The Heart of the Matter

Narrated by: Michael Kitchen
Length: 10 hrs and 7 mins
4.3 out of 5 stars (415 ratings)

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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)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Heart of the Matter

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Starts Very Slowly then Boom!

The writing at the beginning is terse, almost minimalist, and dryly British. Scenes jump from one to another with no unnecessary transitional words. Relationships are dry. Then signs begin to appear pressure, and this pressure very slowly builds. Halfway through I did not think I was going to enjoy this book, but then the sweat appears on the dry Brit. The outside temperature is logged daily while the inner stresses become unbearable.

This book is subtly illustrates pity as the most destructive form of pride, destructive to both the subject and the object.
The novel also examines choice and honor vs faith and obedience.

If you start this book, give it time, the powerful ending requires the dry beginning. This, like all my favorite books, led me to ask questions I had never thought of and left me thinking about the story long after the end.

13 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

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.)

19 people found this helpful

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Michael Kitchen is beautiful for Greene

Graham Greene speaks to the human condition with simple sympathy.

Kitchen helps the reader/listener to feel it keenly and genuinely.

Moving.

7 people found this helpful

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Deeply moving!

This author is new to me, bit the depth of his insight into the morally troubled human soul was both beautiful and sad. One of the best performances by a narrator I've ever heard!

6 people found this helpful

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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

6 people found this helpful

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Sublime!

An oft overlooked classic; please read this Graham Greene beauty. You will thank me later.

5 people found this helpful

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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.

10 people found this helpful

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Graham Greene: The master of religious misery

Greene was himself a man trapped between the person he was and the one his religion taught he should be. Scobie's conversations with himself and his God, to me, are Greene wrestling with his own nature. This is a tragic story, beautifully written and narrated.

2 people found this helpful

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Interesting graham green story - well done

Have enjoyed M. Kitchens in Foyle's war - one reason I chose this selection. Greene has a special insight into human motivations and relationships. This story does not disappoint, and Kitchens moves the story along very capably. Worth a listen!

2 people found this helpful

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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.

6 people found this helpful

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  • DartmoorDiva
  • 09-24-15

Just brilliant

A brilliant book brilliantly read. I read all Graham Greene's work 30 years ago and felt it was time to revisit. I wasn't sure if I would like Michael Kitchen's reading as I have got to know him so well through his TV work, but he was absolutely superb. I became completely absorbed and, through his skilful reading, I enjoyed the book even more than I did the first time around.

11 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anne Bingham
  • 04-16-11

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.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Mary Yelland
  • 05-28-18

Something wrong with these people...

I read this book 30 years ago and I didn't really understand it then. Now I do. The narrator's voice doesn't follow the text at all, seeming to rise and fall and trail off randomly like an old librarian dictating a seed catalogue to his secretary. It does convey something like ennui, but unfortunately also distracts from the actual meaning of Greene's oh-so carefully arranged words. This tendency does mend by the last quarter or so of the book where you can at last get yourself lost in the story. All said this book is a masterpiece so don't let me put you off....🤓

3 people found this helpful

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  • giuliana ashford
  • 11-18-19

The Heart of the Matter is a literary masterpiece.

A gripping tale of a man’s struggle with his conscience. Set in West Africa, in the racist years of the early 1940s, the novel captures the relentless heat and the daily lives of the British living there, and the people they ruled. Its main character, Major Henry Scobie, encapsulates one of Greene’s major preoccupations, that of a Catholic trying to live up to the church’s teachings, and failing. Greene is one of Britain’s major writers, a classic, really. If you love literature, you can’t leave out Greene. The novel is brilliantly read by Michael Kitchener.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • mikki100
  • 10-12-19

Not my cup of tea..

It starts off slow and eventually picks what you would have to call 'page's for a book like this. However even then I was left thinking is this it.I struggled throughout but persevered hoping it would improve.. However it didn't and the thing I thought at the end is i won't get this time back! Not for me I'm afraid.

1 person found this helpful

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  • caroline
  • 07-05-17

Will definitely revisit this book

I found it full of depth, thought provoking, characters were believable, settings and events brought to life. Michael Kitchen's narration spot on. Sorry when it finished

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jamie
  • 10-16-20

Possibly his best.

Hard to decide between this and the equally haunting Power & the Glory. Wonderful perception and insight into even the most unexpected of his characters.

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  • Mr. R. Jarmain
  • 08-14-20

An outstanding book superbly read.

This is one of Graham Green's finest books and Michael Kitchen's narration is flawless.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-12-20

First Class Greene and first class performance

what a fabulous renditioning by Michael Kitchen. Wish he'd do more. A heartfelt charming story.

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  • Alison W.
  • 07-21-20

Superbly read

Michael Kitchen reads with such sensitivity. His interpretation is compelling, moving and memorable. I thoroughly recommend this audio book!