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The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
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The End of the Affair (1951)

by Graham Greene

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Showing 1-5 of 116 (next | show all)
The End of the Affair by Graham Green is an outstanding story of adultery and it’s aftermath and another happy surprise from the 1,001 List for me. I was not expecting a story with such depth of emotion but, perhaps, because I listened to an audio version as read by Colin Firth, I was quite taken and touched with this story.

We come into the story after the affair has ended. Maurice Bendrix, a novelist, had met and taken up with a neighbour’s wife, Sarah. They fell passionately in love, yet Maurice could never quite convince himself that Sarah was true to him. The time is during WW II and when a bomb falls on his house while they are together and Maurice is almost killed, Sarah ends the affair. The next few years sees the end of the war and Maurice sinking into bitterness and hatred of Sarah. When her husband comes to him and talks about his fears that she may currently be involved with someone, Maurice hires a private detective to have her followed. What the detective uncovers and what is revealed in Sarah’s stolen diary produces the drama and emotion that left me breathless and near to tears.

Although slightly dated, the overall story of the agony of two people caught up in an impossible situation is totally compelling. Apparently the author himself went through a long and difficult adulterous affair and, in fact, this book is dedicated to his mistress, Catherine. This fact perhaps explains why the writing brings such a sense of authenticity to the story and why the poignant moments held such a ring of truth. Obviously this author was also conflicted in his religious beliefs as well, which is something that has come up in other books by him that I have read. I can’t praise Colin Firth’s narrative highly enough, his was the perfect voice to bring this story to life, and make The End of the Affair one of my top vocal experiences. I would have given this book a 4 star rating but the audio performance raises this to a 4.5. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Sep 17, 2018 |
Being this, the first of my Graham Greene...I am in love. But! Let me just say that the incredible narration of Colin Firth made me all melty. He could probably read ingredient lists from cracker boxes and make it sound heavy with meaning and emotion. An affair, of course, is the topic of this novel. Colin does excellent first person narration of the main character, Maurice Bendrix, as he falls in love and is inexplicably tossed from it and into a jilted lover's swamp of questions, remorse, and melancholy. Yeah, it is a typical love story BUT the way it is told is timeless, classic, pulls your heartstrings and you are making all sorts of groans and moans for him without a thought. Mr. Firth won an Audie (like a Grammy for Audiobooks) for this performance and well he should! He said, in his acceptance speech, that this novel hit home with him in a deeply personal way. You can feel that in his voice. You really can. I am still fairly new to the audiobook circuit but what a smashing one to have in the first few!

My favorite and most thought-provoking line from the entire novel, “If I'm a bitch and a fake, is there nobody who will love a bitch and a fake? ( )
  ambersnowpants | Aug 23, 2018 |
Colin Firth has the perfect voice for this no wonder he won the Audie award.
An interesting discussion of whether God exists and what belief requires of us all wrapped up in WWII and an affair. ( )
  spounds | Jul 25, 2018 |
This book was not at all what I expected. It took a turn that I could not have imagined and then it became about so much more than just an ending of a love affair, it became about love itself, about hate, about jealousy and indifference. And it became about religion and about God, which is an entirely different thing than religion itself. I felt pain and confusion and sorrow and anger. I was Bendrix and then I was Sarah, and I understood and misunderstood them equally.

Greene is a masterful storyteller with a complete command of his craft. He teases us with making Bendrix a writer and describing how he writes and fashions a story, but there is something beneath the description that mingles truth and mendacity, just as they are mingled in the persons of Sarah and Bendrix. As I watched Bendrix swing between love and hate, I thought of Janus the God with two faces and realized that love and hate are the same emotion turned on its head. Have you ever truly hated someone that you did not love? It is too strong an emotion to waste on someone to whom you have been otherwise indifferent. It springs from love in the face of betrayal or severe disappointment, and it is love morphed into another guise and, as such, it can morph back again.

I was initially confused about the relationship between Bendrix and Henry, but I do think that when we love and lose someone we feel tied to those who have also loved and lost. In the end, we control so little of what is truly deep emotion in us. Trying to control it is as futile as battling with God. God always wins. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
This is the story of Maurice Bendrix and his relationship with Sarah Miles, the wife of his friend Henry. The story begins with Maurice looking back on the relationship and reconstructing the narrative, as befits a protagonist who is a writer. At one point he gets a hold of Sarah’s diary, in order to understand why she ended the affair, and excerpts of the diary are included in the book.

I’d rate this 3 stars for the story as a whole and 1 extra star for Colin Firth’s narration. I thought the book worked best when it was in the mind of Maurice; Graham Greene, as a mid-20th-century man, is somewhat less convincing when he’s trying to write from the viewpoint of a woman. And Colin Firth’s lovely voice went a long way to making Maurice seem more likeable than he could be if I’d read this in print. So get the audio if you can! ( )
  rabbitprincess | Mar 20, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 116 (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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Epigraph
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
Dedication
To C.
First words
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.
Quotations
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

» see all 9 descriptions

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