Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Travels With My Aunt: Graham Greene, December 9—17, 2014
My rating: ♦◊◊◊◊
Travels With My Aunt sees retired banker Henry reconnect with his estranged aunt at his mother’s funeral, fifty years after they last saw each other. His aunt soon convinces him to travel with her as she shares the story of her life.
There is an interesting idea at the core of Travels. In her seventies, the titular Aunt Augusta is reflecting on the characters, settings and plots that made up her life. Everybody has a story, and this is hers.
There are always two narratives: present day (1969) and the aunt’s past as she tells it. Neither is particularly interesting. Whenever we are in the present day, we feel the aunt’s reminiscing is interrupted, and whenever she begins talking it feels as though the present day is being neglected. Simply, neither time period has any particular plot to speak of.
For Travels to be a decent character piece, it requires some strong characters. Henry is a decent audience surrogate, who learns of his aunt’s life apace with us, but is utterly boring and without any distinguishing personality features. Aunt Augusta is a matriarchal battle-axe, but more by reputation and just grumpily tells her uninspiring stories; most a variation on the theme of her dalliances with men.
Stronger characterisation and a more developed plot could have made this idea into a masterpiece. Instead, it is a dull and dreary journey that drags on for far too long.