The love affair between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah, flourishing in the turbulent times of the London Blitz, ends when she suddenly and without explanation breaks it off. After a chance meeting rekindles his love and jealousy two years later, Bendrix hires a private detective to follow Sarah, and slowly his love for her turns into an obsession.
Rating: 4 stars
The End of The Affair is one of the most intimate books written by Graham Greene. It is the kind of book that showcases the negative side of falling in love. It highlights how an obsessive form of love can lead to destruction of the people involved in it. One may imagine this book to be a sort of promotion of an affair but that it isn’t. It is simply peeking into the lives of three characters – a married yet loveless couple and the woman’s boyfriend. It is an honest depiction of an affair that balances love and passion in a way that not many writers can or have.
The story is narrated by Bendrix; it starts with a chance meeting with Henry who is the husband of his former lover, Sarah. When Henry mentions of his doubt about Sarah having an affair, all of Bendrix’s feelings of possessiveness and jealousy come to the forth again and thereby, he nudges Henry to hire a private detective to check upon Sarah. Henry is in two minds but eventually doesn’t pursue this endeavor. Bendrix on the other hand, is convinced Sarah is having a new affair and decides to hire an investigator to find all about the same. What follows is a series of discoveries in a tale of desire and madness.
The book makes sense in many different ways. One can imagine the cause of Bendrix being so distrustful; after all, the foundation of his relationship with Sarah had been a lie. It was an affair! Greene pretty much sums up his feelings through the course of the book in these lines – “Insecurity is the worst sense that lovers feel: sometimes the most humdrum desireless marriage seems better. Insecurity twists meanings and poisons trust.” Bendrix is consumed by his possessiveness for Sarah so much so that he doesn’t care about her well being anymore. All that matters to him is whether or not she loves him and is with him or not. Sarah on the other hand, is on the continuous lookout for a love that doesn’t aim to possess her rather accepts her the way she is.
The book has an interesting perspective on physical and spiritual love. The difference between Bendrix and Sarah rests on how they love each other. If you are looking for a twisted love story, then this is the book for you.