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Ann Veronica: A Modern Love Story by H.G.…
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Ann Veronica: A Modern Love Story (1909)

by H.G. Wells

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296637,920 (3.49)25
Member:richardderus
Title:Ann Veronica: A Modern Love Story
Authors:H.G. Wells
Info:The Modern Library (no date), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:5/5/1

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Ann Veronica by H. G. Wells (1909)

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    The Rose of Dutcher's Coolly by Hamlin Garland (inge87)
    inge87: Both are semi-successful attempts at New Woman romance.
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Showing 5 of 5
I'd only read HG Wells' science-fiction, which all reek of their era, so this book was a surprise because it was published in 1909 but feels modern: the suffragettes, socialists and other trendy radicals that the heroine Anne Veronica gets involved with seem straight out of the late sixties/early seventies. Wells describes the confusion of Fabian meetings and the “inexplicable enthusiasm” of the suffrage movement, with its “incoherent cries for unsoundly formulated ends”. The trendy revolutionaries have difficulty agreeing on anything and many of them are crackpots. The now familiar feminist political theories are presumably obtained from the author's many (all very bright) girlfriends - “Women have practically NO economic freedom,” said Miss Miniver, “because they have no political freedom."

The atmosphere is modern even though there are still horse-drawn cabs, (along with electric lighting).

Anne Veronica wants to escape the prison-like restrictions imposed on her by her father, and runs away from home. She goes to suffragette meetings, but she can’t stand the thought of getting involved in demonstrations, badgering cabinet ministers and all the undignified consequences. The laboratory where she attempts to pursue scientific studies provides a retreat for her: she loves its relevance, everything in it is focused on pursuing and identifying biological structures. But she is not a wimpy Victorian woman (definitely not like most of Charles Dickens' females); she's a toughnut. When a neighbour, Mr Ramage (note, change the "m" to a "v" and you get the idea), tries to force himself on her, she beats him up. In reaction afterwards, she gets involved in a suffragette riot and spends a month in prison.

The end of the book drifts and gets soppy, as Anne Veronica runs off with her One True Love (a scientist) and they wander all over the continent, presumably screwing their bums off. It all ends in unlikely happiness when he turns to writing and makes a fortune. Nevertheless worth reading for the strange familiarity of this now more than one-hundred year old world.
( )
  AMcBurnie | Nov 27, 2013 |
I always list this book as one of my favorites and have re-read it many times. The truth is though, it’s been a good 15 years since the last reading and I have one of those brains that just does not retain detail well. Add to that the new filter of age (this being a coming-of-age story), I did have a few new impressions/opinions this time.

I know the history and context of when this novel was originally released and yes, I can see clearly why it was as controversial as it’s reported to have been. But the truly surprising thing is that the entire novel holds up far too well 100 years later and is startlingly contemporary (other than the specific political causes featured). This is mostly a coming of age story and entire swaths of the novel (covering adolescent temperament and rebellion, political movements, and the balance between morality and passion) read like they were written yesterday. Frankly, I found that utterly depressing. As a child borne of the Hippie movement of the 60s, and raised through one left-wing political moment after another, I found the environment created by Wells depressingly familiar (and just a little boring, having now found a more temperate path for myself in adult life). Replace Suffrage/Fabians/etc. with Women’s Lib/Leftists/etc. (no need to swap out the whole vegetarian thing) and the book reads like the autobiography of my young adulthood. Our rights and freedoms have changed so much from the work of these movements, but the movements themselves have changed so little. Wells is rather harsh about it all – The showboating, the self-absorption, the drama and fanaticism. And yet, he was deeply committed to the causes beneath the social scene and credits the accomplishments of the groups when due. I didn’t come from the middle-class background Ann Veronica did, but after she leaves home, her experiences and story felt intimately familiar.

The other thread throughout the story – the romance and sexual relations – Were also painfully familiar. While the antiquated societal rules that set up much of Ann Veronica’s romantic interactions are no longer in place, the story remains virtually the same 100 years later. How many Ramage’s have I had in my life? How many times have I had the “can we be friends” tussle? Yeah. Painful. And being an asexual in a culture obsessed with sex left me battling with many of the same frigidity/passion issues Ann Veronica did (albeit for different reasons) during my youth.

So, how do my perceptions change from reading this as a young adult (still in the midst of the story) and as an adult (well past the drama)? I think as a young adult I loved this book as a surprisingly contemporary, frank, mature story which matched my own. I thought it was really daring and I remember wanting to discuss it with my Grandmother – To ask her if it was really like this, or if this was just a reality TV version of the times (I don’t recall that I ever got an answer). As an adult, it makes me feel a little tired (but in a good way). I worked really hard to move on from the angst and drama of young adulthood and the society around me at that time. Things aren’t necessarily any better as an adult, but I must have found some sort of balance for myself because I look back at it all with a sense of boredom and feel relieved that that part of my life (hopefully) is over. I may not have any answers, but I’m a happier human being. You couldn’t pay me to be young again. Really.

What makes this a favorite book for me? Except for her childhood home/upbringing, I completely identify with Ann Veronica all through her coming of age and the woman she becomes. I love the observations and insights Wells makes about the political/social movements he highlights. I love the observations and insights Ann Veronica moves through in her relationships and her exploration of her ability/morals regarding love. I love how readable the book is and Wells’ prose. I love the historical context of the book and exploring what Wells put into it. I love the opportunity for dialogue the book has provided me over the years.

Ugh, this is the worst book report ever! I blame it on the fact that the book is just too personal for me to properly convey my feelings about it. And I’m writing this for myself, not some magazine or something, so take it or leave it (and don’t even *try* to lecture me about my spelling or grammar.)

The two surprise impressions/negative remarks I have this time through were minor:

I’ve started to lose faith in Wells’ endings. It seems as though all his social books have a certain pace and method and then, inevitably, speed up and change tone for the wrap-up portion. I’m never really satisfied by the endings. In the case of AV, the book works for me on every single level and progresses at a slower, in-depth pace, discussing a thousand political and social ideas. Then, all of a sudden in the last few chapters, I’m thrust into a shorthanded, uber-romantic, honeymoon romance. He never really even addresses some of the key plot threads to finish them off-he just chucks in a dismissive sentence that sticks out like a sore thumb.

I don’t remember the book having so much comedy in it. Or am I making it up that there is any? There were so many moments that seemed fairly straight on paper, but if one acted it all out on one’s head, played more like a Wilde play. If that was intentional, it was nice. If it was supposed to be serious... I’m confused?

Have something to say about my comments? Do it here: http://passionrulesme.livejournal.com/6076.html ( )
  SimPenguin | Sep 6, 2011 |
Not quite as good as the History of Mr. Polly, but nevertheless well worth reading. I think of it as D.H. Lawrence light, not entirely a bad thing. Ann Veronica is looking for life with a capital L and is living in a world that offers women life with a decidedly lower case l. She rebels against her father, moves to London on her own, and then interacts with three men. Capes she loves, but he's already married (though unhappily, and wishes for divorce). Ramage would like A.V. as his mistress; he thinks he's rather obviously proposing and arranging this; she's too naive to see what he's up to. Sexual assault scene at a private restaurant is really well-written and gripping. Manning is the bland man in the middle, the husband her world would like her to take. She'd like to take him too, only she doesn't love him. A previous generation wouldn't have cared; Ann Veronica does care. The descriptions of living life to the fullest, of the value of love, etc. are Lawrence without the fire. Unlike Lawrence, they're never over the top--that's both their virtue and their flaw. ( )
  cdeuker | Jul 7, 2011 |
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. ( )
  john257hopper | May 17, 2009 |
Ann Veronica is the story of a twenty-year-old woman living in the first decade of the twentieth century, who decides she's had enough of the limits put upon her by her father and aunt and leaves home for London to live her own life. While studying biology at Imperial College, she falls for her married instructor Capes. I read the Virago edition, and in the forward it mentions that the novel's ending was Wells' personal fantasy for his then current romantic situation, but in fact, I thought that the entire novel read like a male fantasy of liberated womanhood. It is no surprise then that Ann Veronica's drive for independence is gradually subordinated in favor of Capes' desires for her. The ending sounds like something from a sentimental novel, instead of a revolutionary work about the "new woman". It inspired a lot of eye-rolling, but little thought. ( )
  inge87 | Jan 8, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
H. G. Wellsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Drabble, MargaretIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schutt, SitaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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One Wednesday afternoon in late September, Ann Veronica Stanley came down from London in a state of solemn excitement and quite resolved to have things out with her father that very evening.
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From the back cover: She was vehemently impatient - she did not clearly know for what - to do, to be, to experience. All the world about her seemed to be in wrappers, like a house when people leave it in the summer. And there were no intimations that the blinds would ever go up or the chandeliers, that seemed to promise such a blaze of fire, to be unveiled and furnished and lit'

Ann Veronica Stanley wants to work and she wants to love. Above all, she wants to be 'a Person', free of the futile obligations of life in a respectable London suburb at the turn of the century. A young girl of unusual spirit and intelligence, she reluctantly defies her beloved father and leaves home, determined to study - and to be her own woman.

In an England awakening from the constraints of the Victorian age, she encounters a world of Fabians, suffragettes, free love. But when she falls passionately in love with Capes, a married man, she confronts what her new freedom really means...
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141441097, Paperback)

Twenty-one, passionate and headstrong, Ann Veronica Stanley is determined to live her own life. When her father forbids her from attending a fashionable Ball, she decides she has no choice but to leave her family home and make a fresh start in London. There, she finds a world of intellectuals, socialists, and suffragettes - a place where, as a student in Biology at Imperial College, she can be truly free. But when she meets the brilliant Capes, a married academic, and quickly falls in love, she soon finds that freedom comes at a price.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:58:52 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Twenty-one, passionate and headstrong, Ann Veronica Stanley is determined to live her own life. When her father forbids her from attending a fashionable ball, she decides she has no choice but to leave her family home and make a fresh start in London. There she finds a world of intellectuals, socialists, and suffragettes. A place where, as a student in biology at Imperial College, she can be truly free. However, when she meets the brilliant Capes, a married academic, and quickly falls in love, she soon finds that freedom comes at a price.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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