Howards End – E.M. Forster: A Review

September 30, 2007 1001 Books, Reading Nook, Review 15

Title: Howards End
Author: E.M. Forster
Date Finished: Sept 30, 2007
Pages: 236
Rating: 1.5/5

I read this book for the Decades challenge (1910) and every single minute of it was pure struggle. OK, not every minute, but mostly every minute. This book is only 236 pages, but it took me two weeks to finish!!

The story is about Margaret Schlegel who befriends her neighbor Mrs. Wilcox. When Mrs. Wilcox passes away, she leaves her home, Howards End, to Margaret–although Margaret is unaware of the bequest. After the death, Margaret then befriends Mr. Wilcox. A strange type of courting pursues and they eventually become engaged. On the sidelines of the story are Wilcox’s extravagant and snotty children and Margaret’s aloof sister Helen. In the side-sidelines are the Basts, Leonard and Jacky, who are of a lower class but become entwined in the story. Its difficult to give a summary without giving away any of the plot, so that’s basically it. Most of the story is wrapped up in class issues, the Mr. Wilcox and Margaret’s courtship, and family scandals.

I’ve recently heard good things about Forster, particularly his A Passage to India but this is quite possibly the worst book I have read all year. Granted, I did just start a new job on Monday, but I was struggling even before my time got cut in half. And I’m not even really sure why I disliked this book so much! The character development wasn’t half bad, but I found the writing a little confusing and very anticlimactic. The last couple of chapters were the best in the book, but I thought the writing was boring and without passion. I would not recommend this book and if you are reading it or plan to, I hope you have much better luck than I did. :(

15 Responses to “Howards End – E.M. Forster: A Review”

  1. Nicola

    Oh no, I’ve wanted to read this for a very long time. I don’t think I’ll be in any rush now. I have read Passage to India and loved it but then I do love all things Raj

  2. Petunia

    I didn’t hate this one but I didn’t think it was spectaular either. A Room with a View was much better. I also liked Where Angels Fear to Tread though it is heartbreaking. I haven’t yet read Passage to India. You might try watching the movie. Sometimes it helps improve that inicial impression. And it only takes 2 hours if you don’t like it.

  3. Trish

    *Nicola – then don’t let my review deter you…I just personally didn’t like it.

    *Petunia – Well, the book that Howards End is from has both RwV and WAFT, so your remark is very encouraging since I was about to give up on it. I don’t think I’ll be reading the other two anytime soon, though. :)

  4. Stephanie

    OK. I can see this one isn’t going to the top of my list any time soon!!

    Glad to see you made it through, but sorry you hated it!

  5. Trish

    *Myutopia – I watched a preview of it, but I’m not sure if I’m interested. I *really* didn’t like the book. :) But I do love Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, so maybe…

    *Stephanie – at least it was short! Still, at 236 pages over 14 days, that’s only an average of 16 pages a day. Pretty pathetic!!

  6. Mrs. Savoie

    Forster has never been one of my favorites. Passage to India just confused me.

  7. Trish

    *Bookgal – haven’t read it, but I’m certainly not jumping up to read more of his stuff at the moment. Glad I’m not alone!

  8. Anonymous

    I had to read Forster’s “The Machine Stops” for English and I now have to do an analysis of it. The accepted interpretation of this story is that it is Forster’s prediction on technology’s effect on society. However, I am struggling to write an essay based on this idea because I can’t help but think it is just as likely about a schizophrenic person’s attempted escape from an assylum. Has anyone else read “The Machine Stops”?

  9. heather (errantdreams)

    I’m amazed you finished reading this if you disliked it that much. But then, I admit I’ve done that with a few books too; I don’t know if it was because I just really wanted to figure out what I felt about them and put it in a review or what.

  10. Bookfool

    Oh, darn!!! I’m sorry to find that you didn’t like this one. I’ll still read it, of course – I loved A Passage to India – but when I saw the cover, I was hoping to read words of excitement. Hope your next read is a great one. :)

  11. Trish

    *Heather – I’m pretty compulsive when it comes to finishing a book. If I make it past page 30, I will usually try to finish it no matter what. And since this book was only 260 pages, I couldn’t let it defeat me!! :)

    *Bookfool – I hope you enjoy it. You know, that’s the thing about reading. One book someone could love and another hate!

  12. Shelley

    This is one that I didn’t like or dislike. It was just sort of there. I think for me Leonard Bast (was that his name?) was the most interesting part. I think I liked the movie.

  13. Trish

    *Chain reader – For me this book was entirely too long in its 200 pages for me to feel ambiguously about it. :) I remember bits about Leonard (I think that was his name!!), and he certainly was a strange character. Maybe this one was just a bad timing for me–I think a book like this one must be in the right frame of mind! I haven’t seen the movie but I need to!

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