Monday, April 27, 2020

60. Howard's End

Howard's End. E.M. Forster. 1910. 246 pages. [Source: Bought] [classic; adult fiction]

First sentence: One may as well begin with Helen’s letters to her sister.

Premise/plot: Howard’s End concerns the Schlegel sisters Margaret and Helen. The novel opens with Helen falling in and out of love with Paul Wilcox at Howard’s End on holiday. She was invited by the Wilcoxes—both sisters had met the Wilcox family at a European hotel previously. In the upcoming years these two families keep colliding.... Margaret becomes friends with Mrs. (Ruth) Wilcox. Mrs. Wilcox even pencils in a dying request: Howard’s End should be left to Margaret. It seems Ruth feels her to be a spiritual heir. This doesn’t come about...not as she planned anyway. But Henry Wilcox (the father) does end up years later marrying Margaret. But will the two suit since they are so very different.

Helen meanwhile adopts Leonard Bast—a grown man with a wife and job—as an ongoing charity project. She feels certain that with her constant meddling and kind advice his life might be worth living after all. But is her help his making or breaking?!

My thoughts: I can’t say that I loved any of the characters wholeheartedly. I am not sure any comes about as believable humans. Each seems to be a Symbol or Ideal for an abstract idea or philosophy. I wanted actual human beings. Though I will say this there are plenty of flaws imbedded in all.


The truth is that there is a great outer life that you and I have never touched—a life in which telegrams and anger count. (20)

It will be generally admitted that Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is the most sublime noise that has ever penetrated into the ear of man. (23)

I do know when I like a thing and when I don’t. (29)

Discussion keeps a house alive. It cannot stand by bricks and mortar alone. (60)

How many of these vacillating shoppers and tired shop assistants realized that it was a divine event that drew them together? (63)

Has the soul offspring? (77)

Actual life is full of false clues and sign posts that lead nowhere. (83)

I quite expect to end my life caring most for a place. (102)

It is odd and sad that our minds should be such seedbeds, and we without power to choose the seed. (219)
I did watch a Masterpiece Theatre adaptation of Howard's End. I found it to be similar to the book in many, many ways. In truth, I watched the movie first. I felt *surely* the movie would have some condensing and that the book would plump up the movie. That the characters would be fuller, deeper, richer. That one could draw more insights about their inner lives and motivations. But NOPE. The movie and the book were truly alike. If the characters felt more flat than realized--that is representing types and symbols--it wasn't the fault of the movie maker.

© 2020 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Lark said...

I think my favorite quote from this book when I read it years ago was: "Only connect."