The Painted Veil


The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham The book’s cover caught my eye. It was poignant, it was sweet, it was obviously set in the Far East. It was already very interesting. Turning the book over, I came to understand that “The Painted Veil” is a story set in the 1920s. It is about a young English couple — Walter, a bacteriologist, and Kitty, an upperclass woman who get married for the wrong reasons. Walter’s work brings them to Shanghai, where Kitty falls in love with someone else. Upon discovering her infidelity, Walter accepts a job in cholera-ridden Mei Tan Fu, a remote village in China, and takes his wife along. It is in this isolated part of the world that they learn to love and to forgive.

Without further thought, I bought the book. The story was so gripping, I couldn’t put it down. The characters were very well-developed and I grew attached to them with each turn of the page. Walter was as steady as Kitty was restless. She was as passionate as he was seemingly indifferent. Before you think it’s just another “opposites attract” concept, think again. The tensions were strong and still believable. Romance, frustration, expectations and hope mingle so unexpectedly in this engrossing read.

Interestingly, “The Painted Veil” was turned into a movie last year. It starred Edward Norton and Naomi Watts. A few days after I read the book, I popped in the DVD. While some movies do not do justice to the books they’re based on, the movie version of “The Painted Veil” was beautifully done. While some settings and storytelling styles were different, I believe it captured the essence of Maugham’s work. I just learned as well that in 1934, this was also adapted into a movie starring Greta Garbo.

“The Painted Veil” is haunting. While a love story, it is not only for romantics. It show us how hope comes in the most unusual forms and how love forgives in a haunting, passionate, and unexpected way. Its story and the emotions it triggered lingered long after I put the book down. It definitely has become one of my favorite books. I am glad that the book’s cover did catch my eye as I am finally introduced to W. Somerset Maugham’s work. I look forward to reading more of his novels.

0 comment on The Painted Veil

  1. pinayhekmi
    May 4, 2007 at 1:47 am (17 years ago)

    I may borrow this from the library. :)

    My newest read is Michael Chrichton’s State of Fear. Wow!

  2. Meeyagirl
    May 4, 2007 at 2:38 am (17 years ago)

    toni! i loved that book!! beautiful no? the movie is in my netflix queue, pero hindi naman ako masyadong excited to watch movies na based on books (madalas kasi nadi-disappoint ako) so its at the tail end of my queue. since sabi mo nice din yung movie, i’ll move it up 😀 thanks! 😀

  3. Sidney
    May 4, 2007 at 2:37 pm (17 years ago)

    Thanks for the tip! I will look for it at Powerbooks.

  4. jeanny
    May 4, 2007 at 10:40 pm (17 years ago)

    hi Toni.

    SArap mo naman mag kwento nakaka excite tuloy magkaroon ng copy

    I’ll look for that pag naligaw ako sa bookstore 😀

  5. mare
    May 4, 2007 at 11:39 pm (17 years ago)

    This is one of the few exceptions that I enjoyed the movie version more than the novel! So touching and real, Naomi Watts and Ed Norton (love him) did an excellent job showcasing raw emotions.

  6. Lissa
    May 5, 2007 at 12:05 am (17 years ago)

    I put this on my netflix queue as well pero it won’t come out until the 8th. I’ll check out the book. Thanks for the recommendation!

  7. Phoenix
    May 5, 2007 at 12:32 am (17 years ago)

    I’m glad I linked to you. I’m putting in an order for the book today – just after I received “The God Delusion” by Dawkins two days ago. I will probably switch to “The Painted Veil” as soon as it comes. Your description of it is entrancing. I still remember reading “Of Human Bondage” in the eleventh grade, and to this day, the very thought of the story moves me. It remains on my Top Ten List yet.

    Thank you. Nice blog and I have bookmarked it.

  8. Daphne
    May 7, 2007 at 2:41 pm (17 years ago)

    I’ve been meaning to see the movie adaptation of this book especially when i learned that Ed Norton was in it. Thanks for the book review, now i’m doubly intrigued. :)

  9. denden
    May 7, 2007 at 5:57 pm (17 years ago)

    hi toni! i’m going to the border’s to buy this book. thanks for the heads up :)

  10. rach
    May 7, 2007 at 11:59 pm (17 years ago)

    I haven’t read the book nor have I seen the movie. I like your favorable review and it made me very interested. Thanks for sharing.

  11. JMom
    May 8, 2007 at 5:14 am (17 years ago)

    I’ll be sure to look for this book and the movie on my next shopping spree. Thanks as always Toni for always sharing great finds. I too am initially attracted to beautiful book covers. If I had seen this one, I probably would have picked it up too.

  12. Em Dy
    May 10, 2007 at 4:18 pm (17 years ago)

    I would not have been drawn to the DVD if you hadn’t written about The Painted Veil. Now that I have a copy, I can’t wait for the long weekend to watch it. Thanks for the lead.

  13. Christianne
    May 11, 2007 at 4:13 am (17 years ago)

    Ooh thanks for this recommendation Toni. Edward Norton is one of my favorite actors and while I don’t think I’ll have time to read the book (my husband will get mad na if I buy another book and just leave it sitting on the bookshelf for ages and ages!) I’ll try to look for this movie so I can watch it, at least.

  14. petula
    May 31, 2007 at 7:25 pm (17 years ago)

    i went to see the film last week and felt i was in a time zone. Leaving the cinema i wanted to return to the place i had left ,it was wonderful. I went and bought the book and i read it in a day. It has been such a long time since i have been captivated by a writer such as Somerset Maughan. I wanted Kitty to feel more for Walter but it was’nt to be . The book had such an interesting ending. I am going to have for our book club ,it will be so interesting to listen to the other comments.


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