After reluctantly putting this book down, couldn’t help but ignorantly wonder if parts of this book were autobiographical, particularly in terms of the recurring religious theme. Help was forthcoming in terms of the New York Times review (written in 1951, where would we be without Internet, truly), where George Mayberry was able to confirm that Greene “is not so much a Catholic novelist as ‘a novelist who is a Catholic’”, and that this is one of four G.G. books to explicitly explore this theme.
At the time of writing this book Greene had also been involved in the turmoil of a dangerous liaison with his goddaughter, who coincidentally was married and was staying with her husband more for reasons of faith than because of social morality.
Religion is certainly every bit as prominent a preoccupation as the more carnal love affair in this breathtakingly good novel, along with the depiction of flaws of human nature that allow for obsession, jealousy, feelings that are beyond our control (“How could I explain to him what made no sense to me?”).
I found it heartbreaking, credible and extremely credible and humane, across the board.
The book was also of course transformed into a second, very successful Bafta-nominated film back in 1999 with the strap line “The end was just the beginning”: if you have a visual memory lingering in your head from having seen heartthrob of the times Ralph Fiennes and the (still) exquisitely beautiful Julianne Moore playing the role of the two lovers during wartime, but haven’t read the book, I do strongly recommend that you do pick it up – am certain it will not disappoint. Caught up in the midst of the blitz with the prospect of life being snatched away at any moment, there is heartbreak intermixed with the bigger issues, and it’s very much of its time yet of time immemorial. And just loved that line : “You think love ends just because we don’t see each other?”.
Rated : 10/10