Tyler 's Reviews > Howards End

Howards End by E.M. Forster
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Jul 13, 10

Recommended to Tyler by: Various Reviews
Recommended for: Anyone
Read in May, 2010

Is an object enough to bridge the gap between two human minds? In this dialog-rich story steeped in Edwardian ambiance, the answer is yes. It’s a house, not anything else, that intimately binds the lives of two women whose paths would otherwise never have converged. The flow of ideas that distinguish this story mark off a sharp distinction between knowing and connecting. We know other people, but how do we connect with them? After all, is that not the real goal of life, to somehow make a connection with another? The author shows us how one such connection enriched life beyond any knowledge.

The ephemeral pre-World War I setting of this Edwardian piece gives readers that same special feel that swing does to music. A fleeting spark that captures an era that will never return, the sense of this narrative is the scent of change. The sudden appearance of the motor car leaves the characters physically dizzy as roadside scenes they once lingered over now fly by in a vertiginous blur. Urbanization is afoot; yet in its path lies a house from another world, a rock that the book’s characters can grab hold of, upon whose crags they might perhaps even ... connect. The details of the plot can be bleak in their own English way. But an assertively sentimental end has a warmth fitted to the book’s driving idea.

Howard’s End helped me understand the British quest for friendship, something we take much too lightly in the U.S. and which, for all I know, may even have lost its place in modern Britain as well. I enjoyed, too, the steady pacing of this thoughtful tale. My edition of the book came with a full 80 pages of endnotes, reviews, and even short takes from other books that influenced the writer, all to help set the proper perspective for modern readers. I recommend it to everyone who wants to read good literature.
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