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Penguin Classics Travels With My Aunt [Paperback]

Graham Greene
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 17.40 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Oct. 1 2004 Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions
Greene's fine sense of humor is displayed in this warm and far-reaching comic novel, Travels with My Aunt, a bestseller when it appeared originally. At his mother's funeral, Henry Pulling, a stuffy, retired bank manager with an interest in dahlias, meets his Aunt Augusta. The indomitable Aunt Augusta pulls Henry along on a whirlwind adventure traveling with an old lover, Wordsworth; Curran, the founder of a doggies' church; O'Toole, the C.I.A. man obsessed by statistics and his counterculture daughter; and old Mr. Visconti, who has been wanted by Interpol for twenty years. Henry describes his activities with shock and bewilderment, and, finally, with the tenderness of a fellow traveler going their way.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Review

"The light and serious novels of Graham Green make their impression because of his phenomenal skill, his invention, and the edge and decision of his mind. He etches the conventional with the acid of the observable." -- V.S. Pritchett, "The New Statesman" --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

"Rich in exactly etched and moving portraits of real human beings...the tragic and comic ironies of love, loyalty and belief." - V.S. Pritchett, The Times

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
I MET my Aunt Augusta for the first time in more than half a century at my mother's funeral. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
'Travels' is not a great novel, not even a great Graham Greene novel. It is flawed, mannered, contrived, old-fashioned, complacent; the work of a writer who has earned his laurels and is content to lounge on them. The frequent allusions to then-modish Latin American fiction (the novel ends up in Paraguay) only exposes its lack of adventurousness. Sometimes you wonder whether the maddening primness is the narrator's or the author's. Too often, Greene resorts to caricature rather than character, and even the splendid figure of Aunt Augusta feels like a writerly short-cut.
But.
'Travels' is one of the most purely pleasurable books I have ever read, largely due to the perfectly captured narrative voice, a middle-aged virgin, retired bank manager and dahlia expert unwittingly thrown into a world of smuggling, soft drugs, hippies, war criminals, CIA operatives, military dictatorships, and whose decent, limited tolerance keeps the fantastic narrative believable, but also blinds him to genuine horrors.
The book contains some of Greene's funniest writing; if he'd written it 30 years earlier he's have called it an 'entertainment', those more generic or populist works that weren't overtly concerned with great moral themes. Today, these entertainments seem to have dated better than the 'serious' books.
Of course, 30 years on and Greene can relax his style - the plot is less vice-like, the words don't imprison - rather, they eloquently express a developing consciousness and sensibility. This is a story that proliferates with stories, some comic, some tragic, some parable-lie, all leading inexorably towards one untold story. Like all Greene's novels, 'Travels' concerns modern man's search for home, and the ending is devastating, mixing imagistic beauty with characteristically flat cynicism.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Bittersweet Tale of Middle-Age Sept. 21 2001
By A. Ross
Format:Paperback
Finally, a Graham Greene book I sort of liked (following disappointing experiences with Stamboul Train and This Gun For Hire)! That said, it's not great stuff, but it's at least fairly entertaining, diverting, and sad. The tale is of Henry, a middle-aged bachelor (and presumably virgin) who has been forced to retire from his bank job after 30 years. He's a total zero, dull and timid, with nothing to look forward to but 30 years of watering his dahlias. At his mother's funeral he meets his Aunt Augusta for the first time since his baptism, and she immediately rocks his world by announcing that his mother was in fact not this biological mother. She then proceeds to disrupt his empty life by insisting on his accompaniment for a various trips, notably a ride on the Orient Express to Istanbul, and a furtive trip to Paraguay. She's old, but with way more zest than her nephew, and their interplay is a clear call for everyone to live life and not let it drift by (carpe diem and all that). Of course, her interpretation of this involves smuggling a gold ingot, running around with a young Sierra Leonian pot merchant, and tracking down her Italian war criminal lover-all while spinning tales of her life and loves. Of course, it's obvious to everyone except Henry that his "aunt" is his real mother, but that the one story which goes untold. In the end, it's hard not to feel sad for the pitiful Henry, whose passive approach to life is characterized as being a product of his upbringing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars funny but disturbing June 5 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I enjoyed this book but I found it disturbing in the same way that I find Nabokov's "Lolita" disturbing. Greene divided the chapters into two parts and they are very different in tone. The first is a light narrative of Henry's travels with his picaresque Aunt Augusta, who has many associations with people outside of the law. The second part of the book starts with an encounter by Henry and Augusta with a woman who has shown a long-time devotion to the memory of Henry's dead father.
Augusta's antipathy to this woman sets the dark mood that underlies the remainder of the book. Augusta's unsentimental amoralism is no longer so amusing. Henry's involvement in this world is like Alice trying to establish residency in Wonderland. Henry remarks about how much he has changed and yet in some ways he has not changed at all. He moves from passively drifting in one world to doing the same in another. He is incapable of love or attachment and our sympathy toward him makes us question our own values.
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
If your idea of a good novel is something that takes you where you've never been before and leaves you wanting more, consider this one. An English gentleman is forcibly retired from a job as bank branch manager and is looking forward to a quiet end of his life, when into his life bounces his elderly aunt, a world-traveler and bon-vivant. She proceeds to shake up his staid existence, and to make it abundantly clear that he ought either to join her in her reckless and dangerous travels or continue to roll downhill to a certain, but dull end. Lucky for us readers he chooses the former, though not without grave misgivings. The message here is to all of us middle-agers: Do you really want to stop living? A tempting, juicy tale, and Graham Greene is outstandingly good in the telling, at his best, really. The characters we meet along the way are unforgettable. So sink down in your easy chair and relish this breath of fresh air from a master of the form.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great contrast between the two main characters
This is a wonderful book, and its depth -- which is not apparent at first glance -- comes out when you examine the contrast in personalities between Harry and his aunt.
Published on Sept. 17 2001 by Sabina
4.0 out of 5 stars Reminds me of home....
I grew up in Paraguay, where the protagonist of this novel winds up, and Greene does an amusing job of portraying some of the subtleties of living in a dictatorship (like the... Read more
Published on Feb. 23 2001 by E. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining read with amusing characters.
I found this to be an enjoyable, easily-read novel with great characters. Aunt Augusta is a marvellous character and it's fun to follow the changes her nephew Henry undergoes as... Read more
Published on Aug. 5 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars A liberating experience... like Greek Mythology.....
This book is about the re-examination of his life by a staid British middle-aged bank manager. At the beginning Harry accepts the conventional ideas of his day and is headed for a... Read more
Published on Aug. 4 1999 by H J
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly funny
One does not think that well written prose and humour should be mixed nor can they be mixed, but this book proves they can. Read more
Published on Feb. 21 1998
4.0 out of 5 stars A hilarious and twisted adventure about a man and his *aunt*
A hilarious and twisted adventure about a middle-aged Englishman and his *aunt.* Extremely entertaining and a very quick read
Published on Dec 6 1996
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