Wanderlust, a Danielle Steel novel

Front dust jacket of Wanderlust is forgettable dark green with gold type
Symbol for matched set perhaps?

Wanderlust opens in the 1930’s with spinster Audrey Driscoll preparing for her sister’s marriage while wishing she could travel the world as her father did.

It ends during World War II with Audrey married and traveling the world as her father did.

As Steel tells the story, Audrey was 11, her sister 7 when their parents were killed and the girls sent to live with their grandfather, who had strongly disapproved of his son’s foot-loose ways.

With Annabelle married, against her grandfather’s wishes, Audrey goes traveling.

She meets an English couple who introduce her to Charles Parker-Scott, a travel writer whose work she admires.

They fall in love and travel together.

Audrey’s photography skills make her and Charles a good team,

Before too long, Audrey’s commitments to people come into conflict with Charlie’s commitments to his work.

The novel ends happily for its implausible heroine.

Audrey not only gets her man, but becomes a professional photographer without training or experience, and wins plaudits for singlehandedly caring for 17 orphans in a rural Chinese village one entire winter.

And she does it all without breaking a fingernail.

Nothing less than achievement of her fondest dreams is possible for a Danielle Steel heroine.

Wanderlust by Danielle Steel
Delacorte Press ©1986 382 p.
1986 bestseller #6; my grade: C

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni

Travels with My Aunt pleasantly diverting

Travels with My Aunt is a novel I’d hate to part with. It’s undemanding, pleasant, and quite forgettable once it’s back on the shelf.

It is, in fact, rather like Henry Pulling the retired bank manager who is the nephew alluded to in the title of Graham Greene’s novel.

All-text cover of Travels with My Aunt
My copy of Travels with My Aunt

Henry’s unvarying routine of tending to his dahlias and telephoning to Chicken for his meals, was agreeably disrupted by his mother’s funeral.

Henry’s Aunt Augusta, whom he’d not seen in over 50 years attended the funeral. She tells Henry bits of family history he’d never known, and hints at more he would prefer not to know.

He quickly finds himself sucked into a world of eccentrics and crooks to whom wouldn’t have given even a secured loan in his banking days.

Being a gentleman and a nephew, Henry feels he ought to accompany his aunt when she travels abroad. Travel scares and exhilarates Henry. It’s certainly more interesting than growing dahlias.

Greene paints vivid pictures of his characters. In his pen, even bland Henry breathes. His gradual release of respectability in favor of adventure is believable.

There’s no great moral here. Just a pleasant reminder that growing old does not need to mean growing bored.

Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene
Viking Press, 1970. The Collected Edition, 319 p.
1970 bestseller #9. My grade: B

©2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni

The Princess Passes is flawed but fabulous

Every so often a flawed novel comes along that is delightful in spite of its deficiencies.

The Princess Passes is one of those.


The Princess Passes: A Romance of a Motor-Car

by Alice Muriel Williamson and Charles Norris Williamson

Illus. Henry Holt, 1905. 1905 bestseller #9. Project Gutenberg eBook #14740 My grade: C+ .


Having proposed and gotten a kiss, Lord Montague Lane is shocked to hear at dinner the announcement that his love will marry “the richest grocer in the world” instead of himself.

Monty accepts friends’ invitation to let them drive him to Lucerne where he can go on a walking tour down into Italy while his broken heart mends.

Alert readers will see in chapter two how the story will end—and that’s long before they’ve met the Princess.

Though the plot of the romance is familiar, the Williamsons redeem The Princess Passes by presenting Marty as a late-Victorian Rick Steves: an adaptable, uncomplaining traveling companion with a sense of humor.

Monty chats knowledgeably about history, literature, art, architecture, and local cuisine.

His descriptions of Alpine scenes are virtual reality immersions without the fancy headsets. Witness:

The shadows lengthened and thinned, like children who have grown too fast.

Monty is delighted by his guide’s description of a precipice as rocks that “go down immediately, not bye-and-bye.”Photograph of Annecy with moutains in background.

The sense of being there with Monty is heightened by a combination of whimsical drawings and what appear to be vintage photographs.

Such genial companionship transforms a so-so novel into a fictional travelogue that made me wish for a map and a video footage of Monty’s trek.

© 2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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