Beautiful Kitty Fane is unhappy in her marriage to Sir Walter Fane and resorts to an affair to satisfy her need for a more potent love. When Walter finds out about the affair, he exiles them both to help with a cholera outbreak in a remote part of China. Starved of the society in which she has spent her entire life, Kitty learns who she really is and what love is in this vacuum, changing and growing dramatically.
At first, I didn’t like Kitty. She is silly and irritating with Charlie and I couldn’t imagine anyone ever leaving their wife for her, let alone marrying her. She trapped herself in that loveless marriage and her needs are entirely her own fault. I didn’t believe that she deserved to die of cholera as it seemed her husband wanted her to, but I did think she deserved punishment. I really appreciated how she grew as a character when she was encountered with real suffering and need, though, and how she came to appreciate her husband through other people’s eyes. It was easy to see how society’s expectations and entertainments molded her character and how she had to break that mold once she was exposed to this vastly different place.
I was also fascinated by the depiction of the British empire’s distant regions. The book may be dated, but I appreciated the perspective, particularly the difference between the city and the country in China.
I think this is very worth a read and I definitely recommend it.
Buy The Painted Veil on Amazon.
Has anyone seen this movie, by the way? Is it any good? I’ve had it saved on the TiVo at my parents’ for months.