Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Sunday, February 15, 2015

"The End of the Affair" by Graham Greene

I'm in the habit of reading books cover-to-cover, beginning to end, including all quotes and introductions preceding the actual text. Nerdy of me, I know, but it satisfies my completist bent. No matter how many times the intro has spoiled a book for me, it stupidly had never crossed my mind to change my habit (how can I *not* read the intro??) until I whined to Sam about the spoiler before this book. (Never mind what information is "given in the first chapter": I don't want it until I read it in the book!!) Sam's simple but brilliant advice? "Why don't you read introductions after you've read the book?" Once I'd gotten over my shock at this suggestion ("But they put it at the beginning!") I quickly began to see the wisdom of it, and I'm eager to try the new plan next time. (I just hope I remember it.)

Other than my intro/spoiler rant, I must admit that I knew even as I read that I probably wouldn't come up with much to say about this novella. It's not as if I didn't enjoy it--the story was interesting and thought-provoking and engrossing--but it was a bit of a downer that made me feel quiet and introspective. It told of an author, Maurice Bendrix, whose affair with Sarah Miles had ended abruptly two years before. His obsession with her, rather than titillating, was depressing and destructive.

This was my first foray in to Greene, and I appreciated his way with words and his unconventional perspective. His use of religious themes reminded me of Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday (although I don't recall any further similarities). I am drawn (though not in a chomping-at-the-bit way) to try more of Greene's works.

Note: the book cover pictured doesn't match that of the copy I read, but #1, I couldn't find a picture of this copy; #2, I was too lazy to take a photo myself; and #3, I like the cover pictured here better anyway.


Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I'm the same way. The thought of reading the Intro AFTER I finish the book? What?! *horrified face* Wouldn't think of it! I guess I should try that...

I haven't read Graham Greene before, so perchance I should keep this one for another time. I don't mind a quiet and introspective tale. Anita Brookner's HOTEL DU LAC felt a lot like that. I just have to be in the mood for it!

Jason C. said...

Graham Greene is such a great writer and "End of the Affair" is my absolute favorite of his novels. So powerful and gut-wrenching. It left me shaken up for days.

I think it might be prudent to check out some of his other stuff and then come back to this one and see what you think because it belongs to his more "serious" efforts as opposed to the lighter, satirical works that make up the majority of his oeuvre. Might I suggest "Our Man in Havana" or "Travels with my Aunt"? They show a completely different side of his writing.

You're right to observe that the novel is a very bleak and depressing portrayal of relationships, an "unconventional" approach to the marital affair story by taking a fervent religious perspective.

A great blog you have here, I am glad to have discovered it.

Kathy said...

Glad you found our blog, Jason! Enjoy! And allow me to warn you that many of my early posts were quite spoiler-y. My apologies for that, but if you dare to venture into the archives, remember you were forewarned.

I haven't read Hotel du Lac, Natalie, but now you've piqued my curiosity . . .