In the fall of 2010, I took a graduate seminar course that had a partial focus on Graham Greene. So I read a LOT of Greene. Most people cite The Power and the Glory as his best, but my personal favorites have always been Brighton Rock and The End of the Affair. Just a few weeks ago, while perusing my library to check out more books than I can possibly read, I saw in the New Audiobooks section, an audiobook version of The End of the Affair, NARRATED BY COLIN FIRTH.
Of course, I checked it out. And I had some commuting and cleaning to do last week. Highly convenient. My work was made far more pleasurable by Colin Firth reading me this very complex and melancholy novel.
Maurice Bendrix is trying to process the end of an affair with Sarah Miles. He befriends her husband Henry (no, really) in an attempt to find out if she loved Henry more than him–or if another party got in their way. The answer is both simpler and more complicated than Maurice even realizes. The novel is internally driven by Maurice’s narration, by memories, by letters, all in an attempt to understand the “truth” about the affair’s cessation.
What I like about this novel is the philosophical aspect. Greene is considered a Catholic writer, yet his own relationship with Catholicism was very ambivalent (at best). This novel works out some of his issues with faith, and some very honest issues at that. It’s interesting reading Sarah and Henry from Maurice’s angle-of-vision, just as it is to hear Henry present himself. And the audiobook is very, very good. Firth’s velvety voice carried me through this interesting and complex text.