Saturday, July 11, 2020

242. Tono-Bungay

H.G. Wells
Around 350 pages

This is the final H.G. Wells novel on the List, and while the man spins a good tale, he has perhaps overstayed his welcome here. It's hard to justify giving the white British male writers five (or more) novels apiece at the expense of so many other great books and authors.

Tono-Bungay is narrated by George Ponderevo, who is basically a stand in for Wells.  George is persuaded by his uncle to sell Tono-Bungay, a patent medicine that apparently helps with liver issues. George also narrates his various romantic misadventures, including when he cheats on his wife and feels absolutely no remorse or responsibility about it. Autobiographical indeed.

I feel like writers can't resist putting themselves into their work, and the results are generally pretty interesting/delusional. Here it falls more on the interesting side, and I enjoyed some of his commentary on consumerism and the class shifts going on in England at the time. On the other hand, this is a quote from one of Wells' female characters: "Women are such things of mood... We say ‘No’ when we mean ‘Yes’—and fly into crises." Oh, kindly fuck off already.

Speaking of Wells fucking off, it's time for our official Wells' novels ranking, since we are packing it in.

1. The Time Machine
2. The Island of Dr. Moreau
3. The War of the Worlds
4. Tono-Bungay
5. The Invisible Man

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

H.G. Wells considered this his finest novel.

Wells hooked up with Maxim Gorky's mistress. I know that is not particularly relevant to the novel, but it was tea I felt compelled to spill.

UP NEXT: A Room With a View by E.M. Forster

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