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The End Of The Affair – Graham Greene

The End Of The Affair was published in 1951. It is the fourth (and last) in a series of Catholic novels written by British author Graham Greene… but you wouldn’t know it if you only read the first half. After all, it kicks off with a highly illicit adulterous affair. Hardly the stuff of great morality tales, eh?

The End Of The Affair - Graham Greene - Book Laid on Wooden Table - Keeping Up With The Penguins
Buy The End Of The Affair here.
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So, let’s get all the salacious details out of the way: yes, The End Of The Affair is based on an affair of Greene’s own (authors just never tire of writing what they know, do they?). He was sticking it to one Lady Catherine Walston, and it ended badly, as the love affairs that inspire great art often do. The British edition of the novel was dedicated to “C”, but over the pond, a little further from home, the American edition was dedicated to “Catherine”.

Greene based the protagonist, Bendrix, on himself, and Lady C was represented by the character Sarah. They met through Bendrix’s friend (and Sarah’s husband), Henry Miles. The fact that Bendrix is cutting his mate’s grass tells you pretty much everything you need to know about him. Being, as it is, The End Of The Affair, you get relatively few details about the affair itself – it’s over before the story even begins. Sarah had suddenly and unexpectedly broken off her affair with Bendrix some time before, but he is still racked with jealousy and rage. So, he hires a private investigator (as you do, ahem!) to figure out what the fuck happened. Bendrix is basically stalking his ex by proxy, and it’s every bit as creepy as it sounds.

Through flashbacks and vignettes, we learn that Bendrix and Sarah fell in love quickly – it was the kind of affair that burns bright and fast – and he was increasingly frustrated by her refusal to divorce her husband (an impotent and amiable civil servant). Bendrix and Sarah were engaging in a little afternoon delight when a bomb went off (oh, yeah, there was a whole world war going on in the background, by the way). Shortly after that, she left him.

The private dick reads Sarah’s diary from that day – ew, gross, I hate him – and reports to Bendrix that, in the moment of the bomb blast, Sarah made a vow to God that she would cut off her adulterous affair if He would let Bendrix survive the incident. That’s where things start to get religious-y, and the story takes some weird turns.

Sarah, unsurprisingly, has a lot of internal conflict over the whole situation. She checks out a few churches, and tries real hard to get her shit together… but then she quickly dies of a lung infection. And then all this miracle-y stuff happens. The most twisted part, in my humble opinion, is that when the adultress dies, her lover moves in with her husband. Greene explains that like it’s the most natural thing in the world, but it really creeped me out.

The rest of The End Of The Affair is just Bendrix trying to reconcile Sarah’s death and her supposed faith, trying to figure out whether there really is a God, yadda yadda yadda. It’s heavy stuff, but the book is really short, so there’s not a lot of time for exposition: he just has a few revelations, but stays mad. The end.

Yes, The End Of The Affair is super-short. In fact, it reads more like a long short-story than a novel. Greene did his best to address major questions about faith, religion, obsession, jealousy, and the obligations placed upon men and women in hetero relationships, in as few words as possible. It really reminded me of that TED talk about jealousy in literature, which is well worth checking out.

My tl;dr summary: The End Of The Affair is a short novel about a scorned lover’s creepy pursuit of his best mate’s wife, who dies mid-way through her conversion to Catholicism. If I had to sum the book up in a single word, I would choose “bitter”: it sounds bitter, it feels bitter, it tastes bitter on your tongue as you read it. It’s not a romantic read, and probably not one to pick up if you’re looking to restore your faith in God (or humanity, come to that), but it’s certainly an interesting cautionary tale. Never dump a writer without telling him why, or chances are you’ll find yourself a character in a book like this one.

My favourite Amazon reviews of The End Of The Affair:

  • “My third time out with Greene. The guy’s a bore. The End of the Affair is  like having the Watchtower shoved at you by a Jehovah’s Witness with a really high opinion of himself.” – Fintan Ryan
  • “A boring book about people who don’t like each other very much but had an affair anyway,
    Another story of English men and women who were unable to confront their desires realistically. This is one of the reasons that I read non-fiction.” – Gordon R. Flygare
  • “I listened to this book on tape on a drive from Connecticut to Boston and tired of the man and woman constantly fighting. There was just too much drama in the car that day. I couldn’t take anymore. I haven’t fought that much with my husband over 33 years as took place within 3 hours of that car trip. Never was I so glad to get to my destination and tell the couple not to take themselves and their relationship, so seriously. Would not recommend this book on a car trip. Maybe it’s a better read.” – L. M. Keefer
  • “A woman goes to church like once and has some vague emotional experience. According to Graham Greene, this makes her a Catholic, a true religious woman. I’ve had orgasms with more depth than this novel.” – Lincott

Best Amazon Reviews Of Classic Books

If you’ve been a Keeper Upperer for a while, you’ll have noticed that with each book review, I share some of my favourite Amazon reviews of the book in question. The Amazon review section is one of the most magical corners of the internet, full of hilarity and hubris. The very, very best Amazon reviews are to be found on classic books, especially those that are likely to be included on high-school and college reading lists. Here are some of the best Amazon reviews of classic books I’ve encountered in my reviewing career…

The Best Amazon Reviews Of Classic Books - Keeping Up With The Penguins

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

“My personal legend is complete and the sun is setting on the mountains to the north. My treasure is having been able to complete this stupid book and put it away forever.” – Laura WG

Read my full review of The Alchemist here.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

“What light-hearted fun this was! A comedy romp from beginning to end. Highly recommended if you need cheering up.” – Katie Krackers

Read my full review of The Bell Jar here.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

“The mass baby electrocution scene was epic. ZAP! That’s what you get for looking at books!” – John Sapinski

Read my full review of Brave New World here.

The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger

“I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if the author knew this or not, but the teen in this book does quite a bit of drinking and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to drink under 21. Now sure, we’ve all done it but does that make it right? Maybe. So I guess the real question here is, should we lower the drinking age? I don’t know. Ask JD Salinger.” – JACOB AND SUMMER

Read my full review of The Catcher In The Rye here.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

“I cannot like this book. How did this become a classic? The gibberish throughout hurts me. I feel dumber just attempting to read this ‘book’. My feelings are the characters are stupid. They beat people up, smoke, and cause trouble all in a language that is not English. Not fun to read. Not engaging. Not anything worth recommending. If I wanted to read nonsense I would find Dr Seuss books, at least those make sense.” – Amazon Customer

Read my full review of A Clockwork Orange here.

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

“Sadly, no explicit sex, but terrific humor” – Francis Assaf

Read my full review of Cold Comfort Farm here.

Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“This book manifest a many-eyed demon in your soul, who will proceed to tear the blindfold off your inner child’s face, exposing him to the blinding light of truth as he falls headlong into the abyss while madly clawing at the smoking pits that were one his pure, innocent eyes.” – Amazon Customer

Read my full review of Crime And Punishment here.

Delta Of Venus by Anaïs Nin

“I suggest a more accurate title for this book, “Bored with Copulation” by Inane Nincompoop.
Don’t expect this shoddy diary to enhance your bag of sexual tricks to surprise your lover.” – Where Waldo?

Read my full review of Delta Of Venus here.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

“Drac should get a tan.” – Ryan

Read my full review of Dracula here.

The End Of The Affair by Graham Greene

“My third time out with Greene. The guy’s a bore. The End of the Affair is like having the Watchtower shoved at you by a Jehovah’s Witness with a really high opinion of himself.” – Fintan Ryan

Read my full review of The End Of The Affair here.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

“This book sucks so much. It is the worst, most pretentious piece of crap I have ever read. I had to read it for school and I couldn’t even finish this poorly written atrocious piece of crap. If this book had a face, I’d punch it in the balls. Zero stars.” – Tyra Howell

Read my full review of Fahrenheit 451 here.

The Golden Bowl by Henry James

“I found the lives of people who had nothing better to do but visit each other and gossip, woefully uninteresting.” – Ms Katharine L. Kane

Read my full review of The Golden Bowl here.

The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck

“So, I’m only on page 478 of 619, but I’ve been disgusted at the amount of profanity. So far I’ve found more than 500 uses of profanity! On average every page (with relatively big writing, even) has more than one swear. Yikes!

I’m never going to read Grapes of Wrath again, and won’t be recommending it to anyone.If you don’t like profanity, be careful.” – Jef4Jesus

Read my full review of The Grapes Of Wrath here.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

“I was forced to read this book in my English class this year, and I almost died. For a more thrilling read, try a dictionary or a phone book.” – Brandon Rohrig

Read my full review of Great Expectations here.

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

“This was the worst book I have ever read in my entire life. My whole family hates it too. Honestly, I could barley read it for 10 minutes without it putting me to sleep from Gulliver dragging on about garbage no one cares about. I would rather drink a gallon of mayonnaise then read this, actually I would BATHE in mayonnaise for a MONTh then read this book. And don’t even think about saying “oh I bet its not THAT bad,” because it IS THAT BAD! I wish I didn’t have to read this book for my class, but by the time i’m done, I might as well burn the book.” – AmazonShoper

Read my full review of Gulliver’s Travels here.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

“Despite the fact that I bought this on the recommendation of a stupid jerk who acted like I hung the moon until one day he suddenly broke up with me the day after I’d been awake all night in the ER with a sick kid… OVER THE PHONE, NO LESS… WTF?!… it’s a really good book. You can’t blame Capote that there are terrible humans in the world, even if he did write about them really well. Maybe my boyfriend recommending a book about a gruesome family execution should have tipped me off. I dunno. You live, you learn. But yeah, good book.” – Jess

Read my full review of In Cold Blood here.

The Life And Opinions Of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne

“I checked the ratings on Goodreads. This is what it showed:

5 stars: 33%, 4901

4 stars: 28%, 4064

3 stars: 22%, 3268

2 stars: 9%, 1414

1 star: 5%, 848



Meaning: 95% of these readers are flock-following, digression-loving, hobby-horse riding loonies who have swallowed the Kool-aid. There is nothing here but vacuous thundergunk. Pure, putrid unentertaining garbage. If I would have laughed once – just once – during the reading of this book, I would have given it a whole extra star, but it couldn’t even do that. I give him one star for spelling Tristram’s name right, and even then, it’s a made-up name anyway, so I may have been hoodwinked as well.” – Martin M. Bodek

Read my full review of The Life And Opinions Of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman here.

Lord Of The Flies by William Golding

“I had to read this book for literature class I hated it. my teacher rattled on about the symbolizm in this book.It was so boring and kinda gory.plus no girls, wasnt they suposed to repopulate the world after nuclear war so not possible with only boys. The one thing i found interesting was how they acted like wild animals after they had been on the island a while.that was kinda cool.But it was to confusing” – Amazon Customer

Read my full review of Lord Of The Flies here.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

“I was told this was about fishing. It’s not. Because a whale is a mammal.” – Joe Octane

Read my full review of Moby Dick here.

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

“Catcher In The Rye… as told by middle-aged English farts. The party! The party! Let us listen to an old farty woman stream her consciousness to us to hear, pointless thoughts that go nowhere. That’s pretty much this book in a nutshell. Very boring. Mrs Dalloway whines about not marrying Peter Clark, but Pete’s been in India for five years. I’m sure she would have been unhappy either way, marrying him or not, him leaving or not; all she does is party, chill with friends, and rinse & repeat. Ughhh.” – Allen

Read my full review of Mrs Dalloway here.

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

“This book is about as far away from biblical salvation as you can be. The main character had to work for his salvation which is not what the bible teaches. John 6:47, Romans 4:5, Eph 2:8-9If you wish to confuse someone and see your friend or relative in hell, get them this book.” – Dave Nesbitt

Read my full review of The Pilgrim’s Progress here.

The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

“I just wanted to say that this book made me wish that theyd legalise hand guns in the UK. It is the kind of book that makes little children cry. I have read more interesting stuff on the bake of crisp packets. In conclusion 9/10 phycopathic maniacs recomend reading The Pride of MJB before going on a random killing spree.” – Mr Cook’s Favourite Pupil

Read my full review of The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie here.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

“This book is, without question, the most boring peace of literature ever written. It makes the technical manual to my VCR look like “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. In fact, it’s so boring that I recommend a new synonym for boring, “Rebecca”. The book is about people who have disgustingly unbelievable personalities, who do really boring things, and make up mysteries about killing people that aren’t even in the story, then insist on telling you about it. The main character/narrator is the most overly emotional and sappy person in all of fiction, and could never ever be a real person, even in the 1920s when this book takes place. She insists on telling you about all of her problems, and how she can never “feel right” at Manderly, even though no sane person could EVER care. It’s enough to make you sick. The story really wasn’t that bad but it could have easily been told in about 1/10 of the amount of time. It’s like Dickens description without everything that makes Dickens good. Even after the thousands of atrocities committed by Hitler, I still consider him to be a great man, for burning THIS book. It’s that bad.” – person

Read my full review of Rebecca here.

Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

“Mr Hyde was described as complete evil. Other than bumping into a kid and killing a man, what else has he done? I’m disappointed.” – Kevin Palmer

Read my full review of Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde here.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

“Stupid book. Some dumb and eliterit redneck writed it but it has a whorible story. Janny is a nayeeve teenager who thinks about love in a economicol way. she does’nt no enything about supply and command.” – Mason Weinstock

Read my full review of Their Eyes Were Watching God here.

The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James

“There are no more commas left in the world for anyone else because Henry James USED THEM ALL.” – BarbMama

Read my full review of The Turn Of The Screw here.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

“Classic Victorian plot of everyone being too proud to be happy.” – Jamie K Devine

Read my full review of Wuthering Heights here.

Book Reviews By Title

A

The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie
Adèle – Leïla Slimani
The Adventures of Augie March – Saul Bellow
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle
The Age Of Innocence – Edith Wharton
Agnes Grey – Anne Brontë
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood
Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
All The King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
All The Things We Never Said – Yasmin Rahman
American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
American Sniper – Chris Kyle
Amongst Women – John McGahern
An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
Anatomy – Dana Schwartz
And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
The Anomaly – Hervé Le Tellier
Any Ordinary Day – Leigh Sales
The Argonauts – Maggie Nelson
An Artist Of The Floating World – Kazuo Ishiguro
The Arsonist – Chloe Hooper
As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
Atonement – Ian McEwan
Attachments – Rainbow Rowell
Australia Day – Melanie Cheng

B

Bad Blood – John Carreyrou
Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay
Becoming – Michelle Obama
Before The Coffee Gets Cold – Toshikazu Kawaguchi
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Beloved – Toni Morrison
Bi – Julia Shaw
Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty
The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
The Brain That Changes Itself – Norman Doidge
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Bridgerton: The Duke And I – Julia Quinn
A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking
Britt-Marie Was Here – Fredrik Backman

C

Call Me By Your Name – Andre Aciman
The Call Of The Wild – Jack London
Calypso – David Sedaris
Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
The Catcher In The Rye – J.D. Salinger
The Chain – Adrian McKinty
The Children Act – Ian McEwan
Clarissa – Samuel Richardson
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
The Color Purple – Alice Walker
The Colour Of Magic – Terry Pratchett
Convenience Store Woman – Sayaka Murata
Conversations With Friends – Sally Rooney
Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan
Crime And Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Cry – Helen Fitzgerald
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time – Mark Haddon

D

Daisy Jones And The Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid
David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
Days At The Morisaki Bookshop – Satoshi Yagisawa
Dear Child – Romy Hausmann
Death At Intervals – José Saramago
Delta Of Venus – Anaïs Nin
Divergent – Veronica Roth
The Divine Comedy – Dante
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? – Philip K Dick
Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Dress Your Family In Corduroy And Denim – David Sedaris
The Dressmaker – Rosalie Ham
The Dry – Jane Harper
Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy
Dyschronia – Jennifer Mills

E

Educated – Tara Westover
Eggshell Skull – Bri Lee
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
The Elegance Of The Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery
Emma – Jane Austen
The End Of The Affair – Graham Greene
Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows – Balli Kaur Jaswal
Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng
The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde

F

The Factory – Hiroko Oyamada
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
The Family Law – Benjamin Law
Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
The Fault In Our Stars – John Green
The Female Eunuch – Germaine Greer
The Fiancee Farce – Alexandria Bellefleur
Finding Nevo – Nevo Zisin
The Five – Hallie Rubenhold
Fleishman Is In Trouble – Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Flowers In The Attic – VC Andrews
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
Frankissstein – Jeanette Winterson

G

A Game Of Thrones – George R.R. Martin
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – Anita Loos
The Girl On The Train – Paula Hawkins
Girl Online – Zoe Sugg
Girl, Woman, Other – Bernadine Evaristo
The Golden Bowl – Henry James
The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder – Holly Jackson
Good Talk – Mira Jacob
The Grapes Of Wrath – John Steinbeck
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Growing Up Aboriginal In Australia – Anita Heiss (ed.)
The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer
Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

H

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
The Happiest Refugee – Anh Do
Happy Endings – Thien-Kim Lam
The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers
Heartburn – Nora Ephron
The Heat Of The Day – Elizabeth Bowen
The Helpline – Katherine Collette
Her Body And Other Parties – Carmen Maria Machado
Hidden Figures – Margot Lee Shetterly
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Horrorstor – Grady Hendrix
The Hours – Michael Cunningham
Hunger – Roxane Gay
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty

I

I Am, I Am, I Am – Maggie O’Farrell
I Kissed Shara Wheeler – Casey McQuiston
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
I Love Dick – Chris Kraus
I Saw A Man – Owen Sheers
I’ll Be Gone In The Dark – Michelle McNamara
If I Stay – Gayle Forman
If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler – Italo Calvino
If The Shoe Fits – Julie Murphy
I’m Thinking Of Ending Things – Iain Reid
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
The Importance Of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde
In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
In Order To Live – Yeonmi Park
Instructions For A Heatwave – Maggie O’Farrell
Interview With The Vampire – Anne Rice

J

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke
The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
Julie And Julia – Julie Powell

K

Kim – Rudyard Kipling
The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
Know My Name – Chanel Miller

L

Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence
The Lake House – Kate Morton
Lakewood – Megan Giddings
Lanny – Max Porter
Less – Andrew Sean Greer
Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls – David Sedaris
The Library Book – Susan Orlean
The Life And Opinions Of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman – Laurence Sterne
Life After Life – Kate Atkinson
Like Water For Chocolate – Laura Esquivel
The Likeness – Tana French
Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
Lolly Willowes – Sylvia Townsend Warner
Lord Of The Flies – William Golding
The Lottery And Other Stories – Shirley Jackson
Luster – Raven Leilani

M

The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett
A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project – Lenore Appelhans
The Martian – Andy Weir
The Maze Runner – James Dashner
Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris
The Memory Police – Yoko Ogawa
Middlemarch – George Eliot
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
The Midnight Library – Matt Haig
Milkman – Anna Burns
The Miseducation Of Cameron Post – Emily M Danforth
Misery – Stephen King
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
Money – Martin Amis
Monkey Grip – Helen Garner
Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
Murder In Mississippi – John Safran
Murphy – Samuel Beckett
My Best Friend’s Exorcism – Grady Hendrix
My Brilliant Career – Miles Franklin
My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante
My Grandmother Sends Her Regards And Apologises – Fredrik Backman
My Sister, The Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite
My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult
Mythos – Stephen Fry

N

The Narrow Road To The Deep North – Richard Flanagan
The Natural Way Of Things – Charlotte Wood
Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
The Nickel Boys – Colson Whitehead
Nineteen Nineteen – John dos Passos
Normal People – Sally Rooney
Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
Notes On A Scandal – Zoë Heller
The Nothing Man – Catherine Ryan Howard
Nothing To See Here – Kevin Wilson

O

Of Mice And Men – John Steinbeck
The Old Man And The Sea – Ernest Hemingway
On The Road – Jack Kerouac
The One-Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
One Hundred Years Of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez
The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory
Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

P

Paper Towns – John Green
Party Going – Henry Green
A Passage To India – E.M. Forster
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
Persuasion – Jane Austen
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan
Pizza Girl – Jean Kyoung Frazier
The Plot – Jean Hanff Korelitz
Portnoy’s Complaint – Philip Roth
The Power – Naomi Alderman
Pride And Prejudice – Jane Austen
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
The Princess Diarist – Carrie Fisher

Q

Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams

R

Reading Lolita In Tehran – Azar Nafisi
Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
Reckoning – Magda Szubanski
Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston
Religion for Atheists – Alain de Botton
Reputation – Lex Croucher
Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor
Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
Rodham – Curtis Sittenfeld
Room – Emma Donoghue
The Roommate – Rosie Danan – Coming Soon!
The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

S

Sadie – Courtney Summers
Sanditon – Jane Austen
Say Nothing – Patrick Radden Keefe
The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Scoop – Evelyn Waugh
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
The Secrets Of Strangers – Charity Norman
The Sellout – Paul Beatty
Sense And Sensibility – Jane Austen
Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn
She Came To Stay – Simone de Beauvoir
A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian – Monica Lewycka
Shrill – Lindy West – Coming Soon!
The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides
The Silent Treatment – Abbie Greaves
A Single Man – Christopher Isherwood
Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered – Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
Stiff – Mary Roach
Still Alice – Lisa Genova
Story Of O – Pauline Réage
The Story Of The Lost Child – Elena Ferrante
The Story Of A New Name – Elena Ferrante
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
The Stranger Beside Me – Ann Rule
Strangers Drowning – Larissa MacFarquhar
The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck – Mark Manson
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
The Swans Of Fifth Avenue – Melanie Benjamin
Sybil – Benjamin Disraeli
Sybil – Flora Rheta Schreiber

T

A Tale For The Time Being – Ruth Ozeki
Tampa – Alissa Nutting
The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall – Anne Brontë
Terra Nullius – Claire G. Coleman
Thank You For Smoking – Christopher Buckley
Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
They Both Die At The End – Adam Silvera
The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan
Those Who Leave And Those Who Stay – Elena Ferrante
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Too Much Lip – Melissa Lucashenko
Trace – Rachael Brown
Tracker – Alexis Wright
The Trauma Cleaner – Sarah Krasnostein
Tropic Of Cancer – Henry Miller
True History Of The Kelly Gang – Peter Carey
Turn Of The Screw – Henry James

U

Ulysses – James Joyce
Under The Dome – Stephen King
Under The Skin – Michel Faber
The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead

V

The Vagina Monologues – Eve Ensler
The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett
Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
The Vegetarian – Han Kang
Vox – Christina Dalcher

W

Waiting For Godot – Samuel Beckett
Watership Down – Richard Adams
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
We Keep The Dead Close – Becky Cooper
We Need To Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
We Were Liars – E. Lockhart
We’re Going To Need More Wine – Gabrielle Union
Well Met – Jen DeLuca
When You Are Engulfed In Flames – David Sedaris
The White Mouse – Nancy Wake
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
Wild – Cheryl Strayed
Willful Creatures – Aimee Bender
The Wind In The Willows – Kenneth Grahame
Wow, No Thank You – Samantha Irby
Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë

X

Y

The Year Of Living Biblically – A.J. Jacobs
Year Of Yes – Shonda Rhimes
Yes Please – Amy Poehler
The Yield – Tara June Winch

Z

Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M Pirsig

Book Reviews By Author

A

Call Me By Your Name – Andre Aciman
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Watership Down – Richard Adams
Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
The Power – Naomi Alderman
The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian – Sherman Alexie
Money – Martin Amis
Flowers In The Attic – VC Andrews
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project – Lenore Appelhans
Life After Life – Kate Atkinson
Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood
Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Emma – Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
Persuasion – Jane Austen
Pride And Prejudice – Jane Austen
Sanditon – Jane Austen
Sense And Sensibility – Jane Austen

B

A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
Britt-Marie Was Here – Fredrik Backman
My Grandmother Sends Her Regards And Apologises – Fredrik Backman
The Elegance Of The Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery
The Sellout – Paul Beatty
She Came To Stay – Simone de Beauvoir
Murphy – Samuel Beckett
Waiting For Godot – Samuel Beckett
The Fiancee Farce – Alexandria Bellefleur
The Adventures of Augie March – Saul Bellow
Willful Creatures – Aimee Bender
The Swans Of Fifth Avenue – Melanie Benjamin
The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett
Religion for Atheists – Alain de Botton
The Heat Of The Day – Elizabeth Bowen
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
My Sister, The Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite
Fleishman Is In Trouble – Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
Agnes Grey – Anne Brontë
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Brontë
Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
Trace – Rachael Brown
A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson
The Thirty-Nine Steps – John Buchan
Thank You For Smoking – Christopher Buckley
The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Milkman – Anna Burns

C

If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler – Italo Calvino
In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
True History Of The Kelly Gang – Peter Carey
Bad Blood – John Carreyrou
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams
Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes
The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
Australia Day – Melanie Cheng
And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
Terra Nullius – Claire G. Coleman
The Helpline – Katherine Collette
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
We Keep The Dead Close – Becky Cooper
Reputation – Lex Croucher
The Hours – Michael Cunningham

D

Vox – Christina Dalcher
The Roommate – Rosie Danan – Coming Soon!
The Miseducation Of Cameron Post – Emily M. Danforth
The Divine Comedy – Dante
The Maze Runner – James Dashner
Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
Well Met – Jen DeLuca
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? – Philip K Dick
David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Sybil – Benjamin Disraeli
The Happiest Refugee – Anh Do
All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
The Brain That Changes Itself – Norman Doidge
Room – Emma Donoghue
Crime And Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle

E

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
Middlemarch – George Eliot
American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
The Vagina Monologues – Eve Ensler
Heartburn – Nora Ephron
Like Water For Chocolate – Laura Esquivel
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Girl, Woman, Other – Bernadine Evaristo

F

Under The Skin – Michel Faber
As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante
The Story Of The Lost Child – Elena Ferrante
The Story Of A New Name – Elena Ferrante
Those Who Leave And Those Who Stay – Elena Ferrante
The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde
The Princess Diarist – Carrie Fisher
The Cry – Helen Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Narrow Road To The Deep North – Richard Flanagan
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn
If I Stay – Gayle Forman
A Passage To India – E.M. Forster
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
My Brilliant Career – Miles Franklin
Pizza Girl – Jean Kyoung Frazier
The Likeness – Tana French
Mythos – Stephen Fry

G

Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
Monkey Grip – Helen Garner
Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay
Hunger – Roxane Gay
Still Alice – Lisa Genova
Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
Lakewood – Megan Giddings
Lord Of The Flies – William Golding
The Wind In The Willows – Kenneth Grahame
The Silent Treatment – Abbie Greaves
Party Going – Henry Green
Paper Towns – John Green
The Fault In Our Stars – John Green
The End Of The Affair – Graham Greene
The Female Eunuch – Germaine Greer
Less – Andrew Sean Greer
The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory

H

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time – Mark Haddon
The Midnight Library – Matt Haig
The Dressmaker – Rosalie Ham
The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han
The Dry – Jane Harper
Dear Child – Romy Hausmann
A Brief History Of Time – Stephen Hawking
The Girl On The Train – Paula Hawkins
The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Growing Up Aboriginal In Australia – Anita Heiss (ed.)
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
Notes On A Scandal – Zoë Heller
The Old Man And The Sea – Ernest Hemingway
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
Horrorstor – Grady Hendrix
My Best Friend’s Exorcism – Grady Hendrix
The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
The Arsonist – Chloe Hooper
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
The Nothing Man – Catherine Ryan Howard
Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

I

Wow, No Thank You – Samantha Irby
A Single Man – Christopher Isherwood
An Artist Of The Floating World – Kazuo Ishiguro
Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

J

A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder – Holly Jackson
The Lottery And Other Stories – Shirley Jackson
Good Talk – Mira Jacob
The Year Of Living Biblically – A.J. Jacobs
The Golden Bowl – Henry James
Turn Of The Screw – Henry James
Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows – Balli Kaur Jaswal
The One-Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
Ulysses – James Joyce

K

The Vegetarian – Han Kang
Before The Coffee Gets Cold – Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Say Nothing – Patrick Radden Keefe
On The Road – Jack Kerouac
Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered – Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
Misery – Stephen King
Under The Dome – Stephen King
Kim – Rudyard Kipling
The Plot – Jean Hanff Korelitz
The Trauma Cleaner – Sarah Krasnostein
I Love Dick – Chris Kraus
Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan
American Sniper – Chris Kyle

L

Happy Endings – Thien-Kim Lam
The Family Law – Benjamin Law
Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D.H. Lawrence
Eggshell Skull – Bri Lee
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Luster – Raven Leilani
The Golden Notebook – Doris Lessing
A Short History Of Tractors In Ukrainian – Monica Lewycka
We Were Liars – E. Lockhart
The Call Of The Wild – Jack London
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – Anita Loos
Too Much Lip – Melissa Lucashenko

M

Strangers Drowning – Larissa MacFarquhar
Her Body And Other Parties – Carmen Maria Machado
The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck – Mark Manson
One Hundred Years Of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez
A Game Of Thrones – George R.R. Martin
Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers
Atonement – Ian McEwan
The Children Act – Ian McEwan
Amongst Women – John McGahern
Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor
The Chain – Adrian McKinty
I’ll Be Gone In The Dark – Michelle McNamara
I Kissed Shara Wheeler – Casey McQuiston
Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides
Know My Name – Chanel Miller
Tropic Of Cancer – Henry Miller
Dyschronia – Jennifer Mills
Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty
The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty
Beloved – Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
The Lake House – Kate Morton
Convenience Store Woman – Sayaka Murata
Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy
If The Shoe Fits – Julie Murphy

N

Reading Lolita In Tehran – Azar Nafisi
The Argonauts – Maggie Nelson
Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng
Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
Delta of Venus – Anaïs Nin
The Secrets Of Strangers – Charity Norman
Tampa – Alissa Nutting

O

Becoming – Michelle Obama
I Am, I Am, I Am – Maggie O’Farrell
Instructions For A Heatwave – Maggie O’Farrell
The Memory Police – Yoko Ogawa
The Library Book – Susan Orlean
The Factory – Hiroko Oyamada
A Tale For The Time Being – Ruth Ozeki

P

In Order To Live – Yeonmi Park
Nineteen Nineteen – John dos Passos
My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult
Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M Pirsig
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Yes Please – Amy Poehler
Lanny – Max Porter
Julie And Julia – Julie Powell
The Colour Of Magic – Terry Pratchett

Q

Bridgerton: The Duke And I – Julia Quinn

R

All The Things We Never Said – Yasmin Rahman
Story Of O – Pauline Réage
Daisy Jones And The Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid
I’m Thinking Of Ending Things – Iain Reid
Year Of Yes – Shonda Rhimes
Interview With The Vampire – Anne Rice
Clarissa – Samuel Richardson
Stiff – Mary Roach
Conversations With Friends – Sally Rooney
Normal People – Sally Rooney
Portnoy’s Complaint – Philip Roth
Divergent – Veronica Roth
Attachments – Rainbow Rowell
Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
The Five – Hallie Rubenhold
The Stranger Beside Me – Ann Rule

S

Murder In Mississippi – John Safran
The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Any Ordinary Day – Leigh Sales
The Catcher In The Rye – J.D. Salinger
Death At Intervals – José Saramago
Sybil – Flora Rheta Schreiber
Anatomy – Dana Schwartz
Calypso – David Sedaris
Dress Your Family In Corduroy And Denim – David Sedaris
Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls – David Sedaris
Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris
When You Are Engulfed In Flames – David Sedaris
The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer
Bi – Julia Shaw
I Saw A Man – Owen Sheers
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
Hidden Figures – Margot Lee Shetterly
We Need To Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
They Both Die At The End – Adam Silvera
The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion
Rodham – Curtis Sittenfeld
The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
Adèle – Leïla Slimani
The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
The Grapes Of Wrath – John Steinbeck
Of Mice And Men – John Steinbeck
The Life And Opinions Of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman – Laurence Sterne
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Wild – Cheryl Strayed
Girl Online – Zoe Sugg
Sadie – Courtney Summers
Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
Reckoning – Magda Szubanski

T

The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
The Anomaly – Hervé Le Tellier
Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
Lolly Willowes – Sylvia Townsend Warner
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

U

We’re Going To Need More Wine – Gabrielle Union

V

W

The White Mouse – Nancy Wake
The Color Purple – Alice Walker
All The King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
Scoop – Evelyn Waugh
The Martian – Andy Weir
Shrill – Lindy West – Coming Soon!
Educated – Tara Westover
The Age Of Innocence – Edith Wharton
The Nickel Boys – Colson Whitehead
The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
The Importance Of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde
The Picture Of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
Nothing To See Here – Kevin Wilson
The Yield – Tara June Winch
Frankissstein – Jeanette Winterson
The Natural Way Of Things – Charlotte Wood
Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
Tracker – Alexis Wright

X

Y

Days At The Morisaki Bookshop – Satoshi Yagisawa
A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

Z

Finding Nevo – Nevo Zisin
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Party Going – Henry Green

I think we all know by now that if you take a handful of rich people and put them in a confined space, you’re going to get some good drama. It’s a formula that’s worked for reality TV for years, and before that, Henry Green used it as the premise for his 1939 novel Party Going.

Party Going, according to the blurb, is a “darkly comic valediction to what W.H. Auden famously described as the ‘low dishonest decade’ of the 1930s”. It’s a slim volume, closer to a novella in length than a novel. Most editions don’t actually publish it stand-alone; it’s usually packaged alongside two of Green’s other novels (Living, and Loving). The introduction to this copy was written by Amit Chaudhuri, and it’s full of name-drops. Henry Green was a contemporary of Graham Greene. He was an Oxford friend of Evelyn Waugh. John Updike called him a “saint of the mundane”. And Virginia Woolf’s imprint, the Hogarth Press, published Party Going. As to Green’s style, Chaudhuri says this book is a “masterpiece of literary impressionism”.

“Green in fact stands somewhere between James Joyce, in his tendency to be intolerant of ‘normal’ English syntax and punctuation, and Virginia Woolf, in his sense of how narrative can be shaped by things outside of event.”

Amit Chaudhuri, Introduction

There aren’t a whole lot of “events” in this plot, really, so it’s a good thing there’s other stuff to shape the narrative, otherwise I don’t know where we’d be. Six young, wealthy people – Max, Amabel, Angela, Julia, Evelyn, and Claire – all gather at a train station en route to a house party in France. They find that all the trains are delayed due to severe fog, so they take rooms in the adjacent railway hotel (rather than linger on the platform with the unwashed masses). That’s about all of the action, really; the rest of the story plays out in their relationships and gossiping, and Green tells different versions of it simultaneously.



The historical context for Party Going is important. Yes, they’re all idle rich bitches, and idle rich bitches are equally vapid and shallow, no matter where or when they are, but the reader should bear in mind that this all takes place in England right before the outbreak of WWII. It’s a dark contrast, really: the minutia of their sparkly lives and scandals, set against the backdrop of an emerging conflict that will devastate the world. These characters, oblivious and self-obsessed, are “waltzing blithely towards oblivion”. An English major might say that the train-delaying fog actually represents the cold, menacing threat of the future.

Party Going consists mostly of talk, which is mostly about nothing. Once the premise of the delayed train is established, the only real “action” to be found is a battle between Julia and Amabel for the affections of playboy Max. And there’s one strange woman, Miss Fellowes (Claire’s aunt): she falls subject to a mysterious “illness” (Green seems to imply drunkenness, but I could be wrong), and becomes obsessed with a dead pigeon she finds. While her aunt is flailing and wailing about the pigeon, Claire focuses on trying to convince everybody that she’s not heartless for wanting to leave to party with them instead of sticking around to care for the old biddy. Well, it seems important to Claire at least that everyone knows that; no one else really gives a shit. Suffice to say that all of these characters are spoiled, selfish, and horny. They treat their staff (maids and porters) like commodities, to be traded and summoned at will. All they think about is how best to fiddle the social abacus to benefit themselves.

There’s not much else to say about Party Going, really. If you didn’t enjoy Mrs Dalloway, then this is not the book for you. It’s more readable, yes, and less intensely modernist, but at the end of the day, it’s still a short book that takes a long time to read, about a bunch of privileged white people lolling about and preparing for a party.

My favourite Amazon reviews of Party Going:

  • “Short on wit.” – uncle tom
  • “John Updike is one of my favorite writers, but I found reading Henry Green like reading Upstairs, Downstairs in ultra-slow motion.” – J.M. Walker



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