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No one could have predicted the catastrophic outcome of Helen Schlegel's first visit to Howards EndShe falls in love with the refreshing Wilcox family which cares not at all for Literature or Art and impetuously becomes engaged to Paul Wilcox Whole worlds Schlegel culture and Wilcox commerce liberalism and imperialism green fields and motor cars conversation and action come together and collide in EM Forster's novel Set in upper middle class Edwardian England it none the less explores lives that feel familiar in their tragic inability to 'connect the prose and the passion'


10 thoughts on “Howards End

  1. says:

    My review is not a review of Howard's End as much as it is a review of the negative reviewsMost of the criticism seems to be that the readers felt that this book had nothing to do with them They weren't familiar with the places in England referenced in the book It was too English It wasn't universal True on some counts This book isn't about you It isn't about now It isn't directly relevant to today It won't feed the soul of the egomaniacIt is however a beautifully written book with a interesting storyline about a time in history that is important in that way that history is important The novel is not just SETin a pre World Wars Europe it is actually written before the wars that changed the western world and its literature forever Moreover it is written in the period immediately preceding the wars and the presented tension between England and Germany not written with the advantage of hindight adds to the books worthiness Beyond the tension is a modern view of Germany that predates and so is untainted by the horror of the Holocaust The Germany of Howard's End is a Germany of philosophers and musicians Not deranged dictatorsIs it important to be able to perfectly picture the setting of every scene in a book? If it is I'm in trouble I think I just have pre painted backdrops for certain things Bucolic English countryside? Check 17th century French parlor? Check Mars circa 3011? Check My depictions might not be terribly accurate but I'm not going to let that get in the way of a good story What is universal than the tension between wealth and poverty? Between lust and restraint? What is universal than feeling both the pull of family and the desire to push them away? What is universal than hypocrisy? What is universal than the struggle of the sexes to find their proper place in relation to one another This Book Has Everything Except you You're not in this bookYou already know what its like to live here now What was it like to live there then? Go ahead and read it for the sex and intrigue but stay for the history and the political discussion If you don't need to see yourself reflected in everything you read you won't be disappointed


  2. says:

    New mini series begins showing on Starz in the US April 2018”Discussion keeps a house alive It cannot stand by bricks and mortar alone” I’ve fallen in love with the Schlegel sisters twice now in separate decades I plan to keep falling in love with them for many decades to come They are vibrant defenders of knowledge of books of art of travel of feeling life in the heart lungs kidneys liver and spleen on a daily basis Margaret and Helen have a brother Tibby poor lad who is plenty bright while at Oxford but in the family Schlegel home he is struggling to keep up with the thoughts expressed that keep expanding past him Compared to most people they are rich Compared to most rich people they are poor Their ancestors left them with enough capital to insure that they don’t have to work for the rest of their lives can travel a bit can go to the theatre and can buy books as they need them They are very attuned to their privileged position and are frequently tempted to reduce their capital by helping those in need How much money do they really need or for that matter really deserve to have? Improbably the Schlegel sisters become friends with the Wilcoxes a capitalistic family who have a different idea of money Is there ever enough? Helen forms a temporary attachment to the younger Wilcox which throws each family into a tizzy as to the suitability of the match Margaret begins a friendship with the wife Ruth that proves so strong that it throws a few wrinkles into the plot regarding Ruth’s family and the inheritance of Howards End Ruth passes away suddenly ”How easily she slipped out of life?” Her insignificance in life becomes even pronounced in her death E M Forster based Howards End on his childhood home The Rooks Nest which had been owned by a family named Howard and referred to as the Howard house Thus the name Howards End is a not too subtle reference to that family home I have to believe that it might have represented a lifetime longing he had for those childhood years he spent in that home In the novel Howards End goes beyond being an estate and becomes almost a character a Shangri La that I began to pine for from the very beginning of the novel The Sisters have only brief contact with Howards End through the early part of the novel and my trepidation grows as the plot progresses Will they ever have a chance to consider the house a home? Rooks NestThe Schlegel’s befriend the Basts who are certainly in much reduced circumstances compared to their own By mere chance they are discussing the Basts situation with Henry Wilcox who promptly puts doubt into their mind about the future validity of the company Leonard is working for This sets off a chain of events that cause a series of ripples that change the course of several lives There certainly is a word of caution in meddling in others’ affairs Sometimes we can think we are helping only to cause even problems Improbably Margaret and Henry Wilcox form a friendship that becomes romantic The eldest Wilcox son Charles is not happy about the attachment He and Margaret are so far apart in their views of how the world works or should work that they have difficulty communicating well enough to reach a point of mutual respect ”They had nothing in common but the English language and tried by its help to express what neither of them understood”Margaret’s odd relationship with Henry causes a rift between the sisters that is frankly painful to experience Forster makes sure that I as a reader at this point can no longer be objective The relationship between these siblings is a precious thing and to think of it torn asunder is impossible to accept They know so well how to entertain each other to finish each other’s thoughts and share a general agreement on most things that other people who bump around in the orbit of their reality feel like intruders So the marriage between Margaret and Henry is unsettling to Helen and me for numerous reasons but this statement might sum up how we feel pretty well ”How wide the gulf between Henry as he was and Henry as Helen thought he ought to be” There is probably someone we could feel is good enough for Margaret but not just Margaret but Helen and this reader as well see how invested I am? for whomever either girl would marry would have to slip seamlessly into the state of euphoria that already exists in the Schlegel household Henry is not that person ”He misliked the word ‘interesting’ connoting it with wasted energy and even with morbidity”It is becoming impossible to think that Howards End will remain nothing than a shimmering presence in another reality E M Forster portrait by Roger FryThe Schlegel sisters are really the best friends any reader could hope for We would be so enriched by the opportunity to know them and practically giddy to be able to call them friends It is unnerving that something so strong like this relationship between sisters can be so fragile I haven’t discussed the fascinating nuances of plot that will add further weight to the interactions between the Schlegels the Wilcoxes and the Basts for I want everyone to read this book and marvel at the words and thoughts that Forster tosses in the air for you to catch I want you all to be as haunted as I have been to the point that you too will have to go back to the place you first met these characters these ghostly beings and read and read again turning these phantoms into tangible beings you can almost touch ”Only connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted and human love will be seen at its highest Live in fragments no longer” If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews visit also have a Facebook blogger page at


  3. says:

    The title refers to a British country home not a mansion like a Downton Abbey but a small comfortable home with charm Although it seems that the story is set at about the same time as Downton Abbey The story revolves around two sisters who on separate visits fall in love with the home and in a very round about way end up living in it The main there of the book is British class structure The two sisters are ‘liberal’ using modern terminology They attend meetings of progressive women’s groups where one of them gives a presentation and shocks her audience by arguing that such groups need to help the poor not by giving them free libraries museums and concerts but by giving them money A kind of introduction by Lionel Trilling on the back cover tells us that “Howard’s End is about England’s fate It is a story of the class warthe plot is about the rights of property about a destroyed will and testament and rightful and wrongful heirs It asks the question who shall inherit England?’ “Both sisters are aging their parents have died and they are ‘heading into spinsterhood’ However the older one marries and she marries the owner of Howards End who is a Darwinist His attitude to be concise is I’m paraphrasing “there will always be poor nothing we can do they are not like us if you give them money they’ll just blow it because they’re re too stupid to know what to do with it” And this is a quote “The poor are poor and one’s sorry for them but there it is As civilization moves forward the shoe is bound to pinch in places and it’s absurd to think that anyone is responsible personally” The sisters are not wealthy but they are comfortable from an inheritance and they hang out in upper class society So this is a second theme the sisters have an inherent cultured grace that comes from being part of the aristocracy “the instinctive wisdom that the past can alone bestow had descended upon her – that wisdom to which we give the clumsy name of aristocracy” A married struggling poor young man that the sisters take under their wing is trying to improve himself and become cultured by reading But he eventually realizes that “he could never follow them not if he read for ten hours a day Some are born cultured the rest had better go in for whatever comes easy” “We stand upon money as upon islands It is so firm beneath our feet that we forget its very existence” money there’s no nourishment in it You pass it to the lower classes and they pass it back to you and this you call ‘social intercourse’ or ‘mutual endeavor’ when it’s mutual priggishness”There’s not a lot of plot other than that of the older sister coming around to marry the wealthy older man and after they are married she struggles to get his family to accept her And both sisters get involved with helping the poor young man but ‘the road to hell’ The younger sister gets involved with him and a person ends up getting killed manslaughter Another theme of the book or appropriately motto is ‘only connect’ The sisters are good at it the wealthy aristocrat is a disaster There is good writing Some passages I likedOn the poor young man looking ill at ease in his best clothes “She wondered whether it paid to give up the glory of the animal for a tail coast and a couple of ideas”“The church itself stood in the village once But there it attracted so many worshippers that the devil in a pet snatched it from its foundations and poised it on an inconvenient knoll three quarters of a mile away”“Their interview was short and absurd They had nothing in common but the English language and tried by its help to express what neither of them understood” E M Forster 1879 1970 the author is best know for A Room With a View with Howard’s End and A Passage to India about equally well known after that You can tell that the author loved London and the growth and dynamism of the city at that time I enjoyed the book very much Top photo from tbn0gstaticcomPhoto of the author from blukbritishlibrary


  4. says:

    I loved this book so much that I will never be able to do it justice in this review I finished it several months ago but still I think of it often and have recommended it to numerous friends While reading I used countless post its to mark beautiful and thoughtful passages Howard's End was one of the novels I took on my visit to England earlier this summer I wanted to read English authors while I was there and I'm so glad I did The specialized reading completely enhanced the trip and it was especially true for this bookThis was also a re read for me I first read Howard's End when I was in high school after I saw the excellent Merchant Ivory movie version But that was 1992 and I was just an impressionable teenager Reading it as an adult with life experience made me better appreciate how amazing this novel isIf you are unfamiliar with the story we follow two sisters Margaret and Helen Schlegel in London around 1910 More on the significance of that timing in a moment The Schlegels are well educated progressive and love literature music and art They hold cultural discussions and like to talk about improving society When they meet poor intelligent Leonard Bast at a music concert they see someone they want to champion Meanwhile the Schlegels have also crossed paths with the rich Wilcox family and entanglements ensue One of the key threads of the book is who will inherit Howard's End which was the estate of Ruth Wilcox Early in the book Ruth wants to give it to Margaret Schlegel but Henry Wilcox Ruth's husband refuses to oblige her wish More entanglements ensueAs I read this novel I appreciated how Forster was trying to recreate modern England with families from three classes the rich capitalists Wilcoxes the liberal middle class Schlegels and the downtrodden workers Mr and Mrs Bast There were so many good quotes about social class and the state of society and I found it all fascinating and thought provoking Reading a great novel such as Howard's End reminded me of how much literature can enrich a life It answers questions I didn't know I had askedOn the chance that some Goodreaders don't want the ending spoiled I'll hide the outcome view spoilerAfter Ruth dies Margaret marries Henry Wilcox and she eventually inherits the estate Margaret decides to leave it to her nephew who is the bastard son of Helen and Leonard Bast So if there are any English majors working on essays and you want to read into the SYMBOLISM of that it's like the working class finally got some landwealth from the aristocrats and in England land equals power hide spoiler


  5. says:

    Forster is the Jane Austen of the 20th century He clearly read her novels and fell in love And this makes him rather unusual amongst his literary peers He didn’t do anything new he didn’t write with any particular passion or any attempt at breaking a literary boundary His writing is relatively safe compared to the likes of Joyce or WoolfBut in such safety a certain simple beauty can be found because Howard’s End is a novel about reconciliation it’s about conflict and resolution it’s about bringing people who are so radically different together And I love this I love the way he spends the entire novel showing how the two families Wilcox Schlegel are so opposed in traditions and values yet for all that he offers no comment on which way is right but instead brings them together in one big union at the end it’s a celebration of life and love Don't you see that all this leads to comfort in the end? It is part of the battle against sameness Differences eternal differences planted by God in a single family so that there may always be colour sorrow perhaps but colour in the daily grey”The house Howard's End is at the centre of the action It’s bequeathed by Mrs Wilcox to Margaret who unlike the Wilcox’s is the only one capable of seeing and feeling it’s true value The remaining Wilcox’s decide to destroy the evidence and rent the house out because they want the money And with this begins a discussion about the importance of death and life about respecting wishes and understanding the importance of sentiments So the plot was immediate it didn’t mess around and started flowing from the first page And that’s kind of important with novels like this novels that are largely about domestic life and the complications of class and money The Wilcox’s are overly concerned with money and status and acquiring of it The Schlegel’s care about education art books and the passions of the soul The two families become unlikely acquaintances and eventually friends though not without an early embarrassment over an impromptu and insincere marriage proposal It’s a nice easy read a little lacklustre but one is quite clearly content with its calm and subtle evocation of the variety of life


  6. says:

    35 stars A place as well as a person may catch the glow Don't you see that all this leads to comfort in the end? It is part of the battle against sameness Differences eternal differences planted by God in a single family so that there may always be colour sorrow perhaps but colour in the daily greyHowards End is the second book in my endeavor to re read all of EM Forster’s major novels Having read five of these in my late teens I decided that it would be fun to approach them with years wisdom and appreciation for literature on my side Well I don’t necessarily claim much in the way of wisdom in fact I sure felt a lot ‘smarter’ back in the day so perhaps experience would be a better word In any case my first book on the list – A Room with a View – proved to be a marvelous success I had high hopes for Howards End The result? Well I will say that I am still a great admirer of Forster’s vision and brilliance I adored this in theory than in the execution perhaps If I could boil down this piece to those passages I highlighted – and there were loads of them – then this would have been five stars without a doubt If I could have removed some of the superfluous philosophizing that sometimes left me literally closing my eyes from time to time then this would be sitting on my favorites shelf I wanted to love this Instead I appreciated it and ultimately liked itThere is so much one could say about the themes in this book There is of course the overlying theme ‘to connect’ This word ‘connect’ appears repeatedly throughout Forster introduces us to the Schlegels a very comfortable perhaps middle class family They appreciate art literature and discussion much like us dear Goodreaders One can’t help but become attached to them – in particular the two sisters Margaret and Helen Oh how I would love to sit down with them and have an intelligent conversation about books music and women's rights Their lives become decisively intertwined with the Wilcox family representing the wealthy conservative and less imaginative set they avoided the personal note in life All Wilcoxes did It did not seem to them of supreme importance The Schlegel’s desire to connect with one and all further entangles them with the impoverished Basts in particular Leonard Bast an intelligent young man who aspires to than what his lower class would readily allow He felt that he was being done good to and that if he kept on with Ruskin and the Queen's Hall Concerts and some pictures by Watts he would one day push his head out of the grey waters and see the universe The three families clearly illustrate the distinct differences in the social classes existing within pre World War I England Is it possible to cross these social boundaries? The Schlegels would like to think so and in fact strive to do just that Their efforts are always endearing occasionally comical and sometimes disastrous At the heart of this novel too is Howards End the house one of the Wilcox’s family homes Howards End is where Ruth Wilcox was born To her the house has a spirit Her husband and children do not feel the same affinity to the house as she But Margaret Schlegel with whom she strikes up a friendship understands places and homes Howards End takes on a life of its own until it becomes akin to a vital character in the novel She paced back into the hall and as she did so the house reverberated But it was the heart of the house beating faintly at first then loudly martially It dominated the rain The rural setting of Howards End is further contrasted with the chaos of London It seems to be the heart of the country for those like the Schlegels She recaptured the sense of space which is the basis of all earthly beauty and starting from Howards End she attempted to realize England Eventually good intentioned meddling has serious consequences unlikely romances form and a rift develops and deepens both within and across families Is it possible to mend such a fracture or will it always be necessary to separate one class from another? Aside from the relevant commentary regarding social and economic classes this novel also examines the differences between genders Forster is clearly an early champion for feminism and I applaud him once again for his progressive views regarding women’s rights I admire the way he paints his female characters and they are turning out to be among my favorites in the literary world So you see there is much I truly liked about Howards End The themes the dialogue and many of the characters – those elements shine Subtract the labored philosophizing as well as the frequent trespass of the author into the story and this would be all I had imagined it to be The other day I had the opportunity to watch the superb 1992 Merchant Ivory film adaptation which I highly recommend It truly sparkles and brings this to a whole new level I daresay I prefer the movie over the book – you really must watch it if you haven’t done so already It remains true to the heart of the story those parts I loved best35 stars rounded up to 4 Only connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted and human love will be seen at its height Live in fragments no longer


  7. says:

    25 This Champagne has gone flat and don't tell me that Vanilla is from Madagascar stars Third Most Disappointing Read of 2019 Award In my late teens I read all of Mr Forster's books and although not my favorites I enjoyed them thoroughly I wanted to re read one at random and see what my forty something self thought and felt Alas this particular reading of Howard's End did not hold up for me the way I had expected it too I want to to be clear though that I found parts of it sparkling but the majority of it was simply ho hum and did not stand the test of time This is a novel that writes about particular substrates of class in early twentieth Century England We have the cultured and idle rich the brash and industrious nouveau riche and the struggling working classes There is also commentary on city vs rural living relations between the genders and the superiority of anything British over anything continental never mind foreign A novel about social commentary and where England was headed during that period of time This is all very good but Mr Forster forces it down our throats between absolutely brilliant and hilarious dialogue that if left alone would have stood on their own in a thought provoking and very pleasant way The characters are not well drawn out the men are either blustering dominants idle entitled layabouts or over romantic zealots The women are mostly hysterical over emotional irrational and if sensible than dull either in appearance or imagination or intelligence The plot is convenient This novel does shine though in its dialogue and some of the description of both cityscape and rural living as well as the quirky descriptions of some of the minor characters An enjoyable read that to me is a bagatelle than a substantial sonata


  8. says:

    I've read three of Forster's most well known novels and yet I don't feel I know them at all Even this one as I read it was fading from memory I don't mean to say that his work is forgettable but with every Forster book I've read amazing human portraits and elegant occasionally profound turns of phrase somehow they all flitter on out of my head It's as if they were witty clouds intelligent and incorporeal Heck I've even seen movie versions for a couple of them and I still don't recall what the stories are aboutWhy is that? If I could pinpoint it well then I wouldn't have started this review with that first paragraph Perhaps it is because of Forster's penchant for pleasant diversions He expounds upon ideas as the action unfolds and that's wonderful He gives the reader some very nice theories on human behavior to ponder upon My problem is that I ponder too frickin' much A writer like Forster is a danger to me My imagination likes to fly and it's not very well tethered so when I read books like Howards End with lines like And of all means to regeneration remorse is surely the most wasteful It cuts away healthy tissues with the poisoned It is a knife that probes far deeper than the eviloh boy off goes my mind in another direction and the next thing I know I've spent 20 minutes on a single page Ah but they are wondrous pages to linger upon Perhaps it is worth the time


  9. says:

    This novel from 1910 has a lovely Shakespearean flavor of good intentions leading to unintended consequences Urgent letters between sisters kicks off its engaging plot about the collision between two very different families The younger sister Helen Schlegel visiting the rural “Howard’s End” estate of the conservative wealthy Wilcox family writes to Margaret that she is love with and wants to marry one of their sons Paul which grew out of a single impulsive kiss Margaret urges her aunt to travel there to make sure the Wilcoxes are “their kind of people” By the time she arrives Helen has already fallen out with Paul who is headed for Nigeria to manage the family’s rubber plantation Later when the Wilcoxes move near the Schlegels in London and Margaret tries to make amends by reaching out to the mother Ruth Wilcox I loved experiencing how their brief friendship blossomed over discussions of the meaning of a home and the value she places in the family homestead of Howard’s End which her husband Henry considers only in light of its real estate value Early in the plot Ruth dies and the discovery by Henry of a handwritten bequeathment of the estate to Margaret leads to the Wilcox family deciding to ignore the request Already we see how Helen’s impulse toward romance with Paul has the unintended consequence of a special friendship of Margaret with Ruth and a hidden act of generosity It has also brought Margaret into contact with the widower Henry and a surprising romance between opposites she an early feminist who admires literature and arts and supports programs for the poor and he a pragmatic industrialist who is a true believer in the genetic superiority of his class The other unintended consequence comes when Helen mistakenly takes the umbrella of Leonard Bast after a theater performance When he drops by to retrieve it the sisters kindly draw him out and find they admire his ambitions to imbibe literature and work his way up in class from his lowly position as a bank clerk His dreamy account of tuning into nature by tramps in the woods a la Ruskin makes them admire him than bumbling life probably deserves Margaret presses Henry for advice to help him better his circumstances which turns out to be disastrous for Leonard and his wife when they follow through with his recommendation This fate turns Helen even against the Wilcoxes and makes for a serious wedge in her relationship with Margaret There is tragedy in the tale but all key characters make a satisfactory transformation toward becoming better empathetic human beings despite the boundaries of class I liked this even better than “Passage to India” I absolutely loved Margaret’s outlook and continual efforts to build bridges Her charm for me equals that of Woolf’s indomitable Mrs Dalloway Immediately after the delightful read by LibriVox audiobook I had the great pleasure of experiencing Emma Thompson nail the role in the sumptious Merchant Ivory production Helena Bonham Carter rendered a great adaptation for the flighty idealistic Helen


  10. says:

    The beginning started off slow but not boring It was just trying to get into the plot but once it got into it was nice and flowing Forster for being hardly into his 30s writing this amazing eye opening story is just incredible His major understandings of society at that age are things people barely start to grasp in their 50sHowards End is the beginning of the story and the end to it The house is like a metaphor of all rich and poor dying but structures will always be standing and mean than any man alive Forster incorporates class warfare through the Wilcox's the Schlegel sisters and the Basts Helen upon meeting and introducing the Wilcox's to her family sets off a chain of events that cannot be helped Margaret is the most significant character in the story because she has the most obvious change in personality from beginning middle and end This is a clever drama that one cannot forget ever reading It will make you mad and thoughtful and laugh and then think again about your own society Just because he saw an English societal conflict in the 1910s doesn't mean it can't pertain to today to any other country Forster tackles the errors and selfishness and hopeful love of humans This story can be read over and over and will always feel relevantI am sorry if I am botching it but it is hard to explain It's a book that makes you feel