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A moving novel of one Englishman’s experience as his country goes to war, from the author of who gave us The Time Machine and The Invisible Man.
Mr. Britling considers himself an optimist. But as the Great War begins, he finds himself forced to reassess many of the things he thought he was sure of.
As refugees from Belgium arrive in the town of Matching’s Easy, telling frightening tales of what they have seen, Mr. Britling sees men dressed in khakis everywhere he looks. and his family’s tutor, a German, is forced to return home. Then comes the change that scares him the most: His own son, Hugh, only seventeen, enlists in the Territorials, the British Army’s volunteer reserve.
Day by day and month by month, Britling observes the unfolding events and public reaction to the war as his ordinary life is shaken in ways large and small. As Wells’s characters try to keep their bearings in a world suddenly changed beyond recognition, Mr. Britling must wrestle with outrage, grief, and attempts at rationalization as he resolves to “see it through.”
Whether science fiction or not, H. G. Wells’s stories always reflect deep human truths. Written in 1916, when the outcome of the conflict was still uncertain, this is both a fascinating portrait of Britain at war and a rare inside look at H. G. Wells himself, as Mr. Britling was a largely autobiographical character.