It is a practically balmy day today. I have the house open and letting fresh air in. I took this photo back when it was a grey day. It's in front of my church. I could not resist the criss cross design of the various branches.
I am listening to piano music by a Danish composer and musician. The song is called Mary and the composer's name is Agnes Obel. I first heard this work at night while I was in bed. Josh has to play a little music before going to bed. In the dark it took on an especially dream like quality. This is not classical, just an indie musician but her playing takes me to ethereal places. Let me know if you like it.
Howards End by E.M. Forster
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Howards End lacks nothing that Forster's other books possess, which is to say it flows with the same fluidity, eloquence and contains the same sort of interesting characters as his other books. At least the ones I have read. The only books by Forster I have not read are Maurice and the Longest Journey. Maybe a one or two others, but Forster wrote a lamentably small amount of books, and it would be interesting to know why. I do not believe much is known about the author. I know there are a couple of biographies out but they seem to spend a great deal salaciously spelling out his sexual proclivities rather than analyzing his work.
Howards End seems to contain the same characters as Room With a View. We have the naive, artsy, independent, free thinking women only in Howards End they are sisters rather than mother and daughter. There is the moderately interfering spinster aunt, only Aunt Juley is not nearly so overbearing as the aunt in Room With a View. And we have the smug, elistist, prim and proper wealthy English family, the Wilcoxes.
Meg and Helen Schlegel with their brother Tibby are raising themselves since the death of their parents with Aunt Juley coming in occasionally to steer them in the correct direction without much success. Since the Schlegels have been left financially independent, they are not at anyone's mercy. This is significant as it allows the sisters and brother a lot of freedom in acting according to their will without considering the censure it might otherwise bring from "respectable" society. It also allows them to freely express themselves to the Wilcoxes without much concern as to offending their "proper" sensibilities.
The Wealthy English family, the Wilcoxes' lives intertwine with the Schlegels' when Helen has a brief and entirely imaginary affair with the Wilcoxes' youngest son, Paul. This takes place, or rather, doesn't take place at the Wilcox country home called Howards End. I think it is charming how English families name their residences. I think I should name my home. Maybe The Bestiary since it seems to be my animals who own the place.
Later, the Wilcoxes stay in town at an apartment opposite the Schlegels house called "6 Wickham Place" (which may merely be the address). Meg and Mrs. Wilcox strike up an interesting acquaintance. Mrs. Wilcox is an ethereal and mysterious person and in some ways, Meg and she have Spirits in common.
Without telling anyone that she is very sick, Mrs. Wilcoxes death comes across as a surprise to everyone, including her husband, Henry and her children, Paul, Charles, and Evie. Even more shocking is a note by her stating a wish that Howards End, which actually belongs to her, should go to Meg. The family decided to keep this note to themselves.
However, a variety of things transpire that cause everyone's life to take unexpected turns. For one, Henry, now widowed, falls in love with Meg. They eventually marry.
These are not two people one would connect to each other, the one being concrete and staid, the other being idealistic and philosophical but they do genuinely love each other and coexist with each other's differences well.
This is an attribute of the book, that I also found in Room With a View that I appreciated. No one's a toad. Each have their failings, but are drawn with sympathy. And the characters have sympathy for each other as well. I find I cannot hate anyone. Not even Charles who seems to go a little bit off his rocker at the end of the story.
Also, the married couples all seem to genuinely love each other, faults and differences not withstanding.
I think the genius in Forster's work is how he causes people of different worlds to collide and allow their differences to show off each other in a sharp relief. This makes each character all the more colorful. However, this affection and sympathy does not exist in Forster's final work, A Passage to India, which was written after a writing fast of almost fifteen years. One wonders what happened in the interim to cause a cynical turn in this last work of Forster.
There are more complications in this story which I would not like to give away so I'm giving only my brief sketch as to why I liked the book.
View all my reviews