Location: Bacchus Bar, double header

Category: Classics

Chosen by: Rachael

In this double header of reviews, we found ourselves split for the second time. Half of us loved the book; the other half really didn’t. The End of the Affair is the love (or hate) story of Bendix and Sarah in war-torn 40s London. Bendrix is the former lover of Sarah, a married woman of good social standing, whose husband Henry is a well-known, well-respected man.

For reasons unknown to Bendrix, Sarah abruptly ends their love affair, and love-sick Bendrix hires a private detective, determined to find out why. As the name suggests, the novel atypically begins at the end of the affair, which is actually somewhere in the middle of the plot. Confused yet? Well, this is not just a simple tale of an affair.

It’s difficult to write this review without spoiling some of the story, so if you don’t want to know anything about the book, maybe switch off here. That being said, I won’t ruin the surprise either.

The affair

Suffice to say that Bendrix and Sarah aren’t your run-of-the-mill blasé cheaters, they’re tortured souls, whose fatal flaws make the story. There is angst and turmoil, complicated feelings, and Greene expertly invokes the feeling of love and the desperation to need to feel love back. There is an element of Wuthering Heights to this affair, the failure to tell be honest about one’s true feelings, leading to tragic and avoidable situations. There is also a third party in the affair, strangely not Henry but God.

The God Question

What starts out as a simple affair turns into a surprisingly deep religious and philosophical questioning. This book explore about big things, not just our relationships with each other, but our relationship with God, the nature of existence and the physical, and death. The thought-provoking debates on God and philosophy are well-informed and educated, though are conceded perhaps a little too quickly. Set against a backdrop of World War, the subject is pertinent.

The Style

If you’re looking for a holiday read, this certainly isn’t it. It’s by no means an easy read, and some of the book clubbers found it heavy going, or should I say “It looks like a short book, but it was like wading through treacle”. Greene is an excellent writer, who crafts beautiful sentences. He captures a lot in a short book, with a plot that unravels in an intriguing manner, presenting the same events from several perspectives, and a strangely comforting unconventional ending.

Score: 7

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