The end of the affair

” A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from  which to look back or from which to look ahead”

The End of the affair is the first book I read by Graham Green  and I loved it. Paradoxically, this book came to my hands when I was also putting an end to a relationship, so I started reading it as a way to deal with the mourning and grief. Very soon I realised that The end of the affair was much more than a romantic novel, but it is a complex narration about love, pain, hate and faith.

“This is a record of hate far more than of love,”

The first part of the book narrates the passionate affair between Beaudrix, a writer, and Sarah, a married woman in the middle of the II world war . The narration is so vivid that you can actually see the lovers in the room while  London is being bombarded. I loved the way the narrator meticulosly describes the places, characters and the way Beaudrix,  loved and hated Sarah at the same time. Though, the book has a very distinct male voice, I felt somehow identified  with Maurice´s passionate love and feroucios resistance to the end of the relationship.

I became aware that our love was doomed; love had turned into a love affair with a beginning and an end. I could name the very moment when it had begun, and one day I knew I should be able to name the final hour. When she left the house I couldn’t settle to work. I would reconstruct what we had said to each other; I would fan myself into anger or remorse. And all the time I knew I was forcing the pace. I was pushing, pushing the only thing I loved out of my life. As long as I could make believe that love lasted I was happy; I think I was even good to live with, and so love did last. But if love had to die, I wanted it to die quickly. It was as though our love were a small creature caught in a trap and bleeding to death; I had to shut my eyes and wring its neck.”

The second half of the book is taken by Sarah´s voice as we can read through her diary why she ended the affair. This is a big twist of the book and from then onwards we get into Maurice´s quest to understand Sarah´s path into  her conversion to religion. This is a very interesting part of the book as it reveals the internal dialogues of Sarah with God and her suffering and pain.  Maurice resists to believe that she has converted to catholicism, and that that was the main reason of their separation.  God actually took her away from him.

“I wrote at the start that this was a record of hate, and walking there beside Henry towards the evening glass of beer, I found the one prayer that seemed to serve the winter mood: O God, You’ve done enough, You’ve robbed me of enough, I’m too tired and old to learn to love, leave me alone forever.” 

I really liked The end of the affair. The narration, the story and the characters make it a compelling read. It is a devastating story and I felt very close to this  doomed love. That love was never meant to be, and no matter what Sarah and Bendrix did, their destiny was already written. What can we do to challenge fate?

I finished reading The End of the affair a couple of weeks ago, but the story still lingers on my mind and probably will for long.

“I’m not at peace anymore. I just want him like I used to in the old days. I want to be eating sandwiches with him. I want to be drinking with him in a bar. I’m tired and I don’t want anymore pain. I want Maurice. I want ordinary corrupt human love. Dear God, you know I want to want Your pain, but I don’t want it now. Take it away for a while and give it me another time. ‘ 

– Sarah {The End of the Affair}”
― Graham GreeneThe End of the Affair



About Malba Barahona

Educational researcher, language educator. PhD from Australian National University. Passionate bushwalker and mountain lover. I procrastinate reading fiction, hiking, doing yoga, riding, having a beer and more recently decolonizing my existence. I write in English and Spanish in different blogs especially with the purpose of encouraging my students to write.
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