“Lift not the painted veil which those who live call Life”

“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.

Kitty Garstin (Naomi Watts) at the flower shop

At the start of the novel, Kitty leads a vacuous and superficial life – her destiny defined by her social status and gender.

Mrs Garstin party

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.

at the ball: Kitty meets Walter

Kitty’s domineering mother attempts to arrange a “brilliant match” for her

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.

Mrs Kitty Fane (Naomi Watts)

The first night: Walter Fane

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.

At a party with her husband, Kitty meets Charles Townsend

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.

Charles Townsend

To be continued……..