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The Heart of the Matter | [Graham Greene]

The Heart of the Matter

Scobie, a police officer in a West African colony, is a good and honest man. But when he falls in love, he is forced into a betrayal of everything that he has ever believed in, and his struggle to maintain the happiness of two women destroys him.
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Publisher's Summary

Scobie, a police officer in a West African colony, is a good and honest man. But when he falls in love, he is forced into a betrayal of everything that he has ever believed in, and his struggle to maintain the happiness of two women destroys him.

©1971 Graham Greene; (P)2009 BBC Audiobooks Ltd

What Members Say

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4.1 (125 )
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  •  
    Elanjelian Kuala LumpurMalaysia 01-20-10
    Elanjelian Kuala LumpurMalaysia 01-20-10 Member Since 2007
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    "A Novel on Sin and Damnation"

    I listened to 'The Heart of the Matter' because: 1) I wanted to get acquainted with Graham Greene's writing; 2) it had won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for 1948; and 3) it was also included in both Modern Library and TIME lists.

    It is a straightforward enough story about the unravelling of an honest and upright colonial police officer, Scobie. It revolves around events taking place in wartime Western Africa; in truth, however, it is more about Scobie's struggles with his own demons, his perceptions and fears, and his, ultimately futile, quest for happiness. Strangely, it seemed to me, Scobie the good hardly ever thinks about his work, except in relation to his own piety and damnation. It was as if the natives didn't have any agency at all, as if they existed merely to serve or to corrupt the White colonists.

    Nonetheless, I enjoyed listening to the book for the most part. The narration, by Michael Kitchen, was also good. (It may not, however, be suitable for listening while driving -- Kitchen whispers too often.)

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine Oakland, CA, United States 02-05-14
    Catherine Oakland, CA, United States 02-05-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Greene and Michael Kitchen are a perfect combo"
    What made the experience of listening to The Heart of the Matter the most enjoyable?

    Anyone familiar with Foyle's War will immediately "see" Scoby. Michael Kitchen brought this character to life. An excellent reading of this dark tale.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It was evocative of the far-flung British empire and the people who lived in the farthest outposts. The ennui was palpable.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Miriam Los Angeles, CA, United States 04-12-13
    Miriam Los Angeles, CA, United States 04-12-13

    Likes books and reading/listening

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    "I so badly wanted to like this"

    I love Michael Kitchen, I love the idea of Graham Greene. The subject matter sounded so promising--corruption in Colonial Africa. But oh my there was something just way to boring. I kept drifting off into other thoughts and daydreams. Finally I had to be honest with myself and abandon the book as my iphone is always short on memory.
    Other people might enjoy it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    john OAKTON, VA, United States 04-11-13
    john OAKTON, VA, United States 04-11-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Kitchen is perfect for Greene's style and cadence"
    If you could sum up The Heart of the Matter in three words, what would they be?

    Brilliant. Sobering. Deep.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Yes, because of Scobie's attempts to reconcile circumstance, love, faith, justice, duty, conscience, lust, and opportunity.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Scobie first meeting the shipwreck survivors


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me think.


    Any additional comments?

    Please get Michael Kitchen to record The Power and the Glory and Brighton Rock, Graham Greene's other serious morality books. The current readers of those two absolutely pale in comparison to Kitchen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David pelham, NH, United States 03-05-13
    David pelham, NH, United States 03-05-13 Member Since 2011
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    "my heart of the matte review"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would recommend this book because like most Graham Greene books it's all about the story. No superfluous words or dead end digressions, every word helps make an image or pushes the next word the end.The subject matter is interesting. The main characters are defined by their actions and words and not the characters internal feelings conveyed to the reader by the omnipotent narrator which is refreshing.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Heart of the Matter?

    The scene where Yusef blackmails Scobie but feels genuinely bad to use this leverage against a man he respects and wishes to befriend.


    What aspect of Michael Kitchen’s performance would you have changed?

    I can't recall a single moment where Micheal Kitchen's performance grated on me; to me that is very high praise.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Normally Graham Greene's books have turned into some great movies. I haven't bothered to find out if this one was made into a movie. The actions of the characters are compelling in the book because they help create the atmosphere of the story, in movies atmosphere and action are two separate things. I don't think Scobie doctoring his diary would be gripping cinema unless you knew why. And if they explained why it would ruin the ending of a movie.


    Any additional comments?

    most if not all Graham Greene novels have a cynical conclusion, this is no exception. This is a story about a man who truly loves god and the final act his Catholic guilt is taken to an incredible extreme. There's no silver lining at the end of this one, but a great read regardless.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    alura huntsville, al, United States 01-17-12
    alura huntsville, al, United States 01-17-12
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    "A perfect reading"
    What made the experience of listening to The Heart of the Matter the most enjoyable?

    Michael Kitchen's narrative style


    What other book might you compare The Heart of the Matter to and why?

    George Orwell's Burmese Days because the tone, cadence and style are similar


    Which character – as performed by Michael Kitchen – was your favorite?

    all fantastic, but the main character, Scobie, was hauntingly poignant


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    definitely


    Any additional comments?

    simply superb

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-6 of 6 results
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  • Anne
    ReadingUnited Kingdom
    4/16/11
    Overall
    "Hot and Steamy"

    While the story is a little on the simple side Graham Greene manages to capture the atmosphere of the west African colony during war time. The climate is hot and steamy and the social scene is claustrophobic to say the least. The narrator captures the feel of the book perfectly.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-1 of 1 results

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