My parents, thus proving how cool they are, read this book to me when I was a child. I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but since I was still young enough to be read to, I’m guessing I was barely into double digits. So reading this book always makes me feel as if I am back in my flannel pyjamas, drinking hot cocoa in front of the fireplace.

Travels with My Aunt is the highly amusing story of a retired bank manager, Henry Pulling, whose greatest joy in life is tending to his dahlias. His life takes a sudden turn towards excitement, however, when he encounters his Aunt Augusta at his mother’s funeral. Aunt Augusta is something of a black sheep in the family, and Henry has never had much chance to get to know her. But when she uses his mother’s urn as a hiding place for drugs, he gets unwittingly drawn into her world of excitement and adventure. He is coerced into traveling with her, first to Brighton but eventually further and further afield. He discovers that although she may be in her seventies, Aunt Augusta has a rich history full of love, shady characters and globe-trotting that bleeds into her present in surprising and often frankly alarming ways.

Henry eventually extricates himself from her, only to find that the quiet life he had been longing for no longer holds the same appeal as it once did. When he receives a letter from his aunt he doesn’t have to think twice. He abandons his boring life once and for all and takes off to Latin America where he….. well you’ll just have to read it yourself to find out.

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