Howards End by E.M. Forster
I just love Forster. His style is so eloquent, his imagery is magical, and his words have such an affect on me that I actually feel lighthearted and connected to the world around simply through reading. The mark of a wonderful writer if I’ve ever seen one. I admit, it starts out quite slow, but that’s part of his amazing work. It asks the reader to slow down and take stock of the literature, just as the characters seem to be in a slow-motion appreciation of nature and Culture.
“She could not explain in so many words, but she felt that those who prepare for all the emergencies of life beforehand may equip themselves at the expense of joy.”
The story follows the Schlegel family: Margaret, Helen, and Tibby; though mainly the oldest sister Margaret. Their parents have died prior to the start of the story, and they live a comfortable upper-class lifestyle at Wickham Place. Though they are women, they do not feel any pressure to marry or be agreeable to the thoughts of men or their peers. As upper-class citizens, they are preoccupied with politeness, but they do not back down from their opinions without a carefully worded defense and consideration of the other side. The girls are truly extraordinary, and their confidence is admirable.
“Her speeches fluttered away from the young man like birds. If only he could talk like this, he would have caught the world. Oh, to acquire culture! Oh, to pronounce foreign names correctly! Oh, to be well-informed, discoursing at ease on every subject that lady started! But it would take one years.”
The novel is also permeated with another family: the Wilcoxes. Mrs (Ruth) Wilcox, Mr. (Henry) Wilcox, Charles, Paul, and Evie. The scandalous behavior between the two families serves as the majority of the plot. In addition, this family owns Howards End, which is the lovely house for which the novel is named. Early on, Ruth Wilcox dies, and asks the Howards End be given to Margaret, with whom she has grown close. The Wilcoxes decide against this, but Howards End is not gone from the Schlegels lives at that point. Mr. Leonard Bast and Mrs. Jacky Bast are other characters caught up in the scandal of the novel, though they are not of the same class level.
“He remembered his wife’s even goodness during thirty years. Not anything in detail- not courtship or early raptures- but just the unvarying virtue, that seemed to him a woman’s noblest quality. So many women are capricious, breaking into odd flaws of passion or frivolity. Not so his wife. Year after year, summer and winter, as bride and mother, she had been the same, he had always trusted her. Her tenderness! Her innocence! The wonderful innocence that was hers by the gift of God. Ruth knew no more of wordly wickedness and wisdom than did the flowers in her garden, or the grass in her field. Her idea of business- ‘Henry, why do people who have enough money try to get more money?’ Her idea of politics- ‘I am sure that if the mothers of various nations could meet, there would be no more wars.'”
I highly, highly recommend Howard’s End to anyone who is interested in literature, London politics, or girl power- though it is good for other aspects as well! In addition, E.M. Forster also wrote A Room With A View, which is also a magnificent novel!
If you have read this book, or have any book suggestions for me to read and review, let me know in the comments!