Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Travels With My Aunt, Graham Greene

I met my Aunt Augusta for the first time in more than half a century at my mother's funeral. My mother was approaching eighty-six when she died, and my aunt was some eleven or twelve years younger. I had retired from the bank two years before with an adequate pension and a silver handshake. There had been a take-over by the Westminster and my branch was considered redundant. Everyone thought me lucky, but I found it difficult to occupy my time. I have never married, I have always lived quietly, and, apart from my interest in dahlias, I have no hobby. For those reasons I found myself agreeably excited by my mother's funeral. 

I wasn't sure what to expect of Graham Greene, whether I would find him dull or interesting. And I heartily enjoyed Travels With My Aunt. Apparently, Graham Greene described it as "the only book I have written for the fun of it" (which doesn't speak so well for his other novels), and it was quite amusing, but also somehow serious at the same time (in a way.) The narrator of the book is Henry Pulling, a retired bank manager with nothing much to do. He meets his Aunt Augusta at what he believes to be his mother's funeral. She may be seventy-five, but she still travels and convinces Henry to come with her to travel the globe. Their first trip? Istanbul, via the Orient Express. Aunt Agatha also has many tales of her various adventures in various places, with various men. She was quite comic, especially the way that she talked about things. And Henry, who has never done anything dangerous in his life, finds himself mixing with all sorts of not-so-respectable company.

I was pleasantly surprised by this one, though I have a feeling that not all of Graham Greene's works are so humorous and light. But it was a good place to start, and perhaps will help me enjoy other novels of his. Also, I got the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, which was quite beautiful designed, with a nice cover image (a dahlia, I believe.) I would definitely recommend that edition (I'm not sure if there are many others available anyway.)

Read Travels With My Aunt:
  • if you like Graham Greene
  • if you like British literature
  • if you are looking for a funny novel
254 pages.
Outstanding Book That Will Stay On My Bookshelf For Rereading (jf I own it)!

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