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The End of the Affair Paperback – 1 Jul 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (1 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099470152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099470151
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 1.2 x 18 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,475,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Set in London during and just after World War II, Graham Greene's The End of the Affair is a pathos-laden examination of a three-way collision between love of self, love of another and love of God. The affair in question involves Maurice Bendrix, a solipsistic novelist, and a dutifully married woman, Sarah Miles. The lovers meet at a party thrown by Sarah's dreary civil-servant husband, and proceed to liberate each other from boredom and routine unhappiness. Reflecting on the ebullient beginnings of their romance, Bendrix recalls: "There was never any question in those days of who wanted whom--we were together in desire". Indeed, the affair goes on unchecked for several years until, during an afternoon tryst, Bendrix goes downstairs to look for intruders in his basement and a bomb falls on the building. Sarah rushes down to find him lying under a fallen door, and immediately makes a deal with God, whom she has never particularly cared for:

"I love him and I'll do anything if you'll make him alive... I'll give him up forever, only let him be alive with a chance... People can love each other without seeing each other, can't they, they love You all their lives without seeing You".
Bendrix, as evidenced by his ability to tell the story, is not dead, merely unconscious, and so Sarah must keep her promise. She breaks off the relationship without giving a reason, leaving Bendrix mystified and angry. The only explanation he can think of is that she's left him for another man. It isn't until years later, when he hires a private detective to ascertain the truth, that he learns of her impassioned vow. Sarah herself comes to understand her move through a strange rationalisation. Writing to God in her journal, she says:
"You willed our separation, but he [Bendrix] willed it too. He worked for it with his anger and his jealousy, and he worked for it with his love. For he gave me so much love, and I gave him so much love that soon there wasn't anything left, when we'd finished, but You".
It's as though the pull toward faith were inevitable, if incomprehensible--perhaps as punishment for her sin of adultery. In her final years, Sarah's faith only deepens, even as she remains haunted by the bombing and the power of her own attraction to God. Set against the backdrop of a war-ravaged city, The End of the Affair is equally haunting as it lays forth the question of what constitutes love in troubling, unequivocal terms. --Melanie Rehak --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A superb storyteller with a gift for provoking controversy."--"New York Times" "Greene had the sharpest eyes for trouble, the finest nose for human weaknesses, and was pitilessly honest in his observations . . . For experience of a whole century he was the man within."--Norman Sherry, "Independent" "From the Trade Paperback edition."

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Like another reviewer, this is my favourite of Greene's books, and one I reread every 5 years or so.

The familiar Greene territory is all here - betrayal, guilt, responsibility, sin and redemption, and the uneasy, unwilling nature of faith, belief and spiritual identity

Unlike the works which are set in foreign or exotic locations, this book is set in a more pedestrian territory, blitz torn London, and whilst 'the affair' of the book is ostensibly one that happens between a man and a woman, the underneath or overriding affair or relationship is that between a man/woman and his or her understanding of God.

This is a very common theme for Greene, and of course mirrors his own relationship with his faith - never easy, never taken for granted, always a sense of the soul wrangling with an accommodation with Divinity.

This is a wonderful and often bleak book, and, with a female as well as a male central character, and the relationship between the sexes as pivotal, it may speak to anyone who has ever fallen in love and found themselves caught in a minefield of conflicting loyalties, secrecy and deception
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Format: Paperback
A book for anyone who has ever been left so heartbroken and frustrated that they can't even speak without launching into a bitter lament against such superficial feelings as love, faith and devotion. Greene's genius was always his ability to create lasting and believable characters that jostled with issues that were central to the writer, but also, could be understood and re-interpreted by the reader. In The End of the Affair, it is his own sense of heartbreak following a real-life affair he began during the war that acts as the central crux of the emotional and heartbreaking story, that is here, taken further by elements of fictitious fantasy, religious guilt and what must be one of the greatest uses of a self-referential narrative arc ever developed in post-war-literary history.
Here, Greene recasts himself as the dolorous writer Bendrix, who, without even realising it until it is too late, has fallen into a passionate and illicit affair with Sarah, the wife of his meek (and perhaps impotent) friend and associate Henry. Greene juggles the perspectives so that each of this troika get to express their feelings (which are actually the varied conscious voices of the author), in order to further the story, as well as acting as something of an essay into infidelity, obsession, guilt and bereavement. The story could have easily fallen into the realms of melodrama, prefiguring those turgid disease-of-the-week films like Love Story (and so on), but Greene is able to break down the melancholy with elements of a detective story, with Bendrix involving himself in unravelling an affair that turns out to be nothing but an after shock.
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By A Customer on 5 Jan. 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Have read this novel during the sixties during my University years in Coimbra (Portugal) and became unconditional fan of Greene of whom I read since all the production. The end of the Affair is is in my view his best! While in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) last week I found one of its first editions in portuguese and bought it again. The feeling I like the most is a disturbing one: how a non believer like Sarah sticks to a promise to a God she doesn't want to believe in and how this absurdity becomes her highjest proof of love - for Bendix and for God! The fact that we know little of ourselves our unconscious beliefs, was highly disturbing to me... Recommended story to everyone who asks him(her)self on who he or she really is though it cannot respond to any question, just add more. Excellent and disturbing book.
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Format: Paperback
It got to me at an emotional level as much as anything I have read in my 52 years (I originally typed 'tears' - was this Freudian or just qwerty?) Bendrix's obsessive love / hate for Sarah (and also for her god) - both of which are reciprocated, in different ways, by Sarah - will probably hook you just as they did me - especially so if you can identify with Bendrix's and Sarah's tight-assed, 1950s, oh-so-English repression. I couldn't put this perfectly crafted 190-pager down; I found myself tripping at the top of escalators, exclaiming in the street, crying in the train. Read it.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The novels of Graham Greene have given rise to a fictitious world often referred to as "Greene-land". It is in recognition of Greene's prowess at creating an environment which is uniquely his and populating that environment with recognisable Greene characters - seedy diplomats, compromised government officials, petty criminals, power-mad dictators, alcohol-soaked clerics and so on.

The End of the Affair isn't entirely typical of Greene's oeuvre; it describes a passionate affair between a writer, Maurice Bendrix and Sarah Miles, the wife of Bendrix's friend, Henry. Henry is a sombre civil servant who finally realises that he has been a cuckold for many years although the realisation only dawns on him 18 months after Bendrix's affair with Sarah is abruptly ended at her insistence.

The novel is set in Clapham during and immediately after the Second World War. Bendrix and Sarah's affair had lasted for the first five years of the war but ended after a bombing raid during which Bendrix was almost killed at his house where he and Sarah had been spending the day together. During the next two years, Bendrix agonises over Sarah's termination of their affair and reflects whether his jealous possessiveness of her caused her to abandon him.

Bendrix does eventually stumble across the reason for Sarah's course of action. It leads to a multi-faceted argument on morality, the existence of God and how much an individual's own moral code is responsible for their actions. It is a beautifully-written and thought-provoking book, as one would expect from Greene, but there is an extra dimension when one realises how personal this book was to Greene.

If one delves into his life, one recognises that the Bendrix character is a thinly-disguised version of the writer himself.
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