Book Review: Travels With My Aunt - Graham Greene

It was good to read a Greene novel with characters that, for once, were free of the usual crippling Catholic guilt. Aunt Augusta is one of my favourite Greene characters: she’s so manic, flippant and oddly wise. Indeed, something of Aunt Augusta, and particularly her relationship with Henry, seems to have seeped out of her and into the whole novel. Just as Henry follows his Aunt across the globe without reason, simply because she is so assured that he will (“My Aunt made no appeal; she simply issued a command”), the novel’s plot too meanders, thrusts forward occasionally spurred on only by coincidence, happens upon as many dull scenes as it does funny ones, advertises its ending at length, and eventually is content to stop squirming and with a murmur, tie up its loose ends and settle down. It is odd that this, one of Greene’s later novels, feels more dated than earlier works. In the end though, the change in Henry orchestrated by Aunt Augusta, from unbelievably dull to unbelievably cavalier, is—and all of this Graham Greene makes look effortless—so convincing that it feels nearly inevitable.