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3.4 out of 5 stars7
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on 27 September 2010
If you only know H.G. Wells from The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds and so on, this brilliant novel may come as something of a shock. First published in 1909, it focuses on feminist issues from the point of view of a young woman entering adulthood and enduring prejudice about her place in the world. She has to fend off unwelcome advances from men who want to enslave her, and evade a different sort of imprisonment from an over-protective family. It's also a fascinating novel for what it says about the times, and its insights into contemporary social and scientific thought.

One last thing: Ann Veronica is a great (if unconventional) love story. The last quarter of the book is incredibly touching and romantic. Not bad for a 'mere' sci-fi writer...
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on 17 May 2009
Sometimes an author's most famous novels aren't necessarily his best. H G Well's is known for "The War of the Worlds" and "The Invisible Man". But I think his more social novels are better. His novel "Kipps" formed the basis of the screenplay for the hits musical "Half a Sixpence". "Mr Britling sees it through" studies the psychology of middle class liberals who reluctantly supported the First World War.

And this novel, "Ann Veronica", tells the story of a middle class young woman who is fed up of being expected to be purely decorative. Her father and her boyfriends really are incapable of understanding why she should want to study science, or control her own life in any way. The portrayal of these male chauvinists is quite brilliant - Well's does not make them out to be bad people, just irrevocably blinkered by the social customs of the time.

Ann Veronica herself strikes out, makes men friends, joins militant suffragette action... Wells's novel is believable and touching, and I feel really helps us to understand the values of the time (he wrote it in 1909).
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"What's the matter with kids today?" Lyrics from "Bye Bye Birdie"

Ann Veronica "Vee" asks the question "why can't a woman be like a man" and sets out to find out why. She discovers all sorts of men, some stuffy and some devious. She may one day stumble over the perfect man. She tries to be independent and is thwarted at every turn; that is until she realizes there are better things to do than just compete.

We get to grow with Vee and go through several long dissertations, Ayn Rand style, over politics freedom, love, equality, and whatnot. All the talk loses its way and with dumb luck returns to the story. We are treated to a travelogue and scratch ourselves with a long talk about the prison dingies. Just as it, starts to get interest the story stops dead in the middle of a thought.

The story is ok and some of the subjects brought up are still relevant today. However, if you look a little closer the story as with much fiction is just a venue to express H.G's concepts of free love.
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on 9 November 2015
Warning: this review contains spoilers.

The eponymous heroine of this novel by H.G.Wells, first published in 1909, feels stifled - 'wrappered' is the word Wells uses - in her dull lower middle class environment.

Unfortunately, Ann Veronica lacks the maturity or life experience to carry out successfully her plans to break free.

She ends up in lodgings in London with no money and no idea about how to earn any. She borrows money from a friend of her father's and does not realise that she is expected to offer sexual favours in return for the loan.

Although some aspects of the naïve character of Ann Veronica are dawn convincingly, others are not so. For example, on a whim she becomes involved with a women's suffrage organisation and is immediately involved in a rush on the Houses of Parliament, which subsequently leads to her imprisonment. This just doesn't ring true; surely a new, inexperienced recruit would not have been permitted to take part in such a dangerous enterprise.

Ann Veronica has several suitors inclduing the earnest and, frankly ludicrous, Capes. Towards the end of the novel, he tells Ann Veronica: "…there are moments when my head has been on your breast, when your heart has been beating close to my ears, when I have known you for the goddess, when I have wished myself your slave, when I have wished that you could kill me for the joy of being killed by you…."

Finally, Ann Veronica sets up home with the already married Capes, but we do not witness the scene in which she tells her father and aunt that she is doing so. This is a serious omission on the part of Wells and would have added some much needed dramatic punch to a dull, earnest novel, which is not helped by the curiously flat, 'washed' out style in which it is written.

Unconvincing and unsatisfactory on so many levels.
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VINE VOICEon 17 May 2009
An unusual H G Wells novel, being written from the point of view of a woman. The first two thirds of the story are about Ann Veronica's struggle to assert her independence, personal, sexual and political, from her father and aunt and their milieu; the last third are more of a conventional love story, mirroring Wells's life experiences and hopes at the time. It gets a bit too sentimental near the end and the novel ends about in time.
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on 16 October 2011
Few writers have penned works which vary so much from one another, than H.G. Wells. In 'Ann Veronica', Wells tackles the issue of female independence and emancipation, through Ann Veronica Stanley, a promising Biology student in her early '20s, who desires a move away from the home of her overbearing father, and apparently traditional aunt. The novel deals with the issue of female identity and self-exploration in the early 20th century in decent detail, and in Ann Veronica, Wells has created a believable, likeable and fittingly flawed heroine. Also to the novel's credit is Wells' style, which is often witty, self-reflexive, and sets itself up somewhat as a gentle mockery towards the narration of some rather stodgier and more self-righteous Victorian texts.

'Ann Veronica' is certainly not without its problems, though. Wells appears to struggle at times with what to do with the appealing heroine he has created, and through her, seems to both criticise and mock Ann Veronica's father's paternal instincts, before creating an ending in which it is implied she needs a man to care for her; all the while both seeming to support and to denigrate the suffragette movement, the latter done often through the weak caricature that is the character of Miss Miniver. Similarly, whilst Wells shows a knowing wit on certain issues in the novel, characters like Ann Veronica's father Peter, amongst others; come across rather too much as Dickensian caricatures; a trait which sits uneasily with this largely progressive novel. All in all, 'Ann Veronica' is an interesting and sometimes insightful, but also flawed work; which seems to slip between the artful and the clumsy - but as always with Wells, you can't fault him for trying his hand at another genre of novel.
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on 21 December 2013
All that you would expect from one of the Masters of English writing. A book to be enjoyed by all ages
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