The End of the Affair

4 out of 5 stars 4.1 (7,151 ratings)
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About the Audible Audiobook

Academy Award-winning actor Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) won the Audie for Audiobook of the Year in 2013 — for his first audio performance, The End of the Affair. The love affair at the center of this 1951 classic novel takes place in the bomb-strewn last days of World War II, and just after. Bendrix, a writer in war-torn London, has fallen in love with Sarah, the wife of an acquaintance. Though unhappily married, Sarah won’t leave her husband; she ends their affair and abruptly vanishes, reducing Bendrix's inner life to rubble. His investigation of Sarah’s disappearance reveals the role her newly-awakened Catholic faith played in her decision to leave, and other startling truths.

The End of the Affair mirrors Greene’s own relationship with a married woman, and positions religion as a pivotal element in both the inner turmoil and outer destruction occurring in his life at the time. Firth brilliantly conveys Greene’s characteristically bleak emotional terrain in an intimate, nuanced, and unhurried performance.
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Go Behind the Scenes with Colin Firth

An accomplished stage and screen actor embraces a new medium: audio performance.

Firth makes an emotional commitment to the story, and listeners do as well. The powerful introspection, the force of emotion, and even the melodrama are made real. Firth's full understanding of the text and ability to render the balance and meaning of each sentence allow listeners to admire Greene's elegant writing. The keen-eyed observations of realistic detail — weather, war-damaged buildings, household effects — are contrasted with the theology and clash of emotions. Firth never misses a beat.

- AudioFile

Our favorite moments from The End of the Affair

Jilted lover and oblivious husband at the pub.
The first glimpse of Sarah.
Is he loved? The dour Bendrix has doubts.
The thrill is gone, or so Bendrix jealously fears.

  • The End of the Affair
  • Jilted lover and oblivious husband at the pub.
  • The End of the Affair
  • The first glimpse of Sarah.
  • The End of the Affair
  • Is he loved? The dour Bendrix has doubts.
  • The End of the Affair
  • The thrill is gone, or so Bendrix jealously fears.

On accents, character, performance: more thoughts from Colin Firth

Very visceral

"Bendrix really is talking in a very visceral way to us. The grammar is often rather eccentric, because Greene allows the thought processes to peter out – there are endless parentheses, and parentheses within parentheses, and digressions, and you have to follow those with an emotional engagement because it is emotion that’s often diverted his thought process." – Colin Firth

It is in the nuance

"You know, I’m not an Englishman of the 1940s but I’m not that far from it. My father would have been the age of Parkis’s boy when this story was written. And I know the sounds well enough, I think. And I think that when you start to hear a voice you are getting information and if the voice is off and if it’s misjudged, then you will start to get the wrong information. It’ll throw you off the game, it’ll divert you from what the writer is trying to say. So you know, it is in the nuance." – Colin Firth

Perfect voice

"With audiobooks, I think one of the things I relish most is hearing a voice which is authentically and profoundly connected to the culture you’re hearing… There’s no greater pleasure for me than, for instance, hearing Brendan Gleason reading Roddy Doyle. I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t sound like I came from that very specific part of Dublin. It revealed Roddy Doyle to me — I mean, I loved Roddy Doyle already but that opened him up to me and I can’t read Roddy Doyle now without hearing those voices which are the voices he intended for it. So I think it’s a great gift to have an interpreter give you that."
– Colin Firth

Character connections

"You can start off thinking ‘I have nothing in common with this character, I have nothing in common with this world, I know nothing about this story — it’s hopeless.’ And then you start to dig a bit and you find that there are connecting points... And you find yourself in a journey where you think, ‘I’ve got everything in common with this person — a few of the superficial details might be different but actually, he’s me." – Colin Firth

About the Performer

Colin Firth was heart-stoppingly perfect as Darcy in BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, won an Oscar for playing the tongue-tied king in The King’s Speech, and continued to gain fans with his roles in Bridget Jones’s Diary, A Single Man, Love Actually, and many more films. In addition to having a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Firth won Audiobook of the Year in 2013 for his narration of The End of the Affair.

About the Author

Graham Greene, widely recognized as one of the most important writers of the 20th century, was born in Hertfordshire, England, and studied history at Oxford. A restless spirit, he traveled the world before settling in London and starting to write novels, including The Heart of the Matter, The Quiet American, Our Man in Havana, and many more. Later recruited as a spy for his government, he based several of his novels in the shadowy world of double agents. But love and passion also caught his imagination, and he explored them from the perspective of an "agnostic Catholic" whose interest in Catholicism also played a big role in his work.

Recommended by the Audible Experts

If you enjoy The End of the Affair, here are other classic works of similar style, quality, and accent. We asked the Audible scientists (yes, there is such a thing!) to examine the “DNA” of The End of the Affair, including topics covered, writing style of the author, ratings and reviews from our listeners, and analysis of many other elements. They combed our entire catalogue to identify similarly engaging titles.

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Narrated by: James Wilby

The Sea, the Sea

By: Iris Murdoch, Mary Kinzie - introduction
Narrated by: Simon Vance, Kimberly Farr

The Human Factor

By: Graham Greene
Narrated by: Tim Pigott-Smith

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Doug - Audible on 07-05-17

Late to the Party...

I've had so many people here at Audible recommend Graham Greene's The End of the Affair that, on some subconscious level, I think I made it a point of contention not to listen. That is until I was faced with a family vacation that required a lengthy car ride with my folks; at which point, my mother selected Greene's captivating story of love, obsession, and faith on the basis of Colin Firth's name alone. And, truly, Firth dazzles here; his voice a roller coaster of rage and resentment when faced with the scorn of a lover and the incredulity of God’s existence, but delicate and poignant for moments when yearning feels like a tangible thing you can touch. For over six hours, we sat in silence, rapt. I may be late to the party, but this audiobook deserves every bit of praise it’s received.

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41 of 41 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Doggy Bird on 04-14-13

Excellent performance of Graham Greene classic

I bought this book quite a while ago but was moved to listen by a great customer review. Colin Firth, one of my favorite actors is truly an outstanding reader. He made this book a real listening experience. I can't say enough about his excellent expression and ability to bring the narrator's character and his emotions to life. This is a difficult book, it is full of strong emotions and demanding questions and it could easily be misread. I was drawn into the book immediately and captured entirely by the narration. This is a terrific example of a good book enhanced even further by a great reading. The themes of love and hate, death and faith are so weighty yet so well served by such a thoughtful performance.

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60 of 61 people found this review helpful

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