The Tenth Man by Graham Greene (Review)

The Tenth Man by Graham Greene

Blurb

In a prison in Occupied France one in every ten men is to be shot. The prisoners draw lots among themselves—and for rich lawyer Louis Chavel it seems that his whole life has been leading up to an agonising and crucial failure of nerve. Graham Greene wrote The Tenth Man in 1944, when he was under a two-year contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and the manuscript lay forgotten in MGM’s archives until 1983. It was published two years later. 

Review 

This book originated from a lost manuscript of Greene’s that turned up in an MGM sale. The person who purchased the manuscript returned it to Greene and he turned it into a novel which was published in 1985. 

This is a short book but one that really packs a punch. The book begins with a prison in occupied France and the news that every tenth man is to be shot. The prisoners are left to decide amongst themselves who will be shot, so they decide to draw lots. The rich lawyer Louis Chavel’s nerve leaves him and he gives up everything to the man who will take his place. 

Janvier is the man who takes Chavel’s place so he leaves all his new wealth to his sister and mother. When Chavel finally leaves the prison he has nothing to his name but he is still drawn to life he once had and so makes his way to his old home where he finds Janvier’s sister and mother. 

The book looks at the final years of the Second World War and how even the best of men can change in dire times. It is a story of cowardice, guilt, courage, romance and much more. Those who lie are trusted and those who tell the truth are not believed, everything is turned on its head in this book. 

I must admit the ending of the book was not what I expected and came as a big shock but it did show that miracles do happen. I will be honest as much as I love Greene’s books this book did not really enthral me that much as I just did not like the character of Chavel very much so I only give this book 3 out of 5 Dragons. 

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About the author

Henry Graham Greene (1904-1991) was an English writer and journalist regarded as one of the leading English novelists of the20th century.

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Under the Garden by Graham Greene (Review)

Under the Garden by Graham Greene

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About the author

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Graham Greene (1904-1991) wrote over twenty novels, including the masterpieces The Power and the Glory and The Heart of the Matter, as well as three volumes of autobiography, four travel books and essays, short stories, plays and numerous book and film reviews.

Blurb

Strange characters and mysterious threats will keep readers enraptured in this tale of a man who revisits his childhood home and recalls a youthful adventure “under the garden”.

Review

This short story first appeared in A Sense of Reality, I have read it as a Penguin 60 but it is available in the Graham Greene Twenty-One Stories.

So this is my first read of the Penguin 60’s that I bought whilst on holiday, at 87 pages long it did not take me long to read.

The story is based on Wilditch, a man who has health problems, returning to his childhood home and reliving an adventure he had in the garden as a child. The question is did it really happen or is it a young boy’s imagination running wild?

Wilditch is clearly a man of the world, he has been in WWII and has traveled almost everywhere but now he is back in England at his childhood home trying to decide what to do next with his health. Wilditch is clearly very different from his brother and was obviously different to his mother who sounds like a real awkward character who hates mistakes, fantasy and rejoices in cold hard facts, not an ideal mother when you are a child with a wild imagination. It is no wonder that Wilditch spent all his time as a child in the garden and when he was old enough left home as soon as he could.

Wilditch’s memory of his childhood adventure is amazingly vivd and made me wonder how a child could make up such an adventure and all the details of the conversations he had. The story left me wanting to know more and desperately wanting Wilditch to go back to the garden and check the story and although he does it still doesn’t answer all my questions.

I enjoyed the story but just felt dissatisfied at the end and wanting more which is the reason I only gave the story 3 out of 5 Dragons. A good little read and I think I will get the complete short stories and have a read of those as well.

To Purchase the Twenty-One Stories

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