Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Painted Veil

W. Somerset Maugham's book is all over the place now with the recent movie version. I decided to pick it up because Maugham is an author I've been meaning to read for awhile. Kitty Fane is a shallow young woman who spurns all her suitors until her younger sister becomes engaged. She then accepts a proposal from Walter, a shy bacteriologist with whom she has nothing in common. The two marry and move to Hong Kong where Kitty embarks on an affair with a British official. When Walter finds out, he is devastated and takes Kitty with him to the middle of a cholera epidemic where he tends the sick and conducts research. Kitty considers this a death sentence, but finds that the experience gives her a chance to reflect upon her existence. Maugham is particularly good at conveying Kitty's awakening. I was also impressed with his use of dialogue and how much of a character is revealed in a short conversation. I will definitely look for more Maugham in the future. Next up on the list of authors I've been meaning to read: Graham Greene. Any suggestions on where to start?

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