Now 2024 Previous Articles Road Essays Road Reviews Author Black Authors Title Source Age Genre Series Format Inclusivity LGBTA+ Artwork WIP

Recent posts

Month in review

Book Reviews:

All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown by Sydney Taylor
Bleach Volume 10 by Tite Kubo
Blood Matters by Masha Gessen
Burnt Bread and Chutney by Carmit Delman
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Flemming
The Company of Cats by Michael J. Rosen
Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi
Daisy Says Coo by Jane Simmons
Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin
Doggies by Sandra Boynton
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Fast Profits in Hard Times by Jordan E. Goodman
First Editions by James Stoddard
Five Little Ducks by Dan Yaccarino
Five Thrillers by Robert Reed
The Fountain of Neptune by Kate Wilhelm
The 400-Million-Year Itch by Steven Utley
Grace's Letter to Lincoln by Peter and Connie Roop
Gregory III by Marc Hempel
The Gulls of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Tres Seymour
The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene
The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier
How Do You Go the Bathroom in Space by William R. Pogue
Immortal Snake by Rachel Pollack
In an Instant by Lee and Bob Woodruff
It's Spring by Samantha Berger and Pamela Chanko
Jenny Archer to the Rescue by Ellen Conford
Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Lion's Own Story by Crockett Johnson
London Orbital by Iain Sinclair
My Ántonia by Willa Cather
The Nocturnal Adventure of Dr. O and Mr. D by Tim Sullivan
Oh Boy, Boston! by Patricia Reilly Giff
The Other Log of Phileas Fogg by Philip José Farmer
Rebecca's Locket by S. L. Gilbow
Render Unto Caesar by Kevin N. Haw
Reunion by Robert Reed
Snakes by Adrienne Mason
Tales of Oliver Pig by Jean Van Leeuwen and Arnold Lobel
Test-Drive Your Dream Job by Brian Kurth
There's No Such Place as Far Away by Richard Bach
A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley
The Unspeakable by Charles L. Calia
The Willowdale Handcar by Edward Gorey
Who Stole the Wizard of Oz? by Avi
Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O'Brien

Flu and Stuff
Have You Brushed Your Fish Today?

Previous month

Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

Beat the Backlist 2024

Ozathon: 12/2023-01/2025

Canadian Book Challenge: 2023-2024

Chicken Prints
Paintings and Postcards

Privacy policy

This blog does not collect personal data. It doesn't set cookies. Email addresses are used to respond to comments or "contact us" messages and then deleted.

The Heart of the Matter: 04/10/08

The Heart of the Matter

What is The Heart of the Matter? From looking through old book covers, I'm not sure the publishers know either except that it is a complex book open to wide interpretation. The Penguin edition emphasizes the oppressive weather that dominates the book: heat and rain. The cover of the new edition I bought highlights the pink gins that are drunk through out the novel (mostly by Scobie's mistress). The 1967 Bantam edition features Scobie and the two women in his life, thereby highlighting his brief affair.

To me, the book was about the isolation, boredom and stress of living in an outlying bit of empire during war time. When I was first reading it, I mistook the unnamed location for somewhere in the Bahamas because of Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana. This time, though, the location is actually supposed to evoke images of Sierra Leone, a place where Greene was stationed during WWII.

Although Greene's novel works with an ensemble cast, the protagonist is clearly Major Henry Scobie, a police inspector who is at the end of career and just never going to get the promotion his wife thinks he deserves. After the death of their daughter in England the marriage is basically over except that both are Catholic and unable and unwilling to divorce.

The story of their loveless marriage is woven together with scenes from Scobie's job. He's always on the look for smuggled wartime information, contraband, diamonds and so forth. He's constantly slogging through the heat and humidity and one step away from catching some horrible tropical disease. It's a hard and thankless job that Scobie does because he doesn't know what else to do with his life. He has no hobbies (not even reading poetry like his rival Wilson or killing cockroaches for sport like Harris).

I highly recommend The Heart of the Matter but I suggest that you take it slow. It needs time to read a little bit at a time and digested. Comments (0)

Lab puppy
Email (won't be posted):
Blog URL:

Twitter Tumblr Mastadon Flickr Facebook Facebook Contact me

1997-2024 Sarah Sammis