The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene (1951)Read about another entry on the list.
Until it was destroyed by a bomb in 1940, Graham Greene had a house on the fashionable north side of Clapham Common – one of the capital’s ancient “commons” preserved as an open space under the Metropolitan Commons Act 1866 and thanks to a campaign spearheaded by the likes of Octavia Hill and William Morris. Greene placed the common at the centre of events in The End of the Affair, his semi-autobiographical tale of adultery and Catholic conversion. Greene’s protagonist narrator, the second-rate novelist Maurice Bendrix, his lover, Sarah Miles, and her dull civil servant husband, Henry, all live about the Clapham Common. Its acreage becomes the battleground on which a war, initially romantic and then religious, is fought in the novel. While another character pivotal to its plot, the rationalist Smythe, is first encountered among the orators who gather to harangue the public on the common’s answer to Speaker’s Corner.
The End of the Affair also appears on Karin Altenberg's top ten list of books about betrayal, Howard Norman's six favorite books list, Newsweek's list of love-charmed novels from bomb-blitzed London, Alex Preston's top 10 list of fictional characters struggling with faith, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best explosions in literature, ten of the best umbrellas in literature, ten of the best novels about novelists, and ten of the best priests in literature, and Douglas Kennedy's top ten list of books about grief. It is one of Pico Iyer's four essential Graham Greene novels.