Greene is an amazing writer and brilliant storyteller. This starts off in a dark, brooding and suspenseful tone and with a great deal of emotional power. But the book gradually evolves into a fairly didactic discussion of God and religion (it's one of Greene's major "Catholic" novels) that became (for me) tedious at best. The specificity of the main characters is lost to theory, and the ending--with its possible "miracles" struck this reader as downright silly. The narrator's prevaricating becomes repetitious and dull. There are memorable characters and moments along the way, but for me, it lost the powerful sense of the "real" that Greene usually does so well.
If I'd been reading this on the page, I would have skimmed the last third to half. Firth's reading is so good, I stuck with it. A compelling voice and a brilliant style. His clipped reading and at times terse delivery creates suspense out of even the banal moments.
Addicted to Audible!
Ok, I really tried with this one. My husband likes Graham Greene so I was excited to listen to one of my favorite actors narrate this book. What a disappointment! Yes, Colin has a wonderful voice and did the best job he could with this ridiculous nonsense. I could no longer stand the torture of this story after 1/2 way through. There was really no point to the story- all the characters were unlikable and I was not at all sympathetic to their "heartache", all self- inflicted and narcissistic. Dont waste your credits!
Life long compulsive reader & lover of recorded books
This novel is fairly complex. It touches on religion, desire,war, adultery...I would not be able to summarize it in three words (and probably not in 100)
The narrator of the story, the lover, was my favorite. He was angry and flawed. The fact that Colin Firth gave him his voice probably further endeared him to me. I found this character very believable. Apparently this novel is based on an actual relationship the writer had.
I came to this book after seeing the movie with Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore so I have a very visual conception of this novel. Actually, I was touched by the interaction of the husband and the lover at the end of the book.
The narration by Firth was a real treat. Although I saw the movie first and enjoyed Ralph Fiennes in the role of the lover I would take Firth characterization over his any day.
Long commute = Lots of time for audiobooks
It has been a while since I listened to this, but I'm trying to get around to reviewing everything I've listened to, so bear with me.
I found a New York Times review of this novel from 1951 by George Mayberry, who concludes his review this way: "It is savage and sad, vulgar and ideal, coarse and refined, and a rather accurate image of an era of cunning and glory, of cowardice and heroism, of belief and unbelief."
I'm not sure I could put it better than that. For my part, though, I was drawn to and sympathetic toward the characters even though I couldn't particularly relate to any of them. I take that as evidence of Graham Greene's remarkable skill with words.
I've never been much of a fan of love stories, tragic or otherwise (which is why I give 3 stars for story rather than 4), but I think the restraint of Greene's writing is what made this story beautiful to me. What a challenge it must have been to portray a protagonist who is positively boiling over with emotion throughout the story without veering into overwrought, contrived prose. He's a masterful writer, and I plan to read more of his work.
As many reviews have said, Colin Firth is a perfect narrator and actor for the role of Maurice. I fully admit to being a total swooning fangirl for Firth, but I do also listen to a lot of audiobooks and feel I can semi-objectively assess his skill as a narrator (though perhaps that's wishful thinking). In any case, I suspect many readers will find themselves initially drawn into the story largely due to Firth's narration, but stay when they realize they're listening to such a beautifully crafted novel.
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.
I love to read mysteries, histories, biographies, humor, and Jane Austen.
It is interesting listening to Greene as he struggles with the complexities, frustrations, and passions of his Roman Catholic faith. This book deals with these themes well, although to someone not interest in Roman Catholicism, the book may seem to beat the same dead horse repeatedly (and I found it tiresome at times). I intensely dislike the literary convention that the best way for a romantic triangle to resolve itself is for the central woman to die. ("Madame Butterfly" anyone? "Miss Saigon"?) However, Colin Firth's performance is outstanding. As one of the other reviewers said, Firth makes the main character angry, misanthropic, and cruel, but still very human and someone you care about despite his many great flaws.
I read and listen to books. I drink tea. I sleep like a cat and wished I lived in Hawaii.
I enjoyed this audiobook narrated by Colin Firth. He has a lovely man voice with lovely British accent that one can listen to for a long time. I have a feeling though that I would not have enjoyed the book nearly as much if I had read it. The narration definitely added a star for me. The plot itself is interesting, but there is a lot of tediousness that goes on with Sarah's internal struggle with love and god and her morals. She calls herself a bitch and a fake and a phony and sometimes I felt she was just that and sometimes I felt sorry for her. It wasn't easy to love the characters, but I felt that Greene created interesting characters that are flawed in a way that is timeless. Human beings are always going to struggle with their religious and non-religious beliefs and love is always going to bring pain and pleasure. Infidelity will always exist as will the need to emotionally connect with others. Greene's take on these themes are enhanced by Firth's performance. Overall, I feel like this short book is worth giving a listen.
gerrymorAuburn, AL My favorites are books read by the authors. Janis Ian is superb.
The way Colin Firth tells the story is as good as the plot.
Colin Firth who played the hero.
Yes, and he is always good. The King's Speech may be his best of all.
Colin Firth because we would talk about English theatre and English movies.
This is a book I will keep on my hard drive so that I can listen to it again. It isn't so long that you lose your place. It is just the right length. I enjoyed it very much and wish you had some more just like this.
It almost sounds like the beginning of something funny... An Atheist, A Priest, An Agnostic, and A Reformed Sinner all get on a bus...but what you end up with is a meeting of the minds, serious questions, and some hard-line answers (and the occasional swerving of the bus into on-coming traffic).
This is far from being a 'funny story' but is more often the 'serious thoughts' of a lonely and bitter man reflecting on a woman who is no longer in his life, and venting his frustration on a God he can hardly believe in.
Stellar Performance meets Solid Writing
Apparently everyone, but I don't get it.
Nothing. I find it utterly unbelievable. Not one of the characters is likeable and the only one who rings true is Henry---as the husband who really doesn't want to know. I don't know why either Sarah or Maurice wants to have an affair with the other. They are both selfish and boring. Next, I don't believe anyone truly means the bargains they make with God in moments of desperation. However, even if she believed she had to keep it, why didn't she just tell Maurice? Her vow was to give him up and, presumably, bear the pain. It was cruel to inflict the pain of not knowing on Maurice. The only reason I can think that she didn't tell him is that there wouldn't have been a book otherwise. I realize this is a classic and I am in the minority, but there it is.
As a story, this book is the pits. As philosphy, it's even worse.
No, but I will be looking for more.
Colin Firth was great. I will look for more of his narrations.