told you I was going to be listening to Colin Firth reading The End of the Affair by Graham Greene on my drive up and back from Fort Bragg? Well, I did that very thing and am here to tell the tale. Or at least give my opinion. Which is mixed.
First of all, Firth's performance is phenomenal. Truly, it impressed me throughout: the emotional depth he gave to the retelling, and the voice characterization -- especially of Parkis, the private detective, who I kept thinking was a completely different person speaking.
Part of the reason the reading is so powerful is that the writing is potent stuff. And it sounds good being read. The description of London, of gloomy pubs, of the atheist's parlor, of boarding houses, of the narrator Bendrix's own state of mind, are all beautifully rendered.
So it's just a shame that I found I didn't like the book at all. I didn't like Bendrix, or Sarah, the woman with whom he had the titular affair. I actually liked Sarah's husband Henry much better than either of them. Sarah's journal entries simply annoyed me, which is unfair as they were journal entries and sounded realistically journal-like. And the melodrama -- I kept thinking, "Oh please. Get a grip, people."
And I can't help but think that God, for whom all the angst of the affair was spilled, was rolling his eyes and saying "Get a grip" too. Greene made the affair about as tangled and tormented as possible. But really, poor God. I just picture God saying, "Hey, leave Me out of this. I didn't ask to be dragged into this little triangle."
But dragged God was. I guess this was supposed to make the book deeper and profound. It just bothered me, getting God involved when God really has no say in the matter. So God and Henry are the two people I like best in the book. Too bad the book isn't actually about them.
Still. I'm glad I heard it. And what a lovely voice to hear it in.