It doesn't start off very promisingly. Kitty is having an illicit afternoon liaison with her lover, Charles Townshend, and it's all so very British Empire. Talk of tiffin and men in topi's can make it feel like "Carry On Up The Khyber", albeit set in China instead of India! But after that first short chapter you quickly get drawn into it. Kitty, in spite of her faults, is a very likeable and only-too-human heroine, and her husband, Walter Fane, is one of the most intense and complex characters Maugham ever wrote. Fane takes a disturbingly bizarre revenge on his wife's infidelity by making her accompany him to a cholera-ridden village in the wilds of China. Once there, Kitty seeks spiritual salvation and insight, and succeeds. Sadly, there is to be no happy ever after for this couple, and I was genually saddened that this was so. But Maugham, with his usual sharp insight, gives us great insight into the bit players in Kitty's life, such as Waddington and his mysterious Chinese princess, and the Mother Superior at the convent. This is good stuff.