zondag 10 januari 2016

"The Wheels of Chance" by H.G. Wells

"He did not ride fast, he did not ride straight, an exacting critic might say he did not ride well - but he rode generously, opulently, using the whole road and even nibbling at the footpath."

H.G. Wells' name will forever be associated with early science fiction novels like "The Time Machine", "The War of the Worlds", "The Invisible Man" and others. Few know, however, that Wells was a very prolific author, who also wrote comedies, social realistic novels and nonfiction on diverse topics such as politics, wargaming, history, theology and biology. All in all, he published well over a hundred books. "The Wheels of Chance" is one his early novels, a comedy, written in the same era as all of his famous scientific romances.

Mr Hoopdriver, employee in a drapery shop, decides to spend his hard-earned holiday on his newfound hobby: the bicycle. While exploring the country roads and villages, ànd finding out the pros and cons of his two-wheeler, he meets a pretty young lady, whom he falls in love with head over heels. Sadly she seems to be travelling with another gentleman. But Mr Hoopdriver soon starts to suspect that this man's intentions are anything but gentlemanly. Like a knight in shining armor, like a new Don Quichote riding his (rather metallic) Rocinante, he decides to follow the couple and rescue his Dulcinea from the tentacles of this wicked man.

"The Wheels of Chance" was published in the same year as the dark "The Island of Dr Moreau" and these two novels couldn't be more different. "The Wheels of Chance" is a lighthearted,  funny little story. Wells later admitted that some parts of the novel were inspired by his own experiences trying to master the art of riding this means of transport, which was quite new at the time. A delightful read. Hard to find these days, but it's definitely worth tracking down.

Author: H.G. Wells
Title: The Wheels of Chance
Publisher: Dent, London
Year: 1984 (orig. 1896)
ISBN: 0460019147

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