31 December, 2012

Book Of Note: The Painted Veil

As a person, from what we know about him - it is very hard to like William Somerset Maugham or his lifestyle or many of the characters in his books; but, he can write. He writes exceptionally well. As a boy, 'The Moon and Sixpence' was the first of Maugham's books that I read and I never forgot Tahiti since then. Years later, I read his 'Of Human Bondage', which, strangely enough, as this is considered Maugham's masterpiece - I never liked much and quickly forgot. Most of those who know of Maugham's 'The Painted Veil', know so from its film adaptation, which - with a few changes - does a great job and has Diana Rigg, of all people, playing as a nun. Read the book or watch the film version, and you will find it very hard to forget it.

How many men can continue living with a wife whom they are very unhappy with, have no respect for, are very uncomfortable being with, are incompatible with and know of her having an adulterous affair? For obsessive love or some other passionate reasons, many men do. And that's what this very well written, sad, tragic, heart-wrenching book is about. Excerpt:
'I know that you're selfish, selfish beyond words, and I know that you haven't the nerve of a rabbit, I know you're a liar and a humbug, I know that you're utterly contemptible. And the tragic part is'--her face was on a sudden distraught with pain--'the tragic part is that notwithstanding I love you with all my heart.'
For most of the book, you will hate Kitty and very much sympathize with her husband; although you can't help thinking that he wants to punish his wife, see her suffer or even dead. If you want to appreciate and enjoy the film adaptation more, it is best you read the book. There are differences between the book and the movie starring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts - notably the way they end differently. Read the book and watch the movie, you will be surprised and may be disappointed by some of the changes made in the movie. But, you will certainly find it very fascinating.

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