Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene

And with this book, I declare all my reading challenges for 2012 completed!

Graham Greene Reading Challenge 2012

Travels with my Aunt is my third and final installment for the Graham Greene Reading Challenge hosted by Carrie of Books and Movies. My previous two titles are The Quiet American (1955) and The End of the Affair (1951).

Here they are. Look at the book covers, all from the Penguin Classics Graham Greene Centennial Edition (2004), trade paperbacks with French flaps. It’s a delight to just hold them in my hands:

Graham Greene Books

Travels with my Aunt (1969) is my first taste of Greene humor. Compared to the other two I’ve read, which are intense and deeply serious, this one is a light comic relief.

A conservative, retired bank manager Henry Pulling found a new relative at his mother’s funeral, his Aunt Augusta. She is everything he is not, an eccentric and liberal seventy-five-year-old sets to open a whole new world for his nephew. Upon Aunt Augusta’s insistence, Henry accompanies her travelling in Europe. In the process, she widens his contacts with some shady characters, opens his eyes to an underground world he has never imagined, leaves his trails with police investigations, and overturns his carefully guarded self into disarray.

The humor in Travels with my Aunt reminds me of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, and makes me think that, if it were written as a play, probably it would have been more effective and enjoyable.

I mean, considering it takes Greene only 180 pages to tell the complex story of The Quiet American, and 160 pages to depict the deeply conflicting The End of the Affair, why would he need 254 pages to jot down some travel notes. That’s right, he narrates in details and often digresses to leave us with some clever one-liners along the way. But, if he had picked up the pace a bit, and tightened up like the two previous books I read, I would have appreciated it much more. Okay, it’s selfish wishful thinking on my part, me being a very slow and easily diverted reader.


Ireland Reading Challenge 2012


And earlier in November, I’d finished The Ireland Reading Challenge 2012 also hosted by Carrie at Books and Movies. I aimed at the ‘Shamrock Level’ and read four books of at least three different genres. Here are my selections and links to my reviews:

Molly Fox’s Birthday by Deirdre Madden (Novel)

Everything in this Country Must by Colum McCann (Short Stories)

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (Play)

Dubliners by James Joyce (Short Stories and Novella)


No plans for taking up any Reading Challenge for 2013 yet. However, I do have two Read-Along’s planned for the coming year. Hope you can join me then. Will post soon.


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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

21 thoughts on “Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene”

  1. Graham Greene is my favorite writer of all time. I’ve read just about everything of his including his travel books and some biographies. Travels with My Aunt is one of his lesser works. My favorite is The Power and the Glory, which I recommend to anyone serious about Greene and literature. The other two you mention are classics as well.


    1. David,

      Yes, Graham Greene is a master storyteller. Those who love books and films would appreciate how wonderful a screen/writer he is. And no surprise The Third Man is one of your favorites (I remember 😉 ), for that’s written by Greene too. A click on IMDb will find there are 69 titles under his filmography. Just amazing. I know the GG Challenge is only the beginning of my exploration of his works. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm.


      1. David,

        Thanks for the links. I can see you’re a devoted Greenland resident indeed. I’ve seen a few of his films… actually the links I have in my post of The Quiet American and The End of the Affair lead to my review of both books and films. I’ve also bought Brighton Rock in the same Penguin Edition, but couldn’t get that going. Just too many books, too little time.


  2. I’ve read this last year and was a bit indifferent to it, actually I don’t remember almost anything about it now 😦

    Congrats on finishing all challenges, what a feat!


  3. Way to wrap up all your reading challenges! I’ve not read Greene before and I’d like to especially after your various posts about him. Those Penguins are so lovely they make it a very tempting prospect.


    1. Stefanie,

      I’m writing up a post on Read-Along in 2013 as we speak. Will post tomorrow. Hope you can join me again. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie as we read Anna K. together.


  4. I have several Graham Greene on the shelves. I saw The Quiet American as a film and it upset me no end – I think I already told you in a former comment that it made me cry when I realized that the conflict in South East Asia had taken longer than it should have because of the colonial ambitions of America there. Western ideology does not work everywhere. Travels with my Aunt sounds like it is an easier read – I mean, lighter.


  5. Was this a movie with Maggie Smith? Sure rings a bell. It sounds a little more fun than some of Greene’s other work. I’m into fun these days! Still, judging from the comments, maybe it’s far from the best!


    1. Yes, 1972 movie with Maggie Smith as Aunt Augusta. I haven’t seen it, but can imagine MS’s expressions. She gets nominated for her role in Downton Abbey and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Wish her the best in this Awards Season.


  6. Gorgeous Penguin editions! I often wonder what this one is like of Greene’s, not least because I own a copy… I will bear it in mind for when I want something frivolous. And congratulations on completing the challenges!


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