The End of the Affair over on Lakeside Musing, I knew that I had to listen to this book. I hadn't read anything by Greene despite hearing that his writing was excellent and his themes interesting. I contacted my library and they couldn't get a copy but provided a link to Audible.com which enabled me to download it for free!
The writing is excellent, and I absolutely loved listening to Colin Firth read to me, but the story itself left me a bit disappointed. In a nutshell, The End of the Affair is about the end of an affair between Maurice Bendrix, novelist, and Sarah Miles, wife of a friend of Bendrix. They began the affair in 1939 on the eve of WWII and she broke it off in 1944. Bendrix narrates the story from 1946, when Sarah comes back in to his life.
Here's the book description on Amazon:
This is a record of hate far more than of love," writes Maurice Bendrix in the opening passages of The End of the Affair, and it is a strange hate indeed that compels him to set down the retrospective account of his adulterous affair with Sarah Miles—a hate bred of a passion that ultimately lost out to God.I have to disagree with Faulkner. I found the story to be contrived rather than true. The End of the Affair is one of Greene's "Catholic" novels in which Catholicism plays a major role, and so perhaps this was not the best first Greene novel for me to read as I found it read more like a parable than a truely believable story that goes to the heart of the human condition.
Now, a year after Sarah's death, Bendrix seeks to exorcise the persistence of passion by retracing its course from obsessive love to love-hate. At the start he believes he hates Sarah and her husband, Henry. By the end of the book, Bendrix's hatred has shifted to the God he feels has broken his life but whose existence he has at last come to recognize.
Originally published in 1951, The End of the Affair was acclaimed by William Faulkner as "for me one of the best, most true and moving novels of my time, in anybody's language."
I didn't see either Bendrix or Sarah as fully realized characters, and Sarah was really shadowy. She acted in a way that was completely incomprehensible to me and I didn't much care for either major character, though I found the wronged husband, Henry, to be more believeable and sympathetic than either of the others.
Nevertheless the writing is gorgeous as is Firth's reading of it...