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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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4,215931,181 (3.98)317
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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Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)
I'm not sure whether I would have enjoyed this book, had it not been for Colin Firth's narration. This was my first book by Graham Greene, and I really don't think I can add anything to the many reviews that have been written. Greene's writing is very good, but I can't say that I really liked the story. It is a story of lust, love, jealousy, hate, and faith or lack of faith. I didn't really like any of the characters, but that doesn't always keep me from liking a book. I think the ending was rather preachy, and that may be coloring my feelings about the book. Colin Firth's narration was excellent, and made it possible for me to be drawn into this very depressing tale, and I stayed pulled in right through the end.

I may eventually try another book by Greene. Are they all this depressing?

January 2015 ( )
  NanaCC | Jul 26, 2015 |
A bit more difficult to read than a lot of Green's work. I know this is in his 'literature' as opposed to his 'entertainments' category, but not one of my favorites. A specific audience is needed here for his Catholic novels, and I'm just not really it! ( )
  BooksForDinner | Jul 2, 2015 |
Colin Firth was PERFECT! I really loved this story. Marcus, is filled with hate thru-out the story which is told in his words on how he meets Sarah, seduces her to get info about her husband Henry for his next book, only he falls in love with her. They have an on-going affair that ends abruptly. Marcus doesn't really understand why, but he gets over her, so he tells himself, until he encounters Sarah's husband and over a drink finds out that Henry suspects Sarah of having an affair. Marcus is obsessed with finding out who Sarah is sleeping with now, despite deceiving Henry, he hires a Private Investigator. Parkus, the detective solves the case, and as an added bonus provides Marcus with Sarah's journal. In it Marcus reads of Sarah's love for him, her reasons for leaving him and the pact she made with God. ( )
  booklovers2 | Apr 10, 2015 |
I turned to this novel after seeing it mentioned in The Guardian best 100 novels. Of course such lists really only indicate one man’s personal preferences but since I already had the novel, I thought I’d reread it – only to find it was of the few of his that I hadn’t read. Now that I have, I feel how much his writing has dated.

It’s both the content and style. I find Greene’s wringing of his hands over Catholicism difficult to tolerate. In the middle of last century there were no doubt more people with angst about God, but living in a post-Christian western society today, I find myself annoyed by the miracles Greene introduces into his novel in order both to make God seem like a real character and presence and to add what he would have seen as a surprise element but what I see as melodrama. All the narrator’s distress just seems all too self-conscious to me. For the most part, then, I feel Greene’s style is laboured, his focus on the art of writing too autobiographical and his subject matter inward-looking. ( )
  evening | Apr 2, 2015 |
I didn't enjoy spending time with this narrator, who is deliberately hurtful to everyone he speaks with, and deliberately going out of his way to say the precise hateful thing that will devastate the other character. Since the narrator is a writer and therefore supposedly good with words, he is able to deliver these hate bombs in exactly the way that the other characters will think him blameless. Except I'm not sure how good he IS with words, actually, because his novel, this one that is, is a morass of self-pitying blather about how hate is love and love is hate.

I also just didn't buy the love relationship that was supposed to be the tragic core of this story. Maurice and Sarah have no apparent love for one another when they are together and yet pine on for one another long after they are separated. Given that the narrator is hateful and the love story unconvincing, the whole theological argument, supposedly the core of this novel, becomes a meaningless semantic debate about whether a promise to a nonexistent God should be honored or not...who cares? ( )
1 vote poingu | Jan 29, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 88 (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.

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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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