Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Howard's End - E. M. Forster

Howard's End
Another day, another British novel on the 100 Best Novels list. This one, however, I won't complain about. I quite enjoyed this piece of E. M. Forster's work. 

Of the three Forster works on the list, this one fell right in line with his other works. If this genre is one you like, then you are in luck. If not, steer clear.

A lot of my thoughts about Howard's End coincide with my thoughts on A Room With a View. I probably read them too close together. As I mentioned in my View post, I kept getting them confused in my mind. Both were charming little novels about young women in the pre-world war culture of etiquette and tradition. A Passage to India touches on some of this as well, but its unique setting sets it a part a bit. It also deals with some different issues than either of these Britain-based novels.

Howard's End derives its name from the stately house around which the stories loosely centers. The matriarch of the family who owns it adores the house, but realizes that her family sees it only as a real estate investment.

When said matriarch dies, she attempts to leave the house to one of her female friends. Her family, however, dismisses her wishes as deranged thoughts of a dying woman and keep the house for themselves.

Time progresses and things get a little twisted. The widower falls for the friend of his dead wife. They get married. Yeah...seemed a little inorganic to me, too, but maybe that's because Forster just wasn't convincing enough in this regard.

Needless to say, she still loves the house and now it's well within her reach, despite the fact that she never knew she lost it to begin with. Insert more turn-of-the-century family drama and you've got the book.

I enjoyed it, but it definitely falls squarely into the middle of expectations. Now having read all three of Forster's acclaimed works on the Modern Library list, I can say that I am a fan, but certainly not an overly enthusiastic one. The writing is beautiful. Yet, the books are missing a complexity that came along with the world wars. You cannot fault Forster for writing to his time and not foreseeing the future, but for those of us living in it, the tales of old can fall a bit flat unless they are specifically what you are looking for.

Pages: 256
Date Completed: May 9, 2014

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