Sunday, July 18, 2010

My First Candle

Well, I've completed the first of my Birth Year Reading Challenge Books. One candle on my cake! I've long had Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene on my TBR list, but never seemed to get around to it. The reading challenge gave me the extra incentive needed.

What can I say about a book that begins with a funeral and the ashes of the recently departed being jumbled up with a stash of pot? One of my good friends (upon reading my post about this challenge & my proposed reading list) suggested that I start with this one. He said that I would enjoy it. He was absolutely right. I thoroughly enjoyed this romp which takes a boring, middle-aged man through an adventure of self-discovery with his rather risque Aunt Augusta. The book is totally worth it just for the stories Augusta tells. Hilarious! Henry--the boring, middle-aged man--becomes very aware of his lack of excitement prior to meeting his Aunt. He begins to feel that the people in her stories (Curran, Monsieur Dambreuse, & Mr. Visconti, for example) are more real than he is, and some of them are dead. "As I went upstairs to bed I felt myself to be a ghost returning home, transparent as water. Curran was more alive than I was. I was almost surprised to see my image was visible in the glass."

My only quibble is with the ending. It is not nearly as lively and engaging as the rest of the book. It seemed to me that after discovering that there was adventure to be had, Henry settles down to a pretty domestic life (albeit in an exotic locale). He certainly isn't taking what he's learned from his aunt and going out and living it. I gave this one four out five stars on Visual Bookshelf.


Chasidy Jean said...

Hi! I came across your profile through Renee Vincent's Past The Print. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts on the books you've read.

Dr. Barlow said...

I agree with you on the ending to the book Bev. It seems that Greene was not able to move away from the middle-class respectability of his time and had to end the book on just such a note. If you enjoyed the book though, I highly recommend some of his others, which I think are better. The End of the Affair is one of my all time favorite books as is the Power and the Glory. I almost taught the latter in my Intro to Fiction course, but then decided I was making my students read a lot of difficult material and the last thing I needed to do was deal with religious meaning and the history of S. America. But when you're done with the challenge, you should totally check these other books out.

BTW - thanks for your comment on my blog about anxiety. It's always a good thing when we stop dealing in silence so that others know how common these problems are. Thanks again.