Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Where Angels Fear to Tread” as Want to Read:
Where Angels Fear to Tread
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview
Read Book* *Different edition

Where Angels Fear to Tread

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  6,990 ratings  ·  474 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)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Where Angels Fear to Tread, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Trillian The full phrase is "fools rush in where angels fear to tread". It's originally a line from “An Essay on Criticism,” by Alexander Pope but has become a…moreThe full phrase is "fools rush in where angels fear to tread". It's originally a line from “An Essay on Criticism,” by Alexander Pope but has become a widely used phrase. I think the suggestion is that certain characters in the novel are fools. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Paul Bryant
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
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
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.
Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
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
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.
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
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.

Laura
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emma Flanagan
This was Forster's first novel, though given its novella would be more accurate. While I enjoyed it, it is not as well developed as his later work. A number of the characters are poorly developed stereotypes. Mrs Herriton, the typical Victorian matriarch. Harriet the cold pious maiden aunt who has moments of hysteria in a manner befitting a Victorian lady. Lillia, despite being 33, is like a silly young girl who comes to regret her foolish choice. Gino a stereotypical Italian man. The only two c ...more
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
Wendy
I would call this a...fair exploration of human nature. There is a particular situation, and through that particular situation, we see the extent of a few characters' true natures. A couple of them are changed by the experience--the others are not. For its day (pre-World War I), it was probably more than fair. However, by today's standards, as a woman, I found it more than a little dated. I don't know what women were really like back then, since I'm not 100 years old--perhaps they did get a bit ...more
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
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
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
Trelawn
An interesting debut novel. It is the sort of story that never seems serious and even borders on the ridiculous at times but there is something deeper going on the whole time. I was constantly surprised by this story and wrongfooted at the end which shows Forsters strength as a storyteller. He is bold and unconventional and I will definitely be back for 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.
Duane
I'm always amused at the distain the haughty English aristocrat feels toward the average Italian and their incomprehensible ways and their attitude toward life. I've noticed it in several works of English literature and, not being English myself, I don't know if it really exists or not. I hope it is true, I won't have to change my perception of the 19th and early 20th century English. I like them that way, their style, their arrogance if that's the right word, their belief that their way is the ...more
Tony
WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD. (1905). E. M. Forster. ****.
This was Forster’s first novel, and remains, in my view, the most accessible of all the ones I’ve read. It displays early on most of the themes that Forster will take in his subsequent works, though in a sentimental manner. It is a story about the clash of cultures. In this case, most of the action takes place in a small (fictional?) town in Tuscany, located somewhere between Siena and Florence. The town was named Monteriano. This was also
...more
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
Susan
I couldn't help but compare this book to A Room with a View, by this author, which is one of my favourites.
Like A Room with a View, this too is set mostly in Italy, has diverse and interesting characters, and an absorbing storyline, but I didn't feel the characters or story were particularly well developed.
It was difficult at times to believe that people would actually behave in the way these characters did...like the Mother who was perfectly happy to leave her child behind whilst she persued am
...more
^
Jul 19, 2015 ^ 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
Leanne (Booksandbabble)
3.5. Really behind with goodreads reviews, will remedy this soon :D
Bam
In E.M.Forster's first novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread, he explores character, the late 19th century English class structure and nationalism, the accepted misogyny of the times, that inform his later books and does so with big doses of irony and occasional humor, holding up a mirror to our foibles.
Lilia is a young English widow and mother whose wealthy in-laws, the Herritons, encourage her to travel to Italy in the hopes that its ancient culture will broaden her horizons and knock off a few o
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Life and Death of Harriett Frean
  • The Last Chronicle of Barset
  • The Wings of the Dove
  • Summer
  • Decline and Fall
  • Up at the Villa
  • Jacob's Room
  • Aaron's Rod
  • The Expedition of Humphry Clinker
  • Joseph Andrews
  • Two on a Tower
  • The Return of the Soldier
  • To Let
  • Born in Exile
  • High Rising (Barsetshire #1)
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

Share This Book

“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.” 51 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
More quotes…