maandag 21 maart 2016

E. M. Forster: Howards End


I got Howards End by E. M. Forster while on holiday in Valencia.
Because I was almost done with The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (the book I brought with me) I started this on the plane home.
My copy has 362 pages story and 20 pages on E. M. Forster by Lionel Trilling.

“One of Forster's masterpieces, this book is about three families in England at the beginning of the 20th century. The families represent different gradations of the Edwardian middle class: the Wilcoxes, who are rich capitalists with a fortune made in the Colonies; the half-German Schlegel siblings (Margaret, Tibby & Helen), who represent the intellectual bourgeoisie & have a lot in common with the real-life Bloomsbury Group; & the Basts, a couple who are struggling members of the lower-middle class. The Schlegel sisters try to help the poor Basts & try to make the Wilcoxes less prejudiced.”

This book bored me.

The novel is well-written enough. There are enough details and descriptions to paint us a picture of the characters and their surroundings while not being overly flowery either.

I liked the relationships between each member of a family and between the families.
The messages of equality and emancipation are admirable if a bit too apparent in the novel. Forster is not subtle.
The conflicts between the wealthy upper class and working class are depicted quite beautifully and it is truly interesting to read about it. The way this struggle is represented in the novel makes you question history and present as well as our future.

But I really didn’t care for the characters, and that’s my main problem with the novel. I could not believe in them and I did not connect with them.
The marriage was unbelievable because I could not understand why such a level-minded, independent, strong woman would marry a man who doesn’t take responsibilities or cleans up his own messes. Mrs. Wilcox has no compelling or admirable traits whatsoever and Helen felt like a character from a comic instead of a real person.


Happy reading.