In Marriage, written at Pont-de-l’Arche in 1911 and published in 1912, Wells returned to the theme of the successful man who attempts to extricate himself from a marriage which has become unsatisfying. But whereas Ann Veronicaond The New Machiavelli had been severely criticised on the grounds of their overt sexuality and their blatant assault on the prevailing moral code, Marriage was warmly welcomed by critics for its apparent innocuousness. It clearly marked a return to the solid, novelistic manner of Kipps and book reviewers were almost unanimous in their praise. T.P.’s Weekly welcomed it as ‘a thrilling and inspiring book, and one that can be placed on a puritan’s family bookshelf’, while the Spectator (which had savaged Ann Veronica) proclaimed: ‘Mr. Wells has put all his cleverness into this long story of an engagement and marriage between two attractive and, we may add, perfectly moral young people.’ Wells himself acknowledged the sharp difference in tone between Marriage and its predecessors, for during the protracted correspondence with Sir Frederick Macmillan over the publication of The New Machiavelli he had written: ‘The next book I’m planning won’t cause any of this trouble—I’m passing out of a necessary phase in handling my medium.
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