the war of the worlds – h g wells
From the age of about 8, I claimed our family copy of Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds double album as my own, and it didn’t leave my room until I left home. When I was packing all my stuff up at 17, you should have seen my face when my dad told me that I couldn’t take the album because it was his. “But…but…*I* have had it for way longer than you have. I play it at least once a month. I love it!!!”
And then imagine my surprise when he bought me a copy of my own all shiny and new without the huge scratches across it as a leaving present – although i must admit, I missed the points were the needle used to get stuck, and even now, I keep expecting the CD to do it in that exact place, LOL. Oh yes – when it came out on CD in about 94/5 he bought THAT for me too. Bless him
So – I know the story, obviously. Or at least I thought I did. But now I come to think of it, I probably never actually read it. I thought I had, but most of it didn’t ring any bells.
It’s a VERY short book – it’s just a novella really. And considering it was first published in 1898, the writing style is surprisingly contemporary – making it far easier to read than the bloody awful Dracula that I reviewed recently.
I loved every single moment of it – every page-turning detail. Such a huge event happening in sleepy little London suburbs in pre-20th century England was fantastic. And it was SO English! With such a contemporary feel, there were some places that you forgot when it was written, and you’d suddenly think “Why didn’t they just call them? Ohhh – no phones…they only had telegraph.” And the fact that this cylinder lands on Horsell Common from Mars and everyone goes and has a look, and then just carries on as normal.
But the other-wordliness of 1898 allows some very comical moments. There is one point where someone has just been into the pit of the cylinder and the line reads “He met a wagoner and tried to make him understand, but the tale he told and his appearance was so wild – his hat had fallen off in the pit – that the man simply drove on.” The idea that the Martians have landed, but don’t you dare trust a hatless man just made me giggle.
There was also a lot of ‘ejaculating’ going on, which also made me giggle childishly to myself “His landlady came to the door, loosely wrapped in dressing-gown and shawl; her husband followed, ejaculating.”
Anyway – the story wasn’t exactly the same as my beloved vinyl, but it was just as good, if not better. I was disappointed that noone seemed to have names, so no Carrie (‘the wife’), no Nathaniel (‘the curate’) and no Beth (she wasn’t even in the book!). the tension and the atmosphere were amazing, and had the added benefit of having a brilliant soundtrack running through my head as I was reading.
On the night that I finished the book, I happened to be on a train to Weybridge, which called at most of the places mentioned in the book as places wheer the Martians landed and/or destroyed, so it felt even more atmospheric.
I loved this book. It was a good but very easy read and I think everyone should give it a go!