Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter, by Graham Green, 1948. (242 pp.)
I originally put this book on my "to be read" list this past fall when the local library book club had chosen to read it. I have yet to attend a meeting of that book club, but I do still pay attention to their book choices. :)

I was interested in reading this book for a few reasons. When I looked for some info about the book, I learned that Graham Greene was a Catholic author, which I thought would be interesting. I also learned that this book is on the list of "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die." I'm not a big fan of the list, but I figure a book must be fairly decent to make the list. And frankly, I also thought the story sounded interesting.

This book tells the story of Scobie, a police inspector in a British Colonial town in West Africa during World War II. He feels an immense sense of obligation, both to his job and to his wife. He feels that he is ultimately responsible for the happiness of just about everyone else. As he tries to live his life fairly and honestly, he becomes wrapped up in various situations that make his decisions difficult.

I did enjoy this book, but not as much as I was hoping. This may be partially due to the fact that I read it over the weekend that I spent in Colorado, so it was much more disjointed than the other books I've been reading lately. I also think that I was just reading it for the story, and I didn't take the time or effort to look for the symbolism and themes that I know are in there.

There is one pretty important part of the storyline that I think a lot of people wouldn't understand, and that's the struggle that Scobie faces with his Catholic faith. First of all, someone who isn't Catholic won't understand at all why not receiving communion is a big deal (at least, not the big deal that Greene makes it out to be). Along with that, though, as a Catholic who understands the spiritual battle that Scobie was facing, I have trouble understanding his ultimate decision.

I would be really interested to hear what others who have read this have to say about it!
Total number of books read in 2009: 13
Total number of pages read in 2009: 5675

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