The End of the Affair

Why are the shortest books the hardest to write reviews about?

Blah! Probably because there’s not near as much detail, and I think there’s not as much time to get absorbed in the story. Plus, because I know they are short, I don’t invest myself into them–I just rush right through them.

If you’re going to write a book at the 200 page mark, you REALLY need to grab my attention and hold it (like Charlie Holmberg did with The Paper Magician)–otherwise you’re going to get tossed in the Read pile before I can finish a can of peanuts.

Not that I’ve finished those cans of Lord Nuts yet. Of course not.

Graham Greene writes short books. The End of the Affair clocks in at 192 pages. Really, more like 191.2. That last page has 6 lines on it. I will say that I preferred it to the first GG book I read, The Heart of the Matter, but…mostly it was just a short book. Maurice Bendrix is a novelist. He keeps to a strict schedule of 500 words every day. He’s no Stephen King, apparently. He falls in love with a married woman, and becomes increasingly jealous not only of her husband, but her other lovers. He goes so far as to hire a PI to find out what she is up to, supposedly for the benefit of her husband, but mostly he wants to find out who she is sleeping with.

While Bendrix’s jealousy of other men is the focus throughout the book, the real point of the novel is Sarah’s struggle with her faith and the concept of a jealous God. Halfway through the book, the perspective changes for a few chapters from Bendrix’s male narrative to Sarah’s female journals. Through these entries, we see her struggle with the decision to convert to Catholicism, even though her husband and lover are faithless.

These are fairly big concepts for such a short book, which is why I think it’s a stronger book than The Heart of the Matter. However, I did struggle some with his formatting. The first half of the book was all well and good. Bendrix is a little sad and mopey and self-absorbed…but he’s a novelist so…that’s to be expected (sorry writer friends–why is it that every novelist in books is always sad and mopey and self-absorbed?).

Then suddenly it changes to Sarah’s journal…WAIT WHAT? *double take* I was SO CONFUSED. One, because there’s no warning at all, it just starts with dates out of nowhere. And two, she knows Bendrix as Maurice. Which, from a lover’s perspective makes a lot of sense…but we’ve not known him by that name up to that point, and Bendrix has talked about her having other men, so now there’s this guy named Maurice and WHO IS HE? I totally did not make the connection that he was the same person. After a couple of chapters, it goes back to Bendrix’s narrative, again, with no warning whatsoever.

Bendrix as a character bothered me quite a bit too. His jealousy was ridiculous, especially since HE was the adulterer, not the husband. Henry, the actual husband, was not exactly cool with the whole thing, but was kind of a mousy guy. Bendrix just slut shamed Sarah, this woman he loved, all over the damn place. NO NO NO NO NO. You had sex with a married woman, who you knew liked to have sex with other men as well, you do not get to act like a jealous jilted lover.

So…um….remember that whole thing about how I didn’t have any feelings about this book? I apparently lied. Turns out I have a LOT of feelings about this little 191.2 pager. I’m going to rate this 2 Book Dragons. It gave me lots of feels, but they weren’t particularly pleasant ones.

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