#511 ~ The End of the Affair (Audiobook Review)

Cover of The End of the AffairThe End of the Affair by Graham Greene

Audiobook Published by: Audible

Narrator: Colin Firth

Audiobook Length: 6 hours 28 minutes

Armchair Audies Review: I purchased this audiobook using an Audible credit as this title has been nominated for an 2013 Audie Award in the Literary Fiction category. I am judging the Literary Fiction category as part of Armchair Auides.

Note: I have previously reviewed The End of the Affair after listening to the audiobook version narrated by Michael Kitchen. Therefore, my review here will pertain only to the production and narration of this version.

Armchair Audies Ranking: 4th out of the 5 titles in the Literary Fiction category

My Review

The following are my observations:

  • The Basics: Colin Firth has a pleasant reading voice and clearly is comfortable with the book. The production was crisp. While at times I was quite bored (see Talk About the Passion), listening to him read the book was not unpleasant. There are several significant characters in the book, Bendrix, Sarah, Henry, and the detective, Parkis. There is no real change of voice for Bendrix, Sarah, or Henry. I did enjoy the way he read Parkis, but it highlighted that Firth changed accents based on socio-economic status rather than character. That Bendrix, Sarah, and Henry were all narrated with roughly the same voice was rather disappointing.
  • Talk About the Passion: There is so much emotion to The End of the Affair. From the very beginning Bendrix talks about hate as if it is his mother’s milk. Of course there is more than more behind his hate. There is love and envy and regret and a fight against a faith in God he doesn’t want but can’t shake. The buzz and hum of pure passion is in the air throughout. With this audiobook version of the classic, I just didn’t feel it there. The performance had no life until Sarah’s diary, which can’t help but engage with a moderately competent narrator. Firth delivers his narration from an emotional distance and that is frustrating because I know he has a good range from his performance in The King’s Speech.
  • The End of the Review: I absolutely love The End of the Affair. While having the opportunity to reread it for the Armchair Audies was nice, I was underwhelmed by this audiobook version. I would only recommend it to die hard Colin Firth fans for whom the novelty of having him read a book out loud would be reason enough to listen. I would not be interested in another Colin Firth narration. He is much more delightful to the eye than to the ear.


  • At 2013.04.18 06:57, Sandy said:

    I like Firth but that wouldn’t give him automatic immunity from my criticism if he didn’t make the characters pop. And I would need that to happen because I really didn’t much enjoy this book in print. I think my fatal error was reading it in a 24 readathon…this is NOT a book to be rushed. And all I wanted to do was finish the thing and move on. It depressed me. If his performance was that lackluster, I’m shocked it was nominated. Why didn’t they get Simon Vance to read it?????

    • At 2013.04.18 08:31, bermudaonion(Kathy) said:

      I’ve found that many (not all, I do love Simon Vance) British narrators lack emotion when they read. I want a narrator to tell me a story, not read me a book.

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      • At 2013.04.18 20:21, Jennifer said:

        “He is much more delightful to the eye than to the ear.” LOL, that made me chuckle 😉

        • At 2013.05.09 23:36, Shelley said:

          When I saw The End of the Affair and Colin Firth together, I got a little excited. But it sounds like I would prefer the other audio read by Kitchen. Is that the guy who is in Foyle’s War? That would be good. I love Graham Greene’s writing–it needs to be read well.

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