The End of the Affair
Graham Greene is frequently included in "novels everyone should read" and "best of the century" lists, and I've been meaning to read him for years. But I'd never made it a priority ... until I found out that Colin Firth narrates this version. This short novel might not hold the broader appeal of the other novels on this list, but I found it enjoyable and thought-provoking, and Firth's narration is pitch perfect. If you love Brideshead Revisited, read this immediately.
Graham Greene’s masterful novel of love and betrayal in World War II London is “undeniably a major work of art” (The New Yorker).
Maurice Bendrix, a writer in Clapham during the Blitz, develops an acquaintance with Sarah Miles, the bored, beautiful wife of a dull civil servant named Henry. Maurice claims it’s to divine a character for his novel-in-progress. That’s the first deception. What he really wants is Sarah, and what Sarah needs is a man with passion. So begins a series of reckless trysts doomed by Maurice’s increasing romantic demands and Sarah’s tortured sense of guilt. Then, after Maurice miraculously survives a bombing, Sarah ends the affair—quickly, absolutely, and without explanation. It’s only when Maurice crosses paths with Sarah’s husband that he discovers the fallout of their duplicity—and it’s more unexpected than Maurice, Henry, or Sarah herself could have imagined.
Adapted for film in both 1956 and 1999, Greene’s novel of all that inspires love—and all that poisons it—is “singularly moving and beautiful” (Evelyn Waugh).