by W. Somerset Maugham
"Lift not the painted veil that those who live call Life."
Sonnet-Percy Bysshe Shelley
My husband picks out most of the movies we watch. The Painted Veil with Edward Norton and Naomi Watts was beautifully done. Very moving. It was later that I learned that it was based on a book.
Kitty married Walter not out of love but of necessity. She needed out of her mother's house and he was available. But when she betrays his love with another man Walter is determined to punish her by taking her with him to a Chinese village with an outbreak of Cholera. Her time spent there will change her in ways she could never foresee.
At first the writing was a bit awkward. The dialog seemed like the script of an old black and white movie. Heard from Kitty's prospective the writing reflects how frivolous and immature she is. As her heart changes so does the writing style. I liked the writing style most of the time but occasionally there is a sentence that needed to be reworked; a clause written in the wrong place or something. A number of times I had to reread a sentence slowly before I understood what he was saying. This detracted from my enjoyment but only a little.
I had scenes from the film in my head as I read and it seemed like the book was following the movie pretty closely but then I hit a scene and thought, "Wasn't Walter supposed to be at this gather?" Then, "So when are Kitty and Walter going to visit the village together?" Then, "Wait! She doesn't make that revelation yet." Somewhere in the middle of the story there is a shift. The movie turns into a love story but the book is stuck in the unforgiving stage. The parts of the movie that I love the most don't exist in the book. But Kitty's development remains the same. After a while I forgave Maugham for writing a book differently than the movie I loved and saw the beauty that it held of its own accord. Maugham's creation is not as romantic but it is just as moving.