Maurice Bendrix, a writer in Clapham during the Blitz, develops an acquaintance with Sarah Miles, the bored, beautiful wife of a dull civil servant named Henry. Maurice claims it’s to divine a character for his novel-in-progress. That’s the first deception. What he really wants is Sarah, and what Sarah needs is a man with passion. So begins a series of reckless trysts doomed by Maurice’s increasing romantic demands and Sarah’s tortured sense of guilt. Then, after Maurice miraculously survives a bombing, Sarah ends the affair—quickly, absolutely, and without explanation. It’s only when Maurice crosses paths with Sarah’s husband that he discovers the fallout of their duplicity—and it’s more unexpected than Maurice, Henry, or Sarah herself could have imagined.
Adapted for film in both 1956 and 1999, Greene’s novel of all that inspires love—and all that poisons it—is “singularly moving and beautiful” (Evelyn Waugh).
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About the Author
Date of Birth:October 2, 1904
Date of Death:April 3, 1991
Place of Birth:Berkhamsted, England
Place of Death:Vevey, Switzerland
Education:Balliol College, Oxford
Read an Excerpt
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. I say 'one chooses' with the inaccurate pride of a professional writer who — when he has been seriously noted at all — has been praised for his technical ability, but do I in fact of my own will choose that black wet January night on the Common, in 1946, the sight of Henry Miles slanting across the wide river of rain, or did these images choose me? It is convenient, it is correct according to the rules of my craft to begin just there, but if I had believed then in a God, I could also have believed in a hand, plucking at my elbow, a suggestion, 'Speak to him: he hasn't seen you yet.'
For why should I have spoken to him? If hate is not too large a term to use in relation to any human being, I hated Henry — I hated his wife Sarah too. And he, I suppose, came soon after the events of that evening to hate me: as he surely at times must have hated his wife and that other, in whom in those days we were lucky enough not to believe. So this is a record of hate far more than of love, and if I come to say anything in favour of Henry and Sarah I can be trusted: I am writing against the bias because it is my professional pride to prefer the near-truth, even to the expression of my near-hate.
It was strange to see Henry out on such a night: he liked his comfort and after all — or so I thought — he had Sarah. To me comfort is like the wrong memory at the wrong place or time: if one is lonely one prefers discomfort. There was too much comfort even in the bed sitting-room I had at the wrong — the south — side of the Common, in the relics of other people's furniture. I thought I would go for a walk through the rain and have a drink at the local. The little crowded hall was full of strangers' hats and coats and I took somebody else's umbrella by accident — the man on the second floor had friends in. Then I closed the stained-glass door behind me and made my way carefully down the steps that had been blasted in 1944 and never repaired. I had reason to remember the occasion and how the stained glass, tough and ugly and Victorian, stood up to the shock as our grandfathers themselves would have done.
Directly I began to cross the Common I realized I had the wrong umbrella, for it sprang a leak and the rain ran down under my macintosh collar, and then it was I saw Henry. I could so easily have avoided him; he had no umbrella and in the light of the lamp I could see his eyes were blinded with the rain. The black leafless trees gave no protection: they stood around like broken waterpipes, and the rain dripped off his stiff dark hat and ran in streams down his black civil servant's overcoat. If I had walked straight by him, he wouldn't have seen me, and I could have made certain by stepping two feet off the pavement, but I said, 'Henry, you are almost a stranger,' and saw his eyes light up as though we were old friends.
'Bendrix,' he said with affection, and yet the world would have said he had the reasons for hate, not me.
'What are you up to, Henry, in the rain?' There are men whom one has an irresistible desire to tease: men whose virtues one doesn't share. He said evasively, 'Oh, I wanted a bit of air,' and during a sudden blast of wind and rain he just caught his hat in time from being whirled away towards the north side.
'How's Sarah?' I asked because it might have seemed odd if I hadn't, though nothing would have delighted me more than to have heard that she was sick, unhappy, dying. I imagined in those days that any suffering she underwent would lighten mine, and if she were dead I could be free: I would no longer imagine all the things one does imagine under my ignoble circumstances. I could even like poor silly Henry, I thought, if Sarah were dead.
He said, 'Oh, she's out for the evening somewhere,' and set that devil in my mind at work again, remembering other days when Henry must have replied just like that to other inquirers, while I alone knew where Sarah was. 'A drink?' I asked, and to my surprise he put himself in step beside me. We had never before drunk together outside his home.
'It's a long time since we've seen you, Bendrix.' For some reason I am a man known by his surname — I might never have been christened for all the use my friends make of the rather affected Maurice my literary parents gave me.
'A long time.'
'Why, it must be — more than a year.'
'June 1944,' I said.
'As long as that — well, well.' The fool, I thought, the fool to see nothing strange in a year and a half's interval. Less than five hundred yards of flat grass separated our two 'sides'. Had it never occurred to him to say to Sarah, 'How's Bendrix doing? What about asking Bendrix in?' and hadn't her replies ever seemed to him ... odd, evasive, suspicious? I had fallen out of their sight as completely as a stone in a pond. I suppose the ripples may have disturbed Sarah for a week, a month, but Henry's blinkers were firmly tied. I had hated his blinkers even when I had benefited from them, knowing that others could benefit too.
'Is she at the cinema?' I asked.
'Oh no, she hardly ever goes.'
'She used to.'
The Pontefract Arms was still decorated for Christmas with paper streamers and paper bells, the relics of commercial gaiety, mauve and orange, and the young landlady leant her breasts against the bar with a look of contempt for her customers.
'Pretty,' Henry said, without meaning it, and stared around with a certain lost air, a shyness, for somewhere to hang his hat. I got the impression that the nearest he had ever before been to a public bar was the chophouse off Northumberland Avenue where he ate lunch with his colleagues from the Ministry.
'What will you have?'
'I wouldn't mind a whisky.'
'Nor would I, but you'll have to make do with rum.'
We sat at a table and fingered our glasses: I had never had much to say to Henry. I doubt whether I should ever have troubled to know Henry or Sarah well if I had not begun in 1939 to write a story with a senior civil servant as the main character. Henry James once, in a discussion with Walter Besant, said that a young woman with sufficient talent need only pass the mess-room windows of a Guards' barracks and look inside in order to write a novel about the Brigade, but I think at some stage of her book she would have found it necessary to go to bed with a Guardsman if only in order to check on the details. I didn't exactly go to bed with Henry, but I did the next best thing, and the first night I took Sarah out to dinner I had the cold-blooded intention of picking the brain of a civil servant's wife. She didn't know what I was at; she thought, I am sure, I was genuinely interested in her family life, and perhaps that first awakened her liking for me. What time did Henry have breakfast? I asked her. Did he go to the office by tube, bus or taxi? Did he bring his work home at night? Did he have a briefcase with the royal arms on it? Our friendship blossomed under my interest: she was so pleased that anybody should take Henry seriously. Henry was important, but important rather as an elephant is important, from the size of his department; there are some kinds of importance that remain hopelessly damned to unseriousness. Henry was an important assistant secretary in the Ministry of Pensions — later it was to be the Ministry of Home Security. Home Security — I used to laugh at that later in those moments when you hate your companion and look for any weapon ... A time came when I deliberately told Sarah that I had only taken Henry up for the purpose of copy, copy too for a character who was the ridiculous, the comic element in my book. It was then she began to dislike my novel. She had an enormous loyalty to Henry (I could never deny that), and in those clouded hours when the demon took charge of my brain and I resented even harmless Henry, I would use the novel and invent episodes too crude to write ... Once when Sarah had spent a whole night with me (I had looked forward to it as a writer looks forward to the last word of his book) I had spoilt the occasion suddenly by a chance word which broke the mood of what sometimes seemed for hours at a time a complete love. I had fallen sullenly asleep about two and woke at three, and putting my hand on her arm woke Sarah. I think I had meant to make everything well again, until my victim turned her face, bleary and beautiful with sleep and full of trust, towards me. She had forgotten the quarrel, and I found even in her forgetfulness a new cause. How twisted we humans are, and yet they say a God made us; but I find it hard to conceive of any God who is not as simple as a perfect equation, as clear as air. I said to her, 'I've lain awake thinking of Chapter Five. Does Henry ever eat coffee beans to clear his breath before an important conference?' She shook her head and began to cry silently, and I of course pretended not to understand the reason — a simple question, it had been worrying me about my character, this was not an attack on Henry, the nicest people sometimes eat coffee beans ... So I went on. She wept awhile and went to sleep. She was a good sleeper, and I took even her power to sleep as an added offence.
Henry drank his rum quickly, his gaze wandering miserably among the mauve and orange streamers. I asked, 'Had a good Christmas?'
'Very nice. Very nice,' he said.
'At home?' Henry looked up at me as though my inflection of the word sounded strange.
'Home? Yes, of course.'
'And Sarah's well?'
'Have another rum?'
'It's my turn.'
While Henry fetched the drinks I went into the lavatory. The walls were scrawled with phrases: 'Damn you, landlord, and your breasty wife.' 'To all pimps and whores a merry syphilis and a happy gonorrhea.' I went quickly out again to the cheery paper streamers and the clink of glass. Sometimes I see myself reflected too closely in other men for comfort, and then I have an enormous wish to believe in the saints, in heroic virtue.
I repeated to Henry the two lines I had seen. I wanted to shock him, and it surprised me when he said simply, 'Jealousy's an awful thing.'
'You mean the bit about the breasty wife?'
'Both of them. When you are miserable, you envy other people's happiness.' It wasn't what I had ever expected him to learn in the Ministry of Home Security. And there — in the phrase — the bitterness leaks again out of my pen. What a dull lifeless quality this bitterness is. If I could I would write with love, but if I could write with love, I would be another man: I would never have lost love. Yet suddenly across the shiny tiled surface of the bar-table I felt something, nothing so extreme as love, perhaps nothing more than a companionship in misfortune. I said to Henry, 'Are you miserable?'
'Bendrix, I'm worried.'
I expect it was the rum that made him speak, or was he partly aware of how much I knew about him? Sarah was loyal, but in a relationship such as ours had been you can't help picking up a thing or two ... I knew he had a mole on the left of his navel because a birthmark of my own had once reminded Sarah of it: I knew he suffered from short sight, but wouldn't wear glasses with strangers (and I was still enough of a stranger never to have seen him in them): I knew his liking for tea at ten: I even knew his sleeping habits. Was he conscious that I knew so much already, that one more fact would not alter our relation? He said, 'I'm worried about Sarah, Bendrix.'
The door of the bar opened and I could see the rain lashing down against the light. A little hilarious man darted in and called out, 'Wot cher, everybody,' and nobody answered.
'Is she ill? I thought you said ...'
'No. Not ill. I don't think so.' He looked miserably around — this was not his milieu. I noticed that the whites of his eyes were bloodshot; perhaps he hadn't been wearing his glasses enough — there are always so many strangers, or it might have been the aftereffect of tears. He said, 'Bendrix, I can't talk here,' as though he had once been in the habit of talking somewhere. 'Come home with me.'
'Will Sarah be back?'
'I don't expect so.'
I paid for the drinks, and that again was a symptom of Henry's disturbance — he never took other people's hospitality easily. He was always the one in a taxi to have the money ready in the palm of his hand, while we others fumbled. The avenues of the Common still ran with rain, but it wasn't far to Henry's. He let himself in with a latchkey under the Queen Anne fanlight and called, 'Sarah. Sarah.' I longed for a reply and dreaded a reply, but nobody answered. He said, 'She's out still. Come into the study.'
I had never been in his study before: I had always been Sarah's friend, and when I met Henry it was on Sarah's territory, her haphazard living-room where nothing matched, nothing was period or planned, where everything seemed to belong to that very week because nothing was ever allowed to remain as a token of past taste or past sentiment. Everything was used there; just as in Henry's study I now felt that very little had ever been used. I doubted whether the set of Gibbon had once been opened, and the set of Scott was only there because it had — probably — belonged to his father, like the bronze copy of the Discus Thrower. And yet he was happier in his unused room simply because it was his: his possession. I thought with bitterness and envy: if one possesses a thing securely, one need never use it.
'A whisky?' Henry asked. I remembered his eyes and wondered if he were drinking more than he had done in the old days. Certainly the whiskies he poured out were generous doubles.
'What's troubling you, Henry?' I had long abandoned that novel about the senior civil servant: I wasn't looking for copy any longer.
'Sarah,' he said.
Would I have been frightened if he had said that, in just that way, two years ago? No, I think I should have been overjoyed — one gets so hopelessly tired of deception. I would have welcomed the open fight if only because there might have been a chance, however small, that through some error of tactics on his side I might have won. And there has never been a time in my life before or since when I have so much wanted to win. I have never had so strong a desire even to write a good book.
He looked up at me with those red-rimmed eyes and said, 'Bendrix, I'm afraid.' I could no longer patronize him; he was one of misery's graduates: he had passed in the same school, and for the first time I thought of him as an equal. I remember there was one of those early brown photographs in an Oxford frame on his desk, the photograph of his father, and looking at it I thought how like the photograph was to Henry (it had been taken at about the same age, the middle forties) and how unlike. It wasn't the moustache that made it different — it was the Victorian look of confidence, of being at home in the world and knowing the way around, and suddenly I felt again that friendly sense of companionship. I liked him better than I would have liked his father (who had been in the Treasury). We were fellow strangers.
'What is it you're afraid of, Henry?'
He sat down in an easy chair as though somebody had pushed him and said with disgust, 'Bendrix, I've always thought the worst things, the very worst, a man could do ...' I should certainly have been on tenterhooks in those other days: strange to me, and how infinitely dreary, the serenity of innocence.
'You know you can trust me, Henry.' It was possible, I thought, that she had kept a letter, though I had written so few. It is a professional risk that authors run. Women are apt to exaggerate the importance of their lovers and they never foresee the disappointing day when an indiscreet letter will appear marked 'Interesting' in an autograph catalogue priced at five shillings.
'Take a look at this then,' Henry said.
He held a letter out to me: it was not in my handwriting. 'Go on. Read it,' Henry said. It was from some friend of Henry's and he wrote, 'I suggest the man you want to help should apply to a fellow called Savage, 159 Vigo Street. I found him able and discreet, and his employees seemed less nauseous than those chaps usually are.'
'I don't understand, Henry.'
'I wrote to this man and said that an acquaintance of mine had asked my advice about private detective agencies. It's terrible, Bendrix. He must have seen through the pretence.'
'You really mean ...?'
'I haven't done anything about it, but there the letter sits on my desk reminding me ... It seems so silly, doesn't it, that I can trust her absolutely not to read it though she comes in here a dozen times a day. I don't even put it away in a drawer. And yet I can't trust ... she's out for a walk now. A walk, Bendrix.' The rain had penetrated his guard also and he held the edge of his sleeve towards the gas fire.
Excerpted from "The End of the Affair"
Copyright © 1979 Graham Greene Estate.
Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
|Suggestions for Further Reading||xxv|
|The End of the Affair||1|
What People are Saying About This
"Undeniably a major work of art...It remains from first to last an almost faultless display of craftsmanship and a wonderfully assured statement of ideas." —The New Yorker
"Singularly moving and beautiful...the relationship of lover to husband with its crazy mutation of pity, hate, comradeship, jealousy, and contempt is superbly described...the heroine is consistently lovable." —Evelyn Waugh
"An absorbing piece of work, passionately felt and strikingly written." —The Atlantic Monthly
"Brighton Rock, The Heart of the Matter, and The End of the Affair...all have claims to greatness; they are as intense and penetrating and disturbing as an inquisitor's gaze." —John Updike
"Graham Greene was in class by himself.... He will be read and remembered as the ultimate twentieth-century chronicler of consciousness and anxiety." —William Golding
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I enjoyed the majority of this novel. The opening was slow, however, and Greene did not capture the reader's attention from the start. Some parts were very hard to follow, with new characters suddenly introduced without much of a background on them. On the other hand, there was great depth throughout the novel, with the contrasting views of religion and love versus hate. Bendrix and Sarah, the two lovers, had opposite views on God, Bendrix did not believe in God at all, and Sarah believed in him, and prayed to him frequently. There was also their love affair which was ruined by Bendrix's jealous behavior which eventually turned into a strong hate. Although parts of the novel were very slow and confusing, it is beautifully written (especially within Sarah's diary entries) and kept the reader entertained and wanting to find out more. Greene also gives new life to the world of love and the parallel of hate associated with it. I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys reading British Literature.
I enjoyed Graham Greene's The End of The Affair becuase it was not simply a novel about an affiar and the split. Instead, it is a novel with a lot of depth, exploring the passions of love and hate, romantically and with God.
Although to say so has become a cliche in book criticism, I was entranced by Graham Greene's 'The End of the Affair' from the first page. The voice of Maurice Bendrix is one of the more memorable in twentieth-century British fiction - erudite, poetic, horribly juvenile at times. This is the story of a doomed romance which Greene deftly steers away from Shakespearean melodrama and near-Dickensian tragedy. The story is richly, eloquently told, and this is a ferociously compact novel from one of England's greatest writers.
An interesting study of sexual and emotional jealousy and insecurity. The ending is very downbeat and bitter.
Although rather depressing the writing is good and that enabled me to finish this novel. In the extracts from Sarah's diary I thought that Greene occasionally forgot himself in that his authorial voice and style took over from Sarah's and thus made Sarah more intellectual in her self-analysis than I thought her capable of. I found the character of Parkis likeable and rather Dickensian in the way he was depicted.I shall certainly read more of Greene's work.
I was certain that this book would be dry and dull, and it was left unread on my shelf for a long time before I finally decided to read it. However, by the first chapter, I was drawn into the story.Greene writes with the natural ease of a truly talented, insightful author. I even flipped through the introduction while in the first half of the book, wondering if this was a true story.One of the most realistic, honestly written books that I have read. Greene spares us no emotion, and is completely unabashed at having made his main character, Bendrix, an unpleasantly bitter, spiteful man. Normally, I dislike books in which the main character is so undesirably natured, but this book brought an aspect of the villain-hero to an entirely different level. We understand Bendrix, we sympathize with him, and we feel as if we know him.Realistic, vivid characters, expressive dialogue, and genius writing.A very unexpected surprise of an excellent book.
or as I like to call it: "Henry, His Wife, Her Lover, and God", this is a book that starts off feeling very film noir-ish, but ends up being a pretty good (though at times contrived and theoretical) look at religion. It delves into a lot of the same themes as O'Connor's "Wise Blood" (although in a much less zany way), and would make a good "double-feature" with that book.
This book is an almost favorite. I don't know why I like sad novels but that's the main reason I love this, it just seems real. I also love the way Graham Greene connected love and hate and humans and God. A must read classic!
Greene's writing is brilliant, as usual. The main character is odious. As the plot unfolds, the book becomes something of a polemic for R.C. values. Nevertheless, it repays the reader with a great experience.
Not better than Power and the Glory or Brighton Rock. But outstanding. More on Catholicism that I like. More theology. More potent ideas of God however than the other two. Too easy in plot maybe, but well-drawn characters.
A good story although the middle seemed to go very slowly for me. A very interesting plot that worked very well.
This was my initial plunge into Graham Greene, and I have to say that I'm left somewhat unsatisfied. The writing itself is fine enough, and the bitter, cynical, obsessive cast-off lover, Bendrix, well drawn. But I found much of the story forced, unbelievable, as if the concept Greene wanted to get across overwhelmed the plot: lust begets love begets jealousy begets hatred begets faith. Much of the novel falls under the "if there's a God" speculation. Sarah prays for God, if there is one, top spare Bendrix from a bombing and promises to give up her lover if God grants her wish. Bendrix wonders, if there's a God, why does he take Sarah away, and later, he wants to believe that there is a God so that he can hate him for taking Sarah away.Sarah seemed a cypher throughout, both to Bendrix and to the reader. I suppose Greene wanted us to be surprised along with Bendrix at what he later learns about her, but she seemed a rather vapid character to have inspired such raging emotions. The friendship that develops between Bendrix and Henry is certainly an odd one, but Henry, being the most honest (and perhaps simple) character in the novel, is also the most easily understood and most empathetic.I listened to the book on audio, finely read by Colin Firth. Overall, however, I was underwhelmed by The End of the Affair. I'll probably give Greene another try, but not for awhile. He seems to be one of those writers whose work is firmly rooted in an era--not one in which I have a particular interest.
My first Graham Greene- I have found a new author to fall in love with.
Staggering technique with an intuitive sensibility. Its beautiful melancholy lingers long after i finished the book.
Every once in a while I come across a book that speaks to what it means to be human, a story that glimpses into the soul. Greene's novel is one of those pieces. The novel is almost autobiographical. It's like Greene wrestled with the darkest and brightest portions of his own nature, and this book resulted. If you like to mix your daily dose of philosophy and religion with fiction, then this book's it. The story captures one man's relationship with the God he wants to deny. It's just brilliant!
Has there ever been a book that compelled you somehow to read it even though it's very different from what you usually enjoy? I was browsing a library booksale when I came across Graham Greene's The End of the Affair. The back cover told me that it was about adultery, a detailed account of the emotional and spiritual turmoil of a passionate affair. I put it back on the table, convinced it was one of those novels, a depressing foray into somebody's predictably boring angst. Cue eyeroll. A couple minutes later, I was back looking at it again, and after flipping through a few pages I decided to give it a try. Something about the writing caught me. And now that I've read it, I think I know why. The writing is excellent, lithe and strong, clothing a complicated, perceptive little story. And some of the ideas explored here are going to occupy my mind for some time. Maurice Bendrix is our narrator, a professional writer who is just teetering on the edge of popularity. He meets Sarah at a party and pursues her not for an affair, but for information for his next book on the daily life of her civil servant husband. Before long, Bendrix and Sarah are embroiled in a passionate affair that contains the seeds of its own destruction. Bendrix is jealous and insecure and apparently his character was loosely based on Greene himself. This is all happening during World War II, and the Blitz plays a pivotal role in the events of the story.All the characters are believable and carefully written. Sarah seems like just the kind of person I would dislike, a woman whose beauty and easy ways cause her to indulge in a string of affairs. She needs men in a way that is rather pathetic. But somehow I can't dislike her. Especially when we get to her diary, it's impossible not to feel empathy with her. She is honest about what is happening, and brave... and we start to see that all of her adulteries are really just symptoms of a deeper adultery, the adultery committed against God.Because yes, God is very much a character in this novel. I wasn't expecting that. In the end this novel is about a spiritual adultery as well as a physical. In the course of the book Sarah meets and befriends a proselytizing atheist who has dedicated his life to disproving God. His very earnestness against Christianity, all his arguments and proofs, convince her of God's reality:He hated a fable, he fought against a fable, he took a fable seriously. I couldn't hate Hansel and Gretel, I couldn't hate their sugar house as he hated the legend of heaven. When I was a child I could hate the wicked queen in Snow White, but Richard didn't hate his fairy-tale Devil. The Devil didn't exist and God didn't exist, but all his hatred was for the good fairy-tale, not the wicked one... Oh God, if I could really hate you, what would that mean? (112)Evelyn Waugh praised this novel and it's easy to see how Brideshead Revisited influenced it. In both novels, God (dressed in Catholicism) is the ultimate reason that the affair cannot last. He is the lover that both women cannot continue denying forever, the rival that Charles and Bendrix fear the most. Both men come to a kind of faith in the end, but Charles' is positive while Bendrix's is angry. Bendrix comes to believe in God, but only so that he can hate Him. We can't hate someone we don't believe in, a "vapour." The novel ends with Bendrix saying, ... I found the one prayer that seemed to serve the winter mood: O God, You've done enough, You've robbed me of enough, I'm too tired and old to learn to love, leave me alone forever.Whether or not this is the way it will stay is anyone's guess. This book took me by surprise. I was expecting rants about human jealousy and possession and detailed descriptions of sex. There was some of that, sure (handled tastefully for the most part). But there was a lot more. Ultimately this book is both a fist shaken at God and a palm upturned in prayer ¿ and sometimes both at the same ti
Oh wow! This book is special; I read it in one day, ignoring everything else around me until the end. The pain and obsession conveyed powerfully and beautifully. I¿ like Graham Green novels, but this was exceptional, in a class of it¿s own. SIX stars
I saw the movie first. Still loved the book though. Lord it's sad.
First book by Greene that I have read - I live near where most of the story is set - so it had added interest. I read the book on holiday and it was a wonderfully written insight into the human spirit, but also a moving story, where you really become engaged with the story and its characters. I will certainly be reading more of Greene
Author Maurice Bendrix narrates the story of his affair with a married woman named Sarah. It's a story of jealousy and hate, mixed with passion and heartbreak. Sarah mysteriously ends the affair one day during a blitz on London. Maurice is convinced that she has found a new lover. Her husband Henry is also worried about her and not knowing of their affair, he recruits Maurice to help him figure out what's wrong with his wife. This was the first Graham Greene book I've ever read. There something delicious about the way he writes. He finds ways to express common feelings in extraordinary ways. He also turned emotions that could make you hate a character, like jealousy or piety, into something relatable. I'm excited to pick up another book by him. In the end the story is really a question of faith. The main characters are forced to face the belief or lack of belief in God. I heard one person describe this book as "Henry, his wife, her lover and God," and that's exactly it. It's about those four characters and how they each relate to each other. "If we had not been taught how to interpret the story of the Passion, would we have been able to say from their actions alone whether it was the jealous Judas or the cowardly Peter who loved Christ?" "Sometimes I see myself reflected too closely in other men for comfort, and then I have an enormous wish to believe in the saints, in heroic virtue."
Bendrix loves Sarah. Bendrix hates Sarah. Sarah loves Bendrix. Sarah is married but doesn't love Henry. Sarah thinks she believes in God. Sarah loves God. Sarah Hates God. Sarah loves God. Bendrix doesn't believe in God. But Bendrix hates God. Bendrix Hates Henry. Bendrix thinks maybe there is a God. Bendrix hates himself. Bendrix hates Smythe. Bendrix loves Sarah...That is the story in a nutshell. I found this book tedious and it started trying my patience. I didn't like any of the characters in the book. They were all stupid and pathetic except for Sylvia Black but she only made a cameo appearance for a couple of pages. Brian loved those few pages.Brian loved Sylvia Black. Brian hated Bendrix. Brian hated Sarah. Brian hated Henry. Brian hated Smythe. Brian hated Parkis. Brian liked Parkis.Greene is a masterful writer. The craft is all there nice and shiny, word after word. The question, 'Is there a God?', was the common thread throughout the book as was the thin line separating love from hate. This book just didn't connect much with me. Brian likes Greene. Brian didn't like The End of the Affair.
Acquired via BookCrossing 07 Nov 10 - bought at the Connected shop for BC purposesI picked this up at the charity shop because Matthew and I wanted to catch up with some 20th century classics. He read it first and enjoyed it. A short novel in which we follow the fortunes of Bendrix, Sarah, the woman he once loved but now claims to hate, and her husband, Henry. Narrated in flashbacks, the narrative voice reminded us both of Iris Murdoch, with the London setting adding to that for me. Powerful and perceptive, a close study of one man's state of mind and deeply atmosphericm with moments of pathos and humour - we could see why it's a classic.
My favourite Graham Green novel.Maurice Bendix and Sarah Miles are in the midst of a passionate love affair in war-torn London, when Sarah suddenly ends the affair, with no explanation.
Absolutely exceptional writing. Only graham greene can keep that tight, sparse, exciting language and tackle such enormous issues on so many levels, and this book does it best of all. A psychological thriller for atheists.
Greene's prose is so insightful and yet easy to read. He packs so many worthwhile ideas into his concise prose (e.g., without desire, there is no jealousy). This novel captures the angst of an affair while also capturing the complexities of the characters involved and of the relationships among all three members of the love triangle (two male friends and the object of their shared desire). Truly masterful. Not a perfect 10 because I think the ending lags a bit, but almost a perfect 10.
One of my favourite Greene's and one that I could happily reread for ever. Makes me feel warm and sentimental.