The End of the Affair

4 out of 5 stars (7,229 ratings)

Regular price: $19.95

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About This Audible Audiobook

Academy Award-winning actor Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) won the Audie for Audiobook of the Year in 2013—for his first audio performance, The End of the Affair. The love affair at the center of this 1951 classic novel takes place in the bomb-strewn last days of World War II, and just after. Bendrix, a writer in war-torn London, has fallen in love with Sarah, the wife of an acquaintance. Though unhappily married, Sarah won’t leave her husband; she ends their affair and abruptly vanishes, reducing Bendrix's inner life to rubble. His investigation of Sarah’s disappearance reveals the role her newly-awakened Catholic faith played in her decision to leave, and other startling truths.

The End of the Affair mirrors Greene’s own relationship with a married woman, and positions religion as a pivotal element in both the inner turmoil and outer destruction occurring in his life at the time. Firth brilliantly conveys Greene’s characteristically bleak emotional terrain in an intimate, nuanced, and unhurried performance.

©1951 Graham Greene (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

Go Behind the Scenes with Colin Firth

An accomplished stage and screen actor embraces a new medium: audio performance.
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Firth makes an emotional commitment to the story, and listeners do as well. The powerful introspection, the force of emotion, and even the melodrama are made real. Firth's full understanding of the text and ability to render the balance and meaning of each sentence allow listeners to admire Greene's elegant writing. The keen-eyed observations of realistic detail—weather, war-damaged buildings, household effects—are contrasted with the theology and clash of emotions. Firth never misses a beat.

- AudioFile
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Our favorite moments from The End of the Affair

Jilted lover and oblivious husband at the pub.
The first glimpse of Sarah.
Is he loved? The dour Bendrix has doubts.
The thrill is gone, or so Bendrix jealously fears.

  • The End of the Affair
  • Jilted lover and oblivious husband at the pub.
  • The End of the Affair
  • The first glimpse of Sarah.
  • The End of the Affair
  • Is he loved? The dour Bendrix has doubts.
  • The End of the Affair
  • The thrill is gone, or so Bendrix jealously fears.

On accents, character, performance: more thoughts from Colin Firth

Very visceral

"Bendrix really is talking in a very visceral way to us. The grammar is often rather eccentric, because Greene allows the thought processes to peter out—there are endless parentheses, and parentheses within parentheses, and digressions, and you have to follow those with an emotional engagement because it is emotion that’s often diverted his thought process." – Colin Firth

It is in the nuance

"You know, I’m not an Englishman of the 1940s but I’m not that far from it. My father would have been the age of Parkis’s boy when this story was written. And I know the sounds well enough, I think. And I think that when you start to hear a voice you are getting information and if the voice is off and if it’s misjudged, then you will start to get the wrong information. It’ll throw you off the game, it’ll divert you from what the writer is trying to say. So you know, it is in the nuance." – Colin Firth

Perfect voice

"With audiobooks, I think one of the things I relish most is hearing a voice which is authentically and profoundly connected to the culture you’re hearing… There’s no greater pleasure for me than, for instance, hearing Brendan Gleason reading Roddy Doyle. I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t sound like I came from that very specific part of Dublin. It revealed Roddy Doyle to me—I mean, I loved Roddy Doyle already but that opened him up to me and I can’t read Roddy Doyle now without hearing those voices which are the voices he intended for it. So I think it’s a great gift to have an interpreter give you that."
– Colin Firth

Character connections

"You can start off thinking ‘I have nothing in common with this character, I have nothing in common with this world, I know nothing about this story—it’s hopeless.’ And then you start to dig a bit and you find that there are connecting points... And you find yourself in a journey where you think, ‘I’ve got everything in common with this person—a few of the superficial details might be different but actually, he’s me." – Colin Firth

About the Performer

Colin Firth was heart-stoppingly perfect as Darcy in BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, won an Oscar for playing the tongue-tied king in The King’s Speech, and continued to gain fans with his roles in Bridget Jones’s Diary, A Single Man, Love Actually, and many more films. In addition to having a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Firth won Audiobook of the Year in 2013 for his narration of The End of the Affair.

About the Author

Graham Greene, widely recognized as one of the most important writers of the 20th century, was born in Hertfordshire, England, and studied history at Oxford. A restless spirit, he traveled the world before settling in London and starting to write novels, including The Heart of the Matter, The Quiet American, Our Man in Havana, and many more. Later recruited as a spy for his government, he based several of his novels in the shadowy world of double agents. But love and passion also caught his imagination, and he explored them from the perspective of an "agnostic Catholic" whose interest in Catholicism also played a big role in his work.

Recommended by the Audible Experts

If you enjoy The End of the Affair, here are other classic works of similar style, quality, and accent. We asked the Audible scientists (yes, there is such a thing!) to examine the “DNA” of The End of the Affair, including topics covered, writing style of the author, ratings and reviews from our listeners, and analysis of many other elements. They combed our entire catalogue to identify similarly engaging titles.

The Collector By: John Fowles
The Sea, the Sea By: Iris Murdoch, Mary Kinzie - introduction
The Human Factor By: Graham Greene

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Late to the Party...

I've had so many people here at Audible recommend Graham Greene's The End of the Affair that, on some subconscious level, I think I made it a point of contention not to listen. That is until I was faced with a family vacation that required a lengthy car ride with my folks; at which point, my mother selected Greene's captivating story of love, obsession, and faith on the basis of Colin Firth's name alone. And, truly, Firth dazzles here; his voice a roller coaster of rage and resentment when faced with the scorn of a lover and the incredulity of God’s existence, but delicate and poignant for moments when yearning feels like a tangible thing you can touch. For over six hours, we sat in silence, rapt. I may be late to the party, but this audiobook deserves every bit of praise it’s received.

42 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent performance of Graham Greene classic

I bought this book quite a while ago but was moved to listen by a great customer review. Colin Firth, one of my favorite actors is truly an outstanding reader. He made this book a real listening experience. I can't say enough about his excellent expression and ability to bring the narrator's character and his emotions to life. This is a difficult book, it is full of strong emotions and demanding questions and it could easily be misread. I was drawn into the book immediately and captured entirely by the narration. This is a terrific example of a good book enhanced even further by a great reading. The themes of love and hate, death and faith are so weighty yet so well served by such a thoughtful performance.

61 of 62 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Colin whispers in my ear, and I melt

To my shame I have never before read "The End of the Affair". To my joy my first experience of Graham Greene's extraordinary words was with the performance of Colin Firth. I have, for better or worse, begun to restrict myself to only a few narrators. Those voices, so intimate, like a lover in my ears. Listening to another can feel ... wrong, disloyal. As Colin speaks he inhabits the dejection of the abandoned lover, the hopeless innocence of the cuckolded and the faint quaver of the loved. Greene created a core of desperate longing entwined in a mystery. Colin's performance is compelling, evoking a searing honesty. His female voice is perfect; Colin chooses a modulation of his own, avoiding a character and thus striping further that naked, fragile honesty. I am unsure as yet, how I feel about the fourth and final act of the novel, merely because a theme jars with my own atheism. I easily forgive that mild uncertainty in thanks for the moment early in the third when my breath caught: and Colin and Graham took me somewhere...unexpected.

72 of 77 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Colin Firth Kills It

Ok I’m only halfway through The End of the Affair, but I’ve been talking everyone’s ears off about it around the office and just had to go ahead and write a review before finishing it (something I’m generally opposed to doing).

I’m not sure quite how to capture just how exceptional Firth’s performance is, but I'll give you two good examples. Graham Greene writes a lot about how close together love and hate are (apathy being the true opposite of both), and Colin Firth totally connects with his meaning. When Firth says the word “hate” you really feel rapture simmering beneath the surface. When he utters the word “love” he spits it out like venom. The two are irreparably intertwined. The subject matter is there - this being, in essence, a record of great passion gone wrong - and Colin Firth does it justice. Every word is impassioned without ever being too much or over the top. Narrators have to be careful to walk this fine line when dealing with emotionally heavy material and Firth succeeds perfectly. But Bendrix, the protagonist isn’t just a man of great feeling – he’s also a curmudgeon, he’s difficult, he’s maybe a little cruel – but Firth makes you care for him despite the fact that you really don’t like him. Another vocal juggling act performed without flaw.

I have never read The End of the Affair before and only have a vague memory of seeing the movie, so I don’t really know where the book is going to end up – but I just hope I can somehow elongate the delicious few hours left that I have with it. Seriously, seriously, seriously – don’t miss this performance.

194 of 212 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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a rare 5-star review from me

Not only do I rarely give 5-star reviews for performance AND story, but I also rarely listen to an audiobook all in one day. So this was the audiobook I couldn't put down! Usually I just listen while exercising or driving and a book gets listened to over multiple days. Of course, I knew I would love Colin Firth's narration (great voice and accent), but the story and the writing talents of Greene were also compelling to listen to... or possibly Colin made it just that much more compelling. Not sure. Either way, I loved this audiobook. Now I'm back looking for more from both Colin and Greene.

29 of 32 people found this review helpful

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  • Ellie
  • New york, Ny, United States
  • 05-16-12

This book is SO GOOD!!

A few years ago, I'd seen the movie version of this novel (which is also excellent, by the way), and I'd put it on my mental list of things to do to read the book. And then, of course, I promptly forgot about it...until I saw this Audible.com version with COLIN FIRTH reading it! What a treat!

The story is fascinating and dark and wonderful, and Colin Firth's reading of the novel is exceptional. As usual, his voice is wonderfully nuanced and emotive, and the timbre of his speaking style pairs especially well with the nature of this story. The voices he does for the different characters are not incredibly differentiated, but all of the voices seem to subtly evoke the deep emotions of each person.

Overall, it is just a fantastic listen--I highly recommend it!

55 of 62 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Complex, intimate, compelling

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.

45 of 52 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michele
  • Miramar, FL, United States
  • 06-16-12

Enter the psyche of a man in love!

If you could sum up The End of the Affair in three words, what would they be?

The inner world of a man tortured by a romance ending too soon.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The End of the Affair?

It was the period when he finds her again and there is hope for their romance.

Which character – as performed by Colin Firth – was your favorite?

The investigator..love the accent.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The coming together of Bendrix and his lover's husband after her death.

Any additional comments?

Please have Colin Firth be a featured narrator again! I would buy anything he narrates.

36 of 42 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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my first major audible disappointment

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?

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Suzn F
  • Fletcher, VT, US
  • 05-21-12

I Hate It, I Love It.....

I know I'm in the minority here and many will think me shallow.... but dare I call this drivel? Okay so for me, this book went on and on..... I love God... I hate God....I love my lover.....I hate my lover....I love my spouse.... I hate my spouse...I love myself....I hate myself.....life is random....life is by design....there is a God....there is not a God.....and so forth. Now I saved you a credit, except P. S. Colin Firth did a terrific job narrating.

161 of 194 people found this review helpful