Learn more Download now Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Exclusive track - Ed Sheeran Shop now Shop Women's Shop Men's

on 27 November 2017
a fine book
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 2 December 2017
Pretty good the TVs series follows the text fairly well always a good thing.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 8 December 2017
by E.M. Forster

David James's review
Dec 02, 2017 · edit

liked it
bookshelves: to-read

Forster, EM. Howard’s End

I thought that I had finished with EMF fifty years ago, but lately have found myself turning back to the struggles of Margaret and Helen Schlegel to reconcile what Forster has memorably termed the ‘prose and the passion,’ something that he found missing in his account of English life in the pre WW1 period. My reason for reopening this, admitedly dated volume is the latest televised version of Howard’s End, billed like the persistent novels of Jane Austen as ‘a costume drama.’ The novel begins with two chatty letters from Helen to her sister Margaret extolling the virtues of Howard’s End where she is staying with the Wilcox family - and fallng in love with Paul the eldest son. This heady passion proves to be a fantasy of Helen, whose impulsive nature is to be her undoing. What she needs is more common sense, the steadying hand of the business class, such as the Wilcoxes - class is to be an insuperable problem in the book - giving plenty of scope for the author’s opinions.

Indeed, authorial nagging and advice is ever-present in the book, proving to be its undoing in my opinion. The terms ‘dated’ and ‘old-fashioned’ are not out of place as a comment on this book, which would never be used for let us say, any of the novels of Dickens or Jane Austen. Forster’s thesis that all one needs is to ‘connect the prose and the passion’ for everything in the (English) garden to be lovely wears very thin. One of Forster’s virtues is clarity, but at the cost of over-simplification. He can get away with ‘typical’ characterusation in his lighter novels, but is far too cumbersome and intrusive here. One example from dozens that could be culled illustrates Forster’s didactic capacity in his treatment of the Basts, the ill-assorted couple supposed to represent the working class - and this is a very class-consciously obsessed book. We are invited to share Leonard Bast’s cultural aspirations - he is a sort of HG Wells in embryo: He discovered that he was going bareheaded down Regent Street. London came back with a rush. Few were about at this hour, but all whom he passed looked at him with hostility that was the more impressive because it was unconscious. He put his hat on. It was too big; his head disappeared like a pudding into a basin, the ears bending outwards at the touch of the curly brim. Having adjusted the angle, however, he becomes a changed man: Thus equipped , he escaped criticism. No one felt uneasy as he titupped along the pavements, the heart of a man ticking fast in his breast.

The novel was first published in 1910, and while Bast’s aspirations to become accepted in polite society convince, his presence here is awkward, and despite Helen’s efforts to include him he remains an outsider. It is perhaps fitting that he ends by being smothered under a library of books when the bookcase collapses on him. But that belongs in the realm of irony or satire, which this book definitely does not.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 27 June 2017
A winner. Worth every moment of your reading time. Worth savouring and reading slowly.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 30 November 2017
I re read this recently after a gap of about 35 years and was amazed at how much more I got out of it. Life experience is obviously key to understanding. It might be set in Edwardian England, but the ideas and truths behind it as just as relevant for today. Perhaps we are all still ‘I’ people, or not. Stick with the ‘hard’ bits of reflection: they are worth it.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 20 March 2014
Howards End is undoubtably a good book, if not a great one. As a picture on the early 20th C with a mixture of Middle Class and Lower Class characters I find it hard to reconcile with what else I know about this period. I am sure that Mr Forster painted a perfectly plausible picture of the characters in his novel but they just don't fit in with the other works of that time.

The Schlegals, the main characters, may have lowered themselves to accomodate the Wilcoxes but for the beautiful Helen Schlegal to have "thrown herself away" on Leonard Bast really stretches the imagination. However bohemian these girls this sort of class movement did not, in my mind, happen and therefore, although a reasonable story, there appears an unreality which, for me, ruins it.

I suppose, like the later Lady Chatterley's Lover, which I don't find too good either, this was just written to tittilate and shock and it does not transform itself too well into the modern view of the early part of 20th C Britain. Although Forster was widely recognised and honoured and wrote many acclaimed books, better than this I think, such as Passage to India or even A Room With a View, he had an extremely complicated private life and I think this has skewed the theme of his novels. Yes he loved a married policeman but this was not normal behaviour even for the Bloomsbury Set of which he was a part (although homosexuality was widely practised).

So, to get a better idea of life around this time one can read Churchill or Stratchey or Brenan to span a very wide range, but to me this novel does not seem realistic.
11 Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 7 December 2017
Howard's End is a classic.
All the characters are rounded and have depth.
The plot is not the most important part of this novel: it is the servant of Forster's various philosophies. The development of Margaret throughout the novel is outstanding. She is indeed heroic for her time.
A must read for any English student.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 25 March 2013
This is a strange book. it starts off very well, then falls away, but finishes with a hundred pages of sheer brilliance. it has this problem because the story line is very thin, unable to carry the book forward on its own.It involves two wealthy families and one poor one.
The Schlegel sisters, Helen and Margaret, are rentiers and philanthropists, displaying idealistic 19th Century values; the Wilcoxes are nouveau riche, selfish, greedy, brash and ignorant- prototypes for the 20th century. The Basts are poor, made poorer by Mr. Wilcox: Leonard , vainly, aims to better himself by reading and the arts.
The author's command of language and use of prose is outstanding- it is hard to think of better examples.
You must persevere to the end- it is brilliant.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 18 November 2013
When my paperback copy of Howards End which was decades old fell to pieces in my hands I downloaded a new one right away with the immediacy of my Kindle.

How delightful it was to renew my acquaintance with the Schlegels and the Wilcoxes: two families representing the opposing sides of Forster's sublime dialectic; and also Leonard Bast, autodidact and aspiring bibliophile, who, in his unwitting way, is responsible for so much of the development of the novel's plot. With perfectly judged symbolism, Leonard dies when a bookcase falls on him and buries him in a pile of books.

Until this reading of Howards End I had never appreciated how much England and the English countryside is foregrounded in the novel. Sometimes sociologically; sometimes scenically; sometimes mystically. It is always there, like another character, involved in the action yet detached from it; often accompanied by Forster's dire warning that its survival is under threat from building and modern development.

Above all, however, it is Forster's literary technique, that I shall take away from my most recent reading of Howards End. For example, the dexterity with which he changes viewpoint within a single scene, so that often within the course of just one or two sentences we are privy to Margaret Schlegel's consciousness and then we are seamlessly segueing into Helen's thoughts or those of Mr Wilcox or Leonard Bast. At times we may also find ourselves being addressed by the omniscient narrator, the voice of Forster himself, viewing his characters objectively, or from the perspective of the mystical and the "unseen": making a synthesis of all humanity and reducing their huge differences to barely perceptible bumps in the great fabric.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 16 September 2013
When I first read this many years ago, I loved it. But on Re-reading I found the Schlagel sisters very irritating so did not bother to finish it.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse

Need customer service? Click here