Mini-reviews: Escape by Barbara Delinsky; This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers; and Travels With My Aunt by Graham Greene

Title: Escape
Author: Barbara Delinsky
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Anchor
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Cassandra Campbell
Audiobook length: 12 hours and 56 minutes
First line: Have you ever woken up in a cold sweat, thinking that you’ve taken a wrong turn and are stuck in a life you don’t want?

This is the story of a woman who runs away from her life. She takes off, leaving husband and job behind, and heads to the last place she remembers being happy – a place where she had a torrid love affair. And her former lover just happens to be returning to that place, too. But, fortunately, the story wasn’t as predictable as I expected. Unfortunately, the characters were a bit one-dimensional and some of the dialogue was awkward. I still gave it three stars, though, because it was narrated by the magnificent Cassandra Campbell, who is simply heavenly to listen to.

Title: This Is Not a Test
Author: Courtney Summers
Genre: YA zombie fiction, science fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: Lily, I woke up and the last piece of my heart disappeared.

Man, this book is dark. Yes, I know it’s zombie fiction, but this book takes a suicidal girl and drops her into the middle of the zombie apocalypse. And she doesn’t immediately decide that life is worth living and fighting for. So, it stays dark. And gets darker. And darker still. And then it ends. It gets three stars for the writing alone, but I needed to eat some cotton candy and listen to “Walking on Sunshine” after finishing it.

Title: Travels with My Aunt
Author: Graham Greene
Genre: Literary fiction
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
First line: I met my Aunt Augusta for the first time in more than half a century at my mother’s funeral.

Goodreads blurb: Described by Graham Greene as “the only book I have written just for the fun of it,” Travels with My Aunt is the story of Hanry Pulling, a retired and complacent bank manager, who meets his septuagenarian Aunt Augusta for the first time at what he supposes to be his mother’s funeral. She soon persuades Henry to abandon his dull suburban existence to travel her way—to Brighton, Paris, Istanbul, Paraguay. Through Aunt Augusta, one of Greene’s greatest comic creations, Henry joins a shiftless, twilight society; mixes with hippies, war criminals, and CIA men; smokes pot; and breaks all currency regulations.

Originally published in 1970, Travels with My Aunt gives us an intoxicating entertainment yet also confronts us with some of the most perplexing of human dilemmas.

After my three previous experiences with the work of Graham Greene (The Quiet American, The Heart of the Matter, The End of the Affair), I never expected to describe one of his books as funny! Travels With My Aunt is very funny, though, as well as quirky, strange, and a bit weird. Henry’s Aunt Augusta is quite the character, and she has a history that is barely believable, but completely true. And while Henry travels with his aunt, the reader is treated to the brilliant writing that Greene fans know and love, little gems like this:

“One of the few marks of age which I noticed in my aunt was her readiness to abandon one anecdote while it was yet unfinished for another. Her conversation was rather like an American magazine where you have to pursue a story, skipping from page twenty to page ninety-eight and turning over all kinds of subjects in between: childhood delinquency, some novel cocktail recipes, the love life of a film star, and even quite a different fiction from the one so abruptly interrupted.” ~p. 48

…and this:

“One’s life is more formed, I sometimes think, by books than by human beings: it is out of books one learns about love and pain at second hand. Even if we have the happy chance to fall in love, it is because we have been conditioned by what we have read, and if I had never known love at all, perhaps it was because my father’s library had not contained the right books.” ~p. 186

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9 Responses to Mini-reviews: Escape by Barbara Delinsky; This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers; and Travels With My Aunt by Graham Greene

  1. bermudaonion(Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    Travels with My Aunt looks like the winner of the bunch. It sounds like my kind of book.

  2. Nan says:

    I’ve often wondered about Travels with My Aunt but never picked it up. Thanks. I think I’d like it. Those are great passages.

  3. Melissa
    Twitter: myeclecticbooks

    I definitely should check out Greene…the first two don’t sound like my type of reading!

  4. M Light says:

    I’m going to look up Travels with My Aunt for our upcoming vacation. We don’t watch TV on vacation or get online so I get lots of reading done (and hiking, and…). Graham Greene’s book, Monsignor Quixote, is one of my all-time favorite books – humorous, poignant, and very thoughtful.

  5. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    My book club read a Delinsky book once and I wasn’t all that impressed. However, in the hands of Campbell, I’d listen to anything.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Sandy – I liked the two previous books I’ve read by Delinsky – While My Sister Sleeps and Not My Daughter, but this one just didn’t do it for me.