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 :)
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.
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.
65 y/o father of two sons. Married 25 yrs. Audible member for 8 yrs. I can hardly read books with my eyes any more. I love reviewing.
I suppose that this must be just the sort of thing for people who like this sort of thing. And I also should have known that basically all of these books are grossly the same, a comment which could be made about many genres. However, for a book that is highly touted and an author likewise acclaimed, frankly, I couldn't have been more bored, my dear. Powerfully repressed, intense desires that threaten to take down all that is civilized about human beings? Puhlease. The Brits have been doing this kind of thing for so long that they may not have noticed that a century (at least) has passed by since Britain ruled an empire scattered across the globe, which meant that the Brits themselves had to uphold standards of propriety which no one really cares about any more, and indeed hasn't done so for a very long time. Their Empire is gone, dwindling down to the Falkland Islands. The French Empire has gone the same way, down to the pathetic little island of Corsica which you see whenever you watch French TV weather reports. We Americans had our own brand of imperialism, and see what that cat dragged in. And in this century, who knows? The Chinese? India? Any takers?
In any case, you can probably guess the plot of this book with just a little bit of thought. There isn't any spy stuff, which at least injected a little action into the John le Carre books. There is no action of any kind, anywhere, by anybody. There is thought, intense, suppressed, paralyzing thought. And oh, the thought is so lubricious...
Colin Firth's voice, OTOH, is so listenable that one could just lie back on the divan with a cup of tea and little Nipper, and pleasantly while away the afternoon until tea time. I could listen to this man read almost anything; anything except, perhaps, Graham Greene. And he's a handsome devil, too, isn't he? Given a choice between six hours of this and watching two hours of The Spy who came in from the cold, the jury will be out for about five minutes.