“Il velo Dipinto” “The painted veil”
1925 – the novel tells the story of a woman’s journey, from shallow social privilege to spiritual awakening and maturity. From South Kensington in London, through Hong Kong and the cholera ridden remote depths of mainland China Kitty Fane discovers a world beyond her own.
At the start of the novel, Kitty leads a vacuous and superficial life – her destiny defined by her social status and gender.
Her mother, convinced that her eldest daughter has “missed her market”, urges Kitty to settle for the rather “odd” Walter Fane, a bacteriologist and M.D., who is madly in love with Kitty.
In a panic that her much younger – and less attractive – sister, Doris, will upstage her by marrying first, Kitty consents to Walter’s ardent marriage proposition with the words, “I suppose so.” Shortly before Doris’ much grander wedding, Kitty and Walter depart as newlyweds to his post in Hong Kong.
Just weeks after settling in the far East, Kitty meets Charles Townsend, the Assistant Colonial Secretary. He is extremely charming, and they begin to have an affair.
The opening chapter is one of great tension before Maugham flashes back and forth between past and present, explaining how Kitty comes to be caught in flagrante delicto in the opening pages.
To be continued……..