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Stunningly rejacketed as part of a major reinvention of this neglected 20th century master
William Somerset Maugham was born in 1874 and lived in Paris until he was ten. He was educated at King's School, Canterbury, and at Heidelberg University. He spent some time at St. Thomas' Hospital with the idea of practising medicine, but the success of his first novel, Liza of Lambeth, published in 1897, won him over to literature. Of Human Bondage, the first of his masterpieces, came out in 1915, and with the publication in 1919 of The Moon and Sixpence his reputation as a novelist was established. At the same time his fame as a successful playwright and writer was being consolidated with acclaimed productions of various plays and the publication of several short story collections. His other works include travel books, essays, criticism and the autobiographical The Summing Up and A Writer's Notebook. In 1927 Somerset Maugham settled in the South of France and lived there until his death in 1965
Shallow, poorly educated Kitty marries the passionate and intellectual Walter Fane and has an affair with a career politician, Charles Townsend, assistant colonial secretary of Hong Kong. When Walter discovers the relationship, he compels Kitty to accompany him to a cholera-infested region of mainland China, where she finds limited happiness working with children at a convent. But when Walter dies, she is forced to leave China and return to England. Generally abandoned, she grasps desperately for the affection of her one remaining relative, her long-ignored father. In the end, in sharp, unexamined contrast to her own behavior patterns, she asserts that her unborn daughter will grow up to be an independent woman. The Painted Veil was first published in 1925 and is usually described as a strong story about a woman's spiritual journey. To more pragmatic, modern eyes, Kitty's emotional growth appears minimal. Still, if not a major feminist work, the book has literary interest. Sophie Ward's uninflected reading is competent if not compelling. Recommended only for large literature collections. I. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Boone, IA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
"Reveals many of Maugham's strengths: an understanding of women, meticulous craftsmanship and raw emotion'" * Daily Mail * "A work of art" * Spectator * "An expert craftsman... His style is sharp, quick, subdued, casual" * New York Times *