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Summary

This is the story of Kitty Fane, the adulterous wife of a bacteriologist stationed in Hong Kong. When her husband discovers her deception, he exacts a terrible vengeance: Kitty must accompany him to the heart of a cholera epidemic in China.

The Painted Veil was recently made into a feature film starring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts.

©2006 W. Somerset Maugham (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"[Maugham is] the modern writer who has influenced me the most." (George Orwell)
"An expert craftsman....His style is sharp, quick, subdued, casual."( The New York Times)
" The Painted Veil, with its sadness, its moral tension, its irony and compassion, its building evocations of lust and terror and remorse, is a work of art." ( Spectator)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Story

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Juliet
  • Compton Martin, Bristol, United Kingdom
  • 20-08-08

The Painted Veil

Fantastic story. One of those that when it ends, you want to double check it really has finished because you were enjoying it so much

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Love and revenge.



A story that will be told forever. Love, revenge and life doesn't end after a fall

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Helen
  • United Kingdom
  • 11-11-12

Beautiful

Beautiful, serene, quite affectionate style of writing, I did enjoy this book despite its often old fashioned language, the whole thing was very captivating and special.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Bleak but compelling

Typical Somerset Maugham - compelling and desperately sad. I wanted to listen to this after seeing the film. As expected, the book is much bleaker and more complex, without the reconciliation between Kitty and Walter that made the film more of a straightforward romance.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great listen

I loved this book and Sophie Ward reads it beautifully. I was impatient with the characters at first but grew to sympathise and identify with them and got totally caught up in the tale. Very easy to listen to and I finished it in a few days.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant

Great story about a woman who gets herself into a bit of a pickle with an affair in china at turn of century

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

A brilliant novel

I found the writing compelling, and rather fascinating, and it's a great idea for a story (although Maugham's casual racism is a bit off-putting at times). Unfortunately the narration is monotonous and she doesn't really attempt to separate the different voices. It's a shame as it would be hugely enjoyable.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Gorgeous

Such a charming story, beautifully narrated. I enjoyed the images of Shanghai in the 20's & the insight into the complex relationship of the characters.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A beautifully read classic...

An evocative classic that opens a unique window into British life in the Far East via the deteriorating relationship between a doctor and his wife. This was my first Somerset Maugham book and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Sophie Ward does a splendid job at narration. Recommended.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • AudioAddict
  • 03-10-13

A novel about personal growth

STORY - (British Classic) Occasionally I'll hear a classic when I'm in the mood for a beautifully descriptive, simple story with deep character development. The Painted Veil is simple, well told and enjoyable, but I wish there had been more descriptions of this area of China and its people.

The main thrust of the book is Kitty's transformation after she and Walter (husband) move to a cholera-stricken region and she volunteers in a convent/hospital. Lots of character development. There are some sad undertones, but the book is not dark.

PERFORMANCE - Well done, nice French accents for the nuns.

OVERALL - This book is probably more for women, as it's mostly about Kitty's thoughts, feelings and her personal growth. Classics aren't my favorite genre, so it takes a great one to get 4 or 5 stars from this reviewer. This one was just okay.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Karen
  • 22-02-09

Better than the movie

I was very taken with the movie of "The Painted Veil." While I still think the film very fine, this novella proves itself better precisely in those places where the film-makers altered the story. Kitty never becomes perfect, and the ending is hopeful, not triumphant. The reading, too, is very well done. Good male voices, as well as the female.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • RtooDtoo
  • 28-02-10

Amazing story

This story really took me by surprise. I thought it might be a dated and quaint journey into another time. While parts of it are quaint, its substance is timeless. It has all the major ingredients of a great story: lust, love, betrayal, adventure, pathos, and an anti-hero(ine) central character who transforms in a plausible way. The woman reading it is a little wooden, but her posh accent is actually quite enjoyable and works well with the story.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nicole
  • 26-03-09

WONDERFUL NARRATOR!

After watching the movie, I wanted to read the book. It was obviously a better book. Much more human ending. The narrator brought the book to life in such a way that it truly moved me. Thank you! Great buy!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ellenaeddy
  • 18-05-12

Early Imperialism and the flapper

I can't tell you why I love this glimpse into the twenties and early 20th century china. The romance belies romance and kicks the gooey love stuff to the curb. But I came to love the doctor in this book, even if his wife was too shallow to manage that herself. And she in her own way learns to be kind. It's a very interesting book about imperfect lives.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Colin
  • 29-11-12

Great reader -- OK story

It was the reader that drew me in. I listened to the ten minute sample and I was hooked. The story is not gripping all the way through. Some of the characters stay frustratingly distant, but Kitty grows and deepens with every page, and watching her navigate her world is fascinating.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kane Lee
  • 15-05-18

A beautiful story read by a beautiful voice

It’s a great story. I read this book while I am listening to this. Sophie has done a great job.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • geri
  • 17-09-15

terrible protagonist

if your interested in the story, ill just say that this is one of few times that the movie is actually better than the book. the narrator is annoying and the main protagonist is not relatable at all. i get that this book was written in the thirties but kittie is the most rediculously stereo typical ignorant and trivial woman ive ever read. maugham describes every character as looking the same and repeats the words ironic, comic, and vulgar (among others) over and over again. there are multiple unnecessary scenes and the story is full of cliches.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Judy K. Hecht
  • 22-03-15

Kitty becomes human

Judy
This book is truly about the transformation of a spirit- or the discovery of one. I don't want to be a spoiler so I'll only say- read it- bear with it. It is a worthwhile journey.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Sierra's Mom
  • 10-08-14

The reader..... painful to the ears

What did you like best about The Painted Veil? What did you like least?

Not much... barely through the first 15 min. could not finish the book.... it was tooooo Ugh!!!!!

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Ease up on the details..... let the readers imagination have a chance.

Would you be willing to try another one of Sophie Ward’s performances?

Probably not...

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

I did see the movie and loved it....

Any additional comments?

The reader was toooo breathy...