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The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

The End of the Affair (1951)

by Graham Greene

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (124)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (130)
Showing 1-5 of 124 (next | show all)
I must have picked this up to read at least 5 times and always been distracted by something else and put it back. I finally got through most of it on a flight and have finished it while trying not to go to sleep too early. It's good, but not great, I think.
Maurice Bendrix is an author and friend of Henry (a civil servant) and his wife Sarah. One night he meets Henry on the common and discoveres that Henry is afraid Sarah is having an affair. Bendrix is then smitten with jealousy, as his affair with Sarah has ended. Bendrix engages a private detective and the story progresses in two timeframes, the current and the story of the affair. It came to an end in unlikely circumstances and the aftermath has very strange consequences.
The writing is lovely, the descriptions are spare but revealing. There are powerful emotions here, expressed in very understated ways by the protagonists, but I'm never sure I ever really felt them. It was a bit like analysing the affair under glass, it didn't really touch me. ( )
  Helenliz | Apr 19, 2019 |
Narrator Maurice Bendrix's hatred was a bit hard for me to take, even with his urbane wit, so I was glad when about a third of the way through, the novel switched to journal entries from the other partner in this love affair. This isn't a spoiler, it's encouragement to keep on reading, because the novel becomes a complex study of love and trust and religious belief from people who feel varying degrees of each. It's a short book, which is a perfect length for this story. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
I'm quitting this half way through (it seems to be my year of quitting books). Maurice and Sarah have an affair, and claim to love each other, although they don't act as though they do. Then Sarah breaks it off


because she thought Maurice had been killed in an air raid and made a bargain with God, in whom she does not believe, that if Maurice were spared she would give him up. Maurice was not in fact killed in the air raid. She does not explain her reasoning to Maurice, who is very bitter.

Two years later Maurice tells Henry, Sarah's husband, about the affair and sets a private detective to see who Sarah is now seeing. (She is serially unfaithful to Henry, with whom she has never had a sexual relationship.)

I didn't like any of the characters AT ALL ( except for maybe Henry) and their actions made no sense. ( )
  pgchuis | Mar 3, 2019 |
Audible audio performed by Colin Firth

Maurice Bendrix recalls the affair he had with the married Sarah Miles. Bendrix is a writer, and he uses his experience exploring characters’ motivations and emotions to look at the attraction, passion and ultimate love-hate relationship he had with Sarah.

And that push-pull of the love-hate relationship is at the center of this little novel. Greene repeatedly has Bendrix reference it:
So this is a record of hate far more than of love, …
Hatred seems to operate the same glands as love; it even produces the same actions.
I became aware that our love was doomed; love had turned into a love affair with a beginning and an end….It was as though our love were a small creature caught in a trap and bleeding to death; I had to shut my eyes and wring its neck.
My desire now was nearer hatred than love,..
(All these quotes are in the first 50 pages.)

And this pretty much describes my relationship with this novel. On the one hand I love the way Greene writes, and the way he draws these characters, revealing them little by little, so that the reader eventually forms her own opinion about them. They are complex and conflicted, sometimes obtuse, often wary and prone to prevarication.

On the other hand, I really disliked all of them. I didn’t care about Bendrix and his obsession with Sarah (whether to love her or to hate her). I didn’t understand Sarah’s motivations at all. Always dissatisfied and constantly searching for “something more, ” she seemed to just walk through life, leaving a trail of destruction behind her. And yet, I’m supposed to believe that she was deeply religious – or becoming so – and sought atonement and forgiveness.

Colin Firth does a fine job narrating the audiobook. He’s a talented actor and breathes life into Bendrix’s sad tale of obsession and loss. He almost made me like Maurice! ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 27, 2019 |
We may have learned, albeit gradually, that observation does little in establishing evidence, especially those sightings of an anecdotal nature. Graham Greene cares little for the scientific method. Here's evidence to that effect. "If I'm a bitch and a fake, is there nobody who will love a bitch and a fake?”

Two women whom I care about read this novel, both were troubled by such. My wife also read this novel and found it powerful and a triumph. The first two women are quite religious, my wife is not. I don't know any men who've read The End of the Affair. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 124 (next | show all)
In "The End of the Affair" the splendidly stupid private detective, Alfred Parkis, and his apprentice son, and the maudlin grifter who is the heroine's mother, equal the best of the seedy supernumeraries of his other novels. It is savage and sad, vulgar and ideal, coarse and refined, and a rather accurate image of an era of cunning and glory, of cowardice and heroism, of belief and unbelief.
Great romantic novels are about pain and hate, and among the greatest is Graham Greene's searing The End of the Affair. It is one of the most forensic and honest analyses of love you will ever read.

» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Graham Greeneprimary authorall editionscalculated
Firth, ColinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hogarth, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist, and into them enters suffering in order that they may have existence.
Leon Bloy
To C.
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A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.
Henry had his tray, sitting up against two pillows in his green woollen dressing-gown, and in the room below, on the hardwood floor, with a single cushion for support, and the door ajar, we made love.
I suppose Germany by this time had invaded the Low Countries: the spring like a corpse was sweet with the smell of doom,...
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142437980, Paperback)

Set in London during and just after World War II, Graham Greene's The End of the Affair is a pathos-laden examination of a three-way collision between love of self, love of another, and love of God. The affair in question involves Maurice Bendrix, a solipsistic novelist, and a dutifully married woman, Sarah Miles. The lovers meet at a party thrown by Sarah's dreary civil-servant husband, and proceed to liberate each other from boredom and routine unhappiness. Reflecting on the ebullient beginnings of their romance, Bendrix recalls: "There was never any question in those days of who wanted whom--we were together in desire." Indeed, the affair goes on unchecked for several years until, during an afternoon tryst, Bendrix goes downstairs to look for intruders in his basement and a bomb falls on the building. Sarah rushes down to find him lying under a fallen door, and immediately makes a deal with God, whom she has never particularly cared for. "I love him and I'll do anything if you'll make him alive.... I'll give him up forever, only let him be alive with a chance.... People can love each other without seeing each other, can't they, they love You all their lives without seeing You."

Bendrix, as evidenced by his ability to tell the story, is not dead, merely unconscious, and so Sarah must keep her promise. She breaks off the relationship without giving a reason, leaving Bendrix mystified and angry. The only explanation he can think of is that she's left him for another man. It isn't until years later, when he hires a private detective to ascertain the truth, that he learns of her impassioned vow. Sarah herself comes to understand her move through a strange rationalization. Writing to God in her journal, she says:

You willed our separation, but he [Bendrix] willed it too. He worked for it with his anger and his jealousy, and he worked for it with his love. For he gave me so much love, and I gave him so much love that soon there wasn't anything left, when we'd finished, but You.
It's as though the pull toward faith were inevitable, if incomprehensible--perhaps as punishment for her sin of adultery. In her final years, Sarah's faith only deepens, even as she remains haunted by the bombing and the power of her own attraction to God. Set against the backdrop of a war-ravaged city, The End of the Affair is equally haunting as it lays forth the question of what constitutes love in troubling, unequivocal terms. --Melanie Rehak

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:51 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Maurice Bendrix is a sardonic and cynical writer who reflects on his affair with Sarah, a married woman, during the bombing of London in 1940.

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