Around the World with Auntie Mame
Narrator "Patrick" is seventeen, and has left his private prep school. His Auntie Mame takes him with her on an extended tour of Europe, which becomes a round-the-world tour before his enrollment in college. They have adventures in Paris, London, Biarritz, Venice, Austria, Russia, Lebanon, and the high seas, meeting and dealing with British nobles, con men, embarrassing relatives, Nazis, and gunrunners before they arrive home again. Much of the action is a slyly satirical commentary on such things as the practice of "presenting at Court," fashionable political activism, the naivete of some Americans abroad, and the ways in which small communities of expatriates often end up behaving.
The main story is encased in a "frame" narrative, in which Patrick, now grown and married, tries to placate his wife with highly edited tales from his travels with his aunt. This takes up where the original novel, Auntie Mame, left off, with Patrick's son Michael going off to India with Mame promising to have him home by Labor Day. Two years have passed, with no word beyond a few random post cards. Each chapter begins with Patrick's reassuring, off-hand comments about his journeys with Mame, and then continues with him narrating what really happened.
Critical reception for the novel in 1958:
- “As extravagantly full of gags, slapstick comedy, and general hilarious confusion as its predecessor.” – New York Herald Tribune
- “Indescribably funny.” – Chicago Tribune
- “Funnier than the first book.” – New York Post
- "There is no important difference between Auntie Mame, which sold 1,500,000 copies, and Around the World. Biggest change: in the starting novel Mame Dennis gets married; in the sequel she just gets around" – Time magazine (August 25, 1958)
Dennis's novels fell out of fashion for many years, but his best sellers were reprinted in 2003, with forewords and other commentary by present-day humorists and the author's son. Around The World With Auntie Mame was reprinted with the restoration of a chapter that had been censored from the original edition. The chapter tells of Auntie Mame's and Patrick's time on a collective farm in the USSR. The publisher felt the chapter, however satirical, would not be acceptable coming, as the novel did, at the height of the Red Scare. The reprinted edition has sold well at Amazon.com, maintaining a four-and-a-half-out-of-five star rating.