Friday, March 29, 2013

Affairs! Colin Firth! (Sorry, Got Carried Away There)

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
(Originally published 1951, this version published 2012, Audible, Inc.)
Format: Audible download (narrated by Colin Firth)

From Goodreads: Graham Greene’s evocative analysis of the love of self, the love of another, and the love of God is an English classic that has been translated for the stage, the screen, and even the opera house. Academy Award-winning actor Colin Firth turns in an authentic and stirring performance for this distinguished audio release.

The End of the Affair, set in London during and just after World War II, is the story of a flourishing love affair between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah Miles. After a violent episode at Maurice’s apartment, Sarah suddenly and without explanation breaks off the affair. This very intimate story about what actually constitutes love is enhanced by Firth’s narration, who said 'this book struck me very, very particularly at the time when I read it and I thought my familiarity with it would give the journey a personal slant.'

Mmmm, Colin Firth. 

Okay, fine, I'll make the review more substantive than that. This is up for the Solo Narration - Male category of the Audies awards, and it's my sacred duty as an #ArmchairAudies reviewer to give you the skinny on why I kept forgetting to do my job so I could listen to this book. (Good thing it was only 6.5 hours long.)

My husband (follow him on Twitter!) is a big Greene fan, so I've picked up on the guy through marital osmosis, but I can't say that I've set out to read him independently before. Mistake on my part, as it turns out. Smart, subtle writing, and such deceptively complex characters. You think they're one easily-graspable thing, but the deeper Greene goes (and deep he does go), the more each layer unfurls. And breadth as well as depth! Don't dismiss the rationalist as just a plot obstacle for Bendrix, he'll come straight at you from left field. And did you see what happened there, with Sarah and her mother and God? You had no clue, did you? 

And I could sense Firth's enjoyment, especially of Bendrix. He approached the narration with a calm, almost under-stated attitude that really suited the overly-introspective Bendrix. But the passion for Sarah, the agony of their separation and uncertainty when they met again - it was all there. Obviously (you may not know me well, Dear Reader, but you can believe that at any given moment I'm as likely to be watching the BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice as I am to be doing anything else, bar reading. Or, like, my job, sleeping, that stuff) I am a Firth fan. I think he can do with his voice what Maggie Smith can do with her face - barely alter it but load each micro-change with macro-importance. He can play broad, too, a sweeping comic or dramatic turn, but this book was narrow, quiet, intense, passionate, and gorgeous.

Yep. I liked it, very much.

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