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Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Patrick Dennis
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Aug 2010 Penguin Modern Classics

Inspired by his own eccentric aunt, Patrick Dennis's Auntie Mame is a madcap comedy, published with an afterword by Matteo Codignola in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Auntie Mame and I learned to love one another in as brief and painless a period as possible. That her amazing personality would attract me, just as it had seduced thousands of others, was a foregone conclusion. Her helter-skelter charm was, after all, notorious ...'

When shy young heir Patrick is orphaned at the tender age of ten, the only family he has is his wealthy and eccentric aunt, a fabulous New York socialite named Mame. While prone to dramatic costumes, flights of fancy and expensive whims - not least her lives as a muse and a Southern belle - Auntie Mame will raise Patrick the only way she knows how: with madcap humour, mishaps, unforgettable friends and lots and lots of love. Turned into a play, a musical, and adapted into a 1974 film directed by Gene Saks and starring Lucille Ball, Auntie Mame is the most magnificent and hilarious work of love, style, wit and the life of a very modern Aunt.

Patrick Dennis (1921-76) was one of the most widely read American authors of the 1950s and '60s. Among his sixteen novels, the majority of which were bestsellers, are Little Me, Around the World with Auntie Mame, Tony, How Firm a Foundation and Genius. A celebrity in bohemian New York culture, he led a double life as a bisexual man and a conventional husband and father, until becoming an exemplary butler to the elite in West Palm Beach and Chicago in the 1970s. In his own words, he attributed this change to being 'out of fashion' - and, 'I've said everything that I had to say. Twice.'

If you enjoyed Auntie Mame, you might like Breakfast at Tiffany's, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Extravagant follies and delirious escapades'

The New York Times


Frequently Bought Together

Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade (Penguin Modern Classics) + Around the World with Auntie Mame + Little Me: The Intimate Memoirs of That Great Star of Stage, Screen and Television/Belle Poitrine/As Told to
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Publishers Proof Copy edition (5 Aug 2010)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 014119412X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141194127
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.2 x 20.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 119,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Like Tennessee Williams, Patrick Dennis caught the boldness, vitality, and iridescent theatricality of modern American personality. In Mame's mercurial metamorphoses we see American optimism and self-invention writ large. (Camille Paglia )

Extravaganet follies and delirious escapades. (New York Times )

As hilarious as a Marx brothers comedy. As elegant as a Schiaparelli eau de toilette. As exhilarating as laughing gas. (Vanity Fair )

'[Dennis] writes beautifully ... absolutely delightful ... camp as all boots but still funny!' (Ian Hislop )

One of the funniest books I've ever read ... a comedy classic (Kate Saunders Radio 4's A Good Read )

About the Author

Patrick Dennis (1921 - 1976) was one of the most widely read American authors of the 1950s and '60s. Among his sixteen novels, the majority of which were bestsellers, are Little Me, Around the World with Auntie Mame, Tony, How Firm a Foundation and Genius. A celebrity in bohemian New York culture, he led a double life as a bisexual man and a conventional husband and father, until becoming an exemplary butler to the elite in West Palm Beach and Chicago in the 1970s. In his own words, he attributed this change to being 'out of fashion' - and, 'I've said everything that I had to say. Twice.'

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Fun 31 July 2010
By Richard M. Seel VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a delightful book, a real treasure, telling the story of a delightful resourceful woman - how marvellous it would be to have an aunt like Mame!

The author immediately gets one's interest and that interest never wavers throughout the entire book. Patrick Dennis is orphaned at an early age and Aunt Mame takes him in. I loved the idea of him aged 9 sitting next to Aunt Mame with a pad writing down all the long words he didn't know and her explaining them to him. His vocabulary must have increased magnificently!

Aunt Mame loved an adventure and life was one big adventure for her. Even when she lost all her money in the Wall Street Crash, she did not falter and did one job after another - alas not well - and it was only when she met an oil magnate that she was able to resume her former lifestyle. Not that she thought it her right, it was just the way she had always lived her life.

Each chapter is a complete story in itself and they start with extracts from a 'sweet old lady' who herself takes in a foundling and how she copes with her baby, toddler and eventually grown up child who eventually marries and has his own children.

The book was written in 1955 and I agree it is rightfully a Penguin Classic. I think its good that a new generation of readers have an opportunity to enjoy this author.

Sit back read, enjoy and if you're reading it on the tube (or any public place) be aware that you'll probably laugh out loud.

[Review by Shirleyanne Seel]
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
If you read and enjoyed "Auntie Mame" then this is a must have. Mr Dennis fills in a missing part of the original story, the infamous trip to Europe with his aunt.
The story begins some few years after the end of the first story, with Patrick and Pegeen mourning the fact that their son,Mike has not returned from his trip with Mame. To soothe his wife's anxieties Patrick tells her a (brief) version of his trip to pre war Europe.We get the full version...
Patrick Dennis is always at his best exposing the vulgar,prejudiced and just plain nasty people of the world and here he has a whole new cast of villians to choose from. Mame gets in and out of hot water,assisted on occasion by her friend Vera, with Patrick usually several steps behind. There is a meeting with Beau's cousin which proves that some family ties should be amputated and a tussle with some Austrian Nazis that ends with Mame blowing up a castle.
Altogether a funny,sometimes poignant book, well up to the standard of the original I've read it often and still chuckle. Jane Davitt
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is an amusing hybrid of Dorothy Parker (very witty) P.G.Wodehouse (class consciousness and comedy of manners) and Saki (peopled at times with strange artistic eccentrics, and clearly on the side of the outre rather than conformists)

Its really a collection of vignettes about the imaginary author (see the afterword, which explains that 'Patrick Dennis' wrote a variety of books using a variety of nom de plumes, of which PD was one) and his imaginary life with his wildly arty bohemian aunt Mame. The stories are sewn together by a device of comparing them with another imaginary book written about someone else's eccentric aunt (less confusing in the book, I promise)

I laughed a lot during the first half to two thirds of the book, but then began to chortle less and less, finding that the fancy and amusement could not really sustain themselves. The early stories, covering the young Patrick, and his boyhood and adolescent experiences with his aunt were very funny - once into the period of the war, I felt the stories were running out of steam. The best jokes had been made, and a fairly delightful divertissement, suitable for a small dose, was becoming overworked and heavy. I found this particularly true from the story about the fostered children onwards to the 'second generation' ending. 3 1/2 stars if I could - better than OK, QUITE liked it, or liked the first half a lot, then lost engagement
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the Best 4 Mar 1998
By A Customer
Format:Library Binding
It's a shame to know after you read Auntie Mame and Around the World with Auntie Mame that these are the only books in print. Patrick Dennis is a great author and his stories transend time and generations. Hopefully the publisher will get a clue and republish some of his other works. His books will having you laughing out loud so be careful were you read them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blissful 23 July 2004
By Peter Howley VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have waited years for Patrick Dennis's books to be reprinted and at last, here some are.
"Around the World with Auntie Mame" is the hysterical sequel to the classic "Auntie Mame" and is as funny as the original. And by that I mean it's a howl from start to finish. Auntie Mame and her dear friend Vera Charles demolish the Folies Bergere, tangle with a family of would-be Nazis and crash British high society in a series of adventures that are wildly funny and yet warm and human at the same time. If you appreciate high-camp, high class tomfoolery, this is the book to have
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Original Comedy Classic 22 Mar 2003
Format:Paperback
The notorious Mame Dennis has so many incarnations that it can be hard to keep track. In the 1950s there was a famous stage version followed by the still more famous film version, both starring the illustrious Rosalind Russell; in the 1960s there was an extremely popular stage musical starring Angela Lansbury, and then there was a disasterous screen adaptation of the musical starring Lucille Ball. But this is the first, the original: AUNTIE MAME, one the 1950s' most talked-about books, a true runaway bestseller and one of the great classics of American humor.
The episodic book concerns an orphaned child, Patrick Dennis, who is sent to live with an aunt he has never before seen in 1920s New York--and the aunt is Mame Dennis, a fast-living, intellectually sharp, and decidedly eccentric woman beset by both the fads and fashions of the day and the money and social connections with which to indulge them. Although time has rather blunted the actual way in which Patrick Dennis writes (his framing device of a magazine article is more than a little tiresome), it certainly has not blunted the character herself: madcap Mame runs riot through the roaring twenties, goes through largely self-induced hysteria during the Depression, works for the boys during World War II, and along the way gets involves in art movements, theatrical performances, fox hunts, Southern country society, British war orphans, a wealthy husband, an Irish poet, a college lover, and most famously her beloved nephew's unfortunate engagement to the shallow and snobbish Gloria Upson. Each comic disaster is more memorable than the last, and Mame herself lingers in the mind as an inspiration to live life to the fullest no matter the consequences.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
mediocre!!!
Published 1 month ago by freda
5.0 out of 5 stars No other Aunty is in this league!
I've heard a lot about this bawdy llaugh-out-loud book - I have to say, that it certainly lives up to its hype. An interestibg and fun to read book. Try it....
Published 4 months ago by poet
2.0 out of 5 stars Silly and repetitive.
Not closely as good as the first one. It's a set of short stories, all set in different cities, but yet, the plot is always the same.
I would stick to the first one only.
Published 12 months ago by mpquina
4.0 out of 5 stars good job
arrived the next day before I woke up-excellent
value well done good job would use again value for money and satisfactory condition
Published 13 months ago by Mary Mullinger
4.0 out of 5 stars Very funny and touching
I have seen both the films, saw it on stage and yet still enjoyed the book. Very funny and very touching, and, wouldn't we all love an aunt like that.
Published 14 months ago by Dcm
4.0 out of 5 stars Amusing funny hilarious...
If you want to spend some time relaxing and having fun, that's the right choice! Full of humour, definitely entertaining you'll get easily involved in Auntie Mame's whirl of... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Lavinia Pelle
4.0 out of 5 stars Stylish wit
A neglected classic. There's the marvellous central character of Mame at the core of this book, a kind of Dorothy Parker with a liberal dash of warm humanity. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Withnail67
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Mame, but ...
I've been trying to track down this sequel to Auntie Mame for over 30 years, so thank heavens for Kindle. Read more
Published on 14 Aug 2012 by Timbo
5.0 out of 5 stars Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade
Each chapter is like a short story all of its own, only one of which I didn't enjoy. All others so funny, many occasions I laughed out loud.
Published on 17 Jun 2012 by fidy
5.0 out of 5 stars one of my favourite books
funny, entertaining, I read it in a couple of days. I absolutely loved it.I also gave it to my 12y old niece who really enjoyed it too.
Published on 8 Feb 2012 by paolac
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