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Where Angels Fear to Tread Hardcover – 15 Aug 1991

3.8 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 15 Aug 1991
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; New Ed edition (15 Aug. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340512164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340512166
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 24.3 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,682,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Book Description

Where Angels Fear to Tread, Forster's first novel published when he was only twenty-six, contains all the mastery of dialogue, humour and character displayed in his later work.

From the Inside Flap

"Let her go to Italy!" he cried. "Let her meddle with what she doesn't understand! Look at this letter! The man who wrote it will marry her, or murder her, or do for her somehow. He's a bounder, but he's not an English bounder. He's mysterious and terrible. He's got a country behind him that's upset people from the beginning of the world."
When a young English widow takes off on the grand tour and along the way marries a penniless Italian, her in-laws are not amused. That the marriage should fail and poor Lilia die tragically are only to be expected. But that Lilia should have had a baby -- and that the baby should be raised as an Italian! -- are matters requiring immediate correction by Philip Herriton, his dour sister Harriet, and their well-meaning friend Miss Abbott.
In his first novel, E. M. Forster anticipated the themes of cultural collision and the sterility of the English middle class that he would develop in A Room with a View and A Passage to India. Where Angels Fear to Tread is an accomplished, harrowing, and malevolently funny book, in which familiar notions of vice and virtue collapse underfoot and the best intentions go mortally awry. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A book I read as a teenager, still thought provoking and amazing!
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By G on 8 Mar. 2017
Verified Purchase
Print too small to read
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Format: Paperback
I always seem to struggle with Forster's work and I don't really know why. His style is eminently readable and well crafted, his characters are generally well rounded and develop well over the course of a novel, his subject matter is of the sort which usually appeals to me. And yet I found with this novel, as well as with Howards End, that something undefinable was missing for me.

Saying that, there were aspects of Where Angels Fear to Tread which I did enjoy. The plot is good and the subject matter it deals with interesting. Lilia is a young widow, who lives with her in-laws in London. She has a daughter to whom she is not exactly a doting mother, and is struggling to find a position for herself in the world since her husband has died. The family recommends that she undertake some foreign travel, most notably in Italy, a favourite of her brother-in-law, Philip. She is accompanied by Caroline Abbott, a single lady and friend of the family, who is to act as a sort of chaperone. Having arrived in Italy, it is not long before Lilia informs her familt she has married one of the local "nobles." The in-laws are furious at this development and send Philip to Italy. He discovers that Lilia's new husband, Gino, is actually the son of the town dentist and hence of low rank. Philip wants to have the marriage annuled but it is too late - Lilia is pregnant. She later dies after giving birth to a son. The family in Englans are now faced with another problem - the boy will be raised as an Italian. They cannot tolerate this and so Philip is sent off again to persuade Gino to allow him to bring up the child in England. I wont give away the ending, but suffice to say it is heart renching.
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Format: Paperback
The first novel written by E. M. Forster is a perfect introduction to his fiction. He is not yet a master so he will not frighten you off with his form and style but he will gently let you see the world the way he saw it. This relatively small and slight book can make a charming read if you are sensitive enough to detect delicate mood changes, notice off-hand remarks which reveal the true meaning of the story. The style and language alone make it worth your time.
And yet there is more to it. It is a book about "us" and "the other". Philosophers have pondered on the issue for years and brought hefty volumes of studies but Forster can make it without unnecessary ado. This history of an English widow who did not fit in affluent suburb and, when sent abroad, married an Italian youth only to become the victim of his macho ways will certainly make you think. The second part - the unfortunate family rescue operation sent to save a baby from being brought up in wrong faith and wrong part of the world will also be food for thought. Have we changed really? Are we ready to accept that other people's ways may be as good as ours? Forster leaves these questions unanswered and the ending open - you have to fill in the blanks of the novel and the way you see the world.
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Format: Kindle Edition
It's an amusing book about the English and their manners; louche young aristocrats being fenced with by the elders. The title is a quote from Pope.
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Format: Paperback
If you have ever felt frustrated by the petty vagaries of human behaviour, or the idiocy of certain societal taboos or customs, then you will warm to Forster's theme at once. In a mere 142 pages, he deftly exposes the class-ridden snobbery of the English society of his time, and the racism with which it appears to be inevitably coupled - a product, no doubt of the colonialism and imperialism from which we have yet, still, to recover. That this stains the beauty of quintessential Englishness is perhaps one reason for Forster's love-hate relationship for England and the fact that he spent so much of his time abroad (the taboo which he struggled with, and felt persecuted for, being his homosexuality).
The novel is a wonderful evocation of the minutiae of family bickering and arguments which are still relevant and highly recognisable today. (The bullying mother and slightly too weak, compliant son, for example). Analysis of the way that society represses the individual and the conflict between what you want to do and what society expects of you was to become a recurring theme in his novels.
His title is taken from Pope's 'An Essay on criticism' (1711), where the full line is `For fools rush in where angels fear to tread'. Indeed, most of the characters who people this perceptive novel appear foolish in the extreme, especially to our early twenty-first century eyes. For example, one could consider the headstrong and impulsive Lilia, packed off to Italy for a year with a chaperone by her husband's family in the hope that she will return 'not quite so vulgar' one of these rushing fools. Certainly her meeting and marriage of the unemployed (and son of a dentist, shock horror!
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By Luc REYNAERT TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 12 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
E.M. Forster's novel has the same theme as `Daisy Miller' by H. James (the cultural clash between the vitality of Italy and Western upper-class morals). But what a difference a book makes! James's book doesn't reach the ankles of Forster's one, which is a profound meditation on society and man.

Parents/children clash
`For a wonderful physical tie binds the parents to the children. (But) it doesn't bind us children to our parents. For if we could answer their love with equal love, life would lose much of its pathos and much of its squalor.'

Culture-vitality clash
The English family morals are based on `having' and `appearing', not on `being': `If Lilia was determined to disgrace us, she might have found a less repulsive way. A boy of medium height with a pretty face, the son of a dentist at Monteriano. May I surmise that he has not got a penny? May I surmise that his social position is nil?'
The Italian family morals are based on `this one desire to become the father of a man like himself ... his son should have sons like him, to people the earth. Falling in love was a mere physical triviality, like warm sun or cool water.'
The most attractive (`for all her goodness') English protagonist, Caroline, cannot even understand this desire, `though such a thing is more within the comprehension of women.'(!)
In this sense, the English upper-class is doomed.

A devastating portrait
This book is a devastating portrait of the English upper-class and, concomitantly of England's ruling elite.
The male protagonist, Philip, is the personification of the perfect dilettante: `No one save himself had been trivial.' In a murder attempt, stealing children and death by accident, he sees only `wonderful things that happened'.
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