The Painted Veil

By W. Somerset Maugham,

Book cover of The Painted Veil

Book description

'She did not know what to say. She was undecided whether indignantly to assert her innocence or to break out into angry reproaches. He seemed to read her thoughts. "I've got all the proof necessary" '

Kitty Fane is the beautiful but shallow wife of Walter, a bacteriologist stationed in…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked The Painted Veil as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I love adventure stories that offer unexpected challenges in foreign lands. 

This story, set in upper-class England and rural China in the 1920s, is about Kitty, a selfish, beautiful, and attention-seeking woman, and the shy and unattractive English bacteriologist, Walter, who falls hopelessly in love and asks for Kitty’s hand in marriage. Kitty consents, but Walter’s discovery of her lover and the resulting social pressure, force the couple to enter into a marriage doomed for failure. 

Even though bitterness prevails, the couple set off for Walter’s assignment in the cholera-infected area of China. It is an act of suicide, fraught…

Set and published in the 1920s, this novel wasn’t written as historical fiction. However, the backdrop of mainland China, and the situation the lead characters create for themselves is of another world and time. 

We follow Kitty who, in punishment for an affair, joins her scientist husband on a mission to a colony infested by cholera. Ultimately though, this is the story of a woman who learns the difference between passion and love. While the incorrectness of the time may be a little uncomfortable to read, Kitty’s determination that the next generation of women should be fearless and frank, and…

From Diana's list on that happen to be set in history.

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