Around the World with Auntie Mame Is a Bad Trip

Patrick Dennis won instant celebrity in 1955 with his first novel Auntie Mame. Three years laster, he cashed in on his success with its prequel: Around the World with Auntie Mame.

In this novel, Patrick recalls his 1937 trip with his flamboyant aunt. Patrick tells his wife a sanitized version of the trip. Readers learn what really happened.

In 1937, Mame was filthy rich, knew everyone, and was ready to do anything that was not boring, especially if it involved sexy men and stiff drinks. Patrick was 18 and mature for his age—but then, almost anyone of any age seems mature compared to Mame.

Patrick and Mame met cons and kooks from Paris to Singapore. Between them, they defeated scam artists, punctured pretenders, and deflated windbags.

The novel is broad farce, sprinkled with sophomoric humor. Example: The Austrian castle when Nazis train is Schloss Stinkenbach.

Many of the allusions are dated. Dennis’ attempts to reproduce accents becomes irritation very quickly, too.

As to characterization, the roles of Mame and Patrick could be played by Miss Piggy and Kermit.

The highlight of the novel for me was the name of the woman Mame hires to get her introduced at court in England: Lady Gravell-Pitt. Now that’s funny.

Around the World with Auntie Mame
by Patrick Dennis (pen name of Edward Everett Tanner III)
Harcourt, Brace, 1958
286 pages
1958 Bestseller #4
My Grade: D+
© 2007 Linda Gorton Aragoni
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Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

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