Where Angels Fear to Tread
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Where Angels Fear to Tread

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  5,788 ratings  ·  404 reviews
When a young English widow takes off on the grand tour and along the way marries a penniless Italian, her in-laws are not amused. That the marriage should fail and poor Lilia die tragically are only to be expected. But that Lilia should have had a baby -- and that the baby should be raised as an Italian! -- are matters requiring immediate correction by Philip Herriton, his...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published 1969 by Penguin (first published 1905)
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Paul
I only realized half way through that E M Forster was 26 when he wrote this which is his first. If I’d known that I wouldn’t have read it, I have a violent prejudice against novelists under 30. It’s too early to start. In other art forms it’s essential to be under 30 – the Beatles were in their mid-20s when they did Sgt Pepper, Brian Wilson was 23 and 24 when he created Pet Sounds and Smile, Picasso was churning out brilliant realist works in his mid-teens, and not to mention Mozart’s unpleasant...more
Juliana
My absolute favorite of the E.M. Forster novels I read. This one blew me away. When I turned the last page, I felt like I'd been catapulted out of the novel's world to find myself surprisingly in my own house with my own children around me. It absolutely sucked me in and had me crying and caring and wondering what would happen to each of the characters.

One of my favorite novels of all time.
Scott
"Fools rush in ..."

I guess I'm a fool. I thought E. M. Forster was easy to read, almost too easy sometimes. Delighted with his nearly faultless prose, I read his thin first novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905), all in one afternoon. Forster tells the story of a young English widow who is seduced by her romantic vision of Italy and Italians and yearns to escape her controlling and snobbish in-laws in England. Her hasty marriage to a member of "Italian nobility" sets her English relations aflu...more
Kristen
My first Forster and a quick, easy, fun read. Oh, those silly English; so pompous and Protestant and detached. Oh, those wacky, ignorant Italians with their papist leanings, their saints and their layabout cafe culture. This is a silly culture clash novel with a male character who does not change (but thinks he does) and a female character who is deep and unknowable and full of well earned condescension toward men. In an odd way it reminds me of Revolutionary Road; or maybe just real life. I enj...more
Rebecca Foster
Forster’s first novel was published when he was just 26. In many ways it feels like a dress rehearsal for the themes and settings of A Room with a View, but with an awful histrionic ending that reads like a poor man’s version of Thomas Hardy. So, probably a 2.5 for me, but bumped up because it was very atmospheric reading on a trip to Tuscany last month. (See my Italian reading list on BookTrib.)

Here’s the story: Lilia Herriton, an English widow in her early thirties, sets out for a year in Ital...more
Cori
Although this book is fairly highly acclaimed, I didn’t come anywhere close to loving it, especially like I loved A Room with a View. It was Forster’s first published novel, and I think it shows. The writing and the plot were just not as strong as they are in his other books I’ve read. It was sort of a tragi-comedy, with funny parts and some seriously tragic parts. It all felt a little uneven and not cohesive. I didn’t get swept up in the characters — I kept thinking that they were all selfish,...more
Laura
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
notgettingenough
I went to see the film with somebody who is seriously Anglo-Saxon. So when we came out, we fell on each other. He was appalled at the way Italians respond to grief. I was appalled at the way the Anglo-Saxons do.

Not that I am a whole-hearted supporter of that Italian way of being emotional. Part of the reason I took up knitting was to learn to control my Italian 'fly off the handle and get it over and done with'. That isn't necessarily the wrong way to deal with things, but it certainly isn't alw...more
Eve
I thoroughly enjoyed it! Forster has an amazing gift for writing about raw emotions. I had to reread certain portions again and again, because I found myself thinking, "I know EXACTLY what he means!" Witty, dark, hopeful, romantic. This book had so many different facets to it.

I am curious to read more about Forster's Italy in A Room with a View. Again and again, we're shown the transformation that individuals undergo in "her" immense beauty.
Cecily
Upper middle class family go to "rescue" the offspring of their son's widow (fathered by her new Italian husband; she died in childbirth). Evocative Italian setting and surprisingly "modern" idioms and turns of phrase ("Dinner was a nightmare.") and attitudes of some of the characters. Unexpected ending.

Steve
HEADLINE: This novel may have the most pathetic portrayal of a brawl between two men in the history of English literature, a sin that can be forgiven, however, given the unintentional comicality of it.




This is E. M. Forster's first novel. It shows. It is a short novel, one that would be classified as a novella if anyone truly knew exactly what constitutes a novella. It could be classified as a melodrama were it not for the development of the characters, particularly Philip. It is in the developme...more
Rhiannon
Italy, Italy. People go there, I am told, to free themselves of the constraints of stuffy, modern life. To take part in its beauty, and really live. Ladies often go there to f*uck hot Italian guys, eat tasty treats, and possibly write a memoir all about their spiritual awakening and/or f*ucking that hot Italian guy.

Well, lady-characters in the turn of the century did the same thing! Minus the memoir part. They never got a chance to write their memoirs. No, their authors killed them off before th...more
Tocotin
This was a fun and fast read although I'm a bit tired with Foster's view of Italy as a place where repressed/artificial people suddenly get an insight into their own nature. There is a good deal of condescension in that, and Italians are somewhat mean and puny compared to the culture that nourishes them.
A young English widow goes to Italy and marries a primitive Italian guy to the absolute horror of her controlling in-laws; has a baby; the in-laws want the baby in England just to make a point; t...more
L.h.
Aug 13, 2007 L.h. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: literary people
My favorite quotation from the book: "He had known so much about her once -what she thought, how she felt, the reasons for her actions. And now he only knew that he loved her, and all the other knowledge seemed passing from him just as he needed it most."

I like Forster, and his portrayal of small people living in a small world, suddenly expanded by travel and exposure to people living passionately. Not as heartbreaking as some of his other novels, not as emotionally gripping as some other author...more
Carrie
More tragic and profound than A Room With a View. I enjoyed it just as much. Quick, vivid, insightful. Maybe because now I'm a mother and have just had a new baby, the parent-child scenes and relationships were especially poignant for me. The evolving value system of that Post-Victorian age intrigues me. And, I love his writing.
Philip Jackson
Although this was the first of Forster's novels to be published, he was already well underway with 'A Room With A View' before switching to Angels.
Lilia Herriton takes a trip to Italy. Her family by marriage are appalled to learn that she has fallen in love with the son of an Italian dentist, and Philip Herriton is sent immediately to nip the romance in the bud. He arrives too late - Lilia and Gino are already married and expecting their first child.
The novel takes a much darker turn when Lili...more
Monica
I’ve always wanted to read at least one book written by E.M. Forster and now I have, although I’m not sure why I started with “Where Angels Fear to Tread”, except perhaps it was the first book he wrote and I tend to read authors from the “beginning”.

Book synopsis: “Entails the consequences of the marriage of Lilia Herriton, an impulsive young widow, to the son of an Italian dentist, Gino Carella, whom she meets while touring in Tuscany, ineffectively chaperoned by 'charming, sober' Caroline Abo...more
Arukiyomi
Haven’t read Forster for a long while and the last time I tried I found him whimsical but wordy, kind of like he was playing straight man to Evelyn Waugh. This was good though. One of his earliest novels and I liked it.

Waugh-like, this is a parody of the English class-system which Forster deals more seriously with in later more famous novels. We’re in Italy and we’re in love with everything Italian. That is, until we have to deal with the realities of Italy which the Italians have so rudely fail...more
Sarah Sammis
Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster recounts the tragic results of rash decisions. A widow goes on holiday to Italy and ends up marrying a much younger man of no means. When she dies in child birth, her in laws rush to Italy to claim the child, not out of a sense of love or duty, but to avoid the waggling tongues.

My first thought was to wonder if Marlena De Blasi had read the book before marrying her Italian husband. Of course, A Thousand Days in Venice is a memoir and not tied to dramat...more
^
Jul 25, 2012 ^ rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teenagers, fans of Jane Austen, tourists to Northern Italy
Recommended to ^ by: My English teacher
I first read this for GCE English Literature. For that I made annotations in pencil - so small that I cannnot now easily read them; which is VERY irritating.

On one level this in a rattling good story. On another it is a fascinating social study of the period. The mismatch between Italian life and English etiquette is ripe for humour, which Forster dissects and exploits with deadly observation, beautifully balancing the absurd against the tragic. Best of all the book is short; Forster writes succ...more
Lisa
This short novel reads like a warm-up for "A Room with A View"--provincial upper-class English travel to Italy and have encounters with Romance. At first, it felt light: deaths, marriages, births, disagreements, travel all happen rather quickly (a lot of ground is covered, it seems, in such a short space), but the climax jolted me into seeing the seriousness behind the characters' actions. Philip himself suddenly recognizes the "deep passions and high hopes" of the others; "no one save himself h...more
Laurele
What a gripping story! A group of young travelers rush across a tightrope held by an immovable old mother in England and an immovable young father in Italy. In the process, the unsuspecting innocents deal with and reveal national prejudice, and together and alone they discover beauty, love, and sorrow. If that sounds enigmatic, forget what I said and read the book. It's like listening to the movements of a symphony.
Lobstergirl
Beautifully written; few writers limn class and its transgressions better than Forster. The story unspools delicately, and when tragedy strikes there's as much bewilderment in the characters as the reader. It seems almost too heavy a burden for such a filigreed tale.
Ron
Forester first novel; not his best. Interesting play on the passivity of the upper class English male and the pigheadedness of the female. Both become recurring themes in Forster.

Not especially well-written but interesting nonetheless.
Alexei
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jim B
I always enjoy books where cross cultural confusion reigns, and this book pits a repressed English family against a joyous, charming, good-looking Italian young man named Gino.

I wonder if E. M. Forster modeled the passive but observant Philip Herriton after himself? There was a surprising amount of personal insight which Philip possessed about how he related to the world around him. Even his troubles with Miss Abbott could reflect some of Forster's struggles.

While the book was entertaining, the...more
Suzanne Moore
Where do angels fear to tread …?… maybe in the hearts and soul of man? Funny, as I listened to the last of this on audio tape in my car, my CD player kicked in. I just happened to have Jakob Dylan’s latest loaded and the song playing “Smile When You Call Me That” came through with this lyric: “Angels can walk I’ve seen it before. They turn handles, they open doors. They act like devils, now you’ve been warned. They’ll vanish when love is war”

In Forster’s novel Lilia, an English widow, leaves for...more
Debra
When widow Lilia Herriton announces her plan to marry the Italian she’s met while vacationing in Monteriano, her family is in an uproar. Afraid she’ll bring shame to the Herriton name, the matriarch orders her son Philip to head for Italy and stop the wedding from happening. But Phillip is too late. From there, things become more tumultuous as only they can among upper-class British families in the nineteenth century.

This story is about values, cultural clashes, and the ramifications of trying t...more
Jean
Written in 1905, this was Forster's first novel. It is a comedy of manners, and does show signs of his great talent. Out of his four best-known novels though, this seems by far the weakest. I personally think it would have worked better as a novella or even a short story; later he did write very good short story collections.

The balance of this short novel feels wrong. The early descriptions of upper-class characters enmeshed in their own culture are really rather dull, and would have benefited f...more
Duntay
The copy I have has a rather garish film tie -in cover. I like this one much better. Ironically, the actor who played Gino is the only member of the cast not to have an entry on Wikipedia..but I digress.

I have read Room With a View and Howards End. Both due for a re-read, I think. Unfortunately I don't think Angels is a patch on them, but I understand it was his first novel, so I will forgive him that. It was the first novel set in Italy that I have read since going there myself, but I was disap...more
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86404
Edward Morgan Forster, generally published as E.M. Forster, was an novelist, essayist, and short story writer. He is known best for his ironic and well-plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy in early 20th-century British society. His humanistic impulse toward understanding and sympathy may be aptly summed up in the epigraph to his 1910 novel Howards End: "Only connect".

He had five...more
More about E.M. Forster...
A Room with a View Howards End A Passage to India Maurice The Machine Stops

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“I seem fated to pass through the world without colliding with it or moving it — and I'm sure I can't tell you whether the fate's good or evil. I don't die — I don't fall in love. And if other people die or fall in love they always do it when I'm just not there.” 44 likes
“All a child's life depends on the ideal it has of its parents. Destroy that and everything goes - morals, behavior, everything. Absolute trust in someone else is the essence of education.” 43 likes
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