Group Read, August 2017: The Heart of the Matter

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Group Read, August 2017: The Heart of the Matter

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Août 1, 2017, 7:52 am

Our Group Read for August is Graham Greene's The Heart of the Matter. Please join the read and put any comments on this thread.

Août 1, 2017, 10:13 am

Oh I got mixed up. I thought it was The Laws and I've been reading that!

Août 1, 2017, 4:35 pm

I just picked up the book from the library. I'll be reading it soon.

Août 6, 2017, 12:50 pm

Finally starting this. Strong writing. Very Colonial. I look forward to hearing other peoples' responses. In any event this was a good choice for on the airplane where I don't have a lot of interruptions except when I buy wifi and check in to LibraryThing!
Back to Graham Greene now.

Août 6, 2017, 2:53 pm

Buy wifi on a plane to check your book group? Now that's dedication!

I'm still waiting on my copy.

Août 6, 2017, 3:30 pm

Checking in from my layover in DC now! I like Graham Greene a lot -- he brings that interesting Catholic edge to a book that otherwise reminds me of Malcolm Lowry or Joseph Conrad. Or Marguerite Duras, or even Jessica Anderson.

Colonialism -- what a bizarre and horrible system it was. This book, like Anderson's, really highlights the ghastly position that European women, in particular, found themselves in when accompanying "their men" to these places. The picture that Greene paints of Louise, and her relationship with Scobie, is just endlessly depressing.

I've gotten to the end of Part I and the final paragraph is portentous and philosophical and very troubling. I had to put the book down to think about it. And then we landed!

Août 7, 2017, 7:53 pm

Just finished this book and am not sure what to write in my review. I was hoping there would be more discussion here. Anyway, to build on what annamorphic was commenting on, this book with its emphasis on colonialism reminded me a lot of Somerset Maugham's books and stories which had British outposts as their setting. I read them years ago in kind of a binge so I can't remember specifics but it seems to me that everyone living in those places must have gone a little crazy.

I'm not a Catholic so I am hoping some person of that faith will comment about the portrayal of Catholocism in the book. I know Greene converted to Catholocism so I wonder if his view of the church was still more of an outsider than a person who had been raised in the faith from birth.

That's all I'm going to comment on right now because I don't want to spoil the book for the others who are reading it.

Août 9, 2017, 2:32 am

Colonialism is bad for the men as well. This book just keeps getting more depressing. The opening scene had prepared me for something quite different from where we are now, half way though, although I don't know what's coming up next.

I am also thinking that, like in some Eva Bowen books, this one is partly about how the English inability to discuss emotions in any way at all is a disaster. If Catherine's death (this is not a spoiler) had ever been aired, if she had been properly mourned, everything here would be different. That death seems to be the silent catalyst between everything that's going wrong in Scobie's life.

Août 12, 2017, 2:37 am

Who else is reading this? i'm nearing the end and the Catholic guilt is truly overwhelming. i realize that this is in part an extension of Scobie's tendency to feel responsible for everything, but the way it meshes with tenets of the Catholic faith is painful. The scene in church was truly agonizing: I could hardly read it. It would have been entirely over the top had not Scobie's character been carefully constructed to make it plausible (and it was still a little bit over the top).

I find this book so depressing that I'm going to have to read something light and mindless as soon as I am through with it!

Août 12, 2017, 7:32 am

I'm still waiting for my copy. I'm a bit worried hearing that it's so depressing though as I don't like really depressing books.

Août 15, 2017, 2:12 pm

I started reading last night and 40 pages in there is no doubt where this i heading. (And it's not good) Looking forward to the rest.

Août 15, 2017, 3:34 pm

It's so beautifully written. I just want to appreciate the prose and not be dragged down.

Why do so many great writers have to pen such depressing books?

Août 15, 2017, 3:40 pm

This was one of those books after which I am forced to read a cheerful YA novel because the level of depression is too much.
Review is on my thread.

Modifié : Août 27, 2017, 5:17 pm

I finally finished the book, and I pretty much agree with the comments so far. The depression is too much, and the lack of hope made it really hard to care about the characters.

I don't know what to think of Scobie. He appears to be a man who is ready to do everything for the women he loves, but actually he never really takes a stand for any of them. Most of all he seems keen on dying and enjoying his rising level of misery. As >8 annamorphic: suggests the death of Catherine seems like the real heart of the matter, even though very little is written about it.

Modifié : Août 28, 2017, 4:45 am

I finished it yesterday as well, and I didn't find it as bad as I was expecting actually. I loved the writing and even when reading the worst bits it cheered me up.

I can only say that he had bad luck in friends, women and religion so the poor guy lead a dogs life. It was nice to see how kindly he was remembered though by those who hounded him to death and how they took the time to really think about their mistakes and vow to be better people!

I didn't like the women at all, especially his wife. Quite happily ditching her husband but then as soon as she hears that he's found someone else she comes running back with all her lies about changing her mind and starting over.. Cow.