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Howards End

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Howards End is a novel by E. M. Forster about social conventions, codes of conduct and relationships in turn-of-the-century England. A strong-willed and intelligent woman refuses to allow the pretensions of her husband's smug English family to ruin her life. Howards End is considered by some to be Forster's masterpiece.

318 pages, Paperback

First published October 18, 1910

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About the author

E.M. Forster

544 books3,349 followers
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 novels published in his lifetime, achieving his greatest success with A Passage to India (1924) which takes as its subject the relationship between East and West, seen through the lens of India in the later days of the British Raj.

Forster's views as a secular humanist are at the heart of his work, which often depicts the pursuit of personal connections in spite of the restrictions of contemporary society. He is noted for his use of symbolism as a technique in his novels, and he has been criticised for his attachment to mysticism. His other works include Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905), The Longest Journey (1907), A Room with a View (1908) and Maurice (1971), his posthumously published novel which tells of the coming of age of an explicitly gay male character.

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Profile Image for Diem.
451 reviews136 followers
May 8, 2014
My review is not a review of Howard's End as much as it is a review of the negative reviews.

Most of the criticism seems to be that the readers felt that this book had nothing to do with them. They weren't familiar with the places in England referenced in the book. It was too English. It wasn't universal. True on some counts. This book isn't about you. It isn't about now. It isn't directly relevant to today. It won't feed the soul of the egomaniac.

It is, however, a beautifully written book with a interesting storyline about a time in history that is important in that way that history is important. The novel is not just SETin a pre-World Wars Europe, it is actually *written* before the wars that changed the western world and its literature forever. Moreover, it is written in the period immediately preceding the wars and the presented tension between England and Germany, not written with the advantage of hindight, adds to the books worthiness. Beyond the tension is a modern view of Germany that predates and so is untainted by the horror of the Holocaust. The Germany of Howard's End is a Germany of philosophers and musicians. Not deranged dictators.

Is it important to be able to perfectly picture the setting of every scene in a book? If it is, I'm in trouble. I think I just have pre-painted backdrops for certain things. Bucolic English countryside? Check. 17th century French parlor? Check. Mars circa 3011? Check. My depictions might not be terribly accurate but I'm not going to let that get in the way of a good story.

What is more universal than the tension between wealth and poverty? Between lust and restraint? What is more universal than feeling both the pull of family and the desire to push them away? What is more universal than hypocrisy? What is more universal than the struggle of the sexes to find their proper place in relation to one another. This. Book. Has. Everything. Except you. You're not in this book.

You already know what its like to live here now. What was it like to live there then? Go ahead and read it for the sex and intrigue but stay for the history and the political discussion. If you don't need to see yourself reflected in everything you read you won't be disappointed.

Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
March 22, 2020
***New mini-series begins showing on Starz in the U.S. April 2018.***

”Discussion keeps a house alive. It cannot stand by bricks and mortar alone.”

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I’ve fallen in love with the Schlegel sisters twice now in separate decades. I plan to keep falling in love with them for many decades to come. They are vibrant defenders of knowledge, of books, of art, of travel, of feeling life in the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and spleen on a daily basis. Margaret and Helen have a brother, Tibby, poor lad, who is plenty bright while at Oxford, but in the family Schlegel home, he is struggling to keep up with the thoughts expressed that keep expanding past him.

Compared to most people, they are rich. Compared to most rich people, they are poor. Their ancestors left them with enough capital to insure that they don’t have to work for the rest of their lives, can travel a bit, can go to the theatre, and can buy books as they need them. They are very attuned to their privileged position and are frequently tempted to reduce their capital by helping those in need. How much money do they really need or, for that matter, really deserve to have?

Improbably, the Schlegel sisters become friends with the Wilcoxes, a capitalistic family who have a different idea of money. Is there ever enough? Helen forms a temporary attachment to the younger Wilcox which throws each family into a tizzy as to the suitability of the match. Margaret begins a friendship with the wife, Ruth, that proves so strong that it throws a few wrinkles into the plot regarding Ruth’s family and the inheritance of Howards End.

Ruth passes away suddenly. ”How easily she slipped out of life?” Her insignificance in life becomes even more pronounced in her death.

E. M. Forster based Howards End on his childhood home, The Rooks Nest, which had been owned by a family named Howard and referred to as the Howard house. Thus, the name Howards End is a not too subtle reference to that family home. I have to believe that it might have represented a lifetime longing he had for those childhood years he spent in that home. In the novel, Howards End goes beyond being an estate and becomes almost a character, a Shangri-La that I began to pine for from the very beginning of the novel. The Sisters have only brief contact with Howards End through the early part of the novel, and my trepidation grows as the plot progresses. Will they ever have a chance to consider the house a home?

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Rooks Nest

The Schlegel’s befriend the Basts, who are certainly in much reduced circumstances compared to their own. By mere chance they are discussing the Basts situation with Henry Wilcox, who promptly puts doubt into their mind about the future validity of the company Leonard is working for. This sets off a chain of events that cause a series of ripples that change the course of several lives. There certainly is a word of caution in meddling in others’ affairs. Sometimes we can think we are helping, only to cause even more problems.

Improbably, Margaret and Henry Wilcox form a friendship that becomes romantic. The eldest Wilcox son, Charles, is not happy about the attachment. He and Margaret are so far apart in their views of how the world works or should work that they have difficulty communicating well enough to reach a point of mutual respect. ”They had nothing in common but the English language, and tried by its help to express what neither of them understood.”

Margaret’s odd relationship with Henry causes a rift between the sisters that is, frankly, painful to experience. Forster makes sure that I, as a reader, at this point can no longer be objective. The relationship between these siblings is a precious thing and to think of it torn asunder is impossible to accept. They know so well how to entertain each other, to finish each other’s thoughts, and share a general agreement on most things that other people who bump around in the orbit of their reality feel like intruders.

So the marriage between Margaret and Henry is unsettling to Helen and me for numerous reasons, but this statement might sum up how we feel pretty well: ”How wide the gulf between Henry as he was and Henry as Helen thought he ought to be.” There is probably someone we could feel is good enough for Margaret, but not just Margaret but Helen and this reader as well (see how invested I am?); for whomever either girl would marry would have to slip seamlessly into the state of euphoria that already exists in the Schlegel household.

Henry is not that person. ”He misliked the word ‘interesting’, connoting it with wasted energy and even with morbidity.”

It is becoming impossible to think that Howards End will remain nothing more than a shimmering presence in another reality.

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E. M. Forster, portrait by Roger Fry.

The Schlegel sisters are really the best friends any reader could hope for. We would be so enriched by the opportunity to know them and practically giddy to be able to call them friends. It is unnerving that something so strong, like this relationship between sisters, can be so fragile. I haven’t discussed the fascinating nuances of plot that will add further weight to the interactions between the Schlegels, the Wilcoxes, and the Basts, for I want everyone to read this book and marvel at the words and thoughts that Forster tosses in the air for you to catch. I want you all to be as haunted as I have been, to the point that you, too, will have to go back to the place you first met these characters, these ghostly beings, and read and read again turning these phantoms into tangible beings you can almost touch.

”Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its highest. Live in fragments no longer.”

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,086 reviews7,012 followers
October 7, 2019
The title refers to a British country home, not a mansion like a Downton Abbey, but a small comfortable home with charm. (Although it seems that the story is set at about the same time as Downton Abbey.) The story revolves around two sisters who, on separate visits, fall in love with the home and in a very round-about way end up living in it.

The main there of the book is British class structure. The two sisters are ‘liberal,’ using modern terminology. They attend meetings of progressive women’s groups where one of them gives a presentation and shocks her audience by arguing that such groups need to help the poor not by giving them free libraries, museums and concerts, but by giving them money. A kind of introduction by Lionel Trilling on the back cover tells us that “Howard’s End is about England’s fate. It is a story of the class war…[the plot] is about the rights of property, about a destroyed will and testament and rightful and wrongful heirs. It asks the question, who shall inherit England?’ “


Both sisters are aging (their parents have died) and they are ‘heading into spinsterhood.’ However the older one marries and she marries the owner of Howards End who is a Darwinist. His attitude, to be concise is, (I’m paraphrasing) “there will always be poor; nothing we can do; they are not like us; if you give them money they’ll just blow it because they’re re too stupid to know what to do with it.” And, this is a quote: “The poor are poor, and one’s sorry for them, but there it is. As civilization moves forward, the shoe is bound to pinch in places, and it’s absurd to think that anyone is responsible personally.”

The sisters are not wealthy but they are comfortable from an inheritance and they hang out in upper-class society. So this is a second theme: the sisters have an inherent cultured grace that comes from being part of the aristocracy. “…the instinctive wisdom that the past can alone bestow had descended upon her – that wisdom to which we give the clumsy name of aristocracy.” A married, struggling poor young man that the sisters take under their wing is trying to improve himself and become cultured by reading. But he eventually realizes that “…he could never follow them, not if he read for ten hours a day… Some are born cultured; the rest had better go in for whatever comes easy.”

“[We] stand upon money as upon islands. It is so firm beneath our feet that we forget its very existence.” [money]: there’s no nourishment in it. You pass it to the lower classes, and they pass it back to you, and this you call ‘social intercourse’ or ‘mutual endeavor,’ when it’s mutual priggishness…”

There’s not a lot of plot other than that of the older sister coming around to marry the wealthy older man, and after they are married she struggles to get his family to accept her. And both sisters get involved with helping the poor young man but ‘the road to hell…’ The younger sister gets more involved with him and a person ends up getting killed (manslaughter).

Another theme of the book, or more appropriately, motto, is ‘only connect.’ The sisters are good at it; the wealthy aristocrat is a disaster.

There is good writing. Some passages I liked:

On the poor young man looking ill at ease in his best clothes: “[She] wondered whether it paid to give up the glory of the animal for a tail coast and a couple of ideas.”

“The church itself stood in the village once. But there it attracted so many worshippers that the devil, in a pet, snatched it from its foundations and poised it on an inconvenient knoll three quarters of a mile away.”

“Their interview was short and absurd. They had nothing in common but the English language, and tried by its help to express what neither of them understood.”


E. M. Forster (1879-1970), the author, is best know for A Room With a View with Howard’s End and A Passage to India about equally well-known after that. You can tell that the author loved London and the growth and dynamism of the city at that time. I enjoyed the book very much.

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Profile Image for Diane.
1,080 reviews2,655 followers
July 25, 2016
I loved this book so much that I will never be able to do it justice in this review. I finished it several months ago, but still I think of it often and have recommended it to numerous friends. While reading, I used countless post-its to mark beautiful and thoughtful passages.

Howard's End was one of the novels I took on my visit to England earlier this summer. I wanted to read English authors while I was there, and I'm so glad I did. The specialized reading completely enhanced the trip, and it was especially true for this book.*

This was also a re-read for me. I first read Howard's End when I was in high school, after I saw the excellent Merchant & Ivory movie version. But that was 1992 and I was just an impressionable teenager. Reading it as an adult with more life experience made me better appreciate how amazing this novel is.

If you are unfamiliar with the story, we follow two sisters, Margaret and Helen Schlegel, in London around 1910. (More on the significance of that timing in a moment.) The Schlegels are well-educated, progressive, and love literature, music and art. They hold cultural discussions and like to talk about improving society. When they meet poor, intelligent Leonard Bast at a music concert, they see someone they want to champion. Meanwhile, the Schlegels have also crossed paths with the rich Wilcox family, and entanglements ensue. One of the key threads of the book is who will inherit Howard's End, which was the estate of Ruth Wilcox. Early in the book, Ruth wants to give it to Margaret Schlegel, but Henry Wilcox, Ruth's husband, refuses to oblige her wish. More entanglements ensue.

As I read this novel, I appreciated how Forster was trying to recreate modern England with families from three classes: the rich capitalists (Wilcoxes), the liberal middle-class (Schlegels), and the downtrodden workers (Mr. and Mrs. Bast). There were so many good quotes about social class and the state of society, and I found it all fascinating and thought-provoking. Reading a great novel such as Howard's End reminded me of how much literature can enrich a life. It answers questions I didn't know I had asked.

On the chance that some Goodreaders don't want the ending spoiled, I'll hide the outcome:

This novel was published in 1910. I found special meaning in this because shortly before reading Howard's End I read All Quiet on the Western Front, which is a novel about a German soldier in World War I. Reading Forster's novel and knowing that a real war was going to break out a few years after these characters were created, made their conversations so much more prescient. The Schlegel family was from Germany, so there was a lot of talk about the difference between Germans and the English. Again, prescience. [More below in Favorite Quotes.]

If you like beautiful and meaningful English novels, get yourself a copy of Howard's End with all deliberate speed. I will be treasuring my paperback for many years.

*I had a few reading and trip coincidences with Howard's End that were exciting. At one point in the novel, Leonard Bast was reading a book by John Ruskin. I turned to the back of my edition to read the detailed note about Ruskin. At this point in the England trip my husband and I were in the Lake District, specifically Keswick. The morning after reading that endnote, we were walking near Derwentwater and I noticed a memorial to John Ruskin. I think I cried, "Oh my god! I just read about Ruskin last night!" I realized if I hadn't read that endnote in the novel, I wouldn't have even noticed that memorial.

A few days later we were back in London and visited St. Paul's Cathedral. After nearly two weeks in England, we had seen many beautiful churches and abbeys. But I paused for an extra moment outside the entrance to St. Paul's, and not just because it's striking, or because Princess Diana had been married there, but because the characters in Howard's End had also frequented the church, which means Forster had likely been there, too. I love seeing historic places that are mentioned in literature -- it gives them a whole other life and meaning.

Favorite Quotes
"Do they care about Literature and Art? That is the most important when you come to think of it. Literature and Art. Most important."

"Like many others who have lived long in a great capital, she had strong feelings about the various railway termini. They are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! we return ... And he is a chilly Londoner who does not endow his stations with some personality, and extend to them, however shyly, the emotions of fear and love."

"The poetry of that kiss, the wonder of it, the magic that there was in life for hours after it — who can describe that? It is so easy for an Englishman to sneer at these chance collisions of human beings. To the insular cynic and the insular moralist they offer an equal opportunity. It is so easy to talk of 'passing emotion,' and to forget how vivid the emotion was ere it passed. Our impulse to sneer, to forget, is at root a good one. We recognize that emotion is not enough, and that men and women are personalities capable of sustained relations, not mere opportunities for an electrical discharge. Yet we rate the impulse too highly. We do not admit that by collisions of this trivial sort the doors of heaven may be shaken open."

"In their own fashion they cared deeply about politics, though not as politicians would have us care; they desired that public life should mirror whatever is good in the life within."

"Do you imply that we Germans are stupid, Uncle Ernst?"... /
"To my mind. You use the intellect, but you no longer care about it. That I call stupidity ... You only care about the things that you can use, and therefore arrange them in the following order: Money, supremely useful; intellect, rather useful; imagination, of no use at all. No, your Pan-Germanism is no more imaginative than is our Imperialism over here. It is the vice of a vulgar mind to be thrilled by bigness, to think that a thousand square miles are a thousand times more wonderful than one square mile, and that a million square miles are almost the same as heaven. That is not imagination. No, it kills it. When their poets over here try to celebrate bigness they are dead at once, and naturally. Your poets too are dying, your philosophers, your musicians, to whom Europe has listened for two hundred years. Gone. Gone with the little courts that nurtured them ... What? Your universities? Oh yes, you have learned men, who collect more facts than do the learned men of England. They collect facts, and facts, and empires of facts. But which of them will rekindle the light within?"
[Personal interjection: Imagine me reading this passage just weeks after finishing the WWI book, and crying OH MY GOD, FORSTER'S A GENIUS.]

"It will be generally admitted that Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is the most sublime noise that has ever penetrated into the ear of man." [I wrote this review with the 5th playing in the background. Most delightful.]

"To trust people is a luxury in which only the wealthy can indulge; the poor cannot afford it."

"Her speeches fluttered away from the young man like birds. If only he could talk like this, he would have caught the world. Oh, to acquire culture! Oh, to pronounce foreign names correctly! Oh, to be well informed, discoursing at ease on every subject that a lady started! But it would take one years. With an hour at lunch and a few shattered hours in the evening, how was it possible to catch up with leisured women who had been reading steadily from childhood?"

"Life's very difficult, and full of surprises. At all events, I've got as far as that. To be humble and kind, to go straight ahead, to love people rather than pity them, to remember the submerged — well, one can't do all these things at once, worse luck, because they're so contradictory. It's then that proportion comes in — to live by proportion. Don't begin with proportion. Only prigs do that. Let proportion come in as a last resource, when the better things have failed."

"The German is always on the lookout for beauty. He may miss it through stupidity, or misinterpret it, but he is always asking beauty to enter his life, and I believe that in the end it will come."

"Discussion keeps a house alive. It cannot stand by bricks and mortar alone."

"Was Mrs. Wilcox one of the unsatisfactory people — there are many of them — who dangle intimacy and then withdraw it? They evoke our interests and affections, and keep the life of the spirit dawdling round them. Then they withdraw. When physical passion is involved, there is a definite name for such behavior — flirting — and if carried far enough, it is punishable by law. But no law — not even public opinion, even — punishes those who coquette with friendship, though the dull ache that they inflict, the sense of misdirected effort and exhaustion, may be as intolerable."

"Can what they call civilization be right, if people mayn't die in the room where they were born?"

"Their grief, though less poignant than their father's, grew from deeper roots, for a wife may be replaced; a mother never."

"Looking back on the past six months, Margaret realized the chaotic nature of our daily life, and its difference from the orderly sequence that has been fabricated by historians. Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere. With infinite effort we nerve ourselves for a crisis that never comes."

"To speak against London is no longer fashionable. The Earth as an artistic cult has had its day, and the literature of the near future will probably ignore the country and seek inspiration from the town."

"Oh, hang it all! what's the good — I mean, the good of living in a room for ever? There one goes on day after day, same old game, same up and down to town, until you forget there is any other game. You ought to see once in a way what's going on outside, if it's only nothing particular after all."

"I believe we shall come to care about people less and less, Helen. The more people one knows, the easier it becomes to replace them. It's one of the curses of London. I quite expect to end my life caring most for a place."

"What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives? ... Haven't we all to struggle against life's daily grayness, against pettiness, against mechanical cheerfulness, against suspicious? I struggle by remembering my friends."

"The age of property holds bitter moments even for a proprietor. When a move is imminent, furniture becomes ridiculous, and Margaret now lay awake at nights wondering where, where on earth they and all their belongings, would be deposited in September next. Chairs, tables, pictures, books, that had rumbled down to them through the generations, must rumble forward again like a slide of rubbish to which she longed to give the final push and send toppling into the sea."

"I was thinking of Father. How could he settle to leave Germany as he did, when he had fought for it as a young man, and all his feelings and friends were Prussian? How could he break loose with patriotism and begin aiming at something else? It would have killed me. When he was nearly forty he could change countries and ideals — and we, at our age, can't change houses. It's humiliating."

"If Welcomes hadn't worked and died in England for thousands of years, you and I couldn't sit here without having our throats cut. There would be no trains, no ships to carry us literary people about in, no fields even. Just savagery. No — perhaps not even that. Without their spirit, life might never have moved out of protoplasm. More and more do I refuse to draw my income and sneer at those who guarantee it."

"Margaret had often wondered at the disturbance that takes place in the world's waters when Love, who seems so tiny a pebble, slips in. Whom does Love concern beyond the beloved and the lover? Yet his impact deluges a hundred shores."

"A younger woman might have resented his masterly ways, but Margaret had too firm a grip of life to make a fuss. She was, in her own way, as masterly. If he was a fortress she was a mountain peak, whom all might tread, but whom the snows made nightly virginal."

"By all means subscribe to charities — subscribe to them largely — but don't get carried away by absurd schemes of Social Reform. I see a good deal behind the scenes, and you can take it from me that there is no Social Question — except for a few journalists who try to get a living out of the phrase. There are just rich and poor, as there always have been and always will be."

"Love and Truth — their warfare seems eternal. Perhaps the whole visible world rests on it, and if they were one, life itself, like the spirits when Prospero was reconciled to his brother, might vanish into air, into thin air."

"Why has not England a great mythology? Our folklore has never advanced beyond daintiness, and the greater melodies about our countryside have all issued through the pipes of Greece. Deep and true as the native imagination can be, it seems to have failed here. It has stopped with the witches and the fairies. It cannot vivify one fraction of a summer field, or give names to half a dozen stars. England still waits for the supreme moment of her literature — for the great poet who shall voice her, or, better still, for the thousand little poets whose voices shall pass into our common talk."

"Nothing matters, except one's self-respect and that of one's friends."
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.4k followers
November 19, 2018
Forster is the Jane Austen of the 20th century. He clearly read her novels and fell in love.

And this makes him rather unusual amongst his literary peers. He didn’t do anything new; he didn’t write with any particular passion or any attempt at breaking a literary boundary. His writing is relatively safe compared to the likes of Joyce or Woolf.

But in such safety a certain simple beauty can be found because Howard’s End is a novel about reconciliation; it’s about conflict and resolution; it’s about bringing people who are so radically different together. And I love this. I love the way he spends the entire novel showing how the two families (Wilcox & Schlegel) are so opposed in traditions and values; yet, for all that, he offers no comment on which way is right but instead brings them together in one big union at the end: it’s a celebration of life and love.

"Don't you see that all this leads to comfort in the end? It is part of the battle against sameness. Differences - eternal differences, planted by God in a single family, so that there may always be colour; sorrow, perhaps, but colour in the daily grey.”

The house, Howard's End, is at the centre of the action. It’s bequeathed by Mrs Wilcox to Margaret who (unlike the Wilcox’s) is the only one capable of seeing, and feeling, it’s true value. The remaining Wilcox’s decide to destroy the evidence and rent the house out because they want the money. And with this begins a discussion about the importance of death and life, about respecting wishes and understanding the importance of sentiments.

So the plot was immediate; it didn’t mess around and started flowing from the first page. And that’s kind of important with novels like this, novels that are largely about domestic life and the complications of class and money. The Wilcox’s are overly concerned with money and status (and acquiring more of it.) The Schlegel’s care about education, art, books and the passions of the soul. The two families become unlikely acquaintances and eventually friends (though not without an early embarrassment over an impromptu and insincere marriage proposal.)

It’s a nice easy read (a little lacklustre) but one is quite clearly content with its calm and subtle evocation of the variety of life.
Profile Image for Candi.
614 reviews4,644 followers
February 27, 2019
3.5 stars

"A place, as well as a person, may catch the glow. Don't you see that all this leads to comfort in the end? It is part of the battle against sameness. Differences--eternal differences, planted by God in a single family, so that there may always be colour; sorrow perhaps, but colour in the daily grey."

Howards End is the second book in my endeavor to re-read all of E.M. Forster’s major novels. Having read five of these in my late teens, I decided that it would be fun to approach them with more years, wisdom, and appreciation for literature on my side. Well, I don’t necessarily claim much more in the way of wisdom (in fact, I sure felt a lot ‘smarter’ back in the day), so perhaps experience would be a better word! In any case, my first book on the list – A Room with a View – proved to be a marvelous success. I had high hopes for Howards End. The result? Well, I will say that I am still a great admirer of Forster’s vision and brilliance. I adored this more in theory than in the execution, perhaps. If I could boil down this piece to those passages I highlighted – and there were loads of them – then this would have been five stars without a doubt. If I could have removed some of the superfluous philosophizing that sometimes left me literally closing my eyes from time to time, then this would be sitting on my favorites shelf. I wanted to love this! Instead, I appreciated it and ultimately liked it.

There is so much one could say about the themes in this book. There is of course the overlying theme ‘to connect’. This word ‘connect’ appears repeatedly throughout. Forster introduces us to the Schlegels, a very comfortable, perhaps middle-class family. They appreciate art, literature, and discussion - much like us dear Goodreaders. One can’t help but become attached to them – in particular the two sisters, Margaret and Helen. Oh, how I would love to sit down with them and have an intelligent conversation about books, music, and women's rights. Their lives become decisively intertwined with the Wilcox family, representing the wealthy, conservative and less imaginative set. "… they avoided the personal note in life. All Wilcoxes did. It did not seem to them of supreme importance." The Schlegel’s desire to connect with one and all further entangles them with the impoverished Basts, in particular, Leonard Bast, an intelligent young man who aspires to more than what his lower class would readily allow. "He felt that he was being done good to, and that if he kept on with Ruskin, and the Queen's Hall Concerts, and some pictures by Watts, he would one day push his head out of the grey waters and see the universe." The three families clearly illustrate the distinct differences in the social classes existing within pre-World War I England. Is it possible to cross these social boundaries? The Schlegels would like to think so and in fact strive to do just that. Their efforts are always endearing, occasionally comical, and sometimes disastrous.

At the heart of this novel, too, is Howards End, the house, one of the Wilcox’s family homes. Howards End is where Ruth Wilcox was born. To her, the house has a spirit. Her husband and children do not feel the same affinity to the house as she. But Margaret Schlegel, with whom she strikes up a friendship, understands places and homes. Howards End takes on a life of its own until it becomes akin to a vital character in the novel. "She paced back into the hall, and as she did so the house reverberated… But it was the heart of the house beating, faintly at first, then loudly, martially. It dominated the rain." The rural setting of Howards End is further contrasted with the chaos of London. It seems to be the heart of the country for those like the Schlegels. "She recaptured the sense of space, which is the basis of all earthly beauty, and, starting from Howards End, she attempted to realize England."

Eventually, good-intentioned meddling has serious consequences, unlikely romances form, and a rift develops and deepens both within and across families. Is it possible to mend such a fracture or will it always be necessary to separate one class from another? Aside from the relevant commentary regarding social and economic classes, this novel also examines the differences between genders. Forster is clearly an early champion for feminism; and I applaud him once again for his progressive views regarding women’s rights. I admire the way he paints his female characters and they are turning out to be among my favorites in the literary world.

So you see, there is much I truly liked about Howards End. The themes, the dialogue, and many of the characters – those elements shine. Subtract the labored philosophizing as well as the frequent trespass of the author into the story and this would be all I had imagined it to be. The other day I had the opportunity to watch the superb 1992 Merchant Ivory film adaptation, which I highly recommend. It truly sparkles and brings this to a whole new level. I daresay I prefer the movie over the book – you really must watch it if you haven’t done so already. It remains true to the heart of the story, those parts I loved best.

3.5 stars rounded up to 4

"Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer."
Profile Image for Jaidee.
583 reviews1,120 followers
February 12, 2020
2.5 "This Champagne has gone flat and don't tell me that Vanilla is from Madagascar" stars !!

Third Most Disappointing Read of 2019 Award

In my late teens I read all of Mr. Forster's books and although not my favorites I enjoyed them thoroughly. I wanted to re-read one at random and see what my forty-something self thought and felt. Alas, this particular reading of Howard's End did not hold up for me the way I had expected it too.

I want to to be clear though that I found parts of it sparkling but the majority of it was simply ho-hum and did not stand the test of time.

This is a novel that writes about particular substrates of class in early twentieth Century England. We have the cultured and idle rich, the brash and industrious nouveau riche and the struggling working classes. There is also commentary on city vs. rural living, relations between the genders and the superiority of anything British over anything continental never mind foreign. A novel about social commentary and where England was headed during that period of time. This is all very good but Mr. Forster forces it down our throats between absolutely brilliant and hilarious dialogue that if left alone would have stood on their own in a thought provoking and very pleasant way.

The characters are not well drawn out, the men are either blustering dominants, idle entitled layabouts or over-romantic zealots. The women are mostly hysterical, over-emotional, irrational and if sensible than dull either in appearance or imagination or intelligence. The plot is convenient.

This novel does shine though in its dialogue and some of the description of both cityscape and rural living as well as the quirky descriptions of some of the more minor characters.

An enjoyable read that to me is more a bagatelle than a substantial sonata.

Profile Image for Piyangie.
519 reviews417 followers
February 10, 2022
Howards End is Forster's attempt to explore the social, political, cultural, and philosophical changes that were in force at the turn of the 20th century. Using three families - the Wilcoxes, the Schlegels, and the Basts, he writes an intricate story expounding the changes that were slowly engulfing England during the Edwardian era.

The three families Forster has used for his story represent three sectors. The Wilcoxes are the solid, materialistic, and practical imperialists. They are the rich upper middle class who keep the economic wheel of England going and who control the working ethics. They represent more or less Victorian conventional rigidity. The Schlegels are the intellectual and cultural idealists. They are a different sector of upper middle class. They represent the modern visionary. And the Basts represent the underprivileged or rather "victimized" lower middle class who lack the wealth and culture to better them. Through his story, Forster forces these three families on one another and exposes the class difference and inherent hypocrisy of the conventional rich.

Forster favours the themes of class difference and hypocrisy and as I've already mentioned they play a major role in Howards End too. This is very much expressed through Wilcoxes' treatment towards the Schlegels and the Basts and at times Schlegels' treatment towards Basts. But the most important theme was the philosophical debate on what was life? Was it the outer world of "telegrams and anger" as Forster called it or the inner world of personal relations and emotions? Margaret Schlegel thinks life's glory is "only to connect" meaning the connection with people personally and emotionally while Henry Wilcox thinks that only "concentration" which is the rigid, conventional, and emotionally devoid conduct of the outer world is the "real life". This was quite an interesting and in-depth debate of which Forster chooses the winner to be the philosophy of "connecting".

One criticism against Forster is that the characters he brings into his novels are not likable. This was perhaps true in A Passage to India but in both A Room with a View and Howards End such criticism is groundless. In Howards End the personal growth of the characters developed and altered their personalities so much that at the end I was able to like them very much. However, out of all I favoured the Schlegel sisters - the strong but emotional and romantic Margaret and the emotional yet impulsive Helen. I also ended up liking the rigid, emotionally devoid hypocritical Henry Wilcox who was properly humbled by reason of personal tragedy.

There was a lot of symbolism at play in the novel. And so much importance was given to the different houses through which the personalities of the characters were expressed. Howards End, the property on which the novel derives the title, was practically a symbol for England. Written at a time when England was slowly coming out of convention and moving towards liberalism, Forster raises the question to whom England belongs? Howards End finally belongs to Henry, Margaret, Helen, and Helen's son from Leonard Bast. And symbolically this indicates a merging of classes obscuring the boundaries. This perhaps was Forster's prophecy as to the collapse of the class system in the future.

And it is also noteworthy to mention at this point that it was Margaret Schlegel/Wilcox who unites the opposing factions at the end. It is as if Forster saw a woman or rather women as being the deciding factor in changing the conventional English society into a more liberal and tolerant one. Forster was one of the early feminists and his feminist perspective is clearly displayed here.

Finally, it would be quite amiss if I don't comment on Forster's writing. It is exquisite. The poetic and flowery prose and the beautiful metaphors made it an exceedingly pleasurable read. The colourful and picturesque description made the writing more in line with Victorian times. I felt Forster's writing in the Howards End to be a tribute to the great Victorian literature.

The reading was absolutely a pleasure. I enjoyed it very much. Many say that Howards End is Forster's masterpiece. And I heartily agree.
Profile Image for Mark  Porton.
386 reviews327 followers
December 13, 2022
After I was totally bowled over by A Room with a View - I felt compelled to follow up with another from E.M. Forster, so why not Howard’s End? Why not indeed – I am so glad I did as I met – Margaret (Meg) Schlegel, but more about her later.

This book was right up my Strasse.

On reflection, as this wasn’t necessarily apparent to this reader at first pass – this is a study of how different classes interact in pre-WWI England and how they contribute to the ever-changing landscape of English society moving forward.

We have three main groups, all very different and all become more intertwined as the story evolves.

Firstly, we have the Schlegel’s (my favourite) a well to do threesome of two sisters Margaret and Helen and their slothful, younger brother Tiddy. The Schlegel’s live in a nice part of London and spend their time enjoying conversation with friends, connecting with anyone really – even strangers, appreciating art, going to the theatre, and just enjoying life. Secondly, we have the Wilcox’s – Ruth and Henry are the parents of several unikable children. They are a money driven family, their considerable wealth is derived from industrious activity and not a moment is wasted on such things as social mores, the arts and connecting with others. In my view, this is driven by the patriarch Henry a difficult character to say the least, his wife is a little softer in this regard, in fact, her relationship with the adorable Margaret is something to watch for as it has a massive bearing on how this story develops. Thirdly, we get involved with the Basts a poor couple - Leonard Bast and his wife Jacky. They live in relative poverty – I felt really sorry for Leonard as he tried so hard to elevate himself by obsessively reading and attending such things as the theatre, alas, he couldn’t quite make it.

So, these three cohorts become inextricably related and a beautiful property in a hamlet called Howards End in Hertfordshire. Although this place is fictional, it is based on Forster’s childhood home (see below).

I was later to learn (from my buddy reader Lisa and some further reading) that there are a whole bunch of metaphors flying around here depicting life in England and how it is about to change. By the way, I am still a little clueless about spotting metaphors and quite frankly wouldn’t know one if it fell on me – but I am practicing. I will be sure let you all know when I spot my first one! In hindsight I now see the metaphors in this story, so that’s a great start methinks.

This is a terrific character piece about class and society. I loved it. I also love Margaret (I have already sent an SMS to Lucy Barton BTW), the fact Margaret is long dead is a porential problem, but nothing I can’t figure out. Margaret was compassionate, patient, clever, funny, and beautiful.

I would like to thank my buddy reader Lisa who gave me a strenuous workout. The thing I liked about buddy-reading with our Lisa was, she asked (interrogate is a bit strong) me lots of questions during our read and there was also some great general chit chat about things in the book. It certainly added to my experience on this one making this a 5-star read. Thanks Lisa!

5 Stars
Profile Image for Lisa.
977 reviews3,327 followers
October 23, 2020
Oh, Forster is kind to the reader!

I was building up the kind of panic I felt on the last pages of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, when the overwhelming unfairness of the rigid English society came crashing down on the characters I had learned to love. I had invested so much time and feeling in Helen and Margaret, would I have to face their brutal expulsion and tragedy too? I am still mourning Tess, after all!

If Hardy wanted to show just how painful it all IS in reality, Forster offers an alternative path and sends the bully to jail and the patriarch into retirement and lets the young sparkling spirit of modernity connect!

What does Margaret mean when she tells Henry Wilcox that he is unable to "connect", to draw lines between his own behaviour and its lack of consequences and her sister's loss of everything which he not only accepts, but also enforces - at least before Forster's deus ex machina comes down on his self-righteousness and gives the Schlegels more than a spoonful of poetical justice?

The connection she is asking for is the ability to see and feel what other people experience and to understand the different positions from a standpoint of humanity - it is quite simply EMPATHY.

The Wilcoxes stand for the business bullying that operates with a code of rationally justified privilege, and in real life, they win more often than not.

Howards End is an ideal of diversity come true: "It is part of the battle against sameness", as Margaret says to her sister Helen in the end. Helen stands for the spirit of life not giving in or giving up in the face of the cruel sameness of society. She gatecrashes a wedding and seduces a confused young man (more sinned against than sinning applies to both of them!), she carries her child with pride and in the end ... she connects, just like Henry Wilcox.

Charles on the other hand will probably spend his three years in jail without ever learning anything. The ability to feel empathy, unfortunately, is not universal. That would have been too unrealistic a happy end even for Forster.

This reader is grateful for the kind and almost Dickensian tugging in and wrapping up and comforting after the drama!
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,154 reviews1,694 followers
December 6, 2019

Gli Schlegel nel buon film omonimo diretto da Ivory nel 1992: la sorella maggiore Margaret è Emma Thompson, Helen è interpretata da Helena Bonham Carter, il fratello minore Tibby è Adrian Ross Magenty.

Per qualcuno è questo il capolavoro di E.M.Forster, per altri invece è l’ultimo romanzo pubblicato in vita, Passaggio in India. Per me, che ho letto tutti i suoi soli sei romanzi, è scelta difficile, bella gara.
Uomo dalla lunga vita (novantuno anni), Forster, come dicevo, ha pubblicato solo sei romanzi, di cui uno, Maurice, addirittura uscito postumo: a un certo punto, nonostante il buon esito della sua narrativa, si ferma, smette di scrivere romanzi, si dedica per un po’ ai racconti, ma prosegue soprattutto concentrato sullo studio, la saggistica, gli articoli per riviste e giornali, le conferenze, il libretto per un’opera lirica. Quarant’anni di vita senza tornare alla narrativa. Perché? Mistero.

Vanessa Redgrave è Ruth Wilcox, la vera proprietaria di Casa Howard.

La trama intreccia le sorti di tre famiglie: in mezzo quella delle sorelle Schlegel, modellate sulle vere sorelle Virginia Woolf e Vanessa Bell, la famiglia di cultura, cosmopolita, progressista e idealista, media borghesia illuminata; economicamente sopra, culturalmente sotto, ci sono i Wilcox, ricchi, conservatori, e anche un po’ ignoranti, quintessenza dell’anima affaristicamente dinamica dell’Inghilterra fieramente colonialista (imperialista); sotto, la famiglia piccolo-borghese dell’impiegato di banca Bast, che finisce col rappresentare anche il proletariato.

Henry Wilcox è Anthony Hopkins.

Tre livelli economici e culturali diversi che rappresentano un po’ l’intera società inglese dell’epoca, l’inizio del Novecento fino all’anno di pubblicazione, 1910, ancora lontana dalla Grande Guerra.
Casa Howard è la magione dei Wilcox che tutti amano e vorrebbero possedere, luogo simbolo: il posto che dovrebbe far convergere le opposizioni sociali e culturali di partenza, la culla della migliore tradizione, della solidità di valori da non smarrire, le radici più profonde.

Ed ecco il terzo nucleo familiare, i Bast: Samuel West è Leonard, Nicola Duffett è Jacky.

La trama non è particolarmente complicata e a prima vista potrebbe rimandare a quelle di Jane Austen. Ma più che l’intreccio, più che la descrizione, a Forster preme l’esplorazione di quelle realtà. A tal scopo, usa pause e lunghi dialoghi, rallenta la narrazione, sembra smarrirsi in digressioni, per me facendo crescere il piacere e l’intensità della lettura.
Assente questa volta ogni possibile elemento esotico, né l’Italia di Where Angels Fear to Tread – Monteriano e di Camera con vista, né l’India dell’ultimo romanzo: l’ambientazione è totalmente e tipicamente inglese. E questo consente a Forster una capacità di analisi e scavo probabilmente maggiore. Diretta a quello che la quarta di copertina ci ricorda Virginia Woolf, sua amica, definì:
il conflitto tra le cose che importano e le cose che non importano, tra la realtà e la falsità.

Casa Howard

Niente scene madri, grandi eventi, colpi di teatro: come un placido lago di campagna con la superficie appena increspata, e lo sguardo di Forster che sa penetrare nel fondo dell’acqua, in profondità, fino a raggiungere, e svelare, il fondo.
L’incontro, che genera fiducia e amicizia, tra la signora Wilcox, Ruth, e la maggiore delle Schlegel, Margaret è il clou della storia, il passaggio di testimone affidato a mani femminili.
Casa Howard appare come “il ponte d’arcobaleno” tra il romanzo classico ottocentesco, qui rappresentato dall’impianto e dalla trama, e quello moderno novecentesco, espresso nelle idee, nelle istanze, nelle aspirazioni. Il tutto perfettamente e profondamente british.

Questa invece è Casa Howard nella miniserie in quattro episodi della BBC del 2017.

Per quanto maturo egli fosse, lei era ancora in grado di aiutarlo a costruire il ponte d’arcobaleno che unisce la prosa che è in noi con la passione. Senza, siamo frammenti privi di significato, metà monaci, metà bestie, archi sconnessi che non si sono mai uniti in un uomo… Null’altro che connettere la prosa con la passione, allora entrambe ne saranno esaltate e l’amore umano apparirà al suo culmine. Non vivere più in frammenti. Null’altro che connettere.

La versione televisiva del romanzo di Forster.
Profile Image for Paula K .
421 reviews423 followers
November 19, 2020
The joy I received from reading HOWARDS END again. Over the years I have always read the hard cover, but this time I decided on the audiobook. One of our bookclub members suggestion the book when choosing from “1001”. What an opportunity to try a different format.

This is a period piece. One where everyone has manners. A very beautifully done practical romance. A breathtaking adventure into the beauty of nature surrounding HOWARDS END. I shivered while reading this book...I almost broke down crying on a few occasions...

Let your emotions run...

5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,228 followers
October 15, 2013
I've read three of Forster's most well known novels, and yet, I don't feel I know them at all. Even this one, as I read it, was fading from memory. I don't mean to say that his work is forgettable, but with every Forster book I've read - amazing human portraits and elegant, occasionally profound turns of phrase - somehow they all flitter on out of my head. It's as if they were witty clouds: intelligent and incorporeal. Heck, I've even seen movie versions for a couple of them and I still don't recall what the stories are about.

Why is that? If I could pinpoint it, well, then I wouldn't have started this review with that first paragraph. Perhaps it is because of Forster's penchant for pleasant diversions. He expounds upon ideas as the action unfolds, and that's wonderful! He gives the reader some very nice theories on human behavior to ponder upon. My problem is that I ponder too frickin' much! A writer like Forster is a danger to me. My imagination likes to fly and it's not very well tethered, so when I read books like Howards End with lines like "And of all means to regeneration remorse is surely the most wasteful. It cuts away healthy tissues with the poisoned. It is a knife that probes far deeper than the evil."...oh boy, off goes my mind in another direction and the next thing I know I've spent 20 minutes on a single page. Ah, but they are wondrous pages to linger upon. Perhaps it is worth the time.
Profile Image for Cecily.
1,119 reviews3,977 followers
August 14, 2014
"Only connect" is doubtless the most famous line from this book, and typical of Forster's knack for sprinkling unexpectedly modern-sounding phrases into his prose.

This is the story of the Schlegel sisters: half German Edwardians living in London. They are intellectual and comfortably off, but more bohemian/Bloomsbury than establishment. They encounter the wealthier and more conservative Wilcoxes and the struggling clerk Leonard Bast. Their altruistic attempts at social engineering are sometimes amusing but ultimately tragic.

"Howard's End" is the name of a house that has great significance in the story; it doesn't refer to the death of someone called Howard. But why no apostrophe?

My fondness for the film is heightened by the fact the house used as Howards End is in the village where I grew up (and my mother still lives). It's always fun spotting familiar locations.

When I saw it in the cinema, a couple of women behind me were discussing the locations and eventually agreed with each other that it was a particular place in East Anglia. I didn't disabuse them of that (they weren't talking to me), but having a little inside knowledge felt like a special secret.

Related trivia: the film stars Helena Bonham-Carter, whose great aunt was a long-time resident of the village and pillar of the community, until she died in her 90s.
Profile Image for Karina.
824 reviews
October 20, 2018
The beginning started off slow but not boring. It was just trying to get into the plot but once it got into it was nice and flowing. Forster for being hardly into his 30s writing this amazing eye opening story is just incredible. His major understandings of society at that age are things people barely start to grasp in their 50s....

Howards End is the beginning of the story and the end to it. The house is more like a metaphor of all rich and poor dying but structures will always be standing and mean more than any man alive. Forster incorporates class warfare through the Wilcox's, the Schlegel sisters, and the Basts. Helen upon meeting and introducing the Wilcox's to her family, sets off a chain of events that cannot be helped. Margaret is the most significant character in the story because she has the most obvious change in personality from beginning, middle, and end.

This is a clever drama that one cannot forget ever reading. It will make you mad and thoughtful and laugh and then think again about your own society. Just because he saw an English societal conflict in the 1910s doesn't mean it can't pertain to today to any other country. Forster tackles the errors and selfishness and hopeful love of humans. This story can be read over and over and will always feel relevant.

I am sorry if I am botching it but it is hard to explain. It's a book that makes you feel.
Profile Image for Guille.
757 reviews1,554 followers
March 8, 2020
“Esta historia trata de gente bien o de aquellos que están obligados a simular que lo son.”
Llevaba mucho tiempo queriendo leer este libro, el primero que leo de Foster, y me alegré mucho cuando lo publicó Navona en sus ineludibles y nada más y nada menos que traducido por Eduardo Mendoza. Será por eso que me ha defraudado tanto o será porque gustándome el tono, la novela tiene ese estilo de comedia inglesa tan atractiva, siendo una lectura divertida e interesante, algunas cosas me han cabreado e indispuesto contra el autor de manera insalvable. Vayamos por partes.

Principios del siglo pasado, un momento de grandes cambios sociales y económicos. En este contexto, Forster enfrenta aquí a dos familias, dos formas de entender la vida. Por un lado, los Wilcox, enriquecidos en el comercio con las colonias africanas, amantes del dinero y de hacer cada vez más dinero, indiferentes a las artes, individualistas, machistas, clasistas y carentes de conciencia social. Enfrente nos sitúa a los Schlegel, con la elegancia y el saber estar de las familias bien de toda la vida, rentistas que viven modestamente sin trabajar, sensibles a la belleza, amantes de las artes y con ganas de ayudar a los más desfavorecidos, aunque sin saber muy bien cómo, lo cual es muchas veces peor que no hacer nada.
“La verdad es que existe una vida exterior con la que ni tú ni yo tenemos contacto y en la que cuentan los telegramas y la furia. En cambio las relaciones personales, a las que nosotras damos una importancia preeminente, no la tienen en ese mundo. Ahí, el amor equivale a compromiso matrimonial; la muerte, a funeral. Tengo ideas claras al respecto, pero mi duda estriba en sí esa vida exterior, que me parece a todas luces horribles, no será la vida real. Tiene, ¿cómo te diría?, tiene entidad, carácter… Y si, a la larga, las relaciones personales no conducirán a una especie de ñoñez sentimental.”
En medio de ambas familias hay dos campos de batalla. Por un lado, Leonard Bast, trabajador con pretensiones intelectuales y sociales, pero con graves problemas económicos para satisfacerlas, casado con Jacky Bast, una mujer de oscuro pasado de la que se siente responsable, aunque en realidad la sufre como una carga. Por el otro, Howards End, la casa de campo que parece simbolizar una Inglaterra en grave peligro de extinción.
“Para ellos, Howards End era una casa. No podían saber que para ella había sido un espíritu para el que anhelaba un heredero espiritual... ¿Es posible legar las posesiones del espíritu? ¿Tiene descendencia el alma? ¿Puede transmitirse la pasión por un olmo, una parra, una gavilla de trigo cubierta de rocío, cuando no existen lazos de sangre?”
El futuro de esta casa es una de las cuestiones que aquí se dirimen. Y no es que esté en contra de quién es el que sale victorioso en esta batalla, es algo lamentable, la vida suele serlo, y seguramente el autor tiene razón. Tampoco puede decirse nada de lo desolado que queda el otro campo de batalla, todos sabemos que casi siempre pierden los mismos, aunque ¿de verdad era necesario, E.M. Forster, el papel que juega aquí una estantería de libros? Mi problema viene con la fuerte y desagradable impresión de que el autor cree que todo acaba como debe o que cada uno recibe lo que en el fondo merece. Y no es menor mi problema con la última cuestión: ¿el papelón que juegan aquí las mujeres? Aquí el abismo es igualmente insuperable, aquí no he entendido nada de nada.

Por lo demás la novela es espléndida, o podría haberlo sido, con ese humor inglés que tan bien define ciertas situaciones (“resultó ser uno de esos bigotes que siempre se meten en las tazas de té, que dan más molestias de lo que valen y que no están ni siquiera de moda”), sus diálogos son fantásticos, está llena de esas verdades incómodas a las que tan aficionado soy (“el abismo más profundo no es la falta de amor, sino la falta de dinero”), ejemplifica de forma admirable lo poco libres que en realidad somos, si es que lo somos de alguna manera, lo que nos influye la posición social y económica en nuestras ideas, relaciones y comportamientos, e incluso como algo tan banal como la apariencia física es capaz de influir en nuestro carácter, y, para finalizar, está sembrada de reflexiones muy sugerentes.
“La vida real está llena de pistas falsas y de señales que no conducen a ninguna parte. Nos fortalecemos, con infinito esfuerzo, para afrontar una crisis que no se produce jamás. La trayectoria más triunfal encubre un despilfarro de energías que podrían haber movido montañas; la vida más infructuosa no es la del individuo que se ha visto sorprendido sin estar preparado, sino la del que se ha preparado y no ha sido nunca sorprendido.”
Todo muy bien, pero ¿y Margaret? ¿Cómo interpretar su papel, sus decisiones?

Lo siento, no es suficiente que el autor nos alerte con aquello de que "En todo el mundo los hombres y las mujeres se preocupan porque no pueden actuar como se supone que deben hacerlo". Tampoco es presentable su sentencia de “El amor es el mejor plan”. Aunque tenga toda la razón del mundo hay que ser consciente de que ese plan no es nunca intencionado, no es nunca decisión nuestra. Y por favor, ¿”Simplemente conecta”? ¿De verdad cree que conectar es simple? ¿De verdad cree que se puede conectar a pesar de cualquier cosa?

No señor, no puedo quedarme tranquilo con tan poco, no consigo comprender lo que el autor hace con Margaret. ¿Alguien por aquí lo entiende? ¿Alguna mujer? De hecho, me habría encantado haber leído la novela con una mujer al lado y que esta me hubiera ido comentando lo que iba sintiendo acerca de algunos hechos y elucubraciones que el autor hace sobre ellas, como en este párrafo que destaco. Lean, no tiene desperdicio.
“Henry podía ser como quisiera, porque le quería, y algún día utilizaría el amor para hacer de él un hombre mejor. La piedad anidaba en el fondo de sus acciones a lo largo de toda la crisis. La piedad, si se me permite generalizar, anida en el fondo de todas las mujeres. Cuando un hombre nos aprecia, nos aprecia por nuestras buenas cualidades y por profundo que sea su aprecio, cuando nos hacemos indignos de él, nos abandona inexorablemente. Por el contrario, la indignidad estimula a las mujeres. Hace emerger lo más hondo que hay en ellas, para bien o para mal.”
Desde luego, con desenlaces como los de esta novela uno entiende un poco más a Annie Wilks, la perturbada protagonista de Misery, la novela de Stephen King.
Profile Image for Lisa.
398 reviews53 followers
November 1, 2022
It has taken me years, and I have finally met E.M. Forster through his classic novel Howards End. Written in the early 1900's when Britain was a colonial empire, suffragettes were beginning to march, and London's boundaries were encroaching into previously rural areas, this novel explores the themes of class and privilege, capitalism, colonialism and imperialism, and sexism. Forster also asks us to think about what contributions we make to our worlds.

The writing in this story is good; the dialogue sparkles. I think the characterization, though not nuanced is good too; I get a clear picture of each and can recognize all of these types. I find myself applauding the speeches that resonate with me and hissing at the words and actions that I abhor. In other words, I am quite caught up in the story.

A few quotes that provoke some thought for me:

"I don't like those men. They are scientific themselves, and talk of the survival of the fittest, and cut down the salaries of their clerks, and stunt the independence of all who may menace their comfort, but yet they believe that somehow good--it is always that sloppy 'somehow'--will be the outcome, and that in some mystical way the Mr. Basts of the future will benefit because the Mr. Basts of today are in pain."

"Charles had never been in such a position before. It was a woman in revolt who was hobbling away from him, and the sight was too strange to leave any room for anger."

"Now she understood why some women prefer influence to rights. Mrs.Plynlimmon, when condemning suffragettes, had said: 'The woman who can't influence her husband to vote the way she wants ought to be ashamed of herself.' "

"It is only that people are far more different than is pretended. All over the world men and women are worrying because they cannot develop as they are supposed to develop. Here and there they have the matter out, and it comforts them. Don't fret yourself, Helen. Develop what you have; love your child. I do not love children. I am thankful to have none. I can play with their beauty and charm, but that is all--nothing real, not one scrap of what there ought to be. And others--others go farther still, and move outside humanity altogether. A place as well as a person, may catch the glow. Don't you see that all this leads to comfort in the end? It is part of the battle against sameness. Differences--eternal differences, planted by God in a single family, so that there may always be colour; sorrow perhaps, but colour in the daily grey."

There are a few passages in this novel that are opaque to me, and they do not interfere with my enjoyment of the story.

If you fancy a step back into late Edwardian era England, I heartily recommend that you start here.

Buddy read with Mark.
Profile Image for Diane Barnes.
1,258 reviews451 followers
March 30, 2018
No good deed goes unpunished. That could be the unofficial theme of this novel.
I read this as a young adult, loved it, and decided to re-read it after seeing Jeffrey Keeten's excellent review a few months ago. And yes, I still love it, but for different reasons this time around. A much simplified plot synopsis gives us Meg Schlegel, a practical but plain lady of the middle class in England, who, with her sister and brother, live a comfortable life in London, espousing liberal causes and following her heart. She marries a wealthy business man, who is decidedly conservative in his views, and of course trouble ensues on both sides of the families. As I said, this is the bare bones of this story, because the plot zigs and zags, dances and weaves,with lies, secrets, coincidences, maneuvering and manipulation on both sides. The story begins and ends at Howard's End, a country house belonging to the first wife of Henry Wilcox, the aforementioned wealthy businessman.

Whenever I'm reading a classic of whatever period, (This one takes place around 1910), I am always surprised to read about conversations and scenes that could have happened just yesterday as far as human emotions and liberal versus conservative viewpoints are concerned. This is not a political novel at all, and I found myself agreeing with both sides at different times, for different reasons. Suffice it to say that do-gooders can sometimes do more harm than good, and poor people are always the losers.

I have to compare this novel to finishing a great meal, rising from the table completely satisfied. That's how I felt turning the last page. Man oh man, that was good!
Profile Image for Michael.
1,094 reviews1,510 followers
May 27, 2017
This novel from 1910 has a lovely Shakespearean flavor of good intentions leading to unintended consequences. Urgent letters between sisters kicks off its engaging plot about the collision between two very different families. The younger sister Helen Schlegel, visiting the rural “Howard’s End” estate of the conservative, wealthy Wilcox family, writes to Margaret that she is love with and wants to marry one of their sons Paul (which grew out of a single impulsive kiss). Margaret urges her aunt to travel there to make sure the Wilcoxes are “their kind of people.” By the time she arrives, Helen has already fallen out with Paul, who is headed for Nigeria to manage the family’s rubber plantation. Later, when the Wilcoxes move near the Schlegels in London, and Margaret tries to make amends by reaching out to the mother Ruth Wilcox. I loved experiencing how their brief friendship blossomed over discussions of the meaning of a home and the value she places in the family homestead of Howard’s End, which her husband Henry considers only in light of its real estate value. Early in the plot, Ruth dies and the discovery by Henry of a handwritten bequeathment of the estate to Margaret leads to the Wilcox family deciding to ignore the request.

Already we see how Helen’s impulse toward romance with Paul has the unintended consequence of a special friendship of Margaret with Ruth and a hidden act of generosity. It has also brought Margaret into more contact with the widower Henry and a surprising romance between opposites: she an early feminist who admires literature and arts and supports programs for the poor, and he a pragmatic industrialist who is a true believer in the genetic superiority of his class. The other unintended consequence comes when Helen mistakenly takes the umbrella of Leonard Bast after a theater performance. When he drops by to retrieve it, the sisters kindly draw him out and find they admire his ambitions to imbibe literature and work his way up in class from his lowly position as a bank clerk. His dreamy account of tuning into nature by tramps in the woods a la Ruskin makes them admire him more than bumbling life probably deserves. Margaret presses Henry for advice to help him better his circumstances, which turns out to be disastrous for Leonard and his wife when they follow through with his recommendation. This fate turns Helen even more against the Wilcoxes and makes for a serious wedge in her relationship with Margaret. There is tragedy in the tale, but all key characters make a satisfactory transformation toward becoming better, more empathetic human beings despite the boundaries of class.

I liked this even better than “Passage to India”. I absolutely loved Margaret’s outlook and continual efforts to build bridges. Her charm for me equals that of Woolf’s indomitable Mrs. Dalloway. Immediately after the delightful read (by LibriVox audiobook), I had the great pleasure of experiencing Emma Thompson nail the role in the sumptious Merchant Ivory production. Helena Bonham Carter rendered a great adaptation for the flighty, idealistic Helen.
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book489 followers
February 24, 2022
I found rating this book extremely difficult because my feelings about it were all over the place during the reading. There are parts of the book that are so deftly done that they sparkle, there are parts where I wanted to scream “Seriously?” at the top of my lungs.

For the parts I loved, there is the save-the-world good works of the sisters, particularly Helen, that are rooted in imagination rather than reality and cause far more harm than they can grasp. If you have never been hungry, it is obviously hard to conceive of what starvation feels like. There is the house itself, which is drawn with lovely prose and feels quite real to me. I could easily construct its gardens and furnishings in my mind’s eye, and wondered why anyone would leave it for the bustle of London in any case. There is the final one-quarter of the book that ties everything together, without condemning any particular point of view expressed by either side (and for my thinking, both sides had their points). The first Mrs. Wilcox shed her shadow over the house and its occupants without being eerie--a nice touch. And, I liked Margaret. I liked her honesty and her attempt to spare the feelings of others.

She must remain herself, for his sake as well as her own, since a shadowy wife degrades the husband whom she accompanies; and she must assimilate for reasons of common honesty, since she had no right to marry a man and make him uncomfortable.

On the reverse, however, there were a few characters who seemed a bit over or under developed. I have never met anyone like Leonard, and I sort of doubt anyone else has either. Same with Tibby, who I found downright irritating. There were sections in which I wanted to put a hand over Forster’s mouth and tell him to quit intruding in my story, and there were sections where I wanted to dismiss the clamor and unnecessary detail.

So, I have arrived at a middle-ground. I had wanted to read this book for a long time, so I confess a smidgeon of disappointment, but on the whole happy to have done it. His masterpiece would still be A Passage to India for me.
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
570 reviews3,946 followers
December 23, 2018
Forster ya me impresionó, maravilló y dejó loca con 'Una habitación con vistas' y ahora viene y me hace ESTO.
Este libro me ha parecido una auténtica genialidad de principio a fin, por cómo está narrado con sutileza e ironía pero claridad meridiana, por ese análisis de la aristocracia inglesa, de la vida de las mujeres de principios del siglo XX, de los convencionalismos, la familia, el amor, la amistad, de esa radiografía de lo que realmente es Inglaterra... Pero especialmente este libro son sus personajes, maravillosos personajes que me va a resultar imposible olvidar.
Me voy derechita a ver la miniserie de la BBC de este año y la peli de James Ivory, ¿Por cuál empiezo? :O
Profile Image for Teresa.
554 reviews117 followers
December 18, 2017
What can I say about this book. I loved it!!!
I would never have picked it up normally but having seen it recently on BBC, a great adaptation by the way, I was interested in learning more. You know the type of stuff I mean, real feelings and inner thoughts that you can only guess at from the screen.
I really liked Margaret. She's a very strong character and the family depend on her totally. She's loyal and loving while still being quite a modern woman for her time.
She manages Henry very well. Knowing exactly when to push forward with him and when to withdraw. That is until that fateful day. Then afterwards, I think life gets better for her in that regard and she's not so 'careful' with him and he seems to accept it and respect her for it.
This is a very prosy book. There are chunks of it which baffled me at times and had me wondering was the man wool gathering while writing it. It could have been shortened a bit and it wouldn't have detracted from the story.
So reading this has encouraged me to read more of the classics. I'll definitely try another of his books.
Profile Image for Lorna.
683 reviews365 followers
July 14, 2022
Howards End is the revered classic by E.M. Forster, thought by some to be his masterpiece. This novel shines a light on society and its norms and relationships at the turn of the century in the years before the Great War in England. What can I say, the prose and the dialogue were riveting. And one of my favorite places would have to be Great Britain, and this beautiful book gives us such beautiful passages about the joys of journeying through this enchanting country.

"The water crept over the mud-flats towards the gorse and the blackened heather. Branksea Island lost its immense foreshores, and became a sombre episode of trees. Frome was forced inward towards Dorhester, Stour against Wimborne, Avon towards Salisbury, and over the immense displacement the sun presided, leading it to triumph ere he sank to rest. England was alive, throbbing through all her estuaries, crying for joy through the mouths of her gulls, and the north wind, blew stronger aginst her rising seas. What did it mean? For what end are her fair complexities, her changes of soil, her sinuous coast? Does she belong to those who have moulded her and made her feared by other lands, or those who have added nothing to her power, but have somehow seen her, seen the whole island at once, lying as a jewel in a silver sea, sailing as a ship of souls, with all of the brave world's fleet accompanying her towards eternity?"

It is in the midst of this beautiful prose that we have a very engaging tale of three families from very different backgrounds and classes and world views. The lives of these three families highlight the ever-present social, gender, and class barriers. We become immersed in the lives of the Schegel sisters, the wealthy Wilcox family and the working-class Basts. The complexities of these relationships plays out in dramatic detail. We also ponder the meaning of home as we watch how Howards End becomes so important to many of these individuals, although perhaps for very different reasons. This was a wonderful book, perhaps a little dated in some respects but all in all, we are still grappling with many of these same issues today, namely the attitude toward women and sexual morality at the turn of the 20th century. I would love to read this again.

"You and I and the Wilcoxes stand upon money as upon islands. It is so firm benath our feet that we forget its very existence. It's only when we some one near us tottering that we realise all that an independent income means."

And some of my favorite quotes:

"Discussion keeps a house alive. It cannot stand by bricks and mortar alone."

"How easily she slipped out of life."
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
996 reviews1,135 followers
April 19, 2017
“Howards End” is E.M. Forster’s statement on classism, and because he is E.M. Forster, it is the most elegant and romantic comment on the struggle of classes that you will ever read. It begins with a rich, old money family getting deeply upset by the idea of their youngest son getting entangled with a middle-class, bohemian half-German young woman…

The Schlegel sisters are from a comfortable but middle-class family, that cares about literature and art more than they do about money and status. They meet and befriend the Wilcoxes, a wealthy family who care very much about appearances, and also form a friendship with Leonard Bast, a clerk with financial and personal struggles. These friendships will transform their existences, as Mrs. Wilcox develops a deep friendship for the older sister, Margaret, and decides on her deathbed to leave her the house of Howards End.

The social entanglements of this story are fascinating, the dialogues and characterization very strong. Having read and loved “A Room with a View”, I had an idea of what I was getting into with “Howards End”, but this novel is much more mature: the social and political commentary is much more pointed and focused. The same element of proto-feminism that made Lucy Honeychurch the great heroine she was is taken one step further with Margaret Schlegel: she is older than Lucy at the begining of the story, a spinster who lives with her younger siblings and runs the house their father left them. She is strong-willed, opinionated and outspoken from the start; I for one was a bit surprised at Mr. Wilcox’s interest in her, she simply didn’t seem like the kind of person he’d be attracted to – especially when she is pushed to the point of calling him on his bullshit!

I grew up in a family very much like the Schlegel: intellectual, middle-class, obsessed with books, art, culture, music, philosophy, very disdainful of the gaudy excesses of richer people. My family is more likely to judge you for not knowing who Albert Camus is than to form an opinion of you based on your outfit. In my decade-long career as an executive administrative assistant, I have seen the other side of the looking glass: suits with vacuous trophy-wives who had probably never opened a book and who started at my Payless Shoe Source heels the way I look at moldy cheese… It’s hard not to feel like we live on completely different planets...

When I was young, I had a strong prejudice against the rich, I assumed that they were all cold and selfish. Of course, the world is a little more complicated than that, and many wealthy people are absolutely decent and generous human beings: but they do take some things for granted that are simply unrealistic for most. Their money liberates the from some stresses less wealthy people will struggle with their entire lives, and Forster does a wonderful job of painting a picture of that reality for his readers.

When Mrs. Wilcox realizes that Margaret needs a new home because the lease on her family house will be up soon, she is devastated because it never occurred to her before that this sort of thing can happen to “real people”. Mr. Wilcox can only see the potential repercussion of his acquaintance with the Basts on himself and his reputation, and is blind to how his actions might affect them. This lack of empathy made me cringe. Mrs. Wilcox’ spontaneous gesture of kindness contrasted with the senseless selfishness of her family (they won’t give the house away but they also won’t live in it!) shows the varying shades of moral grayness one can find in human nature.

This book is a really interesting study of class, things we take for granted and the role money plays in our vision of the world. It made me want to push “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists” to the top of my “to-read” pile to get a more political perspective on the subject, as both books take place in the first decade of the 20th century. The characters see classes as a “sort” of people, and would probably find the very word “class” distasteful, but the very real distance they insist on putting between themselves and others – based on their arbitrary standards of wealth and education and how this distance can improve or worsen some people’s living conditions is touching and thought-provoking.

This is a fantastic book, and the gorgeous Merchant-Ivory adaptation is well-worth watching. I enjoyed both immensely and recommend them to all fans of British literature.
December 4, 2020
Howards End was for the most part, a rather dull and irritating experience for me, and it took me longer to read, due to these reasons. I had been looking forward to my first E.M Forster book, having read some grand reviews about it, but to be perfectly honest, I was left very much bored.

The story began well enough, and I was fairly interested as to where it was going lead, but rather quickly, I realised that I was not going to bond with this book. The characters are not developed in the way one expects, and by the end, I was tired of reading about extremely dominant males and women that are apparently all far too emotional. The characters didn't do anything for me, and I certainly didn't become attached to any of them.

The plot and the romance itself, seemed terribly ridiculous, and just not believable. The conflicts between the characters were not engaging, and some of these scenes, had no effect on the actual plot itself. This seemed rather Austen like, at one point, but I can safely say, Austen's style is on another level to this particular book.

The writing style was ornate and was poetic enough in parts, but it just wasn't enough to save the tedious, mind-numbing plot. I'm happy to say that I've read this apparent "classic" but I'll never need to reread this again, that's for certain.
Profile Image for Glenn Sumi.
404 reviews1,537 followers
August 11, 2018
Howards End is a chatty, witty, philosophical novel about the state of England in the years leading up to the first world war.

There’s a sharp sense of place (Howards End, the estate, was modelled after Forster’s childhood home), and by focusing on three separate families, you certainly understand the social hierarchy of Edwardian England. The book’s famous epigraph (“Only connect...”) refers to the need for humans to empathize with others, cutting across boundaries of class, culture, geography and the sins of the past. This theme comes through vividly.

The characters often feel a little thin, however, and the plot slightly contrived. Forster’s omniscient narrator can be wonderfully casual, as in the relaxed, conversational opening: “One may as well begin with Helen’s letters to her sister.”

But we never get too deep into anyone’s consciousness, so occasionally characters’ actions seem perplexing. Sometimes you can feel Forster overworking his symbols, not letting them emerge organically. A few passages are so densely poetic that they require several readings to grasp. And the climax – in which all three families’ fates intersect irrevocably – seems forced.

But you get the sense throughout that Forster is trying to root out deep human truths and question the basis of charity, forgiveness, duty and mercy. Noble goals. And there are passages of great beauty and intelligence.

Despite its period setting, the themes still feel relevant. In light of the recent economic crisis, and things like the Occupy movement, Forster's examination of the haves and the have-nots hits home powerfully.
Profile Image for Laura.
132 reviews566 followers
May 16, 2008
Many critics consider this to be Forster’s masterpiece, and it is hard to imagine a more searing and poignant examination of the social, philosophic, and economic issues facing England during the fascinating window between Queen Victoria and World War I. Forster uses three families—the intellectual and impractical Schlegels, the materialistic and empire-building Wilcoxes (who drove through the bucolic Shropshire countryside and “spoke of Tariff Reform”), and the working class Basts—to explore the central question: “Who will inherit England?” The three families form unlikely and problematic friendships, but when inter-marriage and inter-breeding occur, things really get interesting. Readable, fascinating, and supremely eloquent, Howard’s End explores the tragedies that result from failures to “connect”, both among groups of people and within individual characters, yet in the end offers hope and redemption.
Profile Image for Dagio_maya .
913 reviews257 followers
February 6, 2021
“Io mi aspetto che alla fine della vita m’importerà soprattutto di un luogo”

Protagonisti di questa storia sono le sorelle Schlegel, la famiglia Wilcox e il modesto impiegato Leonard Bast con la sua insipida moglie.
Mai persone così diverse avrebbero potuto essere unite dagli eventi.

Uomini e donne, ricchi e poveri: è proprio uno schieramento quello che l’abile penna di Edward Morgan Forster mette in scena sulla scacchiera.
Siamo agli inizi del ‘900.
Tutto il mondo occidentale è preda di cambiamenti sociali e Londra non è da meno: le sue strade rispecchiano il nuovo mondo, la frenesia del guadagno e dell’avanzamento sociale che si riflette nell’urbanistica sfacciatamente votata al cemento ma non da meno l'affacciarsi di una prospettiva differente per la questione femminile.
C’è chi, nonostante l’agiatezza economica, resiste e difende quanto può una cosa chiamata “cultura”.
Così fanno Helen e Margareth Schlegel anche se il loro amore per le Arti e il sapere e talmente dilatato da apparire quanto meno strambo.
Due eccentriche giovani zitelle, con un fratello taciturno e solitario con problemi gastrici ed una zia quanto meno impicciona.

Se le sorelle possono dirsi progressiste, la famiglia Wilcox difende e conserva le posizioni più arroccate della tradizione.
Un bianco spirito coloniale governa le loro vite.
Uomini e donne ognuno nella sua casella così come ricchi e poveri e quest’ultimi sono meritevoli di una compassione a distanza. Henry Wilcox, il capofamiglia, dirà quasi con orgoglio:

«Non sono tipo da preoccuparmi di quello che c’è dentro di me.»

Insomma, tipi pratici e intellettuali.
I primi badano ai propri affari mentre i secondi aspirano a rendere la “società più giusta”.
E poi ci sono tipi come Leonard Bast che si torturano perché migliorare sia il proprio portafoglio sia la propria mente.
Al centro un luogo speciale; un semplice cottage di campagna.
Una casa piccola, vecchia eppure deliziosa che rappresenta un passaggio tra i vecchi ideali vittoriani e lo spirito nuovo del secolo nascente.

" Per loro, Casa Howard era una casa: non potevano sapere che agli occhi di lei era uno spirito, per il quale cercava un erede spirituale. "

Un romanzo veramente sorprendente ma non per la trama in sé.
Avete presente uno di quei piatti della cucina classica che gli chef rivisitano magari cambiando solo la disposizione degli ingredienti?
Ecco, questo romanzo ha, da un lato, il pepe di una commedia britannica classica.
Un po’ stile Oscar Wilde con pungenti battute che colpiscono come freccette.
A ciò però si mescolano due fondamentali elementi sorprendentemente contemporanei e per me inaspettati.
Il primo sta proprio nello stile di questa scrittura
Il secondo è il punto forte del romanzo, ossia la potenza dei suoi personaggi caratterizzati in modo talmente preciso anche quando la loro essenza è, in realtà, insipida.

"Per la prima volta Margaret notò nelle strade della città l’architettura della fretta e udì il linguaggio della fretta sulle bocche dei suoi abitanti: parole mozze, frasi informi, espressioni monosillabiche di approvazione o disgusto. Le cose camminavano di mese in mese sempre più rapidamente, ma verso quale meta?"
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,738 reviews1,468 followers
February 14, 2021
What is delivered here is a commentary on British society at the turn of the 20th century, particularly in relation to class stratification. The story focuses upon three families—the wealthy Wilcox family of high standing and privilege, the Schlegels of the intellectual and progressive Bloomsbury set and finally the Basts of the working class who can barely make ends meet despite incessant hard work. One’s class both shapes and constricts a person. Moving from one class to another is fraught with difficulties.

Those who are looking for an action filled plot, will complain that the tale drags in the middle. I had no problem with the middle section. In fact, I preferred it over the rapid unfolding of events at the book’s end. Character portrayal and excellent prose is what drew me. Both the lines of narrative and the dialogue are alternately amusing, thought provoking and / or lyrical.

What themes does one think about?

Set before the First World War and with the Schlegel family of both German and British heritage, it is amusing to hear what those of one cultural background say of the other. Aunt Juley proclaims more than once that “Germans are too thorough!” This is merely one example. Do cultural differences intrigue you? They do me.

A preference for provincial versus urban lifestyles is another theme. Forster has a knack for capturing the character of different geographical areas, their respective landscape, flora and fauna. Tulips ae spoken of; they are seen as a “tray of jewels”. Forster clearly appreciates country life and the attachment one can feel for a place perceived as home. The Hertfordshire country villa Howard’s End is loved dearly by Ruth Wilcox. When she is ill, she scribbles on a scrap of paper who is to inherit the house and property, the place of her birth. Will it end up in the proper hands? To whom does a place belong--to these who love it, to those who value its essence and beauty, or to those who hold the necessary legal papers?

Emotions, human feelings and innate differences between how men and women think and feel fill the lines of the text. The themes covered in this book are many.

“Love was so unlike the article served up in books.”

“Men--know so much and connect so little.”

“His actions, not his disposition, had disappointed her, and she could live with that.”

“No education can teach a woman logic.” Said of course by a man!

Observing the sometimes fractious and other times strong and deep kinship between the two Schlegel sisters made me yearn for a sister. Comparing their personalities intrigued me. One is impulsive, the other more restrained until that point where her temper explodes. When an issue of importance arises, the restrained, logical, cool and calm sister reaches a breaking point. Travelling in a carriage, she is jolted, physically and emotionally. Informed that a dog has merely been “touched” by their wagon; she knows this is not true. She throws herself out of the wagon to care for the creature. The creature turns out to be a cat, not a dog, and is dead. This scene and her fury spoke to me.

Dialogues are written as folks really do speak. “I shall be back before I am gone!” had me smiling. What a clever turn of phrase. That which is said is not spelled out in black and white; one must think about what the words mean, what is implied, and what lies under the surface.

John Franklyn-Robbins narrates the audiobook. He reads clearly and slowly and with feeling. He pauses in all the right places. This enables one to concentrate on that which is implied, sometimes serious and other times amusing. The narration I have given five stars because I cannot imagine it possible to improve.

The prose is what draws me to this novel. The plot is fine. It is believable and realistic, but it is not that which attracts me. There are plenty of books concerned with class distinctions, the difficulties associated with escaping one’s class, the extent to which class shapes one’s behavior and in general terms the social norms of British society at the turn of the century, but few of these books have such well worded, amusing and thought provoking lines.

*Where Angels Fear to Tread 4 stars
*Howards End 4 stars
*A Passage to India 4 stars
*A Room with a View 3 stars
*The Longest Journey TBR
Profile Image for Aubrey.
1,309 reviews757 followers
December 2, 2014
Reading this at the time I did is an event I can only describe as 'lucky', seeing as how both my reasoning and the circumstances hardly heralded how much I would love this work. The facts: Carson's The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos left me with a craving for something white and male and English, a rare beast these days that has made this the seventh work out of 45 read this year that fits that all too often ubiquitous combination of characteristics. I turned to the stacks, thinking on the days of Maugham and James and pondering the latter's The Ambassadors as the likely candidate before remembrance of the author's hate for feminists dampened my mood. Then I remembered Forster and his A Room with a View, filmed but never read, and pulled out my combined edition that despite never having wished to read Howards End I had never seen fit to replace. I flipped to the front and lo! the cover had lied, and HE proceeded ARwaV. After muddling through the Listopia lists left me scoffing yet intrigued by HE's place on 'Best Feminist Books' (ha!), I began to read.

This is not Middlemarch, or Shirley, or some flavor of androgynous voice, but of the same strain of warm insight that paints a picture of privilege without pretense. There is acknowledgement of classism, anti-intellectualism, Imperialism, even the overarching sexism that initially drew me on to testing these waters, and yet here are humans that I feel for utterly. Forster must have read his Hugo to have such a taste for daydreaming digressions on Place and Time and the usual Big Ideas, but not too much, else the politickings would have been more in evidence in both composition and biography. He also made a wonderful effort to portray the Female Voice, something that the French master for all his overt empathy never quite achieved.

Where Hugo rhapsodizes on war and justice, Forster contemplates domesticity and the everyday, less admirable in his lack of stridency, more appreciated for his keen insight into what powers these lives of ours when the climax is through and we're left to ride out the rest. I've stolen the phrase "soap opera with brains" from an unfortunately forgotten individual for a review before and I'll steal it again, for a world in which we denigrate our humble to's and fro's as not fit for "quality" entertainment is a sad world indeed. As often as I speak of social justice, I would go mad if I were to live in the mindset forevermore, the strain of dwelling on idealism too long in this reality of ours being what it is. Sometimes, I must rest my hat on the guarantee that I'll be coming back to it for the rest of my life, and go off to a place where the need for equality is recognized without forbearing the sentiment of simple pleasures.

Although Forster has his moments of naive whimsy that forbid me from declaring this a favorite, I will admit to loving this book, balancing as it does action with thought, practicality with philosophy, efficiency with insight. Best of all, letting each side appeal to the other with the necessary determination to see the attraction through without sudden windfall or other poor excuses of deus ex machina. Also, scenes of women ferociously ripping apart double-standards of gender, mental health, and love, setting forth to develop their own sense of things and given the capability to achieve their vision? Yes please.

And now, off to the long intended A Room with a View!
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