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The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

The End of the Affair (original 1951; edition 2003)

by Graham Greene

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4,308961,146 (3.98)322
Title:The End of the Affair
Authors:Graham Greene
Info:Vintage (2003), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:FUE - KEL
Tags:England, tbr

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The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (1951)


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One of Greene's explorations into the morality of choice. Inexplicably spurned by his mistress our tormented lead character delves into the reasons why. A heart-breaking tale of love and obsession. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
“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.”

Maurice Bendrix, the narrator, has an affair with a married woman Sarah Miles. They are lovers for five years when she abruptly broke it off. Some two years later after a chance meeting of Sarah's husband, Henry, an obsessed Bendrix hires a detective, Alfred Parkis, to follow her. When Parkis manages to steal Sarah’s journal Bendrix learns the real reason for the end of their affair. However, it comes too late for them both.

Sarah has had affairs before but these meant nothing but when she falls for Bendrix she does so both physically and spiritually. However, she still loves Henry, in her own way, to and refuses to leave him. Unable to believe in the depth of her love, convinced that he loves her more than she does him, Bendrix fears that the affair will eventually end and so attempts to hasten it to that end by being quarrelsome. Though hurt, Sarah remains utterly committed to him until one fateful day in 1944 when she finally calls the affair to a conclusion.

The main theme of this book is obsession but also touches on Catholicism. Sarah, almost unknown to her, was baptised at a young age yet her mother goes on to marry a string of husbands so she breaks away from religion yet there is still some deep seated regard for it.

When I initially started this book I was not really expecting to enjoy it but as I was drawn further into the characters' obsessions I became ever more intrigued as to where the story was going, that despite wanting to slap the protagonists for being so stupid, and became gripped with it. Ultimately enjoying the book far more than I had expected. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Jan 19, 2016 |
Audiobook. My rating is a combination of the book and the excellent reading by Colin Firth. Not quite an ending. More personal and less political than many of Greene's books. An absolutely recommended experience. Firth Greene. Having someone read to you, a great book, a great reader, is a luxury. ( )
  idiotgirl | Dec 25, 2015 |
This book ended up being something I didn't expect from it. Although I was a little confused by what was going on at the start of the novel, I soon found my footing. Colin Firth's narration is excellent, and really infused with emotion.

I don't know how I felt about the characters themselves most of the time. I don't know that I found any of them particularly likable, but I did find myself getting interested in their stories and their relationships to one another. I also really liked the unexpected direction the story took in the last quarter or so of the book. ( )
  klack128 | Oct 11, 2015 |
(In October 2015, my arts center had a chance to sell a first edition, first printing of Graham Greene's "The End of the Affair." [Want to see if it's still for sale? Visit http://www.ebay.com/usr/cclapcenter .] Below is the write-up I did of it for the eBay listing.)

Even the mention of his name anymore -- "GraHHHmmm GrEEEEEnne" -- evokes the spirit of far-off adventure, world-weary cynicism, and the passionate romances that still take place under such circumstances; and it's no surprise that it does so, when you look at the life of this remarkable writer and sometimes British spy. A sufferer of bipolar disorder, who as a child spent an intense half-year in institutionalized psychotherapy right when the term was first being invented, Greene's natural love of intellectualism and world travel made him a perfect 20th-century recruit for MI-6 (by his sister of all people, who happened to be an employee herself), and it's no wonder that his most famous novels are all set within the shadowy world of Western intelligence agencies' covert ops within places where they're not supposed to be, including looks at a pre-revolution Cuba, a pre-war Vietnam, and a post-war Berlin still full of Nazis and other criminals, eventually turned into the respective popular movies Our Man in Havana, The Quiet American and The Third Man. (And this is to say nothing of the complicated, critical look he took in many of these novels at the Catholic Church [including reviving an obscure philosophy from the 1600s that says since it's impossible for humans to avoid sinning, they might as well not even try], so controversial at the time that no less than the pope himself [one of millions of Greene's fans] urged him during a private audience to essentially "not let the haters get him down".)

Today's 1951 book for sale is one of the most famous of his 26 novels, for a variety of reasons; his first project after the enormously successful The Third Man (which he adapted himself into the Orson-Welles-starring movie), and itself made into another hugely popular movie just a few years after publication, like the former it is set within a time and deals with themes that were particularly relevant for his contemporary readers at the time (namely, the morally ambiguous things we do in a time of war, and how to live with the repercussions when the peace comes again), boosted in its popularity by its leering semi-autobiographical elements. (Greene himself had an affair with a nobleman's wife in the years after World War Two, and he based this novel on the painful lessons he learned from it.) A great example of everything that made him so well-loved as an author, this is a must-have acquisition for any Greene fan (not to mention those building a collection of seminal Mid-Century Modernist novels), one of the more important books of his career which is what justifies its premium price today. A perfect holiday gift for the spy-thriller fan in your own life. ( )
1 vote jasonpettus | Oct 6, 2015 |
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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.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Graham Greeneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Firth, ColinNarratorsecondary 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
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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.
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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.

(summary from another edition)

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