When Colin Firth reads the story, I believe it is true. Though Bendrix talks of hate, it is passion and love that come through. In the beginning I was most struck by the brief emotional intimacy between Bendrix and Harry (Sarah's husband). Sarah's voice seems more distant until we get a glimpse at her diary. The experience of love that you feel in your soul and in your heart, including joy but also pain, confusion and doubt truly come out in Firth's performance.
On the surface this is a story told in reflection about 3 people a man (Bendrix), his mistress (Sarah), and her impotent but loving husband (Henry). Bendrix happens upon Henry a year after his affair with Henry's wife abruptly ended. The two go for a drink and Bendrix manipulates Henry into giving him information about Sarah. It truns out that Henry is worried that she is stepping out on him and has thought about hiring a detective to find out for sure. Bendrix is secretly enraged. Its one thing for her to dump him like she did for Henry but another thing for her to dump him for another lover. Consumed with hatred and ill will Bendrix picks up the aborted plan to hire a detective to spy on Sarah. As the detective discovers information, Bendrix reflects back upon the affair and the woman he so loved. He also wonders who is he and what has he become? If the story stopped there it would have been a pretty interesting story of a man's inner psychy in a love crisis. It was obvious to me that G. Greene was writing this from some personal knowledge - the pain of which was fresh. There was such vivid detail to the analysis.
Ultimately, however because of some cercumstances which I won't reveal the question of God's existance and whether or not He plays an active role in our lives becomes the quandry that all the characters must confront and answer. Each does so in different ways. At the end you realize just how fitting the title is.
This story is lively at first but then becomes a set of monologues - like reading a diary perhaps. Remember this book is narrated in reflection and most of the plot is played out by the midpoint of the book. What's left is personal reflection and analysis. Its a little like watching the main character go through the stages of grief - denial, anger, barganing, depression, and acceptance. Though I personally wonder if the main character ever gets to acceptance.
If you are the philosophical type that likes smoking a pipe and sitting by a fire drinking brandy from a snifter then you will love this story. Personally I found it a bit out of reach. I like something a little more plot driven and a little less "navel-gazing".
By the way as for the narration which I suspect is a big reason people are looking at this story. It was good but did not knock my socks off. I have heard better (e.g. Joe Barrett) but still it was nice to listen too and I would recommend Firth again.
Mysteries, classics, non-fiction, time travel, Bounty hunters, grim reapers... anything but vampires, please!
Colin's voice and the wartime setting combines to paint mental images of classic cinema in your imagination. You are not just doing your gardening, listening to a book. You are gardening in England, in the midst of moral dilemma, while the world crumbles around you.
There are no right answers. About anything. Anywhere. Ever.
I have never read anything by Graham Greene and had no idea what this novel was about, just a vague sense that it was something one “should read,” so when I saw Audible had produced it with Colin Firth I decided the universe was telling me now was the time. I have to say that had I been reading this, I think I would have stopped about halfway through. The beginning of the novel kept me interested, but the second half really dragged, and then just felt melodramatic. I had no idea Greene wrote “Catholic novels” so the turn to religion in the second half was somewhat baffling to me. But through it all, Firth’s narration kept me listening. His ability to put six conflicting emotions into just one word was thrilling and never got old. He made me care for the generally unlikeable protagonist, making me feel his pain and bringing out his basic humanity. In short, a stellar performance that elevated the material.
A great 20th century novel read brilliantly by Colin Firth. Please, put in front of the microphone again and again.
and I especially loved Colin Firth reading it....your life will be better if you hear this :)
Oral storytelling is my favourite thing in the world. If I lost my iPod I would feel like I had lost my arm.
The prose of Graham Greene as narrated by Colin Firth are a sublime experience. I'm so glad I bought this. My only hope is that Audible can convince Mr. Firth to go back into the recording booth to do more.
Please get Colin Firth to narrate more books! He is fantastic.
This book has been on my must read list for a long time. When I saw that Firth was narrating for Audble I promptly moved it to the top of the queue.
The story is depressing, but there is redemption. It haunts and provokes. Firth's reading in the first person is wonderful - he is Bendrix.
I love the book and I'm so glad that I listened to Audible's version. It is a new favorite.
I love this book. Anyone who loves me needs to love this book. Colin Firth made it incredible to listen to, Graham Greene made it the perfect picture of the excitement and frustration and confusion and fear and desperation of love. Any love. I don't re-listen to books. I will listen to this book again and again and again.
I can't say anything about Colin Firth's delivery that hasn't been said already. He won an an award for this performance and rightfully so - he handles heartbreak, bitterness, and too-bright all-consuming love with a reserved grace that captures the tone of the novel.
I would recommend this title on the strength of his narration alone.
The work itself is more difficult to fully embrace. The writing is clean, whittled to an unflinching truth but no less rich for that. Written in first person, the narrator, Maurice Bendrix, is consumed by jealousy and hatred (which is to say, love) for his former married mistress. Set in London, when Europe is in the last throws of war, Bendrix swings back and forth on an agonizing pendulum as he struggles with the wreckage of life after the affair. In him, Greene sets both the best and worst of human nature in direct juxtaposition; he shows that love and hate are as connected as an inhale and an exhale.
He takes the feeling in all its forms: physical, platonic, spiritual, obsessive, familial, divine; and places the enormous burden of that on one man's shoulders. Then he steps back and points at his narrator as if to say: "Look at how it twists him, look at how that much love and devotion and depth burns a man."
In lean prose, Greene's man Bendrix staggers under an emotion that is only capable of being fully born by a higher power. He blurs the line between humanity and divinity until loving and hating someone becomes an act of loving and hating God.
Religious or not, this book is insightful, complex, difficult; a classic worth the read.