The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A penetrating and undoubtedly deeply personal dive into the emotional tumult of a man who has wrecked several lives by engaging in a reckless affair, Graham Greene's novel tells a dark and agonizing story of lust lost.
Greene spends much of his time inside the head of the main character, a novelist who is ruminating over having chased and attained the wife of a friend, only to have lost her by closing himself off emotionally.
With occasional shifts into the mindsets of the woman and her husband, the theme is that there is a wide, blurry line between love and hate.
Examining aspects of control, insecurity, desperation and the relentless and the self-destructive pursuit of romantic vigor, Greene ups the stakes by tossing in some escalating twists that force the characters to re-examine their traditional roles as they scramble to recoup their dignity.
Most of his characters actively work against presuppositions Greene imagines the readers carry in. His book is punishing and agonizing, but the pacing is fluid enough to carry it through. This is a bold and daring novel, especially considering it was written in 1951.
Colin Firth's narration in the Audible version is exquisite, with a trembling voice during particularly impactful moments that make it seem as though he's reading from his own diary. Occasional quirks, such as a whistling lisp that creep through, add more texture to the words.
"The End of the Affair" may be punishing, but it's thought-provoking enough to justify the emotional wounds it creates.
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