When Ann Veronica met Clarissa
by Charlotte Reads Classics
Why did I relegate H. G. Wells to the realms of science fiction? If I had read Ann Veronica with no awareness of the author I would never have guessed that the amazingly modern story (for 1909) advocating women’s equality was written by the same man celebrated for The War of the Worlds.
Ann Veronica is a student in her twenties who wants to be completely independent. As Wells puts it, she wants to ‘live like a man’. The plot of this book is based around the various attempts towards freedom Ann Veronica makes. From what I have read about H. G. Wells, he puts a lot of autobiography into his novels: This one in particular is based around his relationship with Amber Reeves. As Wells was already married, it caused quite a scandal, which was exacerbated by the publication of the book.
Reading Ann Veronica I kept thinking about Clarissa. It was written some two hundred years previously but what was expected of both characters is quite similar. Granted I’m still in the early stages of Clarissa, but the desire for independence is there. Neither woman wants to be married off, although Ann Veronica sees deeper problems. The average age for marriage was increasing; two hundred years worth of ‘progression’ for women appears to be boredom. It is more than avoiding marriage for Ann Veronica – she wants a life of value and purpose and what did all those unmarried women do with their time?
As far as introductions to authors go, this was a good one. It was the book mentioned in A Man of Parts that I thought sounded most appealing, and I wasn’t wrong. There is so much more to H. G. Wells than I ever gave him credit for – not a time machine or futuristic war in sight. Although to be fair, I think I’m now much more likely to give those books a try. My favourite part of this book was getting an insight into something completely different: Whilst I have read books by authors of a similar time, H. G. Wells differs by writing with an urgency to change the times he lived in.
I didn’t know until recently that Wells had written anything other than his most famous sci-fi novels, nor did I realize that he wrote anything like this! Ann Veronica sounds quite interesting. I will have to keep it in mind for the future.
Yeah it was a discovery to me too! It was such a good book and so different to what I was expecting.
Great review, thanks for highlighting this book.
You’re very welcome!
I read Ann Veronica last year and I enjoyed it too. I had also assumed H.G. Wells was an author I wouldn’t like, so this book really surprised me. I’m reading Clarissa at the moment (like you, I’m still in the early stages) and the similarity with Ann Veronica hadn’t occurred to me, but now that you’ve pointed it out I agree with you!
I did know about Wells’ non sci-fi books, because we did The History of Mr Polly at school, but I haven’t read this one. Yet. I must, because you’ve reminded me how good he can be, and I love that you’re drawing parallels with Clarissa.
[…] David Lodge, A Man of Parts for introducing me to H. G. Wells and Ann Veronica […]