Friday, July 17, 2009

Review: The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

Book: The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

Genre: Literary Fiction (old enough now to nearly be a classic, published 1925))

Rating: A-

For: TBR Challenge

I didn't really know what to expect from this book, but it seems like I've been reading some pretty good reviews lately. I bought it years ago simply because the author was one I'd heard of but never read yet. (Besides, it was on sale I think!) Also it was around the time the movie came out, a movie I have yet to see, but looks pretty good actually. (Click here for the movie trailer if you are interested.)

The story is about a girl, Kitty, who marries this guy just to get out of the house and away from her family and sister. He takes her to Hong Kong where she promptly has an affair. When he discovers this, he takes her away with him to the countryside to help with a cholera epidemic. It's there that Kitty grows up some, learns to appreciate life a bit more, and realizes that her husband is perhaps a better man than she thought.

So, I liked it fine. It didn't wow me or anything, but I would recommend it. Kitty was a quite the whiny character and I never really felt sorry for her. (I DID feel sorry for her husband however.) I do give her credit for starting to come around a bit, however, it all ended before I could tell if she really DID learn anything.

From watching the above mentioned movie trailer, I can see that the movie has much in it that was never in the book. In fact, it bothered me that the scene on my book cover (which is from the movie I think) never happened. Also, I don't get the title. Anyone who has read it want to explain that one to me?

Other Reviews:

A Comfy Chair and a Good Book

Kimmie's Krap
The Magic Lasso


  1. This is one of my favorite books by Maugham, but I"m a really big Maugham fan and have read nearly all of his books. Oddly, I actually remember the ending very differently. I read it first in 2001 and loved what I remembered as the ending, then I reread it a year or two ago and was very surprised. I didn't remember it anywhere near accurately and now I wonder if I got it mixed up with a different book of his.

    The movie is different, but not bad.

    As for the title, I'm not sure. I imagine it has to do with a poetry reference, as there are several of those in there (like Walter's last words). My book club is doing this one in December, so I might know more then.

    Sorry to babble so long!

  2. The cover is beautiful - too bad that scene wasn't in the book. I haven't read anything by Maugham. Your description of this one makes me think I wouldn't enjoy it. Better that I look for something else he wrote, I think.

  3. I didn't like Kitty much either, but I thought it was a good book. I don't know about the title, since it's been a couple years since I read it.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  4. My husband and I just watched the movie last night (I have not read the book yet) and thought it was a pretty good movie...made me want to read the book!



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