Graham Greene's novel The End of the Affair was first published in 1951 in England. The events of the novel concern an adulterous affair in England during World War II. With the war and the affair over, Maurice Bendrix seeks an explanation of why his lover, Sarah Miles, broke off their relationship so suddenly. Greene's contemporaries could relate to the setting of the story, as the war was fresh in their memories and they were living in the same postwar period as the characters. Within this setting, Greene explores themes of love and hate, faithfulness, and the presence of the divine in human lives. Critics have been generally positive in their reviews and analyses of the novel, and readers have embraced it for more than fifty years. One of Greene's early admirers was William Faulkner.
Critics consider The End of the Affair the last in Greene's Catholic tetralogy. In the first three books of the four, Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, and The Heart of the Matter, Greene depicts God as a source of grace in people's spiritual lives, but in The End of the Affair, Greene presents a more active, involved God who is a force in people's earthly lives (performing miracles through Sarah, for example). All four novels address the ideas of mortal sin and redemption. To many critics, The End of the Affair is the most obviously Catholic of Greene's novels, due in large part to the apparent sainthood of the heroine, whose death is followed by a series of miracles.