[Reading] ➰ Travels With My Aunt ➸ Graham Greene – Sharkmotorcyclehelmets.co.uk



10 thoughts on “Travels With My Aunt

  1. says:

    One s life is 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 Graham Greene, Travels With my AuntHaving only read one other Graham Greene book previously Brighton Rock I wasn t quite sure what to expect from this book It turned out to be a fun and entertaining story about Henry Puling, a very unimaginative, conservative retired English bachelor in his 50s who meets his eccentric Aunt Augusta for the first time in decades on the day of his mother s funeral Aunt Augusta is one of the most unforgettable characters I ve ever come across in fiction she s selfish, unapologetic, and has had quite the unconventional life, especially if you consider that she s in her mid 70s and this story takes place in the late 1960s She takes Henry away from his boring humdrum life of tending dahlias, and they end up travelling around the world, breaking laws and meeting a motley crowd.There was a lot of dry humour in this book which seems to have stood the test of time While in Turkey Aunt Augusta says, Politics in Turkey are taken seriously than they are at home It was only quite recently that they executed a Prime Minister We dream of it, but they act Well, it made me laugh The mildly infuriating Aunt Augusta is definitely a people person and loves to tell stories How true they are, Henry still isn t quite sure Yet, as he later muses What does the truth matter All characters once dead, if they continue to exist in memory at all, tend to become fictions Hamlet is no less real now than Winston Churchill, and Joe Pulling no less historical than Don Quixote In between all the shenanigans, Greene leaves some food for thought Human communication, it sometimes seems to me, involves an exaggerated amount of time How briefly and to the point people always seem to speak on the stage or on the screen, while in real life we stumble from phrase to phrase with endless repetition There s still some things I haven t figured out about this book yet I feel Greene packed a lot social commentary in here than my bookclub and I had time to discuss Firstly, I felt he was poking fun at the postcolonial, post War era, but I don t know enough about England at this time to confirm this But maybe I wasn t meant to take the novel as seriously as I did at times.One part did shock me though view spoiler Why on earth did Greene have Henry engaged to a 14 year old South American girl they will marry as soon as she turns 16 right on the last page What is this I found that deeply disturbing and want to know why Greene added that part, especially right at the end hide spoiler


  2. says:

    Clever and witty, a character driven novel written in a crisp clean style Fun comes from the interplay between stodgy Henry and his outrageous Aunt Told through Henry s eyes, a cautious man recently retired from banking who never married, whose passion has never extended beyond the growing of dahlias I like to change my clothes as little as possible I suppose some people would say the same of my ideas, the bank had taught me to be wary of whims Contrasted with Aunt Augusta who first appears at his mothers funeral, an immoral woman with one driving ambition live life to the fullest Making no apologies for her self absorption she leaves in her wake a trail of broken hearts Brutally honest I ve never wanted a man who needed me, Henry A need is a claim she simply is who she is, takes full responsibility for her actions and casts no blame I despise no one, no one Regret your own actions, if you like that kind of wallowing in self pity, but never, never despise Henry s life is irreversibly changed when he joins her as a travelling companion, entering my aunt s world, the world of the unexpected character and the unforeseen event As British Humour a solid 4 stars My first but not last Graham Greene, think Our Man in Havana next Cons A tad dated but not annoyingly so and the plot is a bit weak If you re the kind who writes off old people as boring you ll really hate it, but I m telling you you ll be missing out on some deliciously funny stories And finally parts of it are sorta sick view spoiler ends with 65 yr old Henry engaged to a 16 year old virgin, yuk hide spoiler


  3. says:

    Travels with my Aunt 1969 is certainly the funniest book by Graham Greene that I have read so far It tells us the entertaining story of Henry Pulling our very conservative, socially compliant, dull and boring erstwhile bank manager of some years standing Henry encounters the eponymous Aunt Augusta for the first time in 50 years and as the title suggests, almost involuntarily, embarks on said travels.So whilst at first glance Travels with my Aunt is ostensibly not as profound nor in the same league as Greene s classics Power and the Glory, Heart of the Matter, End of the Affair etc it is a very much a different kind of novel But don t be fooled by this veneer of a seemingly light hearted and superficial fun story there meaning here too.Amusing and entertaining though this novel is being one of Greene s so called entertainments rather than serious novels as it comes from the pen of Graham Greene, there is of course a serious nature and undertone to the story There is much here about the dullness and self imposed imprisonment of suburban domestic life focussing on this aspect of an imprisoning effect, being happy yet bored, successful yet uninspired, an absence or suppression of any sense of adventure What is painted here is very much a middle England, middle class, middle brow, middle management existence certainly as the starting point and impetuous for our forthcoming adventure.As with all of Greene s work, Travels with my Aunt is expertly executed from start to finish Greene is very much a solid and reliable, as well as brilliant, writer Both Aunt Augusta and Henry Pulling are so very well created and drawn and when it all comes down to it don t we all secretly wish for our very own Aunt Augusta and a series of perplexing but exciting and life changing adventures to call our own It that sense at least, it is not just Henry who is escaping here it is the reader also who, as with the best of novels, is on a real journey of escapism and discovery here.


  4. says:

    and in any case I have a weakness for funerals People are generally seen at their best on these occasions, serious and sober, and optimistic on the subject of personal immortality Graham Greene has at once won my attention with his subtle irony for me it is the best kind of wit.Protagonist and narrator, Henry Pulling, a retired bank manager is a very timorous and highly introvertive man.This is the boy Too many books by too many authors can be confusing, like too many shirts and suits I like to change my clothes as little as possible I suppose some people would say the same of my ideas, but the bank had taught me to be wary of whims Whims so often end in bankruptcy His aunt, Aunt Augusta is a woman of the world, she is very extravertive and she knows no scruples.This is the girl I remembered how at Brighton she had told me that her idea of fame was to be represented at Tussaud s, dressed in one of her own costumes, and I really believe she would have opted for the Chamber of Horrors rather than have had no image made of her at all So thrown together they constitute quite an alliance It was as though I had escaped from an open prison, had been snatched away, provided with a rope ladder and a waiting car, into my aunt s world, the world of the unexpected character and the unforeseen event Travels With My Aunt is a weird, witty mystery and for me it turned out to be a real delight.


  5. says:

    Since some years ago I ve tried to read this seemingly readable Travels With My Aunt but it s a pity I could read no than 8 10 pages and left it on its stack, than once So last month I decided to read it hoping to enjoy this fiction like his six ones, I ve found his intoxicating entertainment GR synopsis amazing and worth spending my time Like I said somewhere, I started by reading its brief synopsis as an essential overview as well as the one from Wikipedia at for detail.The story is about a middle aged retired bank manager named Henry Pulling, he has just met Aunt Augusta for the first time in fifty years at his mother s funeral His aunt, in her seventies, is a formidable character fond of Henry and action, she simply plans her itinerary abroad with a bit of adventure in mind, rather than mope and stay home therefore, Henry has no choice but follows her plan by keeping going and solving problems from some unexpected plights or weird people along the way.Surprisingly, I found reading this reluctantly long awaited book inimitably hilarious with wonderful dialogs, fantastic plot, unthinkable climax, etc Moreover, each reasonably manageable length of each chapter is not too tedious for us as his admirers or newcomers There are 20 chapters in Part One and only 8 in Part Two we may call such a chapter as a numerical one because we see only Numbers 1 4 pages , 2 3 , 3 8 , 20 6 and Numbers 1 10 pages , 2 4 , 3 11 , 8 8.Once in a while, I have sometime found some words used in the right context and wondered if this is one of the ways in which Greene has told us that he regards writing some of his novels as a sort of entertainment that implies reading entertainment for us as well, for example 1 It was a sad occasion without Sir Alfred, who had been a very jovial man, laughing immoderately even at his own jokes p 22 2 How was the mowing machine by the way Very wet, but no irreparable damage p 24 3 I told Jo what the doctor said, and he mouthed a reply, I thought I made out, not good enough p 56 4 Does he speak English or French It is not likely I felt hopelessly abroad p 91 5 So I sat in the West Berlin Hotel shedding beery tears of self pity and envying the men who danced with their arms round strangers shoulders p 124 If you notice something uniquely well expressed in each item, you d see the point and agree with me on the following immoderately, irreparable, mouthed, hopelessly abroad, and beery What do you think Moreover, Greene has Wordsworth, a key character, speak his transcribed pidgin English which is of course literally amusing whenever we hear the typical dialog or we speak it mockingly Try reading the extracts and you d see why our auntie, Mr Pullen She allays safe with old Wordsworth Ar no cost her nothing But she got a fellah now he cost her plenty plenty And he too old for her, Mr Pullen Your auntie no chicken She need a young fellah You aren t exactly young yourself, Wordsworth Ar no got ma big feet in no tomb, Mr Pullen, lak that one Ar no trust that fellah p 208 Who is this man she s with, Wordsworth I won spik his name My tongue turn up if I spik his name Oh, man, I bin faithful to your auntie long time now p 208 He was asking me about you He saw us on shore What he look lak p 209 Incidentally, touched by his mention of Thailand in this book rather than Siam as found in his memoir, I think first it s a kind of honor to see him write type our country to the world to see and probably those people unfamiliar with or rarely heard of our country may find out in a reference or on Wikipedia, and second it s due to its first publication in 1969 so Thailand has since been widely heard and collaborated in telecommunications, journalism, business, etc internationally The mention in question is as follows You ve been out here for six years No, but I was in Thailand before this Doing research Yeah Sort of p 204 Again, when I casually read this sentence, The great gates had been cleaned of rust and flung open the chandeliers sparkled in the sala, lights were turned on in even the empty room, p 254 The word sala in italics rang a bell and kept me wondering if it comes from a foreign or a Thai word so I tried Wiktionary and found two meanings 1 From Spanish, from Germanic A large hall or reception room.2 Borrowing from Thai saa la An open pavilion in Thailand used as a meeting place or to shelter from the weather I have no further information on his sala used in the sentence so it might have been from either one.


  6. says:

    Travels with My Aunt was my first Graham Greene films don t count Or do they I didn t know which to choose because I didn t have internet access at the time of the big moment The jacket said it was the only book that Greene ever wrote for the fun of it Maybe he had fun I sure as heck didn t Maybe it was the times publication date is 1969 An old woman who proclaims way too loudly that she s having a great time to make her cliche of a stiff upper lip Englishman nephew feel befuddled than Hugh Grant at the height of his befuddled niche as the go to guy for befuddled Englishmen in postcard English life films Maybe I m in a bad mood and this was funny in 1969 I thought that it was trying too hard to have fun Henry didn t know how to have fun and Aunt Augusta is the aging bar slut who brags about what a crazy wild night she had fifteen years ago I can t stand that type Have fun while you are having it No, I don t want to see photos of you getting drunk last week on your myspace or facebook I was sooooo bored I didn t care about anything that happened Their travels were boring than the most boring part of travels the traveling part and not the getting somewhere part There s a tacked on murder that came too late to be interesting By that time I was desperate for the book to be over Then he gets together with a flipping fifteen year old and they read religious passages from Browning Why go through all of that just to creep me out If he was dissatisfied with his life why not learn about women by hanging out with one who is not in her seventies and related to him How come Aunt Augusta liked to talk about having fun so much Talk, talk, talk Could Greene have been having that much fun if he wanted to fit in so badly All of those drugs and swinging parties The Coleridge joke about the manservant Wordsworth was also painfully obvious Okay, now that I ve read Pnin by Nabokov that has a complimentary quote by Greene on the book jacket I feel guilty trashing this book It s kinda sad to try desperately to have fun and not be in on the joke That doesn t mean I don t find the memory of this book boring as waiting I hate waiting At least it makes the whole process seem like an exercise in fun and less than preachy Aunt Augusta and her high wheeling life Like documentaries about free love, you know


  7. says:

    3.5 Travels with My Aunt really cemented my love for Graham Greene I had previously read two of his books, and I always had the nagging suspicion that he was a very witty writer, but the drama and the somber aspect of the novels I read didn t give him much space to indulge in witticisms Travels with my Aunt has all the ingredients of a very funny tale an eccentric, sexually liberated woman, an uptight conservative nephew, colorful characters, love, intrigue, and shifty Italians It also feels very modern The other books I ve read by Greene were set during or before WWII This is one is set in the late 60s, much closer to our own time Sadly, the last 50 pages were a letdown Aunt Augusta was definitely the best thing about the novel and to hide her from the readers for so long did the book no favours I enjoyed the ending, however Although Henry s change towards learning how to live the good life was predictable, the novel travels through his transformation in a very competent way.


  8. says:

    I thought this book would be a non fiction travelogue of driving around Europe with Graham Greene and an aunt of his.Wrong It is a fictitious account of Henry Pulling a never married bachelor in his fifties whose greatest adventure has been creating accounts for wealthy clients at his bank He has now retired and enjoys quiet days cultivating his precious dahlias Then his aunt arrives on the scene.It starts at the funeral of his mother While Pulling is sitting there in the crematorium funeral parlor considering his mother s life and also his father s he hears a voice behind him say, I once attended a premature cremation Thus is his introduction to his Aunt Augusta, his mother s sister.With no introduction than that, Henry finds himself sucked into the drama of this aunt he has never before met The second thing she informs him of the first being the crematorium incident as a child she accidentally pushed a button which set the coffin off, but luckily when the others arrived for the service, no one realized the body was no longer there is that his mother was not his biological mother she was just the person who married his father who was his biological father and raised him as his own.The story then proceeds to bounce back between hilarity and absurdity.Aunt Augusta is quite a woman Or a trollope, depending on your point of view She has known quite a few men in her seventy odd years and is not slowing down any time soon She is currently living with a man, Wordsworth, from an African country quite shocking since this was published in 1970 and he s half her age But before Wordsworth, she lived in Paris with a married man, and before that in Istanbul with a general Abdul and before that with an Italian Visconti and I almost forgot Currin, the priest of the Dog church back in a small English town.Pulling just wants to stay home with his dahlias but Aunt Augusta propels him across Europe because, it turns out, she is smuggling money and needs his help He helps but not intentionally Only later does he find out what she s carrying in all those heavy suitcases.Greene is a brilliant writer and very, very witty But he also demonstrates how evil looks interesting in fiction when it is actually boring in real life.We find out that Aunt Augusta has all these lovers because she financially supplies them with her wealth She s not stupid She knows that is why they love her and when her money runs out, they leave her She loves them all the for that She tells her nephew that she could not love a man who loved her back Emotional need is too much of a claim on one s soul.It reminds me of the socially awkward kid at school who tries to buy friends with his lunch money How is one exactly satisfied with that The whole thing seems a sham.But that is not how Greene presents it Aunt Augusta is the exciting one Pulling is the boring one because he wants a normal secure life.Aunt Augusta breaks a lot of laws for the sake of her lovers and she finally ends up in Paraguay back with Visconti whom we re supposed to believe is the real love of her life Well, as long as that smuggling business stays profitable.Another thing The woman who raised Pulling is presented as a narrow minded prig of a person and it turns out that SPOILER ALERT Aunt Augusta is not really is aunt, but rather his mother This is never explicitly stated but we re to gather that from the clues strewn throughout the story.Excuse me, but I have to applaud the woman who raised Henry, not the woman who deserted him to traipse across the world buying criminally minded men s love.But I suppose we re not really supposed to take any of it seriously In which case it is nothing than a well written silly story.


  9. says:

    Does he speak English or French It is not likely I felt hopelessly abroad. The book is unequally divided into two parts, the first taking up most of it I will have to separate them in my review, for they inspired very different feelings.The Good Stuff about Part 1 You must surrender yourself first to extravagance it is well written, as you expect a classic work of literature to be it was funny, even outrageous and surprising at times, in a way I didn t expect a classic work of literature to be Aunt Augusta s character the message A long life is not a question of years A man without memories might reach the age of a hundred and feel that his life had been a very brief one I was afraid of burglars and Indian thugs and snakes and fires and Jack the Ripper, when I should have been afraid of thirty years in a bank and a take over bid and a premature retirement Travels with my Aunt is a story of empowerment It urges you to shed boredom and just do stuff, go places It inspires to question the sense of moral superiority which often comes with following the rules Perhaps a sense of morality is the sad compensation we learn to enjoy, like a remission for good conduct I can t say I agree that is always the case, but it definitely is sometimes We often choose to interpret our fear, laziness, inertia and perpetual boredom as moral superiority, loyalty and a will of iron, where there is none of that.Aunt Augusta s character in Part 1 can be summed up by these few lines I hope you don t plan anything illegal 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 Aunt Augusta is a 75 y.o lady and a spitfire She is straightforward and honest, she loves life and she loves people She is unashamed to state, that at her age, yes, she still falls in love and enjoys a sex life I m so used to seeing old people portrayed as either adorable lost featherhead knitting in the background, or as a cranky old fuck, or as a quintessence of faceless wisdom Aunt Augusta is flesh and blood, and that was refreshing Her honest, judgment free view on other people around her was nice to read She has her faults, for sure, but I agreed with Henry here Loyalty to a person inevitably entails loyalty to all the imperfections of a human being, even to the chicanery and immorality from which my aunt was not entirely free The Bad Stuff about Part 1 it was slow at times, and I found myself zoning out Henry s character.Henry is best described here As I went upstairs to bed I felt myself to be a ghost returning home, transparent as water He s over 55, doesn t have any friends, lovers, interests, skills or a job or anything at all in his life The man has never been in a relationship romantic or just close kinship , has never been excited about ANYTHING He studied, and after graduation, his mom found him a clerking job, which he held for over 30 years, now he has retired, and that s it All he does is gardening and reading a few of the same books back to back over and over I can t imagine someone really having such an empty life, such a total lack of personality, ambition, will This story is supposed to be about his journey to becoming a real person, of his empowerment, but in fact, he just continues with the same thing It was as though I had escaped from an open prison, had been snatched away, provided with a rope ladder and a waiting car, into my aunt s world, the world of unexpected character and the unforeseen event Again, he just goes with the drift of things, the drift being Aunt Augusta, he makes no decisions of his own, just, as always, follows along and pretends that s what he wants.The Good Stuff about Part 2 None found.The Bad Stuff about Part 2 Spoilery The first part wasn t exactly perfect, but it was good, but it all went to shit in Part 2.Aunt Augusta disappointed me so badly, it was as if her whole strength was eliminated She is head over heels in love with this guy they ve been together before, in their youth The man is described as short and fat and bald I appreciate the fact that he wasn t an 80 y.o with a six pack YES, being old and not beautiful does not render you unlovable So, she loves him But he so obviously doesn t love her back, uses her, etc And he s done it before Their relationship years ago ended on him robbing her blind So you gave him money the second time, Aunt Augusta Of course, what did you expect He needed it You have forgotten glasses I watched Aunt Augusta with fascination I have never seen her taking orders from anyone before DAFAQ Aunt Augusta is supposed to be this devil may care strong woman, femme fatale even, but in Part 2 she just loses all self respect and allows herself to become a doormat Although to be fair, if we recall the stories she told about her romantic history with other guys she has been there before, too Like, with that married guy she loved, then found out she was his second mistress, then he dumped her, and she begged him to continue fucking her once a week, being third in line UGH.The author seems to romanticize females being doormats Not many men have been so loved or have been forgiven so much Um Let s see So they used to be together He dumped her and robbed her of a fortune She went on living, and then decades later she gets a letter from him, asking her to participate in illegal activity and giving him all the money she has What does she do Drops everything, travels half the world over to bring him everything in her teeth and virtually becomes his servant WOW And that is presented to us as an example of super love, selflessness, kindness, forgiveness Ahem When someone robs you, then asks for , and you give it that s not forgiveness The perpetrator didn t ask for forgiveness, doesn t think he did anything wrong at all, and you affirm that UGHHHHH I was sooooooooooo riled by this whole storyline I was on the verge of screaming at my book.Aunt Augusta continues spewing evil bullshit I ve never wanted a man who needed me, Henry I need a man who is untouchable Two touchables together, what a terrible life they always make of it, two people suffering, afraid to speak, afraid to act, afraid of hurting Life can be bearable when it s only one who suffers It s easy to put up with your own suffering, but not someone else s I m not afraid of making Mr Visconti suffer I wouldn t know how I have a wonderful feeling of freedom I can say what I like and it will never get under that thick dago skin of his Okay, lady Don t parade your emotional dependence on this guy as liberty Oh, you re not afraid of offending him, because he doesn t care Well, you can t make him happy either, for the same reason Can t love a good guy, who loves you That s your problem if you like pining after someone who doesn t give a fuck, but don t paint the rest of the world as a bunch of suffering people Caring for one another is about HAPPINESS, not misery It doesn t make one fearful or weak You become stronger and you share that strength with the loved one.There were a few bullshitty details for which I don t understand the purpose of this book Like the illiterate servant who perfectly forged a valuable painting and put his initials on it Henry meeting O Toole in Paraguay who is a CIA agent and the father of Tooley the girl they briefly met on a train in Europe Like, how likely is that I would have bought it if Tooley was sorta spying on them But no Supposedly, it was pure coincidence And O Toole believes they were friends for no reason whatsoever.The predictable twist that Augusta is actually Henry s mom, not aunt Totally saw it coming.By the end of the book, there appeared bizarre poetry quotations on virtually every page I didn t get them, their purpose there, it was just stupid.The worst was the conclusion to it all Henry becomes the henchman of the guy Augusta loves Again, none of that is his decision, so the supposed emancipation is a total failure As always, Henry just goes where others take him So he smuggles drugs for that guy That s presented as liberation And he becomes engaged to a 14 year old girl, to marry her at the age of 16 He s close to 60 at that point And the book takes place somewhere around the 1960s, so it s not like it was normal at the time DAFAQ Why do books about personal liberation have to create a conflict between law and freedom The opposite of boredom is interest You don t need to participate in an orgy to be an interesting person You don t need to turn an aging bank clerk into a drug smuggler Just give him a few hobbies, a friend, let him take responsibility for his own life, be an active participant in it, not a log being hurled downstream in a river.UGHHH


  10. says:

    Somehow I thought this book was going to be a lighthearted romp Funny it was, but in a sad, meditative way as Henry Pulling comes under the influence of his Aunt Augusta Bertram I should have known better Graham Greene is not the romping type That takes a particular kind of character, one which does not look at life with the calm grey eyes of the author of The Heart of the Matter and The Burnt Out Case.Travels With My Aunt is a delightful book one that could easily have gone off in several other directions But it didn t With his aunt, Henry has found a family to replace the one he lost and, with her, he has found the attractive teenage daughter of a Paraguayan customs official.I like to remember the late Mr Pottifer s idea of immortality I think the reason lay partly in his idea of immortality, but I think too it belonged to his war against the Inland Revenue He was a great believer in delaying tactics Never answer all their questions, he would say Make them write again And be ambiguous You can always decide what you mean later according to circumstances The bigger the file the bigger the work Personnel frequently change A newcomer has to start looking at the file from the beginning Office space is limited In the end it s easier for them to give in The way that Greene plants the Pottifer story in the novel gives it a unique significance Check it out when you read the book I don t want to give the author s secret away I have too much respect for him.


I Met Aunt Augusta For The First Time At My Mother S FuneralDescribed By Graham Greene As The Only Book I Have Written Just For The Fun Of It, Travels With My Aunt Is The Story Of Hanry Pulling, A Retired And Complacent Bank Manager Who Meets His Septuagenarian Aunt Augusta For The First Time At What He Supposes To Be His Mother S Funeral She Soon Persuades Henry To Abandon His Dull Suburban Existence To Travel Her Way Winding Through Brighton, Paris, Istanbul, And Paraguay Through Aunt Augusta, One Of Greene S Greatest Comic Creations, Henry Joins A Shiftless, Twilight Society Mixes With Hippies, War Criminals, And CIA Men Smokes Pot And Breaks All Currency Regulations Originally Published In , Travels With My Aunt Offers Intoxicating Entertainment, Yet Also Confronts Some Of The Most Perplexing Human Dilemmas