Published by Blackstone Audio Inc., Heinemann, George H. Doran on 1925
Genres: Literary Fiction
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 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.
#Cholera #China #HongKong #WSomersetMaugham @KateReadingVO @BlackstoneAudio
Since I began to listen to audiobooks on a daily basis, I have discovered a variety of advantages. First of all, there is the obvious one: my attention is held by the voice of the narrator which is a particular advantage in the case of books with a lot of detail. Another advantage is the performance by the narrator often elevates a mediocre book to a higher level. By far the thing that has been most impressive is how listening to novels written many years ago is so much easier than reading them. Often these older works are written in language that is more formal than modern books making them sound dated and pretentious. I find that hearing someone read the books removes some of this quality. Back when I listened to my first classic novel, I promised myself that I would occasionally listen to and review one of these books. The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham was originally published in serialized form beginning in 1924 and in book form in 1925. In case you think our litigious society is a new phenomenon, Maugham explains in his preface how he came to change both names and locales due to legalities. Three movies have been made based on the book – two with the same title and one entitled The Seventh Sin. Wikipedia has fascinating histories of both the book and the film adaptions. Now . . . don’t think just because this book was written in 1924 it’s going to be dull and prudish. The opening scene finds our faithless female protagonist and her lover being caught in the act of adultery by her husband. The author then reaches back in time to show us how Kitty Garstin Fane comes to be in this situation and moving forward from that point, he tells a story of tragedy, personal growth, and hope.
Narrator Kate Reading’s performance is excellent. From the vapid Kitty to her morally bankrupt lover Charlie Townsend to Kitty’s cuckolded husband Walter, Ms. Reading brings the characters to life. Here is a link to her Facebook page where you will learn Ms. Reading is married to another narrator! I wonder if they ever read to each other to pass the time!
I highly recommend The Painted Veil for its compelling story and thought-provoking look at the human condition. If you need a book with likable characters, you may be disappointed. There are some semi-likable ones and there are a few selfless ones, but Maugham very effectively shows that even the most unselfish and admirable acts lose their merit when the motive is wrong. There are many literary allusions from the title itself to quotations by the characters that are intriguing, so if you do choose to read or listen to this book, I encourage you to do some research when you finish since it has been widely interpreted and reviewed during its history. Another interesting exercise would be to compare the story with some of your modern favorites. I think you will find people don’t really change. Only the authors and their writing styles are different.