Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.


The End of the Affair (1951)

by Graham Greene

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,7201521,334 (3.96)436
Maurice Bendrix's love affair with his friend's wife, Sarah, had begun in London during the Blitz. One day, inexplicably and without warning, Sarah had broken off the relationship. Two years later, driven by obsessive jealousy and grief, Bendrix sends Parkis, a private detective, to follow Sarah.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 436 mentions

English (146)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (152)
Showing 1-5 of 146 (next | show all)
Summary: A writer struggles to understand why the woman he has had an affair with broke it off, discovering who ultimately came between them.

Maurice Bendrix, a rising writer, encounters Henry Miles, the successful but dull civil servant Bendrix had cuckolded by having a five year affair with Sarah Miles, his attractive wife. The affair, hidden from Henry had ended nearly two years earlier. All that Henry knew (or claimed to know) was that Bendrix had been a great friend. Now he comes to Bendrix with a problem. He is concerned that Sarah may be seeing someone else and wonders about hiring a private detective.

Bendrix discourages this plan, but ends up hiring the detective himself. He’s never understood why Sarah broke off their affair, although at some level, he knows his jealousy of Henry, who she will not leave, had been driving them apart. But they had a powerful love that drew them together. They were parted toward the end of the war when a German V-1 struck the building they were in, leaving him apparently dead underneath some debris. But in fact, he survived. Their affair did not.

Only when the private detective purloins a journal does Bendrix discover the truth. Sarah had found him under the debris, apparently lifeless and made a plea, a promise to God for his life. If he lived, she would not see him again. And the others Sarah was seeing? An atheist and a priest helping her sort out the question of belief. In the end, Bendrix finds out it is not Henry or any of these rivals who came between him and Sarah. It was God. The God he hated who did not exist.

He discovers something else as he reads the journal, and talks with Henry, the atheist, the priest, and the detective. There had been a saintly goodness about Sarah that Bendrix hadn’t seen amid their torrid affair. Even that affair was a longing for passionate love, a love she hadn’t found with Henry. There was more–Henry’s life given back, a disfigurement that disappeared, a sickly child healed. I’m intrigued that Greene includes this “miraculous” element in the story.

We discover that neither Henry Miles nor Maurice Bendrix truly took the measure of Sarah during her life. There was a higher love in her life unsatisfied by being the trophy wife of a civil servant or the possessive passion of Bendrix’s love. The question we are left with is whether Bendrix will respond with love or with hate both to Sarah and Sarah’s God.

Greene, who wrote several novels touching on religious themes raises a searching question: can God call for ultimate love and loyalty? Even when it means the end of the affair? It may be one of the marks of modernity that this is even a question. ( )
  BobonBooks | Jul 22, 2021 |
It always give me pause when I can't find any merit in a classic (especially one beloved enough to have been made into a movie twice!), but Sarah Miles and Maurice Bendrix so grated on my nerves with their self-absorbed, hand-wringing reflections on their love affair and their peculiar and overwrought struggles regarding faith, that I will just have to agree to disagree with The End of the Affair's fans and move on. ( )
  CaitlinMcC | Jul 11, 2021 |
What started as a good story about an affair became annoying when it turned into a tiresome discussion about the existence of god. ( )
  VivienneR | May 27, 2021 |
I would love to say that I read [b:Brideshead Revisited|30933|Brideshead Revisited|Evelyn Waugh|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1438579340s/30933.jpg|2952196] and The End of the Affair consecutively because of my previous knowledge of how those books share common religious themes, both authors were friends later in life, both converted to Catholicism in their late 20’s, both used bibliographical aspects of their own lives in the creation of each book, both reflected in their writing the sense of moral apathy of post war England and – now that I have checked this all out on the internet – these books are endlessly compared and analysed against each other by academia. The truth is more mundane: I bought the audio version of these books because they were narrated respectively by Jeremy Irons and Colin Firth and I am getting to be very picky about narrators of audiobooks.

I listened first to Brideshead Revisited and I loved it. My review of it is here if it interests anyone. So I approached The End of the Affair with high expectations. I should say that I was never disappointed on the narration by Colin Firth, if anything he made Maurice Bendrix even more petty and obnoxious (and a liar, and mean, and childish) than I could had imagined him to be if I had read him on a paperbook.

As for the book, it had been a long time since I disliked a book so much. I disliked the characters for starters. But I have disliked characters before and yet enjoyed the book, so I have been doing some soul searching about my reaction to it.

I do think that Greene did not write with the same expertise as Evelyn Waugh. Waugh’s story was full of layers and nuances while, for me at least, Greene’s story felt two dimensional and quite early I knew he would push some religious parable down my throat.

However I think my reaction to this book runs deeper than that. I have lately been so tired of the portrait of God I see in the news and social media. I am tired of a God that dictates to civil servants not to issue marriage licenses to loving couples; the God that, in his name, has the temples of Palmyra destroyed, of course that God is doing much worse and having killing and raping in his name; a God that wants a war; even the God I see some people in Facebook claiming wants us to vote conservative in the next Canadian election.

I think I saw some resemblance of this in the God of Sarah. A bargaining God that bets people’s lives against love and pleasure. A God weighted down by sin and repentance, making small miracles and giving them to people like a carrot on a stick.

I am sorry, Graham Greene, if this is the God of your conversion, of this spiritual awakening that happened to change your like, he is yours to keep. Vade Retro ( )
  RosanaDR | Apr 15, 2021 |
The End of the Affair has all the hallmarks of Greene's best writing - an adrift, unlikable, self-hating protagonist, penetrating examinations of memory and regret, the collision of personal drama amid greater geopolitical crises and war - but also the recurring themes of his worst work, particularly dealing with religion: straw men providing weak arguments against Christianity to be easily outmaneuvered, an endless Catholic persecution complex, and characters changing their opinions on large issues way too conveniently to suit the author. Ultimately, I just didn't believe most of it. I didn't buy Maurice and Sarah's love, which doesn't go far beyond sexual desire and is described by both with the maturity of overdramatic teenagers, and I didn't buy Sarah's belabored conversion, so what came after was boring and ineffective. There is a strange misconception among many Christians that nonbelievers are people who in actuality do believe in a god, and are just angry with him. As a militant agnostic, I can tell you this is not the case. If there is an all-knowing deity, I have no qualms with it; I simply object to the assumption of its existence, and the assumption that its existence would in any way absolve Catholicism of its treatment of women/gays/children/the list goes on. Maurice's obsession with Sarah's newfound religion seemed forced, the author manipulating his characters and making them do what he wanted them to do rather than what they would do, and for the last 60 pages or so of the book, I was begging for it to end. ( )
  greggmaxwellparker | Jan 24, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 146 (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 (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Greene, Grahamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ali, MonicaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Firth, ColinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hogarth, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kitchen, MichaelReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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.
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.
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,...
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Maurice Bendrix's love affair with his friend's wife, Sarah, had begun in London during the Blitz. One day, inexplicably and without warning, Sarah had broken off the relationship. Two years later, driven by obsessive jealousy and grief, Bendrix sends Parkis, a private detective, to follow Sarah.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Legacy Library: Graham Greene

Graham Greene has a Legacy Library. Legacy libraries are the personal libraries of famous readers, entered by LibraryThing members from the Legacy Libraries group.

See Graham Greene's legacy profile.

See Graham Greene's author page.

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.96)
1 14
1.5 7
2 64
2.5 20
3 228
3.5 79
4 504
4.5 90
5 391


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 160,499,236 books! | Top bar: Always visible