Tuesday, 28 December 2010

#94 The Heart of the Matter, by Graham Greene (Vintage)

After The Ministry of Fear gave me such a wonderful introduction to Graham Greene, I'm afraid I was again left slightly disappointed by The Heart of the Matter, my third Greene novel of the year.

On reflection, I think it's been the pace of The Heart of the Matter and The Quiet American which has caused this reaction. Throughout both novels, you feel like you're meandering your way through the story, to the extent that it feels like there is a lack of purpose. That might not be true, but that's the impression created - one which dovetails quite nicely in the attitude of Scobie, the main character in The Heart of the Matter.

Scobie is a police officer in a war-time African state, forced to endure the heat, the mistrust of colleagues, a struggling relationship with his wife and more. He stoicly tries to do his job and maintain his faith, only to end up with an equally loveless and complicated relationship with another woman and blackmailed by a local gangster.

It's a story about suffering, whether that's the incidents which Scobie must investigate, his relationships or the inner turmoil he endures, and perhaps because of that, it's a difficult novel to warm to, and rarely enjoyable, for all that it retains the reader's interest.

So, rating time:

#94 The Heart of the Matter, by Graham Greene (Vintage) - 6/10

Next up: Player One, by Douglas Coupland (William Heinnemann)

  • Click here for the full list of books so far, and their rating
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