Monthly Gem: ‘Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade’ by Patrick Dennis


Title:  Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade

Series:  Auntie Mame #1

Genre:  Humor/Satire

Age Category:  Adult

Release Date:  September 11, 2001 (re-print)

Descriptive Blurb:  Wildly successful when it was first published in 1955, Patrick Dennis’ Auntie Mame sold over two million copies and stayed put on the New York Times bestseller list for 112 weeks. It was made into a play, a Broadway and a Hollywood musical, and a fabulous movie starring Rosalind Russell. Since then, Mame has taken her rightful place in the pantheon of Great and Important People as the world’s most beloved, madcap, devastatingly sophisticated, and glamorous aunt. She is impossible to resist, and this hilarious story of an orphaned ten-year-old boy sent to live with his aunt is as delicious a read in the twenty-first century as it was in the 1950s.

Follow the rollicking adventures of this unflappable flapper as seen through the wide eyes of her young, impressionable nephew and discover anew or for the first time why Mame has made the world a more wonderful place.


“Put the Blame on Mame…”

First Impressions:  I’ve seen the wonderfully entertaining movie (1958 version) about a million times and it never fails to make me laugh.  I choose to forget that gawd-awful 70’s musical, Mame.  Sacrilege!  I never even got through the whole thing.  It was on the strength of the lovely ’58 movie that I finally decided to read this book.

Modern Family:   Nine-year old Patrick’s hands-off father drops dead unexpectedly leaving young Paddy in the new-age, swinging twenties hands of his father’s sister…Auntie Mame.  Mame is a lovable socialite who somehow manages to be both flighty and genuine at the same time.  She’s a rich, charming, free thinking, life-of-every-party type of gal.  So she has tons of “friends” and a party every night, but despite all this she takes a genuine interest in her orphaned nephew Patrick…and comes to love him…and visa versa.  The greatest irony in this books (which rings true in real life as well) is that Patrick’s father took very little interest in the boy while he lived…and after death had all these stringent rules and regulations about how he was to be raised, educated…right down to what religion he should practice…WTF?  While the dad was alive he never saw the kid except at breakfast.  Why wasn’t he concerned then about Patrick’s future??  So, long story short, Mame is saddled with the responsibility of raising Patrick, but is given no decision-making power…go figure.  The bank manages his money…and his future.  Its basically a tug-of-war until he turned eighteen.  Paddy gets a equal amount of the sensible along with the ridiculous during the course of his upbringing.

The Love Bug:  Mame is bitten multiple times…as is young Patrick.  Some minor characters get into the fray as well.  Most of the the ensuing romances are all kinds of inappropriate:  May-December, Class mix-matches, unwed pregnancies…engagements, flirtations, elopements, casual affairs…you name it, Mame, Patrick, Vera, or Agnes have done it.  But the melee that follows each of cupid’s arrows is quite hysterical…and for the most part no one is harmed during their numerous forays into romantic disaster.  Or at least, not in any irrevocable way.  LOL.

Minor Beefs:  It was really nice of the author to make the effort to do the myriad of different accents, speech patterns, and whatnot….but it slows down the flow and gave me a headache after a while.  And one other thing…the whole scenario with the Maddox sisters came off as a bit mean-spirited on Mame’s part.  I’m not sure why she would take Patrick through that long wild-goose chase..especially with the perfect woman (Pegeen) literally right there.  I didn’t quite get what the point was…Patrick was pretty much already his own man by then anyway.  I’m really glad that the screen-writer left that part out of the movie.  I simply adored all of Mame’s other antics.  These are really my only two beefs.

Random Grey Matter:  Keep your Wikipedia App at the ready (as well as Google search).  There’s tons of obscure references and dated name-dropping.  I mean, if I were alive in the fifties when the book was originally published I probably wouldn’t have to look it up, but as it happens my birthday fell a few decades later.  Its great fun though because many of the offhand remarks Mame/Patrick makes, the parallels she draws, or metaphors she uses were quite spot-on once I knew who or what she was talking about. 

Trigger Guard:  A warning…Some ethnic slurs abound, as Mame and Patrick have a run-in with a horde of nasty anti-semites.  There were also a few soft-core anti-minority attitudes, more indicative of the time period than any hardcore bigotry.  Keep calm and read on.

Cliff Notes:  There was a mild bit of unfinished-ness at the end, but I think it stopped at a good point.  A natural end to this leg of the story.

The VerdictI‘m lovin’ it.  Bring on the sequel.


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About the Author: 

Edward Everett Tanner III (writing under pen name: Patrick Dennis) spent the last years of his life as a butler, in spite of having been one of the most popular novelists of the 1950s and 1960s.







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