“The Heart of the Matter” by Graham Greene

the heart of the matter

“If I could just arrange for her happiness first, he thought, and in the confusing night he forgot what experience had taught him – that no human being can really understand another, and no one can arrange another’s happiness” (p. 85).

There are two things that concern Scobie most: love and faith. Overshadowing both of these things is his ultimate desire for happiness, a desire that consumes and manipulates him. Because no one can arrange another’s happiness, Scobie’s dogged insistence upon making others happy leads only to heartache and destruction.

It is exactly this heartache that brings him to abandon and desecrate the idea of a good God: “that was the mystery, to reconcile [suffering] with the love of God” (p. 121).

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“Hausfrau” by Jill Essbaum

hausfrau

“Hausfrau” by Jill Essbaum

Anna is a passive woman. She blames everything wrong with her life on this one flaw. It’s a passivity that controls everything, from the decisions she makes (or fails to make), to her desperate longing to believe in predestination (she doesn’t have to choose!), to her detachment from Swiss culture, to the way she gives herself up effortlessly to every one of her desires. An American expat living in Switzerland, she is a mother of three and endures a joyless, passionless marriage. She is depressed and lonely and suffocated by her misery. So she self-medicates the only way she knows how: by self-destructing. By having sex with men who are not her husband. Continue reading

"Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen

I watched this movie in Romania a few years ago. It was a pretty special experience. And it was a really fantastic movie. You can imagine my excitement, then, at finding this book for .50 cents at a thrift store in California. Never mind that I had a whole carry-on already full of books and shoes (as every good carry-on bag faithfully stewards) that I had to haul across the States – this was worth the added weight. Right?
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