Customer Review

51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite novel., 8 Aug. 2001
This review is from: Howards End (Paperback)
Howard's End is a story of relationships, and the differences between people in the late victorian age.
The book's heroines are the two Schlegel sisters, Helen and Margaret - well-to-do women of independent means and philanthropic natures as they find their way through life in the comfort that comes with a steady annual income.
The introduction of the Wilcox family illustrates the vast differences in outlook and behaviour that people of the same class could encapsulate. Whereas the Schlegels hold 'Literature and Art' in the highest of esteem, the Wilcoxes live in a world of 'panic and emptiness' and 'telegrams and anger'.
The novel also shows Forster's views on a changing world - the distasteful motor cutting up the roads, creating dust and killing cats is the Wilcoxes pride and joy, preempting the prevalence of the car in later years and its effect on the world. The phenomenon of urban sprawl is also dealt with in the book, as Forster describes London creeping its way into the countryside. The characters who suffer from hayfever are those who belong to the city and the new order - they have discarded the old way of life in the country and have moved to the city, where money and cars and 'telegrams and anger' prevail.
The idea of the home is also very important in the novel. The Wilcoxes have a disregard for a 'home', seeing each as a device for living in. The Schlegels, and Mrs. Wilcox (who acts as a bridge between the two families) see a house as much more and apply sentimental value to houses and gardens.
Class is also dealt with in the case of Leonard Bast, a lowly clerk whose life is turned upside down by the arrival of these two wealthy families. He is a pathetic and pitiable character, who strives to better himself through literature and art but cannot climb his way out of the depths of his social standing, hampered by a disastrous marriage.
This is (no hyperbole) my favourite book. It has passages and turns of phrase that you will want to remember, and deals with issues in a natural and thought-provoking manner. If you haven't read it already, why not!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Jul 2013 01:07:05 BDT
Mike Cormack says:
Actually, just to be pedantic, this is an Edwardian novel, not Victorian. The shadow of the WWI conflict is noticeable in the England vs Germany conflict between the Schlegel family and the Wilcoxes.
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