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I find as I get older I appreciate characters who are flawed, shades of gray rather than black and white, and nuanced stories that make me think. I haven't read this book, but have seen the movie (with Edward Norton as Walter), which I thought was excellent. I do hope to read the book one of these days.

Jan S.

What a fabulous review! This is one of my favorite books, and Maugham a favorite author. You described the book perfectly!


Kathy--I think I do, too. Flawed characters are often much more interesting even if they aren't always very likable. I have the movie and just need to find the time to watch it--I can't wait.
Jan--I'm not sure I articulated well exactly everything I was thinking but if I kept waiting for the right inspiration I think I would never have gotten to writing about it. I think it is one of my very favorite books now, too!


What a wonderful review, I enjoyed reading it a lot. Maugham is such a wonderful writer, I need to read him again this year. I understand your "hesitation and anticipation" but I think you are quite safe with Maugham. There shouldn't be any disappointments.


Great review. I have seen the film and loved it, but now want to read the book! Thanks.

Susie Vereker

Yes, I agree. It is an excellent novel, good review too. I gather Maugham was angry that he wasn't considered part of the literary elite, but his books have stood the test of time far better than some.

Margaret @ BooksPlease

I loved this book too. And the film isn't bad either, which surprised me because I often a film spoils a book for me, and although it changes the story a bit the scenery is so beautiful I did enjoy it.

After I read it I was eager to read more by Maugham and so bought Of Human Bondage, but it's so long it put me off even starting it. Reading your review has reminded me of how much I loved his writing and that I must read it.


I also loved this book when I read it many years ago. I read all of Maugham's novels that I could find and most of his short stories (and he wrote a lot of those). Most of the novels I enjoyed very much; the one that sticks in my mind the most is The Razor's Edge, a late one.


I still haven't read any Waugh, but your recommendation is so strong, Danielle, that I must do something about that. Thankyou.


Great review, can't wait to read this beautiful book.


This sounds wonderful! I hope Cakes and Ale for ths Slaves turns out to be as good next month!

Karen K.

I LOVED this book. I've rediscovered Maugham, who was one of the first classic authors I read for fun. Of Human Bondage is just wonderful -- it's been years since I read it and I think I'm due for a reread.

I do find that I love books about really flawed, tragic characters, which sometimes makes me wonder if there's something wrong with me! I'm a big fan of Edith Wharton and her books are often tragic.

I agree with the above postings, the film adaptation was excellent. They did change some things a bit but I think they really captured the essence of the book which is the important thing. The scenery is just stunning and the soundtrack is also wonderful.


I loved the film and have been meaning to read the book for a while. I think this is probably a good place to start when getting back into reading some Maugham.


I've been meaning to read this ever since the film came out and you've nudged me again to do something about it. I am ashamed to say that i've never read any Maugham and this is definitely going to have to be my first.

And, thank you for the beautiful bookmark, which arrived this morning.


Fantastic review, Danielle. I read this a couple of years ago, in my pre blogging days, and remember being underwhelmed by it - perhaps I wasn't in the right frame of mind to fully appreciate it. You have convinced me that it merits a re-read.


This one is on my shelf waiting to be read - can't wait to read it now! Ashenden is the only other Maugham I've read, and I remember really enjoying it.


Oh Danielle, the movie was fabulous but the book sounds even better! And isn't W Somerset Maugham just a wicked name?


This review has made me want to read this much sooner rather than later. Like others I enjoyed the film adaptation but however much I enjoy a film version I will always want to read the original novel. Characters with shades of grey definitely appeal the more I read too. Thank you!


I made the mistake of seeing the movie before I read the book. I'm so disappointed that I didn't read the book first. It sounds lovely. I will wait another few years to get the movie out of my mind and then will read the book.


I watched the film adaptation and it stuck to the book for sure. Its a beautiful story with a rather sad ending. To me, Kitty came across as a selfish char lacking understanding of the world at large. And by the time she realizes her mistake...she looses it all.


Caroline--When a book is so good, or that I can relate to so well, I am always afraid the next will pale in comparison--I'm glad I have more good reads ahead of me. The Slaves are reading Cakes and Ale this month, so I'll be starting it soon. Have you read that one? Did you like it?
Harriet--I believe there are some differences between book and film but I've heard the film follows the 'spirit' of the story--I'm hoping to watch it soon, but I am behind in my movie watching at the moment.
Susie Vereker--I've not read much about Maugham yet, but it seems he was a "commercially successful" author, which seems to be the kiss of death almost for authors who want to be taken seriously. I always assumed he was considered 'classic' (as in on the same footing as say EM Forster), so was surprised when I found out he wasn't. He has indeed survived the test of time--thankfully!
Margaret--I'm always a little apprehensive about watching a movie of a book I love, too. I was hesitant before buying this one, but I love the story so much I thought it would be interesting. I'm curious about the movie, but still a little scared--I have watched the trailer, though! :) It does look lovely and lush. I also have Of Human Bondage--I contemplated starting it as well but the sheer size does give me pause--I have too many other books started at the moment, but as I am going to be reading Cakes and Ale that will keep me busy.
Maxine--I've only read Up at the Villa several years ago, which I enjoyed very much, but this one really struck me, which of course now makes me want to read everything else. I have the first book of his short stories, and someone else also recommended them, so I'm looking forward to getting to that collection. I'll look for The Razor's Edge as well--thanks.
Cornflower--I think this is not even considered his best, but I just loved it as I was reading. I could easily pick it up right now and start it all over again! I think you would like him--maybe you can pick one of his books for your book group--I will definitely read along! :)
Willa--I hope you also enjoy it when you get to it.
Stefanie--I'm excited about reading it--I've already pulled it out but I guess I shouldn't start too soon?
Karen--His writing is really gorgeous, isn't it? I want to go and buy all his books now that I don't own, but I will pace myself! I do own Of Human Bondage, so I will get to it at some point. This ending was not at all neat and not even perhaps all that happy, but I don't mind--it worked on so many levels and I agree that flawed characters seem so much more realistic and easy to identify with--I think I prefer them, too. I also love Edith Wharton--no matter how bleak/sad her stories can be. They reflect life a little more closely I think. I can't wait to see the movie--maybe I'll get to it this weekend finally!
Sakura--It is a fairly quick read--I know once I got into the story I didn't want to put it down. I'm glad I am not alone as a number of other readers have loved it too, so it seems a good place to start! I've only read Up at the Villa, which from what I remember is even a shorter read.
Annie--So glad the bookmark made it--I was hoping the postage was okay. I do love bookmarks, and they always come in handy! It took me quite a while before I read any Maugham, too. If you liked the movie, and it sounds as though it captured the essence of the film, perhaps the book will be as enjoyable.
Rachel--It's funny how readers can have such different responses to a book--I believe often timing is a factor and maybe even life experience--it was just the right book at the right time for me. Maybe it will click better if you give it a try later. I do think he is worth revisiting--or reading more of.
Joanne--I was looking at his other books and I want to get Ashenden as it is a spy novel, isn't it? It sounds good, too.
Darlene--His name does have a wonderfully literary quality to it, doesn't it? I'm looking forward to the movie, too!
Sarah--I prefer to read the book first when I can. If I really love a book I am not always sure I want to see the movie, but it sounds so well done, even if the story was slightly changed for the movie--I think more is made of the love aspect, which is somewhat ambiguous in the novel.
Kathleen--It sounds as though you are not alone--lots of people seem to have seen the film already. I can't wait to see it now, too. The trailer is very lavish!
Zoya--It's good to hear that the film was close to the book. I think they may have made a few changes to the story, but from what everyone says the movie captures the essence of the book, which is heartening. She was not especially likable, but I thought she redeemed herself in the end to some degree--I think it wasn't exactly the happiness she wanted but how often do we get that in real life!


This is a beautiful review - it can be really hard to write about the books we've loved the best, I think. Simply because there's so much to say about them, and we want to do them justice. I think you've done Maugham proud - I'm a big fan of his writing and love his voice. So clear and so vivid. This is a novel I've yet to read, though, so I'll look forward to it.

Margaret Powling

I have this on the sheld, and I've also the DVD which I began to watch and then for some reason stopped ... so I still have the joys of both to come!


Litlove--I didn't say quite what I wanted to say, but it seems like lots of people are already familiar with the book, so it struck a chord with other readers. I'm very much looking forward to reading Cakes and Ale, which I hope is even better then The Painted Veil--will soon find out!
Margaret--I'm looking forward to watching the movie, too, which I will hopefully do this weekend. It looks so lush and beautiful! I hope you enjoy the book when you get around to it!


I have no excuse for not reading any Maugham. I definitely think this sounds right up my alley.


Stephanie--I really loved this one and plan on reading more by Maugham--as soon as I can squeeze him in again--there are always so many good books that call your attention, aren't there?!

Mara kurtz

Great book.
One of my all time favorites.
Memorable, beautifully written, mesmerizing story.
So glad you agree.
Happy holidays!


Mara Kurtz--I felt the same way! :) I still want to see the movie, only I loved the book so much I am a little apprehensive that the movie won't do it justice. It is definitely one for the reread shelf! Happy Holidays to you as well!

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