A woman has an affair with H.G. Wells, observes the beginnings of women’s suffrage and comes into her own as a writer in this debut novel from Treger.
Dorothy Richardson lives a quiet life of near solitude in a London boardinghouse. When she visits her old friend Jane for a weekend, she doesn’t expect to find Jane’s husband quite so interesting. Of course, Jane’s husband isn’t just anyone—he’s H.G. Wells, also known as Bertie. Although Bertie is no great looker, Dorothy discovers that he’s actually quite charming. So begins her agonizingly painful and passionate affair with him, one that leads her into some significant complications. But the affair with Bertie isn’t the only situation Dorothy deals with. There’s also her budding friendship (and possibly more) with fellow boarder Veronica, a suffragist. The early 1900s weren’t exactly a friendly time for single women in London, and the book does a wonderful job of showing Dorothy’s desire for independence as well as her fear of being alone. The sections dealing with women’s suffrage don’t feel as fleshed out as Dorothy’s relationship with Bertie, and given her real-life status as a great writer, readers may wish to know more about Richardson’s actual career. However, Treger’s writing flows easily and the book is impeccably researched, making this an enjoyable read.
Dorothy Richardson may not be a household name, but Treger’s novel does a fine job of showing just how compelling her life was in this novel full of passion, history and literature.