Review of The Painted Veil, by W. Somerset Maugham

A long time ago, a friend and I had coffee with the wonderful actor, Gabriel Byrne. After a memorable evening of discussion on many wide-ranging topics, what stayed with me was the conversation we had about books, particularly W. Somerset Maugham. At the time, I was reading Maugham’s novel, Of Human Bondage. Gabriel told me that was one of his favorite books. He also mentioned another of Maugham’s books titled The Painted Veil.  Each time he had read the book, it had new meaning for him and, of course, he strongly recommended that I read it.

I took his advice and purchased the novel. I can say unequivocally that the story had such meaning for me that I purchased the book as a gift for many friends.

The book still resonates and seems to transcend time. It is a story of a woman, Kitty Fane, who becomes spiritually awakened in the midst of a loveless marriage.  Kitty starts out as a shallow and vain woman. Her sole training via her mother was to find a man of means and she ends up having an affair with a career politician, Charles Townsend. When her husband discovers the betrayal, he makes Kitty go with him to a cholera-infested area of China for his research (talk about extreme).  What Kitty discovers while living in this region is something she had buried; she finds her spiritual soul and something else that she had so sorely lacked in her life, she finds herself.

Kitty volunteers her time at an orphanage wherese the true test of her character comes from the exposure to the nuns whose lives are so different from the life she has led.  Kitty is forced to not only deal with change, but she begins to realize that she is changing also. She faces many obstacles, and, in the end, finds fortitude and  her true spirit and character.

I can honestly say, if you have never read The Painted Veil, it is well worth your time. Some classics are worth revisiting.  It’s a book that will stay with you long after you put it back on your bookshelf.

For more information on the novel, visit Amazon and other sites for information.

This entry was posted on March 30, 2016. Leave a comment




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