Oddly enough, for a gaggle of well read 29+ year olds (see how funny we are) most of us hadn't read much, if any of Graham Greene's work. Mr. Greene is, for those of you who live under a rock, the author of Orient Express, The Quiet American, and Our Man in Havana - to name only a few.
Travels with My Aunt is a metamorphosis story of a retired banker (aka DULL) who meets his quirky, demanding and lawbreaking aunt at his mother's funeral. Henry is the narrator and story teller, but Aunt Augusta is the heart and driver of the story that spans multiple continents. Henry is uptight, pierced and distanced from the world while Augusta is, at the age of 74, still squeezing out every drop of excitement and drama from life.
We all found the writing accessible and truly enjoyable. The characters were well drawn, and complex. They were also interwoven into each others experiences with ease. The humor of Aunt Augusta that was extolled on the dust jacket didn't quite translate into laughter, but she is quite amusing.
Two EXTREMELY LARGE GRIPES:
1) Mr Greene's resolution of the "status" of our main character was distasteful to us. Perhaps in the golden age of 1969 morals aren't what they are today -- but we sincerely doubt we have progressed so far in (sigh) 39 years.
2) The Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, Celebrating the Graham Greene Centennial 1904-2004 with Introduction by Gloria Emerson was disappointing to put it mildly. Ms. Emerson's "introduction" was a complete plot summary rather than the expected background and stage setting. Within four paragraphs she gives away the first major bombshell of the story and then goes on to work her way through the entire cast of characters explaining their ultimate end states. She doesn't hold back ANYTHING.. . who dies, how, when and why. If you're a high school student and don't want to be bothered to read this novel (although it is enjoyable) feel free to just read the introduction. *grrrrr* Shame on you Ms. Emerson!
Before you start posting comments that we've given away that someone dies, just try to think of an adult novel where someone doesn't die. Heck, even in Peter Pan someone gets it!
Next up for us... Under the Banner of Heaven.