REVIEW | Howard’s End by E.M. Forster

image via Strand

image via Strand

title: Howards End [support an independent bookseller and buy at Strand]
by: E.M. Forster
genre: fiction
pages: 359
published: 1910
source: my personal library

GENERAL SPOILER ALERT: If you’ve never read Howards End, and would like to discover it with no previous knowledge of the plot, I suggest you stop here. Since it was published in the 1910, I’m writing with the assumption that the cat’s out of the bag in terms of any plot twists, and you’ve probably read it already or are super familiar with the plot. So, if not, stop. Now. You’ve been warned.

“Only connect….”

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Brit Lit, but this was my first time reading anything by E.M. Forster.  I’m so glad I stumbled upon this edition of Howards End several months ago on sale at Strand.  It’s one of those novels that FEELS like a guilty-pleasure-beach-read plot-wise, but the writing is so good!

The story follows the tumultuous relationship between the sisters Margaret and Helen Schlegel and the Wilcox family, the former motivated by their ideals, the latter by wealth and status.  The plot is chock-full of thwarted engagements, love triangles, marriages, remarriages, stolen umbrellas, an unplanned pregnancy, intrigue, country houses, books, lost employment, hand-written wills, discussion societies, a fallen woman named Jacky, and Beethoven, all the things that make Edwardian-era literature AWESOME.

Fact:  When I was reading Howards End, I pictured Helen looking like a young Helena Bonham Carter WITHOUT ever seeing the movie version.  Pretty solid casting...

Fact: When I was reading Howards End, I pictured Helen Schlegel  looking like a young Helena Bonham Carter WITHOUT ever seeing the movie version. Pretty solid casting…

What I appreciate about Forster’s writing: it’s damn thoughtful.  Comme ça:

“Margaret…wanted everything to be settled up immediately.  She mistrusted the periods of quiet that are essential to true growth.” (p. 82)

The phrase “only connect,”Forster’s personal motto which appears on the title page, sets up the story perfectly, because connection lies at the heart of the piece.  It’s the motor that drives the action, and the way characters perceive the importance of their relationships with others either propels them forward or fuels their stalling…and at the close of the piece, it’s the strongest, most authentic bonds that come out on top.

Rubric rating: 8.5.  A Room With a View just earned itself a place in my “to read” pile.


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