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Howard's End by E. M. Forster


Like all of Forster's work, Howards End concerns itself with class, nationality, economic status, and how each of these affects personal relationships. It follows the intertwined fortunes of the Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, and the Wilcox family over the course of several years. The Schlegels are intellectuals, devotees of art and literature. The Wilcoxes, on the other hand, can't be bothered with the life of the mind or the heart, leading, instead, outer lives of "telegrams and anger" that foster "such virtues as neatness, decision, and obedience, virtues of the second rank, no doubt, but they have formed our civilization." Helen, after a brief flirtation with one of the Wilcox sons, has developed an antipathy for the family; Margaret, however, forms a brief but intense friendship with Mrs. Wilcox, which is cut short by the older woman's death. When her family discovers a scrap of paper requesting that Henry give their home, Howards End, to Margaret, it precipitates a spiritual crisis among them that will take years to resolve.

Forster's 1910 novel begins as a collection of seemingly unrelated events--Helen's impulsive engagement to Paul Wilcox; a chance meeting between the Schlegel sisters and an impoverished clerk named Leonard Bast at a concert; a casual conversation between the sisters and Henry Wilcox in London one night. But as it moves along, these disparate threads gradually knit into a tightly woven fabric of tragic misunderstandings, impulsive actions, and irreparable consequences, and, eventually, connection. Though set in the early years of the 20th century, Howards End seems even more suited to our own fragmented era of e-mails and anger. For readers living in such an age, the exhortation to "only connect" resonates ever more profoundly.






E.M. Forster

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  • Robert L. P.


    March 2, 2014

  • David K.

    Nice chat, very insightful

    March 1, 2014

  • beverly s.

    Howard's End is a book that I read and liked many years ago when the Merchant/Ivory movie came out. On rereading it, some of his discourses on the metaphysical and nature seem a bit long-winded, but I still liked it, because of the true-to-life way he approaches people in difficult situations.

    February 28, 2014

  • John D.

    Sorry I won't be able to make it tonight. I have to pickup my Granddaughter at school and take her home to Shelbyville

    February 27, 2014

  • Robert L. P.

    I'm on P. 227 and I'm ready for some peasant to rush in with an axe and slaughter the lot of them.

    February 17, 2014

  • beverly s.

    A very astute comment David--everyone in their place. One of the themes is the importance of the class system--knowing your place and sticking to it or what happens when you step out of your place as the Schlegel girls do and what catastrophes and good things happen when they dol

    February 17, 2014

  • David K.

    This novel reminds me of Downton's just the period I guess....Everything has a place..everything in its place

    February 16, 2014

  • beverly s.

    Forster is one of my favorites, Howards End is tremendous and their is a fantastic movie made by the Merchant/Ivory team, but to me the best of his books is A Room WIth a View--also with a gorgeous film couterpart by the Merchant/Ivory set of Producer and DIrector.

    February 11, 2014

  • Robert L. P.

    Picked up the book yesterday and will start it today. To twist a Winston Churchill quote, "It is not the end of the beginning but, rather, the beginning of Howard's End."

    December 18, 2013

    • David K.

      Never was so much owed by so many to so few......doesn't refer to national debt to China.

      February 10, 2014

  • Denise T.

    Will start this book over the weekend. Looking forward to my firs book club meeting..

    February 6, 2014

  • David K.

    If you guys/gals like this one....."Passage to India" might be on the horizon

    January 16, 2014

  • Robert L. P.

    I just read Forster's short story, "The Other Side of the Hedge," which is very impressive...

    November 20, 2013

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