Review: The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

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.

Kitty is a spoiled lightheaded young woman, she rushes to marry Walter for all the wrong reasons; her little sister was engaged before her and Kitty cannot stand being in the shadow of her younger and less pretty sister. Walter is not a man of her dreams, he seems too serious, boring and lacks charisma. But he adores Kitty, so how bad can their marriage be? Right after the wedding, they move to Hong Kong, where Kitty realizes what a terrible mistake she made. Her husband, the passionless boring man is difficult to bare and soon Kitty finds herself swiped off her feet by handsome and charming Charlie. Their passionate romance soon discovered by Walter who puts Kitty before a difficult choice: divorce or traveling with him to a remote Cholera affected town. Being stuck alone in the middle of nowhere with the man she doesn’t love, Kitty reevaluates her life and her life choices.

This novel is amazing! I cannot remember a novel that made me so emotionally involved. The characters were so complex and intriguing. I went from despising Kitty to absolutely loving her. The journey she took was captivating and the change in her character is admirable. I really enjoyed watching Kitty grow as a character and the way she makes from being spoiled and selfish to a more reasonable and responsible person. The same with Walter, he’s such a multidimensional character. I couldn’t stay indifferent to their faiths and struggles. This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read.

I had no illusions about you,’ he said. ‘I knew you were silly and frivolous and empty-headed. But I loved you. I knew that your aims and ideals were vulgar and commonplace. But I loved you. I knew that you were second-rate. But I loved you. It’s comic when I think how hard I tried to be amused by the things that amused you and how anxious I was to hide from you that I wasn’t ignorant and vulgar and scandal-mongering and stupid. I knew how frightened you were of intelligence and I did everything I could to make you think me as big a fool as the rest of the men you knew. I knew that you’d only married me for convenience. I loved you so much, I didn’t care. Most people, as far as I can see, when they’re in love with someone and the love isn’t returned feel that they have a grievance. They grow angry and bitter. I wasn’t like that. I never expected you to love me, I didn’t see any reason that you should. I never thought myself very lovable. I was thankful to be allowed to love you and I was enraptured when now and then I thought you were pleased with me or when I noticed in your eyes a gleam of good-humored affection. I tried not to bore you with my love; I knew I couldn’t afford to do that and I was always on the lookout for the first sign that you were impatient with my affection. What most husbands expect as a right I was prepared to receive as a favor.

Rating: 5/5

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