Monday, November 3, 2014

Removing the Veil Reveals a Beautiful Story

The Painted VeilThe Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Maugham handles language beautifully, telling the nice, compact story of a vacuous socialite who doesn't take life serious enough and finds herself in a very serious situation.

His economy of word fails his purpose only once, but it is an important failure and mars The Painted Veil in a way that diminishes it enough to keep it from attaining the echelon of "masterpiece" status. Our heroine Kitty's transformation (view spoiler) happens way too fast to be believable. Waugham painted himself into a corner by forcing nature (view spoiler) into the story. It made him speed up the timeline to get it all in under the gun.

Still, this is a well-told, highly enjoyable tale revolving around some good, bad and ambivalent people - most of which are all three of those at once - and as a water-tester for whether or not I wanted to throw myself into Maugham's much deeper work, Of Human Bondage, The Painted Veil was a success. A worthy good read indeed!

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