“Oh, baby that sets me on fire. Let’s have another! Hotcha!”
~ Agnes Gooch
Funniest book ever.
It would be easy for me to stop my review with those three words. In fact, this post has been sitting on my laptop for two weeks with that quote and those three words because I don’t know what else to say about Auntie Mame. There has never been another character that has made me laugh as much or as long as Mame Dennis. She sets the standard for eccentric, campy aunts. We could all use an Auntie Mame in our life.
Until a few years ago, I didn’t realize that the classic Rosalind Russell movie, Auntie Mame, was based on a novel. As soon as I did, I bought it and read it. It was impossible to read without hearing Russell’s rapid fire dialogue in my head and, without a doubt, imagining Russell sweeping around Beekman Place with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other enhanced my reading experience.
It is difficult to say which is better, the book or movie. The movie captures the spirit of Dennis’ book and Russell is Mame Dennis. Out of necessity the movie condensed the book, jettisoning some of the vignettes of Patrick’s life with his aunt. Some episodes were thankfully lost; everyone in my book club agreed that the chapter Mame and Patrick take in the WWII refugees was out of place, not very funny and downright weird. For anyone that has seen the movie it might be hard to believe but the hunt scene on the Georgia plantation is much funnier in the book. I made the mistake of reading that while on the stationary bike at the gym. I’m sure I looked completely ridiculous laughing my ass off. If I hadn’t been so entertained I would have been embarrassed.
This book was a bit of a departure for our book club but just about everyone loved it. It is such escapist fun that it’s hard not to like it. In fact, I think I’ll go watch Auntie Mame on Netflix Instant instead of cleaning my house.
Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis ★★★★★
Auntie Mame starring Rosalind Russell, Forrest Tucker, Coral Browne, Roger Smith and Peggy Cass directed by Morton DeCosta ★★★★★
- Jonathan Adler on Décor in ‘Auntie Mame’ (online.wsj.com)