Sometimes, I find a book in a place unexpected. On a hot Saturday earlier this summer, I went to the Museum of Broken Relationships. The museum is essentially a collection of objects donated by people across the US. Each object represents a relationship since passed–whether romantic, platonic, or even with the self. Walking through the space, reading the stories of so many painful memories, it just made me want more.
The museum’s gift shop had quirky magnets and tote bags, but of course I was drawn to the book section. Between summer reads and hard-core classics, I chose the classic The End of the Affair by Graham Greene for two reasons: 1) it wasn’t very long and 2) John Updike and William Golding had recommendations on the back cover.
In One Sentence: A writer pines for a lost relationship.
Favorite Line: “I thought, sometimes I’ve hated Maurice, but would I have hated him if I hadn’t loved him too? Oh God, if I could really hate you, what would that mean?” – p. 89
Review: The End of the Affair is a well-crafted and introspective piece of fiction. With some autobiographical nods (Graham Greene wrote this after the end of his own illicit affair and even vaguely dedicates the book to who might be his former lover), there is a feeling of emotional truth to the main character’s struggle to work on his next novel through the turmoil. The novel takes place two years after the affair between Maurice and Sarah has ended. The characters are sad and bitter, and while this can easily fall into gloomsday reading, there is always an undercurrent of hope that the pain will go away. In the end, this book turns out more to be about a broken relationship with society and God, which ultimately makes this work timeless. For readers that sunk their teeth into Maugham and Fitzgerald, Greene is the writer for you.
The Book Would Have Ended A Lot Sooner If: Sarah was less superstitious and listened to a medical doctor.
More on the Museum of Broken Relationships:
Article from NPR in 2016: “Art of Breakups: Museum Enshrines Relics of Relationships Past”