The Painted Veil


UPDATE:  I’ve just had an email from GR informing me that this review was flagged and deleted. I am sorry to lose the comment thread. However, what was interesting was that GR did read the review as they said that they do regularly check Fiverr for this paid review thing and were even now investigating two people. I reposted the review minus the controversial content. I don’t know if it is visible to everyone or only friends, but then again, I don’t really care.


This is a fake review. It does not reference the author at all except to say he could write rather brilliantly and I did enjoy the book. But let’s get on with the fake review.
For those who do not belong to Feedback group, there is a massive thread devoted to GR’s new policy (rolled out Friday, of course) of deleting all reviews that reference the author negatively. They are being deleted without informing people until afterwards apparently. But is it just some reviewers who behave badly (in the eyes of Goodreads, not mine) or are some authors doing even worse?

So I posted this in Feedback and I’m posting it here as a fake review because I want people to be aware of this rather pernicious and low way that a tiny minority of authors are availing themselves of.

This site Fiverr is offering for sale reviews, likes, etc to be posted on Goodreads. Obviously no-one but authors are going to pay for these services which go from $5. Some of the people offering the services say they are Goodreads Librarians.

These are the two most interesting imo, mark-as-read-rate-and-review-your-book-in-goodreads-and-become-fan 37 people have availed themselves of this service to date.


Add your book and write your own review for me to submit for only $5. This one has had 80 takers so far.

Searching for “Goodreads Amazon Book Reviews” brings up 11,297 people offering services related to those key words. Some people are offering to vote up (on Amazon) a book review from 50+ accounts.

This is a typical service:

Do you want to increase the sales of your book?
Leverage your product’s sales with GoodReads’ Social Networking and watch the growth.

I will mark your book as read.
I will rate it 5 stars (or any rating you want).
I will post a review for a boost on SEO
I will become fan of the author
Add it to a list of your choice

All for $5 !!!

I will re create the process with a different account +$5
I will add or vote your book on 10 extra lists +$5
I will add or vote your book on 20 extra lists,10 with one account, 10 with a different one +$10

I hope Goodreads will take this as seriously as it is negative reviews about authors. Because otherwise it is going to seem very much as if no criticism of authors will be allowed, but having them pay for reviews, listopia votes, likes, fans etc to be posted is acceptable. That is worse in my view because these things are meant to mislead people into thinking people genuinely liked the book and wrote a good review. The reviews that go off about the author are all reactive. The reviewers have written negative but genuine reviews and the authors (or sometimes their agents) have reacted badly to them on GR or elsewhere and then the reviews are rewritten to include the authors behaviour and possibly includes their other books. But which is worse, paying for fake reviews, likes and listopia or reacting by posting a negative review to an author’s bad behaviour?

The first is designed to make as much money as possible for the author, the second is a storm in a teacup review that has to compete against all the other reviews, positive and negative for attention. And how do we know that these authors had genuinely good reviews, maybe their bad behaviour extended to purchasing them?

Please note, I think only a teeny tiny percentage of authors would go in for such a cynical manipulation of GR like this. I don’t think the majority would stoop this low by any means.

So there you have it, fake review! (Which I will delete at some time in the future and write a proper one of this very fevered, almost malarial-swampy book that was an excellent read).

This is the real book review

This book is about the time when society women didn’t work, especially not in the hot and fetid colonies, and this was set in Hong Kong. They sat at home and painted their nails and dreamed of love in the afternoon and sometimes they did it too. Kitty did, she had an affair and her husband found out. He was a good man, as she was to find out, but once crossed, his soul was dark with thoughts of the ultimate revenge – death, either socially or in reality.

He gave his wife a choice, divorce, which would mean the end of her career as a socialite with pretty party dresses, passionate lovers and invitations to all the best balls in town. Or, if she could persuade her married lover to divorce his wife, he would allow that. But the married lover, typical of the species ditched the paramour and kept the wife. So it was either the social ignominy of divorce or she could go with him, a doctor, to sort out a cholera epidemic on mainland China where she might catch and die of the disease herself. She went.

And eventually, her character grew and her soul was transformed as she found a higher calling in nursing children and admiration for her well-respected if unlovable husband. Pregnant, she told him she didn’t know if it was his or her lover’s but it mattered not, because the husband got written out at this point in a touching deathbed scene.
She returns to Hong Kong, now lodging with her previous paramour and his wife, a heroine and tragic widow, but blots her copy book briefly by one more go-round with the ex-lover. Disgusted with herself she returns to the UK and finding her mother has died, sets herself up to support her father and accompanies him to the Caribbean island where he is to become the resident Chief Justice.

There she will dedicate herself to her father and to bringing up the as-yet unborn child. And that’s where the book ends.

What the book do

esn’t say is that the ex-pat society in the Caribbean is every bit as entertaining as Hong Kong and there is a great deal less poverty and sickness. Less white women gives rarity value even unto the sullied, and in any case, less attention to social mores is paid in tropical climes. I’m sure she got back up on that social roundabout again, but that’s for our imagination.

A good book, an odd book for its time giving a lot of power and play to women’s sexuality, but dividing both the men and women into good/celibate (more or less) and sexually active (bad, bad bad). I haven’t seen the film of it, but it’s ideal for a modern remake with a hot young star and plenty of sex scenes


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One Response to “The Painted Veil”

  1. savondujour Says:

    The review got deleted on Goodreads. This is sad because I lost the long comment thread, but there you go. I reposted the non-controversial content.


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