Howards End by E.M. Forster

“There is certainly no rest for us on the earth. But there is happiness and as Margaret descended the mound on her lover’s arm, she felt that she was having her share.”

Margaret and Helen Schlegel, one of the best sister acts in literature, fatefully entwine themselves with the stolid Wilcox family and their lives are irrevocably changed by the association. Mrs. Wilcox’s family home, Howards End, is the crux of the novel as all hopes, dreams, irritations, misunderstandings and momentous decisions swirl inside its walls.

Margaret is one of the most brilliantly drawn, generous, intelligent, seekers of truth I’ve ever encountered in a novel and I marveled at her changeability and constant quest for connection and transparency in human relationships. Her loyalty to her sister, Helen, who is frustration itself, is the act on which the whole novel hinges.

E.M. Forster’s Howards End is a gloriously exuberant shambles and I mean that in a good way. He deftly juggles many different philosophies and social ideals while managing to also create engaging and sympathetic characters in a plot that is infused with humor. Sometimes he nearly misses, especially toward the end of the novel when his high-flown prose gets the better of the story, but mostly, it works.

I enjoy Forster’s novels because there is an innate joyfulness about them and I think he gives us really interesting and complex female characters to admire and identify with. I believe that A Room With a View is still my favorite Forster, but Howards End is a remarkable novel, one that I can only describe as a cornucopia of delight.

Have you read Howards End?

8 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I went on an E.M. Forster reading jag after seeing A Room with a View (the Helena Bonham Carter/Maggie Smith version), which was my introduction to him. But I’ve never re-read them, though I still have them on my shelves.

    1. I think Forster is very re-readable! His novels reveal something new every time you read them. I’ve never read A Passage to India so that will be my next Forster.

  2. Anbolyn, I adore “Howards End.” It is truly amongst my very favorite books and I have read it many times. The Schlegel sisters are two of my favorite characters and I absolutely love the story. I love their women’s discussion group, the Beethoven concert, Margaret’s Christmas shopping excursion with Mrs. Wilcox, and her discovery of Howards End and how she feels so connected to the house. The book is an anglophile’s dream, a love letter to England. There are so many quotable lines. I am so happy you wrote about it and I have written at least two blog posts about this book.

    1. I think the Schlegel sisters have to be some of my favorite characters in all of literature, too! I especially love Margaret. I remember your posts about Howards End – they were part of my inspiration for reading it again this year for the Classics Challenge.

  3. It’s a long time since I read Forster, but I remember liking this, though not quite as much as A Room With a View. I think you’ve found me another author to add to the ist of those I must re-read.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

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