Read May We Borrow Your Husband? and Other Comedies of the Sexual Life by Graham Greene Online


Affairs, obsessions, grand passions and tiny ardours course through twelve poignant and wryly humorous stories of sexual love. In the title story, author William Harris is in Antibes finishing his first attempt at historical biography, but he becomes more interested in the antics of two homosexual interior decorators. From the macabre of "The Over-night Bag" to the comedyAffairs, obsessions, grand passions and tiny ardours course through twelve poignant and wryly humorous stories of sexual love. In the title story, author William Harris is in Antibes finishing his first attempt at historical biography, but he becomes more interested in the antics of two homosexual interior decorators. From the macabre of "The Over-night Bag" to the comedy of "Cheap in August," Greene exposes the range of human frailties and insecurities with a sharply observant eye....

Title : May We Borrow Your Husband? and Other Comedies of the Sexual Life
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780099283843
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 141 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

May We Borrow Your Husband? and Other Comedies of the Sexual Life Reviews

  • Jonfaith
    2019-04-21 15:02

    What is cowardice in the young is wisdom in the old, but all the same one can be ashamed of wisdom.4.5 stars. This was a necessary return. If I felt younger at present, this collection would've spared me its wrench. Who are my favorites anymore, aside from Dylan? As to authors, my grasp remains firm around Balzac and Grass. Greene speaks to the faded but civilized self that keeps buggering along. These are stories of nostalgia and regret. The hapless find destiny and mumble as it passes them by. Greene made happy if wistful here. I do regard him as a master. There are reckless steps and then a measured glimpse. There's a salty sniff of locale -- most of the stories occur in the south of France, a powerful one in Jamaica.

  • Cheryl
    2019-03-25 13:09

    Really 2 and a half stars. Although most of the stories were well-written, many had such nasty characters that I really did not enjoy reading them. The only story I truly liked was "Cheap in August."

  • Martin
    2019-03-25 18:07

    Damn. Goodreads bugged and now I have to re-write my review. I don't really feel like it, and besides, the inspiration's gone. Anyway, below is the gist of what the original review said:A good collection of stories, a quick read, and a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.Highlights include (read: my favourites of the bunch are):- The title story, May We Borrow Your Husband? (which is written very much the way W. Somerset Maugham wrote his short stories; I had to keep reminding myself that it was in fact a Graham Greene story). - A Shocking Accident- Doctor Crombie- The Root Of All EvilThis collection of stories is included in Penguin Classics' edition of Graham Greene's Complete Short Stories.

  • Koen Kop
    2019-04-05 11:19

    This book is one of my favorites because it contains the most beautiful love-story I ever read: "Two Gentle People". Has many other great stories as well.

  • Ellice
    2019-03-24 19:15

    Graham Greene gets a bad rap among those who haven't actually read many of his books, as he tends to be viewed as an author of thrillers--the Robert Ludlum of his day, perhaps. But every time I read one of his books, I re-realize how unfair this is. Sure, he can write a good thriller, but he was also an amazing literary author. May We Borrow Your Husband & Other Comedies of the Sexual Life is a great compilation of short stories about relationships, mostly gone horribly, horribly wrong. Considering the stories were originally copyrighted from the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s, some (like the title story) seem very risque in their thinly veiled depictions of sex, while others, like "Two Gentle People," are sweet and melancholy tales that will resonate with anyone who has ever had a passing crush. Others, like "Mortmain," are wickedly funny, yet still tragic. Overall, these stories are fairly grim, but well worth a read.

  • Puyan / پویان
    2019-04-17 16:04

    Hard to rate short story collections, specially when they are all from one author. You have to find a middle ground. The middle ground here is between 3 and 4 stars.3 and a half stars It was my first Greene experience and proved that he surely knows how to tell a story and make you enjoy and think. Despite the title it's not very sexual with today's standards . In some points it reminded me of some scenes from Woody Allen's movies, no surprise if it's been an inspiration to Allen. Stories are mostly about (love) relationships than the sexual lives. But who cares in fact there's not a lot of difference between these two.The narration has a satirical theme which is funny, but it's not like people in the other room hear you laughing while reading, you'll smile and probably some quick inside-laughs, short chuckles.There are twelve short stories, none of them are bad. Some are good some better. It's a good read.

  • Kimmo Sinivuori
    2019-04-21 16:58

    One call tell a great writer from the short stories. Graham Greene is a great writer and this is a very good collection of stories about human relations. In the opener, Greene introduces us to a very devious fairy couple (interior designers) who seduce a newly wed man from his wife. In the funniest story we can have a glimpse at the very strange goings on among the burgers in a provincial German town. Overall these stories remind me of Roald Dahl's My Uncle Oswald. However, Greene is much more serious than Dahl and the mood of the book is autumnal. The last tale of a fleeting moment between two strangers in Paris is the key story in this book of bittersweet stories about the realization of life's disappointments by an Englishman abroad.

  • Yve
    2019-03-23 18:03

    It sounds naïve, but I think Graham Greene really was never as good with the comedic as he was with the bitter and bizarre. The stories in this collection are okay, but in a lot of them o was confused by what tone he was going for- is "Dr. Crombie" meant as a comic elaboration on the cliche "masturbation causes [insert disease of choice]," or a glance back at the past when lung cancer was only on the periphery of medical paranoia, or some simple coming-of-age set against a portrait of a fallen man? How much did the "shock value" of gay and lesbian relationships (predatory ones at that) play into the decision to write "May We Borrow Your Husband" and "Chagrin"? Are"Awful When You Think Of It?," "A Shocking Accident" "Beauty," and "The Invisible Japanese Gentlemen" completely set up for their own single, somewhat feeble punchlines? I get that he wrote the majority of these in "a single mood of sad hilarity," as he writes in the introduction to Collected Stories, and it's not as if the possible directions that one can sense in any of these stories are bad ideas, but in many cases their weakness is that Greene doesn't fully develop any single of of those directions. Also, just another little thing that bothered me is that Greene's characterization of Americans and the U.S. Really do not ring true, and though they're small it feels awkward to read an English man's reflections on the American character. The most baffling is probably in "Cheap In August," a story I otherwise like, where Mary Watson complains about American food having tomatoes in every dish, a phenomenon I have neither experienced nor heard of and makes me think he just chose an indigenous American plant for his purpose.There are, however, a few good stories that seem confident in what they are. One is "The Root of All Evil," a winding tale of pure absurdity, apparently pulled wholesale from a dream. The ridiculous succession of events along with the frame story give it an entertaining folk-tale feel, even though it's never laugh-out-loud funny. "Cheap In August" is really prototypical Greene, a moving and often uncomfortable story about a woman looking for an affair in Jamaica in the off-season. The final story, "Two Gentle People," also deals with chance meetings, and the cowardice and regret that comes with old age, but in a different way - nothing physical or scandalous, just tenderness between two people that never will be realized. And "Mortmain" is a somewhat sensational, disturbing story about a man, newly married to a young bride, who just can't escape the imagine presence of his previous rebuked mistress.Otherwise, this collection seems trivial in comparison with 21 Stories and Greene's great novels. I have yet one more of his short story collections to read, but this hasn't dampened my hopes for that because I do believe this one's weakness is its reliance on the titular theme of "comedies of the sexual life" which makes it include pieces that fit the bill content wise but wouldn't stand up in a regular collection.

  • Joe
    2019-03-28 19:26

    I generally enjoy Graham Greene's novels, although it normally takes a few chapters for me to warm up to them. In this case, a collection of unrelated short stories, I never had the chance to do that. Some of the stories were very good, some were poor and some were hard to understand, so I'm not sure if they were good or not.

  • Stewart
    2019-04-04 14:13

    Graham Greene’s collection of 12 stories, published in 1967, has the seductive title “May We Borrow Your Husband? And Other Comedies of the Sexual Life.” The stories skillfully combine comedy, tragedy, and wry observation. Although most of these Graham’s stories are character-driven, he does offer readers detailed and telling descriptions of the locales. Many of the stories take place on or near the Mediterranean. The title story, which is about sexual machinations of a gay couple trying to seduce a newly married but unhappy man, is set in Antibes, a resort town in southern France. Graham has his first-person narrator, an English writer, set the scene. He is staying at a cheap hotel next to the seawall and the Mediterranean as the summer season is ending. Antibes and the hotel face east toward the sea: “The cold weather had come early and Antibes catches only the morning sun – good enough for breakfast on the terrace, but it was safer to lunch indoors or the shadow might overtake the coffee.” To this day (2017), one can find many of the local sites mentioned in this short story on a detailed map or aerial view online. Another of the dozen short stories was especially good, I think: “Cheap in August,” an expert study in loneliness and kindness. “Cheap in August” is about a 39-year-old woman, born in England but living in New England, who spends a few weeks in Jamaica when rates are cheapest – August. Her professor husband is in Europe giving lectures. “They had been married ten years and they had only been separated three times,” the narrator says. She wanted an adventure, a “holiday affair,” but was disappointed. “The trouble was that, after three weeks of calypsos in the humid evenings, the rum punches (for which she could no longer disguise from herself a repugnance), the warm Martinis, the interminable red snappers, and tomatoes with everything, there had been no affair, not even the hint of one. She had discovered with disappointment the essential morality of a holiday resort in the cheap season; there were no opportunities for infidelity, only for writing postcards.” Greene again provides readers compelling details: “Outside the closed windows of the hotel annexe the boxes of the air-conditioners made a continuous rumble in the starred and palmy night like overfed hotel guests. Her room was full of dried air which bore no more resemblance to fresh air than the dried figs to the newly picked fruit.” She meets a man, with the laughable name of Henry Hickslaughter, whom she calls “the old fat man” and initially compares to an “old boot” an angler might mistakenly catch. He is in his 70s, and she discovers he is lonelier than she is. They meet in the hotel restaurant and later in his hotel room, a few doors away from hers. “He had everything prepared: a bottle of Old Walker, a bucket of ice, two bottles of soda. Like books, drinks can make a room inhabited. She saw him as a man fighting in his own fashion against the sense of solitude.” After awkward conversations and unexpected revelations, they strike up an unlikely friendship, and I won’t give away the ending except to say she does after all find an adventure, and an enlightening one, learning about the United States and life in general from this unusual man from St. Louis. Not all the stories are winners, but the ones that are, are good indeed, with their humor and keen observations of people and their romantic relationships – plus the places they inhabit, however temporarily.

  • Alan
    2019-03-23 19:16

    I picked this up as part of Forbes Library's summer reading passport to satisfy the category "read a book published the year you were born". Greene offers up a collection of stories, in his unique voice, exploring relationships, with an emphasis on sexual desire. The volume is worth reading for the story "Two Gentle People" alone, a bittersweet story of a love that cannot be.

  • Vana
    2019-04-19 15:02

    Απολαυστικός Greene, όχι στις βαθιά φιλοσοφημένες στιγμές του βέβαια, αλλά πάντως ευφυής, είρων, διεισδυτικός. Συλλογή διηγημάτων με κωμική-ειρωνική νότα, στο στυλ του "Ο άνθρωπός μας στην Αβάνα", λεπτό χιιούμορ, σκιαγράφηση χαρακτήρων, γενικά ένα πολύ ευχάριστο και αξιοπρεπές ανάγνωσμα

  • Prakash Loungani
    2019-04-21 13:08

    Second stop on my tour revisiting Greene-land. A lesser attraction.

  • Charles
    2019-04-14 16:04

    By "comedies of the sexual life" written by Graham Greene, what this collection contains in actual fact, and in typical Graham Greene fashion, are some of the most dismal and heartrending observations on life and sexuality that you ever read. However, some of these observations are too archaic to be of any significant interest to a modern reader, unlike Greene's collection of twenty-one stories. The Short Stories: I will only discuss the more detailed stories.1) 'May We Borrow Your Husband?'Description: Famous author William Harris is spending the fag-end of the season at Antibes finishing his first attempt at historical biography, but he becomes more interested and involved in the antics of two homosexual interior decorators intent on stealing Poppy Travis's honeymoon husband. Which leaves him free to fall in love with Poopy herself (from the book's back cover description).The lives of two young newlyweds are not as felicitous as they seem after Tony and Stephen, the interior decorators, seduce, or 'borrow', Poopy's husband. I doubt whether that marriage will last long... What is interesting is William's ensuing relationship with Poopy herself, whom he felt an almost paternal bond with:"You will notice that I (William Harris) play a very unheroic part in this comedy. I could have gone direct, I suppose, to the girl and given her a little lecture on the facts of life." -4/52) 'Cheap in August'Description: A wife holidays alone in Jamaica's cheap season idly hoping for excitement but finding the only man she can have an affair with is far too old and frightened of the dark (from the book's back cover description).I found 'Cheap in August' to be rather insightful, not surprisingly, because infidelity has always been one of Greene's most pervasive themes. The question is, 'what compels a perfectly happy spouse to have an affair?', a question which has perturbed writers and philosophers from the ancient Hellenistic period to the present day. Greene argues that it is only our yearning for the unfamiliar:"She would say to herself, I have slept with no one other than Charlie (she wouldn't admit as sexual experiences the small exciting half-way points that she had reached before marriage); why am I now seeking to find a strange body, which will probably give me less pleasure than the body I already know? It had been more than a month before Charlie had brought her real pleasure. Pleasure, she learnt, grew with habit, so that if it were not really pleasure that she looked for, what was it? The answer could only be the unfamiliar."'Cheap in August' is one of the better stories found in this collection, only because it conforms to Greene's most profound thematic concerns.-4.25/53) 'Chagrin in Three Parts'Description: A widow and a divorcee tipsily discuss the inadequacy of men in general and their husbands in particular, deciding that women have much more to offer each other by way of variety in sexual love (from the book's back cover description).This story demonstrates what is lacking in the rest of the stories found in this collection. It is not as humorous as it attempts to be, and there is nothing to recommend the story besides that. -3/5Overall: 3/5. For the two or so great stories, I would not recommend this collection to anyone. Read something else by Greene.

  • Mark Ludmon
    2019-03-24 15:58

    Delightful collection of short stories, from amusing sexual comedy through to the eccentric and macabre.

  • Scoats
    2019-04-14 15:07

    Mid 20th century "Comedies of the Sexual Life" by an Englishman. I've been dragged to enough community theater to loathe "English sex farce". So I was leery. But the book was on my shelf so it was getting read, at least some of it. The title sucked me right in. The narrator of that story is an late middle-aged English ex-pat writer living on the French Rivera writing about people he met there. Somerset Maugham covered that ground really well and often. Greene does it a bit better than Maugham. I don't know if I would call the title story or any of the others comedies but in the sense that none of them ended like Hamlet with everyone dying, I guess they weren't tragedies. The next two stories also take place in Antibes and share the same magic. After that things get a little rocky. "The Overnight Bag" really had no point whatsoever, I reread the thing twice but I didn't miss anything. So that pissed me off a little. The remaining stories vary between great and pure crap ("Doctor Crombie" and especially "The Root of all Evil"). For the most part, the stories are quick, fun, breezy, but not shallow reads. The great ones are great and for the most part the clunkers at least aren't very long. This collection reminds of an album with several amazing great songs and bunch of filler songs. It's a shame the filler was included (I guess to give people their money's worth), they take a 5 star book down to 3 stars. People would buy and pay as much for a 30 minute great album as they would for 50 minute album with 30 minutes of great songs. But whatcha gonna do?

  • Booklovinglady
    2019-04-02 17:20

    Twelve short stories, all ‘comedies of the sexual life’, as the title indicates, and of which the excellent title story,’May We Borrow Your Husband?’ takes up a quarter of the book. All stories are tragic though, one way or another, which makes the comedies dark ones... Yet the title is apt as all stories were able to make me smile, and even grin sometimes, although the smile was a sad one often. To me, the story ‘The Root Of All Evil’ had, apart from its sadness, a decidedly funny side to it as well.Years ago I read The Quiet American and didn’t like it. About five years ago I read The End of the Affair which I loved, just as I loved reading the short stories in May We Borrow Your Husband?. It made me wonder whether I was just too young to fully appreciate The Quiet American...See also Foreign fiction translated into Dutch/Flemish

  • Kasia M
    2019-04-07 12:21

    Graham Greene is full of surprises to me. I have read The Quiet American and Our Man in Havana recently, and both these were fantastic reads, partially because they were not what I expected.This short stories collection was, again, not what I had in mind when I checked it out of my library. I expected a feeble read, perhaps relating to Greene's time in the Secret Service. I found none of that - some of the stories seem to be written just to amuse the reader, some are a bit more philosophical. They all give credit to the author's sense of observation.The sad thing is that these were published almost 50 years ago and you can sense that. Some notions are outdated, some jokes became cliches, the title story May we borrow your husband? seems a bit offensive at times.

  • Amanda Rutendo
    2019-04-19 19:17

    fabulously boring

  • George Ilsley
    2019-03-30 16:04

    I'm calling this "gay" because the title story (the longest in the collection) and a few others have gay characters. Of course, we don't see these characters from inside, only from the POV of others (ie, someone refers to "those nancies").I usually rail against stories which suffer from the "undisclosed first person narrator syndrome". This collection is almost completely infected with the syndrome, yet somehow does not suffer from it. Perhaps it is a host. The reader imports knowledge of who the "middle-aged writer" might be, and so we are not left wondering. He is a self-described voyeur, and overhears conversations in restaurants and reports these things to us (this may be a bit of a nod to Greene's intelligence background). One still has to wonder what the first person narrator contributes to the narrative in most of these pieces.

  • Sarah
    2019-03-25 11:06

    Read in Antibes on a Lonely Planet recommendation of books set in the French Riviera. Didn't in fact realise that this was a collection of short stories as the Kindle edition didn't have '& other..' in the title, so I was a bit disappointed when the title story came to an end. I wanted to know what happened to Poopy and Peter when they returned home after their honeymoon after Peter's sexual awakening by the two interior designers, Stephen and Tony (or was it just Tony) However, once I was into the other stories (A Shocking Accident was my favourite - Jerome's father killed by a pig falling off a balcony in Naples!) I was appeased. Some of the stories had fantastic plots (the dead baby in the suitcase), and some had more gentle narrative based on everyday occurrences seen in a new light (a conversation held with a baby on a train).

  • Dane Cobain
    2019-03-30 17:57

    This collection of Greene’s short stories promises to cover “comedies of the sexual life”, and it delivers on that with the author’s usual twist of brilliance. Despite the title, there’s nothing necessarily scandalous here, and definitely not in the era of Page 3 girls. A memorable scene involves a wife who says to her husband that planes make her feel erotic; he replies that it “must be the vibration.”Greene used to categorise his work as either a serious novel or as an ‘entertainment‘ – not only is this clearly an entertainment, it’s one of the most entertaining. If you’re new to Greene and want a book that makes you smile, this is as good a place as any to start.

  • Lilirose
    2019-04-12 11:56

    Una serie di racconti vivaci e divertenti, il cui punto di forza sta nell'originalità delle trame e nello humour sofisticato, tipicamente inglese. Non ho mai letto nulla di Greene e so che ha spaziato in molti generi, dal thriller alla saggistica: devo dire che anche come scrittore di racconti se la cava benissimo, in poche pagine riesce a costruire delle storie accattivanti; probabilmente il merito è dei dialoghi brillanti, che danno verve alla storia e rendono i protagonisti credibili nelle loro eccentricità. In conclusione un testo leggero, che però assolve in pieno alla sua funzione di divertire con intelligenza.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-04-03 18:20

    I really do like Graham Green and need to read more. This, returning to Scottish rain after five weeks of sun and wind "from Cape Cod to the Pacific Palisades" (LITERALLY, for me, although that is lifted straight from the text of "Cheap in August") is just SO apt, though it was published 40 years ago:"Suddenly it was autumn when they arrived back in London--if not winter already, for there was ice in the rain falling on the tarmac, and they had quite forgotten how early the lights came on at home--passing Gilette and Lucozade and Smith's Crisps, and no view of the Parthenon anywhere."The stories were brief and bitter and occasionally very funny. I am going to read some more.

  • Sarah
    2019-04-10 12:12

    it definately wasn't what i expected but i took it on a trip and it served it's purpose. i was actually interested in these stories which i wouldn't usually be into. i am into "the weirder the better" kinda books. when i bought this one i thought it would fit that category to a T. it was a different kind of book that i'd never encountered. i really enjoyed it. considering the language and the time period it was a rather raunchy little book :)

  • Wendy Greenberg
    2019-04-15 13:20

    Love Greene's writing - so sparing yet so evocative. Stories end by make you stop and think - rather than just get neatly tied up. Episodic snatches of its many forms - from "gay" Antibes to an 1890s drinking den. Such lightness of touch.Wanted to edit the multiple uses of the same adjective in one of the stories - maybe it was repeated for emphasis but repeating "gimlet" didn't enhance the story for me!

  • Russio
    2019-04-19 12:05

    I must admit to being rather disappointed by this collection of sex comedies - not a subject I would automatically associate with Greene, perhaps unfairly. The sexual politics are definitely "of the time" (1968) which is also disappointing, although I couldn't really expect otherwise. The title story is interesting enough (reservations above noted) and the story Root of all Evil has a definite wit and charm. Sadly, the rest anon.

  • Alex Sarll
    2019-04-17 15:03

    At times, the main pleasure here is the slightly cruel one of seeing a great writer cope outside his era - though even then, even if all his gays are either Kenneth Williams or American hardbodies, Greene always has enough core understanding of humanity never to lapse into the pettish Littlejohnisms of the later Evelyn Waugh. But elsewhere, as in the closing 'Two Gentle People', the hard-won experience and the sense of chances passed is heartbreaking.

  • Havva
    2019-03-25 12:05

    ... And Other Comedies of the Sexual Life. The word Comedies seems to me to be misplaced, unless it is intended to be ironic. I enjoyed this book but would have felt misled if I'd actually believed it to be a light and amusing book. The stories were very poignant and some were quite moving. Some were even funny, but it is not a "funny" book.

  • Sara
    2019-03-24 11:25

    Of all the stories in the book, I most enjoyed May We Borrow Your Husband? And Mortmain.