The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

The End of the Affair

Two of my father’s favourite writers were Graham Greene and Somerset Maugham.  He encouraged me to read both.  I have read several of Maugham’s books, including ‘Of Human Bondage’ which I loved.  However I had never read any Greene – until now.

I had seen the film of ‘The End of the Affair’ staring Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and when reading the book it was those two actors I pictured as the two main characters Bendrix and Sarah.

For those of you who don’t know the story, it is a doomed love affair between a novelist and the wife of a civil servant.  Set in Clapham during the Second World War, Bendrix meets Sarah, as he is writing a book about a civil servant and wishes to find out more about her husband’s work.  They embark on a passionate affair.   One night while Bendrix and Sarah are together, the house is hit by a bomb.  Although superficially hurt, Bendrix is fine.  Sarah however leaves the house and breaks off relations without explaining why.

Jealousy and hate from Bendrix and Sarah’s tortured faith are the main themes of the book.  But it is their individual relationships with God, which form the basis for much of the dialogue and angst of the story.  Haven’t we all ranted and raved at God at some point in our lives?  Bendrix constantly questions God, he hates him, he doesn’t believe in him.  He says: “I hate you God.  I hate you as though you actually exist.”

Sarah, however, is the one who is constantly questioning her faith.  She is a believer and wants to believe so much, but her faith is tested to the absolute limit. She believes you don’t need to see God to believe in him.  She says to Bendrix: “You needn’t be so scared. Love doesn’t end. Just because we don’t see each other…”

Although I found Bendrix’s narcissism exhausting at times, I found this an astonishing book overall.  I thought Greene’s subtlety during the most dramatic moments was brilliant, while his ability to show the angst of both characters was mesmerizing.

This will definitely make me read more Graham Greene.  Any suggestions which one I should read next?

Funnily enough, having just finished the novel, I was sitting watching an episode of ‘The West Wing’ which I had downloaded from Sky.  I have to confess it has been my guilty  pleasure over the last few months.  It was episode 22 of Season 2, called ‘Two Cathedrals.’  If you haven’t watched it yet and don’t wish to hear some spoilers, I suggest you stop reading now.

Anyway, President Bartlett is about to announce to the world that he has Multiple Sclerosis.  He has lied to the American people and is trying to decide whether to run for a Second Term.  But a few days previously, his secretary Mrs Laningham was killed in a car crash.   After the funeral he stays in the church and rages against God.  He actually quotes Graham Greene and says: “You can’t conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.” Greene.

He then goes back to the office and there is this incredible scene where there is a huge storm and he is having an imaginary chat to Mrs Laningham, before he goes to his press conference.  To add to this they play Dire Straits, ‘Brothers in Arms.’   Honestly I was watching it while a storm raged outside and it was the best bit of television I have seen in a very long time.  Brilliant Stuff!   If you were a fan of the West Wing I highly recommend re-visiting it.     In the meantime happy reading and keep your suggestions coming.

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New Year, New Reading List.

My To-Read List!

Happy New Year!  To all my fellow book lovers I wish you health, happiness and lots of fabulous reading for 2016!

I started the year by looking at all the books that I intended to read in 2015 and didn’t get around to.  As I am now book reviewing for http://www.writing.ie as well as for my own blog, I found a lot of my time  was taken up with reading books sent to me by some very kind publishers.  This year I know I will have to prioritize.  Life is definitely too short to read a book you have no interest in, so I will be a lot more selective in 2016.

I have 4 categories of books to read in 2016:

  1. Book to read for review.
  2. Books to read for my own blog.
  3. Books to read for pleasure.
  4. Books to read for research purposes for the novel I am writing.

Here is the list of books I meant to read last year which is where I hope to begin (see photo above and below!):

The Revenant by Michael Puke.   A tale of revenge, soon to be released as a film starring Leonardo Di Caprio.

The Blue Tango by Eoin McNamee.  “A darkly lyric narrative of White Mischief in Post-War Ireland.”  I am reading this for research purposes.

The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien.  Her finest novel to date according to Philip Roth.  I cannot wait!

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell.  A writer I have been meaning to read for a long time.  This one’s for pure pleasure!

Summertime by Vanessa Lafaye.  Meant to read this one ages ago…never enough time!  Set in Florida in 1935, it is a fictionalised account of one of the most devastating natural disasters in US history.

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo.  A Zimbabwean writer described as having a ‘powerful, authentic, nihilistic voice’ this debut novel has received rave reviews.   As I spent the first 10 years of my life full time in Zambia, this one is of great interest.

The Last Empress by Anchee Min.  I read the prequel to this, which was called Empress Orchid, a good few years ago, but I never forgot its power.  When I saw this follow up, I couldn’t resist.  Also can’t wait to read this one!

The Novel Habits of Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith.  He has been one of my favourite writers since I started reading about Precious Ramotswe, his ladies detective series.  I also love this series set in Edinburgh.  Pure pleasure reading.

So, what do you think of my list?  Have you already read any of them?  Do any of them tickle your fancy?  Which one (s) would you consider reading?

Pray tell, I am agog to hear your thoughts!

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