History of Mr. Polly (1910) - H. G. Wells
Even more biking adventure. H. G. Wells is probably thought of by most as a science fiction writer, but he wrote a wide range of works including a series of social comedies. I was caught completely off guard by this book, it is modern, fast moving and really funny. I love the description of bicycle travel through the British countryside. The plot is captivating, with extraordinary but believable twists, and events that spur moral and social thought.
The events are cinematic, although written long before a novel would bear that description, and remarkably this story has never been set to film, although it is ready made. Very funny. This is a cult book.
There is another Wells' book with even more bicycling -- including women riders, all written back in 1896! Wheels of Chance. Again the writing is quite modern, and while not as developed and action filled as "Mr Polly" is still marvelous fun. This book clearly was a predecessor and guide for the "Mr. Polly" book.
I borrowed a beautiful antique version of this book from the Minneapolis Public Library that came complete with fabulous line art drawings that adds to the joy of this book.
Upon reflection i think it is the nature of the comedy of this time that i find so fresh. It is more simple and joyful, with less of a cynical edge. (Just my impression though.)