Book Review: Ann Veronica by H.G. Wells

When I first started reading this book, I wondered why I was bothering.  What can you learn from a book whose lessons no longer have any significance?  It’s a hundred years out of date, after all;  is there any woman out there who cares about feminism anymore?  But then Ann Veronica runs away from home, comes to London, and, on her first day, experiences fear.  Suddenly everything changed – for me.  I also experienced fear when I ran away from home to live in London, although my fear never left me.  But being able to identify with one aspect of this character meant I could carry on with the book.  It has some hugely interesting things to say about women’s freedom, not least of which H.G. Wells’ avocation of free love…..which is somehow repulsive when you consider how many young women he got pregnant.  I wonder, though, if he didn’t recognise the repulsiveness in himself with the character who tries to buy Ann Veronica’s sexual favour.  (These are all opinions only!)  In the end, however, all the  debates about women’s sexual, intellectual and physical freedom and independence is thoroughly negated by the drippiest marriage imaginable.  What will save Ann Veronica?  A bloody man.  I wonder if Mr Wells actually thought about this, that he was shackling his character with the very fetters from which he was trying to free her.  But aside from the limp ending, this is worth reading.  Wells’ writing here is MUCH better than his more well-known sci-fi novels.  And I can only feel relief that although I still feel fearful in London, I’m not compelled to marry the first man who comes along just to “free” myself.


About susannahjbell

I am a writer of science fiction and other strange and surreal works. I mostly write novels and the occasional novelette. My published works include A Doorway into Ultra, the Fleet Quintet and the Exodus Sequence. I live in London in an attic flat but really want to live in a tree. I wanted to be an astrophysicist but would settle for an alien abduction. I write because I don’t know what to read.
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