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Download The Painted Veil Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Painted Veil, by W. Somerset Maugham Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (12,925 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: W. Somerset Maugham Narrator: Kate Reading Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, this beautifully written character study is an affirmation of the human capacity to grow, change, and forgive. The Painted Veil is the story of the beautiful but shallow young Kitty Fane, who marries for money rather than love. When her husband, a quiet doctor, discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to a remote region of China ravaged by a cholera epidemic. There, stripped of the British society of her youth and overwhelmed by the desolation around her, Kitty’s conscience begins to awaken. As she takes up work with children at a convent and experiences some of the burden her husband has taken on, she and her husband begin to rediscover each other in a new light. When her husband is tragically killed, Kitty is forced to return to England to raise her unborn child. Though it is too late for her marriage, she has learned humility, independence, and at last, how to love.

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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.”


  • “Kate Reading does a phenomenal portrayal of Kitty, progressively evolving her weaknesses into real character strengths by way of hardship, loss, and regret. She creates the aura of a full-cast production, switching effortlessly between characters…Elegant and thoughtful, Reading is a performance pro.”


  • “Reading’s narration conveys the novel’s irony and cynicism. Her pitch is perfect, and her tone, rhythm, and intonation match the plot and the era. Reading conveys the feeling of a stuffy tea party set among smug guests. Kitty is at once self-absorbed and reflective, while Walter is both restrained and simmering.”


  • “Reading’s narration uses only two voices—one male and one female—but her intelligent, expressive performance makes her characters of either gender most convincing. She fully captures the irony that defines Kitty.” 


  • “The portrait of Kitty Fane is one of Maugham’s finest fictional achievements. As with Bertha Craddock more than twenty years before, he displays an extraordinary empathy, an ability to create a woman as seen not from a man’s perspective but from that of the woman herself.”

    Selina Hastings, The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham

  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Hey_jude | 2/18/2014

    " It was an easy read and I have to say I expected a little more plot wise. But It was good all in all. Short but sweet. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Em | 2/17/2014

    " I imagine I would have enjoyed this book more if I had read it before watching the movie. The movie followed the book very well and added a bit more depth to the main characters, so it felt like something was missing. I still enjoyed the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by April Krajewski | 2/16/2014

    " I enjoyed this book but I loved the movie much more. I found the characters hard to like in this book. Was surprised by how quickly it read. If you read it, definitely treat yourself to the movie afterward. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by lcap | 2/13/2014

    " I really enjoyed this book and Kitty's journey to redemption. However, I have to say that this might be the one book I've come across where the movie is actually better. I found Maugham's Edward incredibly stubborn and emotionally immature, and not very appealing as a result. I loved how the two characters came back together in the movie, which unfortunately does not happen in the book. However, I still enjoyed Maugham's depictions of early 20th century British expatriate society in Hong Kong. It's a decent read for those who like historical fiction and this period in particular. "

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