I first read and admired David Lodge’s work twenty-five years ago in his laugh-aloud satirical novel of academia and political correctness, Nice Work. In A Man of Parts (Viking, $26.95), his new fiction based on the life of H.G. Wells, Lodge applies his creative license to substantial biographical research. His subject, known for the science-fiction classics The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, was a short, dumpy man with a squeaky voice— none of which deterred an active sex life. An early Fabian, Wells was also an unabashed advocate of Free Love and during his quarter-century-long marriage had numerous affairs; his lovers included birth-control advocate Margaret Sanger and author Rebecca West, by whom he had a son, the novelist Anthony West. Such colorful material, with its many a ménages à trois, filtered through Lodge’s rich imagination, makes for some very funny scenes and also presents a vivid intellectual portrait of Edwardian London and the period leading up to World War I.
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