These comic novels will resonate with anyone who has ever felt trapped by circumstance. Their central characters, Artie Kipps and Alfred Polly, are prisoners of their modest social class, limited education, dull work, and sterile relationships. In Wells' hands they break out of the cages that society has constructed for them, learning after bitter experience the truth that 'if the world does not please you, you can change it'. This message, a revolutionary one in its day for the growing army of Edwardian clerks and drapers, is handled with a rich comedy and freshness that belies its deadly seriousness. Wells is at his very best here in exposing and satirising the unequal nature of British society while preparing the ground for its reformation.