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The Painted Veil

Narrated by: Sophie Ward
Length: 7 hrs and 21 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

Non-member price: $24.97

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Publisher's 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.
©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
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A masterpiece

A delicate morality tale, sensitively told and beautifully read .
A pleasure to listen to, and more than once. A favourite.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for RtooDtoo
  • RtooDtoo
  • 28-02-2010

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.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nicole
  • 26-03-2009

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!

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Karen
  • 22-02-2009

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.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mavep
  • 13-09-2012

Great story, moving and satisfying.

Would you consider the audio edition of The Painted Veil to be better than the print version?

Yes. It is so beautifully read, like listening to a play.

What other book might you compare The Painted Veil to and why?

Perhaps Wuthering Heights as it has great characters and an atmospheric quality.

Have you listened to any of Sophie Ward’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I haven't but would certainly do so again.

If you could take any character from The Painted Veil out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Not sure.

Any additional comments?

A beautifully told story of a shallow young woman who learns what is important in life through hardship and the self-giving lives of some French nuns. I thought the ending touching and satisfying, without being sentimental.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Ellenaeddy
  • 18-05-2012

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 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • H Boodoosingh
  • 09-04-2020

Beautifully read

The story is gripping as the protagonist grapples with her own mistakes and the consequences of them.
It is beautifully read so that you can truly understand the deepest thoughts of all the characters.
A definite must for anyone who loves historical tragic romances.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Yuen May
  • 29-02-2020

Quite a Turner

You turn opinions on the characters. The story has your head turning in surprise. And even you yourself might turn something over at the end of it.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-02-2020

Watch the movie, avoid the book

This is the first time I’ve ever seen a movie and a book and realized the movie was so much better. There was absolutely no point to this book. It ends with no value, redemption, lesson, just nothing. So weird. And yet the movie improved on the stories lack of direction and value. I didn’t like this book at all. Sorry...

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • AudioAddict
  • 03-10-2013

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 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Colin
  • 29-11-2012

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 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Juliet
  • 20-08-2008

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

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • p.hammond@btinternet.com
  • 05-03-2013

Love and revenge.



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

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Helen
  • 11-11-2012

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.



6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Quirkyjay
  • 06-09-2017

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.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Philip
  • 05-07-2017

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.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jane
  • 26-02-2016

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.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mirium
  • 06-02-2008

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.

10 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • carolyn
  • 08-05-2013

Brilliant

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

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Max
  • 01-04-2012

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.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anna Edgar
  • 09-05-2020

Exceptional

Narrated with skill. Places came to life. Subtle portrayals of people. Quiet an d powerful.