The anatomy of a mid-life crisis.
Alfred Polly was an only child who was sent to school by 'his parents' (although his mother died three years before), then apprenticed in a department store when significantly lacking in mathematical ability but extraordinarily well read with a massive imagination; a superb salesman with an ability to charm others with his nonsensical mispronunciations of words. He goes through a number of jobs before a legacy from his father enables him to set up shop in a place called either Foxbourne or (later) Fishbourne. He marries at the same time and then spends 15 years regretting a loveless marriage and slowly going bankrupt (in common with almost all the other shop-keepers). So he sets his shop on fire for the insurance and becomes a hero in the ensuing blaze; then he abandons his wife and ends up working at a country inn.
It is an amusing little story enlivened by acerbic wit:
"Outside the regions devastated by the school curriculum he was still intensely curious." (p15)
"On the whole he preferred business to school: the hours were longer but the tension was not nearly so great." (p17)
Any word play: "if, indeed, one may speak of a recent meal as a circumstance - seeing that Mr Polly was circum" (p9)
June 2011; 234 pages
Wells wrote other social commentary books such as Love and Mr Lewisham, Tono-Bungay and Kipps, but he is perhaps more famous for his science fiction including The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds.
- Having reviewed over 1100 books on this blog, I have now written one myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. It is available on Kindle through Amazon. Read it and find out whether this critic can write. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57