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The End of the Affair
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Group Reads - Fiction > The End of the Affair (Classics Group Read Aug.-Sep. '14)

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Leslie | 15985 comments Our group read of a classic for August & September is The End of the Affair by Graham Greene. Here is the blurb from the 2004 Penguin edition:

"A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses a moment of experience from which to look ahead..."

"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.

Now, a year after Sarah's death, Bendrix seeks to exorcise the persistence of his passion by retracing its course from obsessive love to love-hate. At first, he believes he hates Sarah and her husband, Henry. Yet as he delves further into his emotional outlook, Bendrix's hatred shifts to the God he feels has broken his life, but whose existence at last comes 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."


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I wasn't going to join in this one but actually it looks good and isn't too long so I'm going to reserve it at my library


Alice Poon (alice_poon) I've ordered it from my library :)


message 4: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12131 comments Mod
Heard good things about this, might join in.


B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments I've already read this but I think I'll read it again.


Leslie | 15985 comments Bette BookAddict wrote: "I've already read this but I think I'll read it again."

I was thinking the same thing... depends on how my time goes but it would be nice to have it fresh in mind during the discussion.


Anastasia (universe_beats) | 401 comments I'm very curious to read it and I'm glad it has won in the poll! It seems really good, as Heather said. It's already in my bookshelf, waiting to be read :)


LauraT (laurata) | 13495 comments Mod
Looking forward starting it this week end!


Shirley | 4177 comments I will order this from the library - have never read anything by this author before, so all new to me!


Leslie | 15985 comments Shirley wrote: "I will order this from the library - have never read anything by this author before, so all new to me!"

Oh, Graham Greene is an interesting author but I think that you need to read several of his books to really appreciate him as he wrote such a variety -- literary fiction with religious/philosophical overtones (such as this); thrillers (such as This Gun for Hire or Brighton Rock); and satires (such as Our Man in Havana).


Shirley | 4177 comments Leslie wrote: "Shirley wrote: "I will order this from the library - have never read anything by this author before, so all new to me!"

Oh, Graham Greene is an interesting author but I think that you need to read..."


Thanks Leslie, I will remember that when I've read this. I have a copy of Brighton Rock on my bookshelf - just haven't read it yet!


message 12: by Pink (last edited Jul 30, 2014 01:01PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink Heather wrote: "I wasn't going to join in this one but actually it looks good and isn't too long so I'm going to reserve it at my library"

snap!

Shirley, I still have Brighton Rock on my shelf too, still waiting to get around to it even though I've heard good things and keep meaning to pick it up!


Leslie | 15985 comments Pink wrote: "Heather wrote: "I wasn't going to join in this one but actually it looks good and isn't too long so I'm going to reserve it at my library"

snap!

Shirley, I still have Brighton Rock on my shelf to..."


Hi there, Pink!!! Glad to see you posting again :-)


Shirley | 4177 comments Pink wrote: "Heather wrote: "I wasn't going to join in this one but actually it looks good and isn't too long so I'm going to reserve it at my library"

snap!

Shirley, I still have Brighton Rock on my shelf to..."


Maybe we could read it together some time?


Tweedledum  (tweedledum) | 2051 comments I read this a couple of years ago and found it very compelling. Love the film version with Ralph Fiennes. If I can find my copy I will try and join you in a re-read. (Since two of my children returned to the nest my scrupulously organised bookshelves have entered a state of dissipation and many books have been relocated to an overflowing garage to make room. )


message 16: by Miles (new) - added it

Miles Evers | 1 comments I'm picking it up today!


LauraT (laurata) | 13495 comments Mod
Me too


Cathie (cathiebp2) | 653 comments I finished and it wasn't expecting the story to be what it was. I didn't read the synopsis. I hadn't known this began post-affair and delved right into it.


message 19: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 12131 comments Mod
Looking forward to this but I think it might be September before I get a chance to read it.


Leslie | 15985 comments Alannah wrote: "Looking forward to this but I think it might be September before I get a chance to read it."

That is fine -- one reason that we spread it out over 2 months is to give a bit more flexibility :)


message 21: by Greg (new)

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Cathie wrote: "I finished and it wasn't expecting the story to be what it was. I didn't read the synopsis. I hadn't known this began post-affair and delved right into it."

The first time I read it, I was very surprised at where the story went as well. The other Graham Greene books I'd read, such as The Third Man, were very different. As Leslie said, he wrote a great variety!

I'm looking forward to re-reading it with the group but haven't started yet.


message 22: by Alice (last edited Aug 04, 2014 10:51AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Alice Poon (alice_poon) I'm about one-third through, and it did take me a while to adjust to the flipping back and forth in time. But I'm liking it overall.

The other Graham Greene novel that I read is The Heart of the Matter, in my high school days. I did enjoy his autobiography Ways Of Escape, in which he discussed at length his writing career.


LauraT (laurata) | 13495 comments Mod
Barely started it yesterday - hope to have time today: afternon free! As usual his stories uzzles me: I don't quite get t the relationship of the narrator with the wife of his nighbour. Why did hetart this "liason"?


message 24: by Pink (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink Starting this today :)

Shirley, I'd love to read Brighton Rock together sometime...though not sure when!


LauraT (laurata) | 13495 comments Mod
Finding it a bit ... slow? How can I say, I don't get the "gist" of it!


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

I thought it was slow at first, also, but I've gotten used to the style and I'm getting involved in the story. (I don't like to know much about a book before I read it--it's a small obsession of mine-- so I'm glad I didn't read Leslie's initial post till I had gotten to the relevant part. I don't even read Introductions until I've read the whole book. They just give too much away!)

I like the part shortly into Book Two where Graham talks about the existence of a Personal Devil, and what such a devil would be up to:

"I can imagine that if there existed a God who loved, the devil would be driven to destroy even the weakest, the most faulty imitation of that love. Wouldn't he be afraid that the habit of love might grow, and wouldn't he try to trap us all into being traitors, into helping him extinguish love? If there is a God who uses us and makes his saints out of such material as we are, the devil too may have his ambitions; he may dream of training even such a person as myself, even poor Parkis, into being his saints, ready with borrowed fanaticism to destroy love wherever we find it."


Alice Poon (alice_poon) LauraT wrote: "Finding it a bit ... slow? How can I say, I don't get the "gist" of it!"

My own take is that it's mainly about Maurice Bendrix's inner struggles with jealousies and insecurities and whether or not to believe in God. Greene does write with sensitivity, although I find it a bit tiresome at times.


message 28: by Pink (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink Finished the book today (bonus of having lots of time on my hands) and overall I enjoyed it, though I felt it slowed down towards the end, not that it was ever fast paced! I didn't particularly like it when (view spoiler)

I'm also glad that I didn't read Leslie's post first, as I try to avoid spoilers/ reading introductions etc until after I've read the book, as they usually give huge things away!


Alice Poon (alice_poon) The passage I like most is this:-

"I had come into this affair with my eyes open, knowing that one day this must end, and yet, when the sense of insecurity, the logical belief in the hopeless future descended like melancholia, I would badger her and badger her, as though I wanted to bring the future in now at the door, an unwanted and premature guest. My love and fear acted like conscience. If we had believed in sin, our behaviour would hardly have differed."

The agonizing pain (with guilt involved) that Maurice feels about his love for Sarah, both before and after her death, is one thing that's most intoxicating about this novel.


LauraT (laurata) | 13495 comments Mod
Alice wrote: "LauraT wrote: "Finding it a bit ... slow? How can I say, I don't get the "gist" of it!"

My own take is that it's mainly about Maurice Bendrix's inner struggles with jealousies and insecurities and..."

Yes I think this is what is all about. Yet ... I ddn't like it!

Terri wrote: "I thought it was slow at first, also, but I've gotten used to the style and I'm getting involved in the story. (I don't like to know much about a book before I read it--it's a small obsession of mi..."
Same for me! But sometmes I don't particuarly like what I find!!!!

What I mean is that, even if the book could be asily read - it took me three/four working days to finish it - it didn't leave me with much. I didn't like the characters, all three of them, and also the inor one as the catholic priest or the atheist. I found Bendrix dull and preposterous, the husband horrible and Sarah really stupid!!!


Alice Poon (alice_poon) @Laura: I don't think I like any of the characters either - I only pity them!


message 32: by Katy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Katy | 422 comments This was my first Graham Greene novel and I was disappointed. I liked, but did not love it. I felt very sorry for Henry who seemed like a good person. He did not deserve what Sarah did to him


Evelyn | 1410 comments I have just finished this story and am very divided over it. On the one hand, I liked the cadence of the writing, I liked the evolution of the inner struggles that both Sarah and Maurice experienced, and there were some brilliant passages that generally make for a five star rating from me. On the other hand, the subject matter hits much too close to home for me personally, and I cannot scrape up any sympathy for any character other than Henry.


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

I finished this book a few days ago, and I had to think about it a while before I could write my review. Even though the characters were not particularly likable, I feel I got a lot out of reading this. It raised some deep issues, like the existence of God and the Devil, how an individual copes with grief and loss, what do memories really mean. This book really made me think, and for that reason I gave it 4 stars.


message 35: by Greg (new)

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Terri, I'm not quite finished with my re-read, but I think I'm heading toward a similar reaction.


message 36: by Noorilhuda (new)

Noorilhuda | 185 comments Saw the film in parts (Ralph Feinnes version), know the story, but decided to read it cos haven't read Greene and it IS the book of the month.


Leslie | 15985 comments Terri wrote: "I finished this book a few days ago, and I had to think about it a while before I could write my review. Even though the characters were not particularly likable, I feel I got a lot out of reading ..."

Terri -- I gave it 4 stars for the same reason. It isn't my favorite Graham Greene book nor were the themes ones I particularly like but he did make me think. If these themes are of interest to someone (I am thinking of you, Dhanaraj!), The Power and the Glory I felt was a more compelling story (although again, the characters were not particularly likable).


message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm still waiting for my reserved copy. I hope it arrives soon as I have lots of planned reading in September!


Book Ninja | 213 comments I just finished it and I am the only one here who has given it 2 stars. I didn't enjoy reading it, it was slow and it had way too much hatred in it. It was a very sad book and I didn't feel anything for the characters.


LauraT (laurata) | 13495 comments Mod
Rahat wrote: "I just finished it and I am the only one here who has given it 2 stars. I didn't enjoy reading it, it was slow and it had way too much hatred in it. It was a very sad book and I didn't feel anythin..."

I can't say I disagree. I liked the writing style though. Very sharp and to the point. But what a sad bunch of people...


Shirley | 4177 comments I'm still reading it, and would agree it is quite slow, but the story is intriguing, even if the characters are not very likeable. On page 67, just finished chapter seven.


Shirley | 4177 comments I've finished it now and have given it 3 stars. I thought the writing was good, and it was a good storyline, but the characters didn't really resonate with me. I thought it was a very sad story, and I didn't really engage with the religious dilemmas explored within the book. It might have got four stars but it just didn't grip me sufficiently.


Anastasia (universe_beats) | 401 comments I finished it two days ago and I liked it. Surely the characters could never be my bestfriends but they have something in their unlikableness, even the more questionable, Sara, with those unnecessary "promises" of a melodramatic mind.
Generally I liked all that Evelyn has already pointed out, even if I can't relate personally with the religious themes. But I've appreciated how Green deals with them here.


LauraT (laurata) | 13495 comments Mod
Shirley wrote: "I've finished it now and have given it 3 stars. I thought the writing was good, and it was a good storyline, but the characters didn't really resonate with me. I thought it was a very sad story, an..."

Same opinion!


Everyman I finished it, but only because I felt committed to in order to comment on it here. Otherwise I would have quit it earlier.

My basic feeling reading it was boredom. I didn't really care about any of the characters. I found Bendix horribly self-centered and totally unconcerned about the way his actions might be affecting other people. The writing was the only reasonably strong point, but both the events and the perpetually rainy weather cast a pall of gloom which never lifted.

I actually did like the theological discussions, even though I'm not very theologically oriented. I liked Father Crompton, perhaps more than I might have otherwise because Bendix was obviously so annoyed with him. (Sort of along the lines of the enemy of my enemy is my friend?)

So I'm with Rehat in giving it two stars, and that only because of the writing.


message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

I've just started and already I'm not really enjoying it. I don't like Bendrix much and I feel a little confused with the time scales. I hope it clears up as I continue through the book


message 47: by John (new)

John Frankham (johnfrankham) Not re-read it in the last two years, but so disappointed that any of you could give it two stars. I'm probably with Terri and Leslie at four stars, but many people regard it as his finest serious work, with aspects of Ivy Compton Burnett, Mauriac, and Ford Madox Ford - three of the greatest.


LauraT (laurata) | 13495 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "I finished it, but only because I felt committed to in order to comment on it here. Otherwise I would have quit it earlier.

My basic feeling reading it was boredom. I didn't really care about an..."


I felt the same for almost the whole bok! I can't say it is badly written, it is simply that I don't see the point of all the characters there described!


Book Ninja | 213 comments It feels good to know that I'm not the only one who gave this book two stars. I felt so left out when everyone was giving it four stars and I thought that maybe I didn't read it properly or didn't understand or was just missing something. I'm so relieved!
And @everyman you spelt my name wrong :(


message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

I finished this last night and have given it 3 stars.

I found the book quite boring. Bendrix annoyed me although I quite liked reading Sarah's journal and her dilemma about the promise. However the rest of the theology did not align with my personal beliefs at all and I found justify quite confused with the whole book. I was so annoyed with (view spoiler) at the end! Stupid concept.

I did like the language at times and I thought the story moved along a bit once I was reading Sarah's side of things.

On second thoughts I'm downgrading to a 2! The end just annoyed me too much and I generally wasn't bothered by anything that happened in the book. I enjoyed Brighton Rock though so will give Greene another chance


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