the cholera epidemic Of course, Walter already knows exactly how this will work out Kitty seems to be the only one surprised by Charles duplicity.I have to say that Walter had a special place in my heart I love stories with darker themes and am drawn to anti heroes There was something so sinister and calculating about Walter that really drew me to him Kitty was right to be afraid of her husband, even as she knew that he loved her Walter was kind of a scary guy Arriving in the small village, it is immediately apparent that Kitty is being punished for her transgressions Walter keeps her at a distance and is cold, at best It becomes clear to Kitty that Walter is seeking revenge, using cholera to commit a passive murder suicide It was sick It was twisted It was goddamn brilliant The time she spent in the village, the Kitty came to see the error of her ways For the first time, Kitty grew to appreciate her husband and even admire him Though she never really fell in love with him, she finally felt shame and remorse for her actions.As much as I disliked Kitty at the onset of this book, she grew on me I came to see her as an imperfect human, a product of her privileged upbringing and societal expectations Similarly, I came to see some of Walter s flaws He wasn t entirely a victim as I believed, early on.I can t say that there is one moral of the story that really stands out to me with the book There were many This book was a beautiful, albeit heartbreaking, account of the human experience.Although this isn t my usual type of story, I enjoyed it immensely There were plenty of twists and turns along the way that I didn t see coming Early on, I thought I had it all worked out in my head, but I was sooo wrong This story did not pan out the way I had envisioned, but it was strangely fitting for this couple.Overall, I thought that this was a wonderful book It isn t a particularly happy or uplifting read, but it was great in and of it s own accord This is one that will definitely hang with me for a while I highly recommend it. This short masterpiece tells of love, betrayal, and a search for real meaning in life Kitty is an attractive middle class Brit The only real future for her is to marry well But when she finds none of her suitors quite up to her hopes, and with her younger sister becoming engaged, she succumbs to the pressure and agrees to marry Walter, a man who adores her, but whom she finds boring He takes her with him to Hong Kong where he works as a bacteriologist.There is much here about class One hero of the story is mother Superior, the head of a corps of nuns dedicated to caring for the sick and the poor She had been brought up in a very wealthy family in France, but found a purpose in life beyond her personal needs So too Walter, a shy biologist who risks life and limb to try to stem a cholera epidemic in the interior of China Maugham offers musings on religion without sounding excessively preachy, and offers a considered view on what makes life worth living It is a joy to read and to watch as Kitty comes of age, learning from the people she encounters and ultimately sees past the veil of her life to some underlying truth There are also comments here on the nature of westerners doing good in cultures considered lesser.Walter s dying words are It was the dog that died This is a reference to the poem An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog by Oliver Goldsmith There are various interpretations to be had of the significance of this The poem tells of a man who is bitten by a mad dog Yet it is not the man who dies but the dog In the novel, I believe that Walter sees himself as the mad dog who had dragged Kitty into a life threatening situation, foreshadowed by Maugham s prologue biting her in a way, expecting that it would be a death sentence for her Instead it was Walter who would pass, thus the irony Here is a link to the poem The title offers a nice field in which one can play the game interpretation The title comes from a poem by Shelley, Lift Not the Painted Veil Which Those Who Live The notions offered in the novel have a primary source here. This was 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 I tend to approach classics with a different frame of mind and a greater tolerance for slow moving plots, complex language, and characters I cannot relate to that much As it happens, I need not have bothered This book hooked me from the very first page where Kitty is caught in the bedroom with her lover and it kept me interested right the way through From the delving into Kitty s recent past and her mother s insistence that she marry as soon as possible, to Kitty s relationship with an intelligent and shy man who genuinely loves her but she cannot love back, to the middle of a cholera epidemic that challenges Kitty s views on life and love Her character development is astounding how she goes from being an annoyingly fickle and selfish young women, to one who sees the world in a new light and gains a certain wisdom that is only achieved through facing and overcoming hardship.Much about this story reminds me of Gone With the Wind though, thankfully, not the length It s the same idea of an immature and self centred young woman being unable to appreciate the love of the man by their side until it s too late They would prefer to fawn over a married man who will never treat them seriously, and yet they are so shocked to discover that their beauty cannot get them everything they want Both Kitty and Scarlet are extremely spoiled and vain, so used to getting what they want that they are unprepared when life suddenly treats them unkindly But they do both manage to change and grow stronger as well.It s also a very sad novel I find it sad how Walter was willing to overlook the fact that Kitty didn t like him at all just so he could have the chance to love her He was so sweet and kind The ending well, the bit just before is also sad, but necessary in order for Kitty to become the person she does.I think Kitty s state of mind at the end is an important statement about women at this pivotal point in history Women have got the vote, but still very few options in life Here, Kitty learns an important lesson that it is far beneficial for everyone if girls are raised to be open minded and independent human beings, instead of just men s wives Overall, this is a very interesting exploration of people and the relationships between men and women it definitely won t be the last I read by W Somerset Maugham.Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube Resentment s Presentiment The time will come When you ll be blue Your cheatin heart will tell on you.Hank Williams, 1952 You ll look for me but baby I ll be gone.This is all I gotta say to you woman Your time is gonna comeLed Zeppelin, 1969The English word resent or resentment comes from the Old French resentir, meaning to feel again, feel in turn 13c That is, to replay, feeling again and again, thoughts and emotions arising from a past negative event For example, wife learns husband was unfaithful, then envisions hubs and his lover in bed doing really naughty things, and laughing at and ridiculing her, visions she projects in her mind s eye, each time with sensational new variations, daily over the following months so that these scenes transform into a warped and sickening reality to her.The Painted Veil is Somerset Maugham s calamitous case study on the travesties begotten by a faithless, heartless wife who is frankly gullible to the charms of a cocksure cad, and indifferent to her caring cuckold s emotional pain and, at least at first, to his poisonous resentment The worst, the least curable hatred is that which has superseded deep love. EuripidesKitty Fane ruthlessly ridicules her husband, Dr Walter Fane, to her lover as she dreams of marrying this cad she can t see is playing her Though the husband Walter loves Kitty still, after he finds out of the affair, his jaundiced need to get even goads him into taking her on his mission to rural China, into the heart of the cholera epidemic Prior to departing for China, he asks her 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. I know that you re selfish, selfish beyond words, and I know that you haven t the nerve of a rabbit, I know you re a liar and a humbug, I know that you re utterly contemptible And the tragic part is her face was on a sudden distraught with pain the tragic part is that notwithstanding I love you with all my heart. Nonetheless, off they go Dr Fane works selflessly around the clock to save the cholera afflicted Kitty awakens late to the fallacy of the fornical fantasia and to the spinelessness of her muscled lover, who check it was only interested in getting a lil sompin sompin She undergoes a personal transformation among all the sickness surrounding her in this foreign land, finding her moral compass, and seeking forgiveness from her husband, as resentment consumes him.Maugham couldn t have found a perfect setting for exploring the most disastrous of tragedies to a living marriage Maugham sets up a plethora of symbols on the after effects of infidelity to contrast with society s notions of a husband and wife.A super potent novel. They saw the white china knob of the handle slowly turn They had heard no one walk along the verandah It was terrifying to see that silent motion A minute passed and there was no sound Then, with the ghastliness of the supernatural, in the same stealthy, noiseless, and horrifying manner, they saw the white china knob of the handle at the window turn also Kitty, her nerves failing her, opened her mouth to scream but, seeing what she was going to do, he swiftly put his hand over it and her cry was smothered in his fingers When Kitty accepts the marriage proposal of Dr Walter Fane, it sets off a chain of events that land them both in the middle of a cholera epidemic in Mei Tan Fu, China Kitty is quickly leaving behind her debuttante years and is fast approaching an old maid status It isn t for lack of marriage proposals She has plenty She just enjoys being the center of attention for all men, rather than being confined to the servitude of one When her younger sister, the much less attractive sister, lands a baronet, the pressure on her to be married becomes very real Dr Walter Fane is not a fool, but he is a complete fool when it comes to his love of this beautiful bobble of girl who has never had to have a serious thought in her life Even intelligent people can be blind in the ways of love He knows Kitty doesn t love him He knows why she is desperately marrying him, and yet he must have believed that, given time, he can convince her that he is worth loving Kitty can not respect his love for her Infatuation has always come easily for her She has smoldering eyes and a lithe figure that drives men to distractionWhat was it in the human heart that made you despise a man because he loved youThat has been a question that has been asked for hundreds of years, if not thousands What I have ascertained from the minefield of women that I ve known is that a woman must not like herself very much to despise a man who loves her It is sad that she considers him to be a fool to marry such a woman as she Kitty accepts his proposal impulsively She despises his fawning attentions She has therefore never invested any emotion or even thought into the relationship He takes her to Hong Kong where he works as a bacteriologist There she meets Charlie Townsend, who intuitively senses the vulnerability in their relationship He is charming, fit, and knows the right string of words to whisper in a silly, unhappy girl s ear Kitty is a fool, and she can t for the life of her understand why Walter can t see it The resulting scandal, which starts with the turning of the white china knob on the door, turns out to be an embarrassing affair for all parties involved, as these things tend to do Walter gives Kitty a choice, but as it turns out, she has only one choice, which is to follow him to Mei Tan FuIt means death Absolutely certain deathWhenever I pick up a W Somerset Maugham book, I know I am in for a whirlwind ride fraught with betrayal, emotional upheaval, human frailty, selfishness, and aspects of malice He explores the dark corners of our lives that are whispered about in alcoves at parties, and in shadowed doorways off of street corners Those things about us that we hope no one knows, but we have a fearful inclination, spurred by our own guilt that everyone knows The best solution to any scandal, in my opinion, is to brazen it out and wait for another scandal to come along to move your problems from the front page to the back page of the gossip mill One must screw up occasionally so that everyone else feels better about themselves It would be rather rude to be perfectly good all the time A masterpiece exploring the frivolous ways in which lives can be ruined If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at The original review was deleted by GR 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 would mean the end of her career as a socialite with pretty party dresses, passionate lovers and invitations to all the best balls in town Or, if she could persuade her married lover to divorce his wife, he would allow that But the married lover, typical of the species ditched the paramour and kept the wife So it was either the social ignominy of divorce or she could go with him, a doctor, to sort out a cholera epidemic on mainland China where she might catch and die of the disease herself She went.And eventually, her character grew and her soul was transformed as she found a higher calling in nursing children and admiration for her well respected if unlovable husband Pregnant, she told him she didn t know if it was his or her lover s but it mattered not, because the husband got written out at this point in a touching deathbed scene.She returns to Hong Kong, now lodging with her previous paramour and his wife, a heroine and tragic widow, but blots her copy book briefly by one go round with the ex lover Disgusted with herself she returns to the UK and finding her mother has died, sets herself up to support her father and accompanies him to the Caribbean island where he is to become the resident Chief Justice.There she will dedicate herself to her father and to bringing up the as yet unborn child And that s where the book ends.What the book doesn t say is that the ex pat society in the Caribbean is every bit as entertaining as Hong Kong and there is a great deal less poverty and sickness Less white women gives rarity value even unto the sullied, and in any case, less attention to social s is paid in tropical climes I m sure she got back up on that social roundabout again, but that s for our imagination.A good book, an odd book for its time giving a lot of power and play to women s sexuality, but dividing both the men and women into good celibate or less and sexually active bad, bad bad I haven t seen the film of it, but it s ideal for a modern remake with a hot young star and plenty of sex scenes. |Read ☺ The Painted Veil ♳ Set In England And Hong Kong In The S, The Painted Veil Is The Story Of The Beautiful, But Love Starved Kitty FaneWhen 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 By Her Awakening Conscience To Reassess Her Life And Learn How To Love The Painted Veil Is A Beautifully Written Affirmation Of The Human Capacity To Grow, To Change, And To Forgive The Painted Veil is W Somerset Maugham on speed dial Published in 1925, it falls between two masterworks I ve read from the prolific British novelist and playwright Of Human Bondage in 1915 and The Razor s Edge in 1944, and while providing snapshots of well developed characters and a compelling story that spans the globe, it s a triumph of telling over showing and in many ways feels like the treatment for a movie than it does a complete novel But Maugham in a slower gear is compelling than ninety five percent of fiction out there.The story gets off to an exciting start in the city of Hong Kong, where a British national named Kitty Fane is interrupted from post coital afternoon bliss with a charismatic Assistant Colonial Secretary named Charlie Townsend when she hears someone in her house Incredulous that it could be Kitty s husband, who is supposed to be at work, the couple watch as the white china knobs of the windows slowly turn from someone trying to get in Townsend reassures Kitty that it was probably a servant, but she is alarmed when her lover tells her that he left his topee downstairs Questioning her boy servant, Kitty learns that her husband Walter was indeed in the house.Moving back in time two years to London, Kitty Garstin is a footloose bachelorette in South Kensington Her father is a solicitor of moderate ambition while her mother is an unabashed social climber dripping with it Kitty has inherited the beauty and charm that her younger sister Doris lacks and rather than accept her numerous marriage proposals, takes her time in choosing her future At twenty five, she is stunned when eighteen year old Doris becomes engaged to a prosperous surgeon In a panic, Kitty agrees to marry Walter Fane, also a doctor, but a painfully shy, inhibited one Kitty is vaguely familiar with socially, despite the fact that he seems to be in love with her He was not her type at all He was short, but not thick set, slight rather and thin dark and clean shaven, with very regular, clean cut features His eyes were almost black, but not large, they were not very mobile and they rested on objects with a singular persistence they were curious, but not very pleasant eyes With his straight, delicate nose, his fine brow, and well shaped mouth he ought to have been good looking But surprisingly enough he was not When Kitty began to think of him at all she was surprised that he should have such good features when you took them one by one His expression was slightly sarcastic and now that Kitty knew him better she realized that she was not quite at ease with him He had no gaiety.Walter is a bacteriologist who has a job in Hong Kong he s leaving for in the autumn Kitty has little idea what that means, but knows that with Doris marrying in November, Kitty could be on her way to the Far East while her sister s lavish wedding is taking place Two years later, Kitty is pleased by Walter s doting on her with gifts or attention, but also bemused, with few if any other husbands she observes deferring so politely to their wives Walter shuns social events and has few friends Kitty is bored in Hong Kong until she meets Charlie Townsend at a tea party and is instantly charmed by the tall, dark, handsome and married politician.Scheduling their trysts upstairs of a curio shop, Kitty ultimately invites Charlie into her own bed while Walter should be at work Charlie reassures her that even if Walter suspects infidelity, the doctor will be too cowardly to admit it He pledges to stand by Kitty Unable to take the guilt much longer, she s finally summoned by her husband for a talk He announces that he s accepted a job at Mei tan fu, on a tributary of the Western River, where a cholera outbreak has left the town without a foreign doctor Walter expects Kitty to accompany him and if she refuses, intends to file his petition for divorce, believing only a humiliation would compel Charlie Townsend to leave his wife and marry Kitty Walter agrees to consent to Kitty s wish for a divorce if Mrs Townsend assures him that she ll divorce Charlie and that he ll marry Kitty within two weeks Kitty runs to Charlie and implores him to leave his wife, but with his reputation at stake, he s in favor of her traveling with Walter, declaring that if she takes precautions, the cholera epidemic can be survived Certain her husband intends for her to die, Kitty is transported to Mei tan fu with him overland on chairs Arriving at the town, Kitty befriends the boyishly droll British customs agent Waddington and ultimately, the graceful Mother Superior in charge of the convent where the orphaned and sick are cared for Kitty, impressed she hardly knew why, observed the grave lady who asked her these amiable questions She was dressed in white and the only color on her habit was the red heart that burned on her breast She was a woman of middle age, she might have been forty or fifty, it was impossible to say, for there were few wrinkles on her smooth, pale face, and you received the impression that she was far from young chiefly from the dignity of her bearing, her assurance, and the emaciation of her strong and beautiful hands The face was long, with a large mouth and large, even teeth the nose, though not small, was delicate and sensitive but it was the eyes, under their thin black brows, which gave her face its intense and tragic character They were very large, black, and though not exactly cold, by their calm steadiness strangely compelling Your first thought when you looked at the Mother Superior was that as a girl she must have been beautiful, but in a moment you realized that this was a woman whose beauty, depending on character, had grown with advancing years Her voice was deep, low, and controlled, and whether she spoke in English or in French she spoke slowly But the most striking thing about her was the air she had of authority tempered by Christian charity you felt in her the habit of command To be obeyed was natural to her, but she accepted obedience with humility You could not fail to see that was deeply conscious of the authority of the church which upheld her But Kitty ha da surmise that notwithstanding her austere demeanor she had for human frailty a human tolerance and it was impossible to look at her grave smile when she listened to Waddington, unabashed, talking nonsense, without being sure that she had a lively sense of the ridiculous.While reading The Painted Veil I was reminded of a charcoal sketch by a great artist, stripped of color or tone and focusing on something much specific than the vibrant paintings I ve enjoyed by that same artist Maugham is remarkably skilled at unraveling stories that carry his characters across vast distances while never losing sight that the inner journey is what s important Here, he explores the education of a bride who having never learned what integrity, honor or love are has to learn them when she leaves home The characters are well developed and both the language and dialogue Maugham uses to reveal them are a pleasure The first time she was alone with Waddington she brought the conversation around to Charlie Waddington had spoken of him on the evening of their arrival She pretended that he was no than an acquaintance of her husband I never cared for him, said Waddington I ve always thought him a bore You must be very hard to please, returned Kitty, in the bright, chaffing way she could assume so easily I suppose he s far and away the most popular man in Hong Kong I know That is his stock in trade He s made a science of popularity He has a gift of making every one he meets feel that he is the one person in the world he wants to see He s always ready to do a service that isn t any trouble to himself, and even if he doesn t do what you want he manages to give you the impression that it s only because it s not humanly possible That is surely an attractive trait Charm and nothing but charm at last grows a little tiresome, I think It s a relief then to deal with a man who isn t quite so delightful but a little sincere I ve known Charlie Townsend for a good many years and once or twice I ve caught him with the mask off you see, I never mattered, just a subordinate official in the Customs and I know that he doesn t in his heart give damn for any one in the world but himself Kitty, lounging easily in her chair, looked at him with smiling eyes She turned her wedding ring round and round her finger Of course, he ll get on He knows all the official ropes Before I die I have every belief that I shall address him as Your Excellency and stand up when he enters the room Most people think he deserves to get on He s generally supposed to have a great deal of ability Ability What nonsense He s a very stupid man He gives you the impression that he dashes off his work and gets it through from sheer brilliancy Nothing of the kind He s as industrious as a Eurasian clerk How has he got the reputation for being so clever There are many foolish people in the world and when a man in a rather high position puts on no frills, slaps them on the back, and tells them he ll do anything in the world for them, they are very likely to think him clever And then of course, there s his wife There s an able woman if you like She has a good sound head and her advice is always worth taking As long as Charlie Townsend s got her to depend on he s pretty safe never to do a foolish thing, and that s the first thing necessary for a man to get on in Government service They don t want clever men clever men have ideas, and ideas cause trouble they want men who have charm and tact and who can be counted on never to make a blunder Oh, yes, Charlie Townsend will get to the top of the tree all right I wonder why you dislike him I don t dislike him But you like his wife better smiled Kitty I m an old fashioned man and I like a well bred woman I wish she were well dressed as well as well bred Doesn t she dress well I never noticed I ve always heard that they were a devoted couple, said Kitty, watching him through her eyelashes He s very fond of her I will give him that credit I think that is the most decent thing about him Cold praise He has his little flirtations, but they re not serious He s much too cunning to let them go to such lengths as might cause him inconvenience And of course he isn t a passionate man he s only a vain one He likes admiration He s fat and forty now, he does himself too well, but he was very good looking when he first came to the Colony I ve often heard his wife chaff him about his conquests She doesn t take his flirtations very seriously Oh, no, she knows they don t go very far She says she d like to be able to make friends of the poor little things who fall to Charlie but they re always so common She says it s really not very flattering to her that the women who fall in love with her husband are so uncommonly second rate What holds The Painted Veil back from being perfect is how slight a volume it is Maugham, who wrote twenty novels and twenty five plays, almost teases the reader with how lush and epic a story he could ve written before rushing through it with a great deal of telling whether than showing It s never very clear what Walter s work is or his relationship with the Chinese military, who have the town under marital law Another way of looking at the novel is that the author is focused on the inner journey of the characters, not travelogue, and gives the reader enough keys to unlock those doors themselves W Somerset Maugham 1874 1965 has had his work translated to film almost as many times as Stephen King going back to 1917 and The Painted Veil has been filmed twice In 1934, MGM made it a vehicle for Greta Garbo, who played an Austrian rather than British bride named Katrin Koerber Fane In 2006, a sensual and haunting adaptation starred Naomi Watts as Kitty Fane, Edward Norton as Walter Fane, Liev Schreiber as Charlie Townsend, Toby Jones as Waddington and Diana Rigg as Mother Superior The screenplay by Ron Nyswaner took greater effort to explore both China and the Kitty Walter relationship than even Maugham had It s a very overlooked movie. I literally devoured this short novel by Maugham This was my second meeting with the author and certainly not the last We met Kitty who married Walter Fane, for a husband than by real affection Walter is a man who does not speak much, feeling even less The novel is centered on Kitty, about his feelings And the least we can say is that at first, she is not really friendly She is futile and selfish This gene does not deceive her husband and she imagines that Townsend will accept without thinking of divorce and marry her Throughout the novel, Kitty has to face the trials that will make it grow and mature And that s another Kitty encountered at the end of the novel.I loved the character of Walter also Seen only through the eyes of his wife, but we guess an intelligent, sensitive and deeply in love with his wife.The novel allows to discover the ravages of cholera in China Kitty suddenly discovers death and disease The ending is not a happy ending and I think it fits perfectly with the rest of the novel In this village devastated by the terrible disease, in the end it is the dog that died last sentence of An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog by Oliver Goldsmith And that pretty much sums up the story.I loved it I had a crush for the book and the author. 01.02 03 04.