The Painted Veil, a 1925 novel by British author W. Somerset Maugham, is a beautifully written affirmation of the human capacity to grow, embrace change, and to learn how to love deeply. The title is taken from Percy Bysshe Shelley's sonnet, which begins "Lift not the painted veil which those who live." 'The Painted Veil' is a powerful novel of transgression and redemption. The novel tells the story of the lovely and superficial Kitty Garstin and her unhappy marriage to Walter Fane, a quiet and honorable man. Kitty agrees to marry Walter not because she loves him, but because she fears being put to shame by her younger sister.
When Walter discovers her treacherous affair, he forces her to travel along with him to the epicenter of a cholera epidemic. Stripped of the British society of her youth and the small but effective society she fought so hard to attain in Hong Kong, the experience completely transforms Kitty and she begins to take accountability for her mistakes, listen to her inner voice and understand her shortcomings.