Travels With My Aunt (sounds like a memoir but it’s a novel) reveals a Graham Greene I’m not familiar with. It’s a very fun read, although I’m not saying I don’t enjoy The Heart of the Matter and The End of the Affair, which are heavy on espionage and warfare. “A journey from suburban London to Brighton to Istanbul to South America, it also explores recent history – with a compassionate overview of the sorrows of war, a hilarious send-up of 1960s counter culture, and surprising revelations about Henry himself. Graham Greene described his most enjoyably straightforward comedy as ‘the only book I have written for the fun of it’, and it’s easy to reciprocate his pleasure.” Aunt and nephew got the the Orient Express en route to Istanbul. Aunt Augusta, however, at the age of 75 is anything but serious and sober. She belongs firmly to that most formidable breed of the English eccentric, the maiden aunt- the sort of part that in the cinema is always played by Margaret Rutherford or Dame Edith Evans.
I have never planned anything illegal in my life,’ Aunt Augusta said. ‘How could I plan anything of the kind when I have never read any of the laws and have no idea what they are?
They think my mother’s ashes are marijuana.
God … created a number of possibilities in case some of his prototypes failed — that is the meaning of evolution.
One’s life is more formed, I sometimes think, by books than by human beings: it is out of books one learns about love and pain at second hand. Even if we have the happy chance to fall in love, it is because we have been conditioned by what we have read, and if I had never known love at all, perhaps it was because my father’s library had not contained the right books.
Despite the lighter side of the story and drak sense of humor, there is still a sense of seriousness in this book. But I cannot help thinking from time to time that this is the mature equivalent of Auntie Mame! I’m so glad I’ve found this in a used bookstore in sleepy San Luis Obispo.