Sequestered in his blitz-battered house, the ailing H.G. Wells looks back on a life crowded with incident, books and women. Has it been a success or a failure? Arguing with himself about his conduct, he relives his relationships with two wives and many mistresses, especially the brilliant student Amber Reeves and the gifted writer Rebecca West, both of whom bore him children, with dramatic and long-lasting consequences.
©2011 David Lodge (P)2011 W F Howes Ltd
This book falls between historical fiction and biography. It is not entirely successful as either. Lodge sets out to tell us of the life and literature of H.G. Wells drawing on his published works, letters and biographies. Lodge warns us he uses literary license when depicting Wells' private conversations particularly with the myriad of lovers he enticed to his bed. The work, however, reads so much like scholarly biography at times that the reader has difficulty knowing if these love affairs are fact or fiction.
Lodge is at his best when focusing on the literary criticism of Wells' works or the evolution of his political philosophy. The book, however, becomes tedious as Lodge focuses on one torrid sexual exploit after another. In this respect, Lodge's H.G. Wells hardly comes off in a favorable light. Half way through I was thinking, " Okay, I get it, H.G. could not keep it in his pants." Readers will get their fill of sex in this book, but might scratch their heads wondering why some of Well's most famous works such as War of the Worlds and the Time Machine receive only a page or two .
The author lets you know from the outset by explaining the several meanings of the title, that one of the major 'parts' of HG Wells was his sexual appetite and the book focuses on his many sexual relationships with women. I knew nothing about him before reading this book, and certainly had no idea that he was so promiscuous. His long suffering second wife provided a comfortable home for him and raised their two children, leaving him free to pursue his ideals of free love (as long as they applied to him and not to his women), develop his ideas on human progress, write numerous books and have an active social life amongst the Fabians and literati of his age. He must have had a phenomenal amount of energy, physical and mental. This is in no way a political or literary biography, more a novel based on his life, books and letters and there is no critique of the man or his writing. It is not hagiography either, though, as we are left to form our own opinions of his conduct. I would have welcomed more analysis, but the only attempt at an explanation of him is made by one of his ex-lovers almost at the end of the book. Nevertheless it is an enjoyable book about a very interesting man born into the Victorian Age, who foresaw many of the traumas and developments of the twentieth century. The reader makes HG sound a bit Churchillian, although we are told he never lost a touch of the working class accent of his origins but it is otherwise well read.
"Informative and entertaining. I will read it again"
Yes, principally because it is easier to listen to a good narrator than to read in some situations.
This was an very easy listen. However, since there is a lot of information involved I will listen to it again in a year or so.
"A man of parts"
I really enjoyed this book as I have read most of HG Wells and found his life story very interesting.
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