Sunday, January 15, 2012

The End Of the Affair

by Graham Greene

Writer Maurice Bendrix had a brief affair with his friend’s wife, Sarah, that was abruptly broken off.  Obsessed with her for two years, he sends a private detective to follow Sarah and find out the truth.  As he tries to find out answers he may not be happy with, he finds himself becoming friends with Henry, Sarah’s husband.

This is one of Greene’s Catholic-inspired philosophical novels, in which dogma is almost a character in the drama.  Though the plot does require a few somewhat unlikely things to happen, the novel’s approach to lost love, jealousy, resentment, and faith are true and honest.  Bendrix’s urge to know Sarah’s heart, even as it causes him grief (“curiosity can be stronger than pain”), comes through in his grim first person narration, clearly inspired by Greene’s own musings on his life and his work.  As new information comes through and the plot twists and turns, Bendrix makes savage and then regretful appraisals of the long-suffering Henry, the inscrutable Sarah, and finally the God whom Bendrix realizes has brought it all about.  It’s a quietly touching and all too human story.

four stars

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