The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

img_5689Book #17.

Ending my reading hiatus is my first W. Somerset Maugham read. Narrated in the third person POV but mostly of Kitty’s, is pretty  much a morality tale but is actually more complex.

The husband and wife in this book are Walter and Kitty Fane. Walter is a bacteriologist, charmless and cold. Kitty is an upper middle class shallow girl, views the world like a child which I think is her tragedy. Time is creeping up on her as her younger sister is almost getting married, so she married Walter and head off with him to Hong Kong where she started to despise him and then fell in love with Charlie Townsend, a charming womanizer. Walter eventually discovers the affair and didn’t pretend to know nothing so he decided to work in Mei-tan-fu, a remote area where there’s cholera outbreak and Kitty was left with no choice but to go with him (though she knows that Walter wants her to die there) since Charlie refused to leave his wife for her.

Maugham’s writing is simple and elegant. This is a very introspective work and this book seemed to be his voice to tell his opinion about adultery and so much more. It speaks of love, betrayal, forgiveness, reconciliation, understanding other people, understanding one’s self, one’s place in this world, the very universal truths about relationships, and the true meaning of life.

It’s a wonderful read, I’d probably watch the movie and compare.

Quotable Quotes :

“How can I be reasonable? To me our love was everything and you were my whole life. It is not very pleasant to realize that to you it was only an episode.”

“If a man hasn’t what’s necessary to make a woman love him, it’s his fault, not hers.”

“I always find it more difficult to say the things I mean than the things I don’t.”

“One can be very much in love with a woman without wishing to spend the rest of one’s life with her.”

“One cannot find peace in work or in pleasure, in the world or in a convent, but only in one’s soul.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

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