The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

Book review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc., Listening Length: 7 hours and 19 minutes (186 pages), ASIN: B000N85TWI

Kitty, a vain and shallow young woman, marries Walter, a serious, bacteriologist for all the wrong reasons.  Although Walter loves and adores Kitty, she is bored with Walter and their life together in Hong Kong.  As a distraction, Kitty has an adulterous relationship with the handsome, dashing and married Charles Townsend. Once Walter discovers what his wife is up to, his heart breaks and to help both his heart and their relationship to heal he takes Kitty away to the interior of China to give aid dealing with a cholera epidemic.

The Painted Veil was written in 1924 and originally released as five instalments in Cosmopolitan magazine. Subsequently it has been made into a movie three times, in 1937, 1957 & 2006. This story is a drama and it is told in a third person narrative from the point of view of the main protagonist, a young woman whose name is Kitty. Mr. W. Somerset Maugham wrote numerous plays and novels; his best known work was Of Human Bondage.

I was intrigued from the first page. The story pulled me in immediately. I was curious about the characters and what drove them. Mr. Maugham does a superb job of showing us who Kitty, Walter and Charles really are, with well drawn characters. This book is truly a tale of transformation.

This is a standalone book and although the ending is sad, it is satisfying. The story is original and keeps us guessing right up to the last page about what will happen. Although the book revolves around the marriage of Kitty and Walter, it is not a romance; instead the focus is more on Kitty’s personal journey through a difficult time.  I recommend this book.

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