16 September 2009

Book Review: Auntie Mame

Title: Auntie Mame
Author: Patrick Dennis
Published: 2001 Pages: 299
Genre: Lit Fic
Rating: 5/5


Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

Plot Synopsis

Patrick Dennis is sent to live with his eccentric Auntie Mame at the tender and impressionable age of ten. Mame promptly enrolls him in an all-naked all-the-time coed school...and he is promptly removed by his much more conservative trustee. From there Patrick's life is turned upside down and inside out by his aunt, who is determined he not turn into some briefcase wielding stuffed shirt.

My Thoughts

Paul Rudnik, in his introduction to the book, says "Auntie Mame is America's diabolical answer to Mary Poppins." I couldn't agree more. Auntie Mame is every child's wet dream of a guardian. She is eccentric, liberal, fun-loving, often drunk, and always exciting. Alternately Patrick's best friend, a needy relative, and a caring mother, Auntie Mame is never dull.

According to Auntie Mame, nine a.m. is the middle of the night, adopting the accent and habits of any culture makes you of that culture, alcohol is an everyday, all hours necessity, and intellectualism is akin to godliness. According to a review at Powell's, "She was anti-establishment, anti-bourgeois, anti-racist, anti-bad taste, and anti-pretension. She was also pro-youth, pro-sex, pro-tolerance, pro-nudity, and pro-drugs (though her drug of choice was gin)." In other words, she was rather awesome. I fell in love with this woman quickly, and while I'm not sure I would want her as my guardian, I would love her as an aunt.

Along with the characters, I also enjoyed the organization of the book. Each chapter is a separate escapade featuring Auntie Mame and more often than not Patrick, the narrator of the story. The book is held together by simple but effective hook: Patrick is telling these stories about the past after reading about an Unforgettable Character in Reader's Digest. His purpose is to show how this Unforgettable Character is nothing when compared to his Auntie Mame. The beginning of every chapter summarizes another characteristic of this Unforgettable Character, and the rest of the chapter shows how Auntie Mame was both the embodiment and the antithesis of that exact characteristic.

The best part about reading this book, in my opinion, is that it was published in 1955. This isn't some modern look at the 20s and 30s. The liberal views on homosexuality, religion, education, family life, and relationships are from the perspective of a 1950s man - and they could fit right in with the most liberal of our contemporaries.

I highly recommend this book!

Other reviews

Pussreboots

Has anyone else reviewed this?

10 comments:

  1. Sounds like a really fun book! And I absolutely love the cover.

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  2. Lola - The book has a few covers and all of them are pretty stylish.

    Pussreboots - Thanks! I'll add your review.

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  3. This looks fabulous. I'm adding it to my list!

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  4. Stacy - You definitely should! It's a riot.

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  5. I loved the old movie based on this!

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  6. Chris - I haven't seen it yet! I meant to watch it as part of the Take a Chance Challenge but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I'll have to rent it.

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. Anonymous - Well, it's awesome to have you stop by. I hope you keep reading and commenting around here. And I don't mind offtopic commenting, so no worries there. :)

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  9. America's answer to Mary Poppins! What a perfect way to describe her.

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