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Mr. Britling Sees It Through: A Novel (Casemate Classic War Fiction)

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  153 ratings  ·  31 reviews
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 fri
Kindle Edition, 600 pages
Published September 27th 2016 by Casemate Publishers (first published September 1916)
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3.65  · 
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 ·  153 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Mr Britling Sees It Through’ by H G Wells, is the story of Mr Britling our main protagonist and his experience of both the onset and the first two years of ‘The Great War’ (the novel being published contemporary to that war in 1916). Mr Britling is both a relatively renowned thinker and writer as well as “Prosperous comfortable man who had never come to the cutting edge of life”.

The novel expresses Britlings' conflicting, confused and conflicted thoughts, feelings and emotions concerning the wa
Aug 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
3.5 stars - Metaphorosis Reviews

An American comes to visit a prominent British author just as World War I breaks out. An examination of war, politics, and philosophy.

This story is essentially the history of the opening and of the realisation of the Great War as it happened to one small group of people in Essex, and more particularly as it happened to one human brain. It came at first to all these people in a spectacular manner, as a thing happening dramatically and internationally, as a show, as
Aric Cushing
A British family is caught up in WW1. Wells spent time on this book, and it seems it paid off. Well worth the read. One of this lost classics buried under Wells' fantasy novels. The wartime conditions were experienced first hand by Wells and the weaving of personal experience with fictional narrative elevates the work far beyond newer works on the subject.
Jukka Särkijärvi
I read a book the other day. You’d be forgiven for having never heard of it, though back in its day it was immensely popular. It was written by H.G. Wells and it’s called Mr. Britling Sees It Through. It was published in September 1916, and it’s set at a large country house in Essex in late 1914 to late 1915. It’s a depiction of life at the home front during the Great War and about as contemporary as you can get.

The focal characters are Mr. Direck, an American visitor, and the eponymous Mr. Brit
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

heavenali Book reviews by someone who loves books …

Mr Britling sees it through – H G Wells (1916)

This was my first read for the Librarything Great War theme read. Many people will be reading William an Englishman by Cecily Hamilton during January and February, but as I read it just over a year ago I opted for one of the alternative titles.

This is an unusual novel, a novel of England as seen through the eyes of an American visitor, a novel about the realities and horrors of war it is both tho
Pete F
Jul 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Students of First World War literature
I have recently finished reading Mr Britling, and I actually quite enjoyed it. I find myself preferring his novels to his scientific romances because I think the novels, although set around the same time as his scientific romances (ie: the late 19th and early 20th centuries)are less dated.

Mr Britling is really Wells himself, seeing the Great War through, believing it will be the war to end wars. When the war starts in the novel, Britling supports the British war effort, but towards the end of t
It seems to me that the author used the writing of this book as a vehicle to air his views on many aspects of WW1. There is a story of sorts to help it along, but it is the deeply felt beliefs and ideas that are the main focus.
This is a side of H.G.Wells that is completely new to me, and also a chance to look at the horrendous events of the Great War from a different point of view. That of those left at home in England, who watched the developing conflict with ever increasing horror.
I found this
Aug 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a a wonderful jumble - part domestic novel, part philosphy, part rather profound musings on war and peace. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am now a little in love with HGW, like, it seems, many women before me.
Feb 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-white-square
"A Farewell to Arms", Count Greffi to Henry:

"What have you been reading?"
"Nothing," I said. "I'm afraid that I am very dull."
"No. But you should read."
"What is there written in war-time?"
"There is `Le Feu` by a Frenchman, Barbusse. There is `Mr. Britling Sees Thorugh It. (sic)'"
"No, he doesn't."
"He doesn't see through it. Those books were at the hospital."
"Then you have been reading?"
"Yes, but nothing any good."
"I thought `Mr. Britling` a very good study of the English middle-class soul."
Mr. Britling Sees it Through was a bit of a surprise to me, first of all because it is not science fiction, but historical fiction. It has a delightful setting with the mailing address Mr. Britling, Dower House, Matching's Easy, Essex, England. I do not know if Matching's is a verb or a noun, but I'm assuming it is the latter, and I have no idea what an "Easy" is. I'm sure that today it has some form of an alpha/numeric postal code, but in 1914-1916 the simpler form got the mail through. We neve ...more
Susan C Lance
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
UPDATE: After writing this review I looked up the book on Wikipedia and found out more that makes me realize it needs to become a bestseller again. When it was published in 1916, it became one of the most popular novels in England. It was also used as as essential reading in a chaplain's education as well as being widely read by military officers and religious leaders of the day. It is amazing to me that a book that is this important and by such a well-known author has disappeared from bookshelv ...more
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
I'm re-reading HG Wells, working my way through a lot of his writing that I never encountered before. Mr. Britling Sees It Through is one of those I'd never read; didn't even know it existed. My prior knowledge of HG Wells was his prescient science fiction, well on a par with Jules Verne, and yet I find that he wrote far more social fiction, often with pointed socialist messages. But again, Mr. Britling isn't really one of those either.

The book was written in 1916, in the middle of World War I (
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
An exceptionally interesting, funny, sad and moving work. Initially revolving around an American moving to the UK. The story begins as quite a fun parody of English life as seen by an American.

The story evolves into looking at Political Philosophy of various European Nations pre WWI. Then, ultimately the effect of war on human life, nationally and family and how those who survive have to pick up the pieces and their emotional scars.

When Wells moves away from his grandiose ideas of a Fabian Futu
Mar 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written about the comings of the Great War in the midst of the Great War. I believe this was published before American involvement. Initially I thought the main protagonist was going to be an American, but it turns out the Mr. Britling of the title is indeed the main character. Also a thinly veiled stand in for the author himself it would seem.

Over 10% of British servicemen were KIA and 30% were WIA over the course of the war. The horror of this statistic comes across through the title characte
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I've read this year.
Was especially interesting and poignant due to it written during WW I, before the end. Reading from H G Wells' view, not knowing the final outcome of this great war, added depth and such a dimension of reality.
Angie Bates
My favorite book, from an author I am very happily surprised that I like.
Colin Fisher
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great psychological study of the effect of war on the mind of a thoughtful and flawed man.
Mary Arkless
I am going to give up on this book. Nothing wrong with it, just really not catching my attention right now. Borrowed from the library.
D.L. Morrese
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a surprisingly powerful novel, but not one with aliens or fantastic machines or representations of utopian futures, which are the things for which H.G. Wells is most noted. This is not that kind of book. There isn’t a driving plot that requires resolution. It falls firmly into the ‘literary’ genre, exploring how people react to events that threaten to change their view of the world. The event, of course, is World War I, and the story is a personal and very human account of the war’s firs ...more
Irma Walter
May 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Breathtaking view on WW1. Never heard these things in German school history. We don't know much about WW1, except for the outcome of the Versailles Treaty. At the time, Germany had grown industrious and powerful for 40 years and was a menace.

The first book was a bit tedious to get through, because the author spends much time describing the characters, to what end is not immediately obvious, until later. The language is awesome. I love the way Wells lets his characters express their minds, speec
May 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recently-read
Excellent book published in england in 1916, in the middle of world war i. i didn't remember h.g. wells being such a insightful writer in his science fiction, but he does a great job of capturing the national mood through the thoughts of one man as britain drifts toward war with germany and reluctantly, then whole-heartedly becomes engaged in the conflict. the early chapters, about pre-war life on an english estate, give way to somewhat polemic middle passages then tender closing phases.
what ama
Rupert Matthews
I had an old 1933 edition, not this new reprint. I am afraid that I could not finish the book. It is very much of its time and today reads as being very dated. I liked the humour involved in the car journey and the incipient romance between the American visitor and the English lady, but I am afraid that I found it a real struggle. It is a comedy of manners and takes so much knowledge about pre-World War I Britain for granted that it was heavy going. A shame as I could see it was well written, th ...more
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A confusing book. At first it's a novel about pre-WWI England seen through American eyes. Then it switches to a different pov and then into a philosophical book about war. It was gently satirical at first, then became more and more philosophical. I was quite moved by one character, a young German tutor living in England who is very gentle and affectionate. This rather broadly illustrated the stupidity of different nations fighting over nothing when individuals get along so well. But I wonder if ...more
Oct 30, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mr Britling might have seen it through, but I just couldn't. This novel started out fairly interesting, but got bogged down about the time Wells thought he write a detailed account of a field hockey game and still hold the reader's interest. He couldn't. After that, there was a good bit of narration about Mr Britling's love affairs and his thoughts about the impending European conflict. I just couldn't do it. It wasn't the least bit interesting with regard either to history or the character. Pit ...more
Dave T
Feb 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, This little known book starts out as a jolly tale when an American comes to visit the United Kingdom and gives his impressions on it but quickly turns into a tale of a writer and his family & friends set against the backdrop of the first world war.

Writen during the war (1916) and featuring a enlightening amount of history and opinion, this is a must read for anyone interested in that area of history.
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It' the fact that this book was written during the first world war that did it for me. The book is full of deep thoughts about the first world war, superbly intertwined with the story of Mr. Britling and the town of Matching's Easy.
Must read if you're interested in the first world war.
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very dark. Like reading Dostoevsky.
Thomas Bach
Oct 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fairy odd little book about the human cost of the Great War at home though the life and thoughts of a middle-brow public intellectual.
May 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wells discovers British gumption.
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In 1866, (Herbert George) H. G. Wells was born to a working class family in Kent, England. Young Wells received a spotty education, interrupted by several illnesses and family difficulties, and became a draper's apprentice as a teenager. The headmaster of Midhurst Grammar School, where he had spent a year, arranged for him to return as an "usher," or student teacher. Wells earned a government scho ...more
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