My favourite books 31: Travels With My Aunt

Travels With My Aunt by Graham Greene

The Bodley Head, 1969; this edition Penguin, 1971

This week’s theme is First Books.  Not first books written, or published, but the first work I read by an author.  Travels With My Aunt is the most extreme example.  It was my first visit to Greeneland, aged about 14, and in all honesty, we didn’t click.  Aside from a desultory adolescent canter through Brighton Rock, I turned to other things, and didn’t try Greene again until my 40s.

And (of course), they’re brilliant.  Our Man In Havana, The End Of The Affair, The Heart Of The Matter – sublime grown-up books.  The Confidential Agent, England Made Me – mad 30s tales.  I’ll read a Greene a year, so that there’s still plenty to look forward to.  Now, however, it’s time to have another go at Travels With My Aunt, in which septuagenarian Aunt Augusta takes her retired bank manager nephew on a wild ride around the world’s hotspots.

Travels With My Aunt is published today by Vintage

Afterword:  A few days later, and I’ve now re-read Travels With My Aunt, and it’s been a great ride.  Greene described TWMA as a novel, but surely this is an entertainment?  Indeed, what with Brighton, the Orient Express, Istanbul and Paraguay, it has overtones of Graham Greene’s Greatest Hits, but it really is well-worth a read.  Now, I must go and check my dahlias…