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.
and I especially loved Colin Firth reading it....your life will be better if you hear this :)
This is my first Graham Greene novel. I have seen a number of movies based on his books but never really listened to a novel. Seeing that this was narrated by Colin Firth, I dived in. What an experience. It’s a remarkable story from an incredible story teller. The narration is expertly delivered by Firth which really adds to the authenticity of Maurice Bendix – a not so nice chap who is a bit of a schemer and writer. I was certainly engrossed in the strong love affair between Maurice and Sarah Miles during WWII and its abrupt and mysterious ending. The mix of religion and faith plays really well into the storyline whether you yourself is a believer. Based on many writings about the novel, this is really a self expose of Green’s own life and experiences including his religious views and his affair with Catherine Walston.
Ofcourse, it really helped to know that this production won ‘Audiobook of the Year’ at the Audie Awards in 2013.
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.
Obsessive audiobook listener....
If you ever doubted that Colin Firth was a great actor or that Graham Greene was a great writer, this audiobook will change your mind. It is truly engrossing and hearing it read brings so much to the story.
I'm Robert's wife, a retired physician and homeschool mom whose grown kids now love history, literature, sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction
I should have paid more attention to the negative reviewer on this one. This will be the first Audible book I've started and not finished. (I even dragged myself through Doctor Zhivago, which was depressing and seemed to make a hero out of someone in whom I found almost no heroic qualities, though admittedly I may have chosen to finish it either because it cost two credits or just so I could say I did.) For this one, I can only ditto the reviewer who says the protagonist just keeps bouncing back and forth with his whinings. And, as part of those whinings, I must add a comment: Why does he seem to think it if God's responsibility to make things work out for him when he makes foolish and immoral choices and gets his feelings hurt? It is certainly not God's responsibility to simply give him whatever he wants. The main character, not only in his concept of God as a cosmic Santa but also in every other way--at least as far as I could stomach the story--seems absurdly shallow. I know most everybody else liked this one, but I kept thinking, where's the story? and what's the point?
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.