10 June 2014

Travels With My Aunt, by Graham Greene

I don't know why I didn't read this book many years ago. Greene never fails to satisfy. This is the story of Mr. Pulling, a retired banker, bachelor whose mother has recently died. His aunt comes into his life at his mother's funeral, reveals an alarming secret, and changes Pulling's life completely.

Some choice bits:

p. 79

[Pulling moves his lips when thinking. Once, in the bank...] "The habit betrayed me very badly with a woman who was stone deaf and a lip-reader. She was...very beautiful...couldn't help dwelling a little wistfully on her loveliness...One is more free in thought than in speech and when I looked up I saw that she was blushing..."

p. 146

"...as I lay in the...nursery with a night-light beside the bed to drive away the fears...I was afraid of burglars and Indian thugs and snakes and [illegible] 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 and the Deuil du Roy Albert."

This last item is the name of a dahlia. I should have mentioned that Pulling raises dahlias.

p. 179

[O'Toole to Pulling]

"...Have you any children, Henry?"

"No."

"You are a lucky man. People talk about the age of reason. There's no such thing. When you have a child you are condemned to be a father for life. They go away from you. You can't go away from them."

p. 218

[Visconti to O'Toole]

"...Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie detector. It encourages a man to be expansive, even reckless, while lie detectors are only a challenge to tell lies successfully."


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