From Publishers Weekly
While Graham Greene, private though he was, has few posthumous secrets left, journalist Cash's investigation into the central love affair of Greene's womanizing lifeDwith the fabulously wealthy socialite Catherine Walston, which began in 1946 and lasted for nearly 15 tumultuous yearsDdoes uncover some surprising new revelations. For example, despite their obsessive Catholicism, it's a surprise to read that the married Greene once exchanged wedding vows with Catherine in a secret ceremony in Tunbridge Wells. However, as one continues to read what Cash has skillfully uncovered, the exchange of vows appear consistent with Greene "as a Catholic fatalist." Certainly, their affair fueled Greene's creativity, and it is during these years that he wrote much of his best work, Cash argues. Specifically, he continues, it catalyzed Greene's guilt-rife romantic novel, The End of the Affair, and his aim here is to uncover the full background." Cash, a former correspondent for the London Times, has sifted through such recently available material as Greene's 1,200 love letters to Catherine and her diaries. Cash also interviewed numerous people who knew them both, including Greene's widow, son and daughter and his last mistress, and he visited the various sites of their liaisons, notably Walston's cottage on a remote Irish island, Greene's Capri villa and the stately home of Catherine's husband. Although Cash's level of literary criticism doesn't match his claim for "the creative debt that literature owes to adultery," his research gets as close to the heart of the matter as one can with the enigmatic Greene. For the novelist's fans, this is a necessary adjunct to biographies by Norman Sherry, W.J. West and Michael Shelden.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The recently released movie version of The End of the Affair
effectively prepared the soil for this investigation of the real-life romance that inspired Graham Greene's novel. Cash weaves the story of Greene's 15-year relationship with Catherine Walston, the American wife of wealthy British gentleman, into the larger theme of the "creative debt that literature owes to adultery." Less successfully, he attempts-- somewhat in the manner of Geof Dyer in Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence
(1998)--to add an autobiographical angle to the story by reflecting on the psychodrama of his own obsession with Greene. Cash reveals the details of Greene's tempestuous affair with Walston through painstaking anaylsis of the author's love letters and other correspondence. Occasionally, he loses himself in the minutiae of his source material, but on the whole, he proves an insightful interpreter of both Greene's life and his work--especially the theme of Catholic guilt that was so central to both. Neither Greene nor Catherine come off as entirely admirable here, but theirs is nevertheless a powerful and poignant love story. Bill OttCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved