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Where Angels Fear to Tread

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  14,015 ratings  ·  1,044 reviews
E.M. Forster's first novel is a witty comedy of manners that is tinged with tragedy. It tells the story of Lilia Herriton, who proves to be an embarrasment to her late husband's family as, in the small Tuscan town of Monteriano, she begins a relationship with a much younger man - classless, uncouth and highly unsuitable.
A subtle attack on decorous Edwardian values and huma
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Paperback, 161 pages
Published 2012 by Penguin Classics (first published 1905)
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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)

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Average rating 3.61  · 
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Bionic 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
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Lisa
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Romance only dies with life."

I spent some delicious summer hours rereading Forster's first novel, thinking of Europe and its contrasting, yet matching characters, its various climates and cultural reference points. The eternal question of how to cope with social environment and human nature remains unhappily unsolved but beautifully illustrated in front of an Italian artistic landscape backdrop, with a cast of English characters struggling with suppressed emotions.

What is important in life?
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Steven Godin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andy Marr
Despicable people doing despicable things.
Paul Bryant
Jun 24, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
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
Beverly
Called a comedy by some reviewers, I don't see that at all. It is tragic all the way round. There are comic aspects, especially at the beginning and I was as ready to laugh as anyone at the shallow, ignorant British tourist Lilia, falling in love with an Italian who is out of her class and social level. The novel is uneven in its mood and I can tell that it is Forster's first. He attains greatness in his later works, but here glimmers appear. ...more
Beata
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't be objective regarding E. M. Forster. Simply love his novels... ...more
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. 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 right ...more
Chrissie
This is my favorite by E.M. Forster. I gave A Room with a View three stars and A Passage to India four, but this is even better than that!

A love story that I love, and it is extremely short! I don't usually enjoy short novels. It is a classic worth being called a classic.

Forster captures different sorts of people and their respective ways of being. We have Harriet who is logical and straight thinking and Miss Caroline Abbott who wavers but recognizes the value of passion…..as well as its dange
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Diane Barnes
Forster's Howard's End is one of my favorite novels ever, and I have yet to read Room With A View or Passage to India, but this was on my shelf so I picked it up. This is his first novel and it's good, but not great. The settings are the village of Sawston in England and Monteriano in Italy, both fictional. There's the inevitable culture clashes between the staid and proper English characters and the friendly and exuberant Italians. If I had read this one first my love for Forster would not be a ...more
Jean-Luke
May 17, 2021 rated it liked it
"Just think of the shock value. Killing off the leading lady halfway through. I mean you are intrigued, are you not, my dear? Come on, admit it." (Hitchcock, 2012)


Fine, Lilia isn't truly the leading lady, but initially that seems to be the case. I'll keep it short and sweet by saying that the indifference shown by most of the characters at the end of this book is actually revolting. Maybe that's the point? Suffice it to say, I'd much rather spend a few hundred pages with serial killer Tom Ripley
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Barry Pierce
I've decided to revisit Forster. I've never really had a high opinion of his work, but I feel like that may be my problem, not his. I first read Where Angels Fear to Tread about four years ago and my original review is presented below (god I was so shit at 'reviews' back then why did none of you tell me!?)

What I can glean from my second reading of Where Angels Fear to Tread is that I enjoyed it more this time. I recall being quite bored with it the first time around but this time my boredom was
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Katie Lumsden
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this. E.M. Forster is such a wonderful writer, with such fantastic creation of atmosphere, and just clever subtle characterisation. I love that his plots never go the way you expect them to, that characters never fall in love with the people whom the narrative seems to require them to fall in love with. A really great read - one I would highly recommend.
Vanessa
Nov 11, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Where Angels Fear to Tread, Forster's debut novel, tends to follow a literary trend, the Victorian sensation novel: a woman behaves amorally, creates a scandal (or even more than one), there's a mysterious foreign man (and therefore wicked) and tragedy permeates the whole story.
Forster, though, writes this novel to criticise rich English people's manners: their hypocrisy, their prejudices, their cruelty in order to keep up the appearances, their unique care for social positions and their casual
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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
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Juliana
Feb 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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Alice-Elizabeth
Sorry guys... I really didn't like this book. Borderline 1.5/2 stars!

Honestly, out of the four books I read, this one was the one I found the most disappointing. It was very info-dumpy, most of the characters were very unlikeable and the storyline surrounding the attempt of trying to kidnap a baby from its father after the mother dies in childbirth was one at times, I didn’t feel comfortable reading about. I liked the length and the geographical settings but that was all. My penguin edition howe
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BrokenTune
Jul 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
For the dead, who seem to take away so much, really take with them nothing that is ours. The passion they have aroused lives after them, easy to transmute or to transfer, but well-nigh impossible to destroy.

I love Forster's writing. So, much so that to celebrate it I got myself a whole new set of lovely, matching editions of his novels recently.

Where Angels Fear to Tread was his first novel (published in 1905), and re-reading it this time I can see how this is very much a first novel, and why it
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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 it.

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
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Trish (concerningnovels)
Jul 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
"The advance of regret can be so gradual that it is impossible to say "yesterday I was happy, today I am not."

This is another fast-paced, funny, tragic, and dramatic little novel by E.M. Forster. Being his first novel, it isn't as refined or mature as A Room with a View but Where Angels Fear to Tread stands its ground as a classic with its riveting plot, complex characters, and simple message. This book is anything but predictable and I highly recommend it as a vacation or weekend read.

For more
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booklady
Forester’s do-or-die question is: ‘Wilt thou love?’ Having read four of his novels—all very different in their plot—the underlying theme seems consistent in all. Is this a drawback or monotonous? Not to me as it happens to be something I often wonder myself, although my pondering tends to run along the why and how lines: ‘Why and/or how can some people so repeatedly and insistently refuse to love?’ Or maybe, continue to think that ‘being good’ is the same thing when it is not.

I needed to let a l
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Julie
6.0/10

After a good night's sleep, I'm downgrading this one. As it simmered in my mind overnight, I thought, yes, my first instincts were correct: this is Forster at his vulgar best/worst -- a word in which he overindulges in this novel. Lots of vulgarity, in life in Italy, in his opinion. Lots of vulgarity in life, period. He threw around that word, and that phrase, like Italians throw pizza dough. Sigh. Not that I disagree with his conclusion, only that the manner of his delivery was ... well,
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BAM Endlessly Booked
Catching up with the classics # 21

Oh my word! How tragic is this book! It’s by far the best Forster I’ve read.
Cecily
May 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
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.

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Colleen Fauchelle
Jun 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
WOW such a sad story
Classic reverie
I was first introduced to the works of E.M. Forster when I first saw the 1991 movie based on his book, "Where Angels Fear to Tread" (WAFTT) while watch Helena Bonham Carter as Caroline Abbott something thing missing from the story even though I enjoyed the movie. So when I read my first book by Forster, "Room with a View" (made into a movie which I had not seen), I loved the story so much I wanted to read more from him. Room was considered his happy ending book & his other works were deemed to b ...more
Idarah
Jul 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
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.
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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
Smitha Murthy
I wasn’t sure if I had read EM Forster before. I think I kind of bluffed my way through for a paper back when I was a student by skimming through a ‘Passage to India.’ This time, ‘Where Angels Fear To Tread’ beckoned to me almost 20 years later after that pretense as a student. I love that title, although I am not sure how to apply that title to the book.

This was the first of EM Forster’s novels and he didn’t think too highly of it. If I were an Italian, I would be kind of offended by Forster’s
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Rebecca
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
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Reading 1001: Where Angels Fear to Tread by Forster 4 18 Aug 17, 2021 08:23PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Correction 4 21 Sep 02, 2018 01:04PM  

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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
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