The Painted Veil

Thoughts tpvbywsm The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham, Vintage 2011 (orig 1925), 280 pages

Genre: Classic, Fiction
Occasion: Spontaneous Buddy Read with Andi of Estella’s Revenge

AndiandCare

Source: eBook purchased from Amazon for my Kindle
 Challenge: What’s in a Name 2016 – Article of Clothing category

MOTIVATION for READING: wian2016 and the Classics Club

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Kitty is an upper class twit who must get married because her little sister is engaged. So she chooses Walter who happens to be the only guy still interested in her; (though we never quite figure that out. Or at least, I didn’t and I don’t think Walter did either.) Walter is a bacteriologist and is assigned to Hong Kong, so Kitty and Walter get quicky-married, honeymoon in Italy then off to the other side of the world from England. Kitty doesn’t love Walter, obviously, and has little to no moral compass so she is easily seduced by the hot powerful and charming Charley. But Walter finds out and offers a few options which result in a most interesting scenario:  Walter volunteers to be the doctor for a village with a cholera outbreak and Kitty has NO choice but to go along.  Is it a spoiler to say that Charley is the only one who escapes with no consequence? I do end up liking Kitty and I always ‘got’ Walter’s sense of humor. Is this a tragedy? It ain’t no comedy.

But SO GOOD! I also called it a philosophical travelogue…

WHAT’s GOOD: Most everything is good about this. The writing is great, the characters are fascinating, it has wit and lots of emotional pokes, beautiful scenery, and a story arc that is paced well and offers surprises. Maugham has keen insight into human behavior – good and bad.

I love books that set off more exploring on my part. Other story references (“The dog it was that died.” – YOWZA!) and lots of French (ugh). My vocabulary was increased by this:

Tiffin – a light meal, especially lunch.

What’s NOT so good: This is a solid 4 and 1/2 slice of pie kind of book. I have been waffling about giving this a 5 slice but will not due to my wanting to be extra stingy on that this year. I want glowing heaps-of-heart-bursts for my 5 stars and while this is a contender for such, I am not bouncing around the room with passionate hugs and kisses for it and the only thing I can say why that is, might be because it was short. Which could be a whole ‘nother topic on why the chunksters end up getting the passion and I think it is because we get to spend so much more time immersed in chunksters. Whatever.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you enjoy books that offer romance and anti-romance, this is an excellent choice. If you like climate and cultural variety in your readings and settings in a time a bygone era away, this is an excellent choice.

DO read this enjoyable insightful and not-boring! academic review I found.

I had been feeling poorly this week with a sort throat and achy-ness and yet for some silly reason, I couldn’t commit to watching the movie while huddled and cuddled on the couch under blankets with nap-master puppies at my feet. I watched The Reader with Kate Winslet instead…

RATING: fourpie

WHATHIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

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24 thoughts on “The Painted Veil

    1. And then there was a Kitty in my next read! But it was a very small part so I can’t really say it was a connection. But yes, THIS Kitty was a piece of work.

  1. So you are being extra stingy with the 5’s this year? LOL. I know what you mean though. When it’s this early in the year you have to hold back a little.

  2. Great review! This one was so so affecting, and I can’t really say I expected that. Classics, you know. Sometimes they’re just too dry to riggle in amidst your heartstrings. Thank you so much for jumping in to read this one with me! To steal Nancy’s words, I think I might be a Maugham fangirl now.

  3. Hi! I just stumbled across your blog today and found this review. i first “stumbled across” the “Painted Veil” a few years ago and remember thinking, why have I never read Maugham before? I loved “Painted Veil.” I agree with the commenter above who said she is vapid at the beginning of the novel. I hope it’s not a spoiler to say that she does change by the end.

    Thanks for the opportunity to let me swoon over Maugham in this post!

    1. Hello! Welcome. I have been doing great with my classics challenges. Come back and visit any time. (I’m trying to get through Cry the Beloved Country AND Brave New World now but I’m not drawn to them and want to read something else)

  4. Ah, this sounds very much different than I thought it would. I am adding it to my TBR. I have avoided the movie in case I decided to pick it up at some point, and I am glad that I did. Thanks for your review.

  5. Oo a classic, nice choice. Happy to hear you liked this one. Hope you feel better soon 🙂 (If you enjoyed the adaptation of The Reader I wholeheartedly recommend the book.)

    1. TOTALLY loved the book but read it before blogging. I can still remember where I was when I read it – all in ONE sitting! and bawled my eyes out. Seeing the movie, I don’t recall what it was that made me cry so, though. Power of WORDS, I guess.

  6. aartichapati

    Ooh, I wonder if I would like this book as much because I feel like Kitty would really get on my nerves (I also have a problem with grown women going by the name “Kitty,” which is unfair and very 21st century of me, but hey, I’m not perfect). I feel like if I could enjoy Wilkie Collins with his fairly lame women (EXCEPT ONE), then maybe I could enjoy this one, too.

    1. Well, despite the risk of spoiling, I have to say that you just might be a cheerleader for “Mrs. Fane” by the end. It was so well written and and, and… I just finished watching the movie, so I am all enamored with it again. 😊

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  8. For me this was one of those rare books that had a better movie adaptation. It didn’t help that I watch it first, love it and then thought “this would be a great book” even before I knew it was adapted at all!

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