The Heart of the Matter

  • by Graham Greene
  • Narrated by Michael Kitchen
  • 10 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Scobie, a police officer in a West African colony, is a good and honest man. But when he falls in love, he is forced into a betrayal of everything that he has ever believed in, and his struggle to maintain the happiness of two women destroys him.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A Novel on Sin and Damnation

I listened to 'The Heart of the Matter' because: 1) I wanted to get acquainted with Graham Greene's writing; 2) it had won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for 1948; and 3) it was also included in both Modern Library and TIME lists.

It is a straightforward enough story about the unravelling of an honest and upright colonial police officer, Scobie. It revolves around events taking place in wartime Western Africa; in truth, however, it is more about Scobie's struggles with his own demons, his perceptions and fears, and his, ultimately futile, quest for happiness. Strangely, it seemed to me, Scobie the good hardly ever thinks about his work, except in relation to his own piety and damnation. It was as if the natives didn't have any agency at all, as if they existed merely to serve or to corrupt the White colonists.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed listening to the book for the most part. The narration, by Michael Kitchen, was also good. (It may not, however, be suitable for listening while driving -- Kitchen whispers too often.)
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- Elanjelian

Kitchen is perfect for Greene's style and cadence

If you could sum up The Heart of the Matter in three words, what would they be?

Brilliant. Sobering. Deep.


Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Yes, because of Scobie's attempts to reconcile circumstance, love, faith, justice, duty, conscience, lust, and opportunity.


Which scene was your favorite?

Scobie first meeting the shipwreck survivors


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me think.


Any additional comments?

Please get Michael Kitchen to record The Power and the Glory and Brighton Rock, Graham Greene's other serious morality books. The current readers of those two absolutely pale in comparison to Kitchen.

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- john

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-22-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios