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A Room With A View

A Room With A View

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A Room With A View

4/5 (45 Bewertungen)
264 Seiten
3 Stunden
Jul 30, 2013


Set against the beautiful backdrop of Florence, Italy, during the Edwardian period, young Lucy Honeychurch tours the district with her overbearing, old-fashioned cousin, Charlotte Bartlett. When Lucy meets the eccentric Emerson family, she forms an awkward friendship with their son, George. Through her relationship with the Emersons, and with other tourists, Lucy confronts the strictures of society, and must choose between a life of conformity and one of love.

Considered to be author E.M. Forster’s most optimistic novel, A Room With a View was written before the First World War redefined British society and loosened many of the constraints of the Edwardian period. The novel is notable for the exploration of sexual and religious freedom, as it captures moments of transition between old ideas and new morals.

HarperPerennial Classics brings great works of literature to life in digital format, upholding the highest standards in ebook production and celebrating reading in all its forms. Look for more titles in the HarperPerennial Classics collection to build your digital library.

Jul 30, 2013

Über den Autor

Edward Morgan Forster (1879–1970) was born in London and attended the Tonbridge School and King’s College, Cambridge. A substantial inheritance from his aunt gave Forster the freedom to pursue a literary career and travel extensively, and he wrote some of the finest novels of the twentieth century, including A Room with a View, A Passage to India, and Howards End. Queen Elizabeth II awarded him the Order of Merit in 1969.

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A Room With A View - E. M. Forster


Part One

Chapter I

The Bertolini

The Signora had no business to do it, said Miss Bartlett, no business at all. She promised us south rooms with a view close together, instead of which here are north rooms, looking into a courtyard, and a long way apart. Oh, Lucy!

And a Cockney, besides! said Lucy, who had been further saddened by the Signora’s unexpected accent. It might be London. She looked at the two rows of English people who were sitting at the table; at the row of white bottles of water and red bottles of wine that ran between the English people; at the portraits of the late Queen and the late Poet Laureate that hung behind the English people, heavily framed; at the notice of the English church (Rev. Cuthbert Eager, M. A. Oxon.), that was the only other decoration of the wall. Charlotte, don’t you feel, too, that we might be in London? I can hardly believe that all kinds of other things are just outside. I suppose it is one’s being so tired.

This meat has surely been used for soup, said Miss Bartlett, laying down her fork.

I want so to see the Arno. The rooms the Signora promised us in her letter would have looked over the Arno. The Signora had no business to do it at all. Oh, it is a shame!

Any nook does for me, Miss Bartlett continued; but it does seem hard that you shouldn’t have a view.

Lucy felt that she had been selfish. Charlotte, you mustn’t spoil me: of course, you must look over the Arno, too. I meant that. The first vacant room in the front—

You must have it, said Miss Bartlett, part of whose travelling expenses were paid by Lucy’s mother—a piece of generosity to which she made many a tactful allusion.

No, no. You must have it.

I insist on it. Your mother would never forgive me, Lucy.

She would never forgive me.

The ladies’ voices grew animated, and—if the sad truth be owned—a little peevish. They were tired, and under the guise of unselfishness they wrangled. Some of their neighbours interchanged glances, and one of them—one of the ill-bred people whom one does meet abroad—leant forward over the table and actually intruded into their argument. He said:

I have a view, I have a view.

Miss Bartlett was startled. Generally at a pension people looked them over for a day or two before speaking, and often did not find out that they would do till they had gone. She knew that the intruder was ill-bred, even before she glanced at him. He was an old man, of heavy build, with a fair, shaven face and large eyes. There was something childish in those eyes, though it was not the childishness of senility. What exactly it was Miss Bartlett did not stop to consider, for her glance passed on to his clothes. These did not attract her. He was probably trying to become acquainted with them before they got into the swim. So she assumed a dazed expression when he spoke to her, and then said: A view? Oh, a view! How delightful a view is!

This is my son, said the old man; his name’s George. He has a view too.

Ah, said Miss Bartlett, repressing Lucy, who was about to speak.

What I mean, he continued, is that you can have our rooms, and we’ll have yours. We’ll change.

The better class of tourist was shocked at this, and sympathized with the newcomers. Miss Bartlett, in reply, opened her mouth as little as possible, and said Thank you very much indeed; that is out of the question.

Why? said the old man, with both fists on the table.

Because it is quite out of the question, thank you.

You see, we don’t like to take— began Lucy. Her cousin again repressed her.

But why? he persisted. Women like looking at a view; men don’t. And he thumped with his fists like a naughty child, and turned to his son, saying, George, persuade them!

It’s so obvious they should have the rooms, said the son. There’s nothing else to say.

He did not look at the ladies as he spoke, but his voice was perplexed and sorrowful. Lucy, too, was perplexed; but she saw that they were in for what is known as quite a scene, and she had an odd feeling that whenever these ill-bred tourists spoke the contest widened and deepened till it dealt, not with rooms and views, but with—well, with something quite different, whose existence she had not realized before. Now the old man attacked Miss Bartlett almost violently: Why should she not change? What possible objection had she? They would clear out in half an hour.

Miss Bartlett, though skilled in the delicacies of conversation, was powerless in the presence of brutality. It was impossible to snub any one so gross. Her face reddened with displeasure. She looked around as much as to say, Are you all like this? And two little old ladies, who were sitting further up the table, with shawls hanging over the backs of the chairs, looked back, clearly indicating We are not; we are genteel.

Eat your dinner, dear, she said to Lucy, and began to toy again with the meat that she had once censured.

Lucy mumbled that those seemed very odd people opposite.

Eat your dinner, dear. This pension is a failure. Tomorrow we will make a change.

Hardly had she announced this fell decision when she reversed it. The curtains at the end of the room parted, and revealed a clergyman, stout but attractive, who hurried forward to take his place at the table, cheerfully apologizing for his lateness. Lucy, who had not yet acquired decency, at once rose to her feet, exclaiming: Oh, oh! Why, it’s Mr. Beebe! Oh, how perfectly lovely! Oh, Charlotte, we must stop now, however bad the rooms are. Oh!

Miss Bartlett said, with more restraint:

How do you do, Mr. Beebe? I expect that you have forgotten us: Miss Bartlett and Miss Honeychurch, who were at Tunbridge Wells when you helped the Vicar of St. Peter’s that very cold Easter.

The clergyman, who had the air of one on a holiday, did not remember the ladies quite as clearly as they remembered him. But he came forward pleasantly enough and accepted the chair into which he was beckoned by Lucy.

"I am so glad to see you, said the girl, who was in a state of spiritual starvation, and would have been glad to see the waiter if her cousin had permitted it. Just fancy how small the world is. Summer Street, too, makes it so specially funny."

Miss Honeychurch lives in the parish of Summer Street, said Miss Bartlett, filling up the gap, and she happened to tell me in the course of conversation that you have just accepted the living—

Yes, I heard from mother so last week. She didn’t know that I knew you at Tunbridge Wells; but I wrote back at once, and I said: ‘Mr. Beebe is—’

Quite right, said the clergyman. I move into the Rectory at Summer Street next June. I am lucky to be appointed to such a charming neighbourhood.

Oh, how glad I am! The name of our house is Windy Corner.

Mr. Beebe bowed.

There is mother and me generally, and my brother, though it’s not often we get him to ch— the church is rather far off, I mean.

Lucy, dearest, let Mr. Beebe eat his dinner.

I am eating it, thank you, and enjoying it.

He preferred to talk to Lucy, whose playing he remembered, rather than to Miss Bartlett, who probably remembered his sermons. He asked the girl whether she knew Florence well, and was informed at some length that she had never been there before. It is delightful to advise a newcomer, and he was first in the field. Don’t neglect the country round, his advice concluded. The first fine afternoon drive up to Fiesole, and round by Settignano, or something of that sort.

No! cried a voice from the top of the table. Mr. Beebe, you are wrong. The first fine afternoon your ladies must go to Prato.

That lady looks so clever, whispered Miss Bartlett to her cousin. We are in luck.

And, indeed, a perfect torrent of information burst on them. People told them what to see, when to see it, how to stop the electric trams, how to get rid of the beggars, how much to give for a vellum blotter, how much the place would grow upon them. The Pension Bertolini had decided, almost enthusiastically, that they would do. Whichever way they looked, kind ladies smiled and shouted at them. And above all rose the voice of the clever lady, crying: Prato! They must go to Prato. That place is too sweetly squalid for words. I love it; I revel in shaking off the trammels of respectability, as you know.

The young man named George glanced at the clever lady, and then returned moodily to his plate. Obviously he and his father did not do. Lucy, in the midst of her success, found time to wish they did. It gave her no extra pleasure that anyone should be left in the cold; and when she rose to go, she turned back and gave the two outsiders a nervous little bow.

The father did not see it; the son acknowledged it, not by another bow, but by raising his eyebrows and smiling; he seemed to be smiling across something.

She hastened after her cousin, who had already disappeared through the curtains—curtains which smote one in the face, and seemed heavy with more than cloth. Beyond them stood the unreliable Signora, bowing good evening to her guests, and supported by ’Enery, her little boy, and Victorier, her daughter. It made a curious little scene, this attempt of the Cockney to convey the grace and geniality of the South. And even more curious was the drawing room, which attempted to rival the solid comfort of a Bloomsbury boarding-house. Was this really Italy?

Miss Bartlett was already seated on a tightly stuffed armchair, which had the colour and the contours of a tomato. She was talking to Mr. Beebe, and as she spoke, her long narrow head drove backwards and forwards, slowly, regularly, as though she were demolishing some invisible obstacle. We are most grateful to you, she was saying. "The first evening means so much. When you arrived we were in for a peculiarly mauvais quart d’heure."

He expressed his regret.

Do you, by any chance, know the name of an old man who sat opposite us at dinner?


Is he a friend of yours?

We are friendly—as one is in pensions.

Then I will say no more.

He pressed her very slightly, and she said more.

I am, as it were, she concluded, the chaperon of my young cousin, Lucy, and it would be a serious thing if I put her under an obligation to people of whom we know nothing. His manner was somewhat unfortunate. I hope I acted for the best.

You acted very naturally, said he. He seemed thoughtful, and after a few moments added: All the same, I don’t think much harm would have come of accepting.

"No harm, of course. But we could not be under an obligation."

He is rather a peculiar man. Again he hesitated, and then said gently: I think he would not take advantage of your acceptance, nor expect you to show gratitude. He has the merit—if it is one—of saying exactly what he means. He has rooms he does not value, and he thinks you would value them. He no more thought of putting you under an obligation than he thought of being polite. It is so difficult—at least, I find it difficult—to understand people who speak the truth.

Lucy was pleased, and said: I was hoping that he was nice; I do so always hope that people will be nice.

I think he is; nice and tiresome. I differ from him on almost every point of any importance, and so, I expect—I may say I hope—you will differ. But his is a type one disagrees with rather than deplores. When he first came here he not unnaturally put people’s backs up. He has no tact and no manners—I don’t mean by that that he has bad manners—and he will not keep his opinions to himself. We nearly complained about him to our depressing Signora, but I am glad to say we thought better of it.

Am I to conclude, said Miss Bartlett, that he is a Socialist?

Mr. Beebe accepted the convenient word, not without a slight twitching of the lips.

And presumably he has brought up his son to be a Socialist, too?

I hardly know George, for he hasn’t learnt to talk yet. He seems a nice creature, and I think he has brains. Of course, he has all his father’s mannerisms, and it is quite possible that he, too, may be a Socialist.

Oh, you relieve me, said Miss Bartlett. So you think I ought to have accepted their offer? You feel I have been narrow-minded and suspicious?

Not at all, he answered; I never suggested that.

But ought I not to apologize, at all events, for my apparent rudeness?

He replied, with some irritation, that it would be quite unnecessary, and got up from his seat to go to the smoking room.

Was I a bore? said Miss Bartlett, as soon as he had disappeared. Why didn’t you talk, Lucy? He prefers young people, I’m sure. I do hope I haven’t monopolized him. I hoped you would have him all the evening, as well as all dinner time.

He is nice, exclaimed Lucy. Just what I remember. He seems to see good in every one. No one would take him for a clergyman.

My dear Lucia—

Well, you know what I mean. And you know how clergymen generally laugh; Mr. Beebe laughs just like an ordinary man.

Funny girl! How you do remind me of your mother. I wonder if she will approve of Mr. Beebe.

I’m sure she will; and so will Freddy.

I think everyone at Windy Corner will approve; it is the fashionable world. I am used to Tunbridge Wells, where we are all hopelessly behind the times.

Yes, said Lucy despondently.

There was a haze of disapproval in the air, but whether the disapproval was of herself, or of Mr. Beebe, or of the fashionable world at Windy Corner, or of the narrow world at Tunbridge Wells, she could not determine. She tried to locate it, but as usual she blundered. Miss Bartlett sedulously denied disapproving of any one, and added I am afraid you are finding me a very depressing companion.

And the girl again thought: I must have been selfish or unkind; I must be more careful. It is so dreadful for Charlotte, being poor.

Fortunately one of the little old ladies, who for some time had been smiling very benignly, now approached and asked if she might be allowed to sit where Mr. Beebe had sat. Permission granted, she began to chatter gently about Italy, the plunge it had been to come there, the gratifying success of the plunge, the improvement in her sister’s health, the necessity of closing the bedroom windows at night, and of thoroughly emptying the water-bottles in the morning. She handled her subjects agreeably, and they were, perhaps, more worthy of attention than the high discourse upon Guelfs and Ghibellines which was proceeding tempestuously at the other end of the room. It was a real catastrophe, not a mere episode, that evening of hers at Venice, when she had found in her bedroom something that is one worse than a flea, though one better than something else.

But here you are as safe as in England. Signora Bertolini is so English.

Yet our rooms smell, said poor Lucy. We dread going to bed.

Ah, then you look into the court. She sighed. If only Mr. Emerson was more tactful! We were so sorry for you at dinner.

I think he was meaning to be kind.

Undoubtedly he was, said Miss Bartlett.

Mr. Beebe has just been scolding me for my suspicious nature. Of course, I was holding back on my cousin’s account.

Of course, said the little old lady; and they murmured that one could not be too careful with a young girl.

Lucy tried to look demure, but could not help feeling a great fool. No one was careful with her at home; or, at all events, she had not noticed it.

About old Mr. Emerson—I hardly know. No, he is not tactful; yet, have you ever noticed that there are people who do things which are most indelicate, and yet at the same time—beautiful?

Beautiful? said Miss Bartlett, puzzled at the word. Are not beauty and delicacy the same?

So one would have thought, said the other helplessly. But things are so difficult, I sometimes think.

She proceeded no further into things, for Mr. Beebe reappeared, looking extremely pleasant.

Miss Bartlett, he cried, it’s all right about the rooms. I’m so glad. Mr. Emerson was talking about it in the smoking room, and knowing what I did, I encouraged him to make the offer again. He has let me come and ask you. He would be so pleased.

Oh, Charlotte, cried Lucy to her cousin, we must have the rooms now. The old man is just as nice and kind as he can be.

Miss Bartlett was silent.

I fear, said Mr. Beebe, after a pause, that I have been officious. I must apologize for my interference.

Gravely displeased, he turned to go. Not till then did Miss Bartlett reply: My own wishes, dearest Lucy, are unimportant in comparison with yours. It would be hard indeed if I stopped you doing as you liked at Florence, when I am only here through your kindness. If you wish me to turn these gentlemen out of their rooms, I will do it. Would you then, Mr. Beebe, kindly tell Mr. Emerson that I accept his kind offer, and then conduct him to me, in order that I may thank him personally?

She raised her voice as she spoke; it was heard all over the drawing room, and silenced the Guelfs and the Ghibellines. The clergyman, inwardly cursing the female sex, bowed, and departed with her message.

Remember, Lucy, I alone am implicated in this. I do not wish the acceptance to come from you. Grant me that, at all events.

Mr. Beebe was back, saying rather nervously:

Mr. Emerson is engaged, but here is his son instead.

The young man gazed down on the three ladies, who felt seated on the floor, so low were their chairs.

My father, he said, is in his bath, so you cannot thank him personally. But any message given by you to me will be given by me to him as soon as he comes out.

Miss Bartlett was unequal to the bath. All her barbed civilities came forth wrong end first. Young Mr. Emerson scored a notable triumph to the delight of Mr. Beebe and to the secret delight of Lucy.

Poor young man! said Miss Bartlett, as soon as he had gone.

How angry he is with his father about the rooms! It is all he can do to keep polite.

In half an hour or so your rooms will be ready, said Mr. Beebe. Then looking rather thoughtfully at the two cousins, he retired to his own rooms, to write up his philosophic diary.

Oh, dear! breathed the little old lady, and shuddered as if all the winds of heaven had entered the apartment. Gentlemen sometimes do not realize— Her voice faded away, but Miss Bartlett seemed to understand and a conversation developed, in which gentlemen who did not thoroughly realize played a

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  • (4/5)
    Published in 1910, but I'd never read it. I was out of books to read and I found it on my youngest daughter's shelf, leftover from her high school days. Parts made me laugh out loud. Forster definitely had a gift with the English language. And it came full circle, which always satisfies me in stories. I also liked that while it was published over 100 years ago and reflected the times (particularly attitudes toward women), there were scenes that could have happened today. For instance:"You shall see the connection if it kills you, Henry! You have had a mistress—I forgave you. My sister has had a lover—you drive her from the house. Do you see the connection? Stupid, hypocritical, cruel . . ." [spoken by Margaret]Later, Margaret thinks about her outburst, reflecting, "No message came from Henry; perhaps he expected her to apologize. Now that she had time to think over her own tragedy, she was unrepentant. She neither forgave him for his behaviour nor wished to forgive him. Her speech to him seemed perfect. She would not have altered a word. It had to be uttered once in a life, to adjust the lopsidedness of the world. It was spoken not only to her husband, but to thousands of men like him . . ." (italics mine) #metooThis is a classic I overlooked. If you've overlooked it also, check it out.
  • (2/5)
    Nothing too remarkable.
  • (4/5)
    This was a really deep book, full of insight and theories on the world, society and people as individuals. Its quite a wordy book, but it was surprisingly captivating and wasn't a chore to read or hard to get into. I found once I channelled into the voice of the writing it all flowed very well, and it all made sense. A lot of the concepts and ideas Forster had about property and class are still kind of relevant. I particularly liked the fact, especially given when it was written and the fact that Forster was man, that women aren't patronised to the scale I have come to expect from similar books (though it isn't totally free of don't-worry-your-pretty-little-head-isms). I loved that the book is based around a range of different female characters with different roles in society, with different ideas and approaches to life, women that are not ridiculed or pushed to the side. At the time it was written, women still hadn't been given the vote and weren't really seen as having much of a place in social debate or whatever, but Forster gives some of his female characters agreeable ideals and strong convictions. I was also really pleased with the way he approaches a part of the story which, for the time, was a very scandalous issue, without laying blame or demonising anyone by taking the mainstream point of view of the time. It was a wonderful book and I'll definitely be looking to read more of his work.
  • (4/5)
    [Howard's End] seems a study of the various classes and mind sets of England, the rich and poor, the artistic and the businessman. It's not clear in the end whether they've come to any better understanding of each other.
  • (4/5)
    Excellent portrait of British society.
  • (4/5)
    Howard's End seemed like it could have been written by Jane Austin. Social classes and mores clash in this story set in turn of the century England. Margaret and Helen Schlegel value culture and the arts; the Wilcox family are more interested in business and commerce; and the Basts are a lower class couple whom the Schlegel sisters want to help out. When Ruth passes away, the only Wilcox to truly appreciate Howard's End, she leaves her family estate to Margaret. Greedy and wanting to rent the estate for profit, the Wilcox family tell Margaret nothing about her inheritance. In time Margaret falls for Ruth's former husband and eventually moves into Howard's End, a fitting end since Margaret is simpatico with the history and beauty of the old family estate.
  • (4/5)
    I can't decide if I like this book. I like the style of writing the language and descriptions I found poetic but the characters themselves I thought horrible for the most part. The Wilcox's are all stuffy, spoilt and snobby. Meg spouts feminist ideals but as a wife is a total doormat. Helen is a hysterical idiot. Tibby is a sort of caricature of a young man without any thought beyond himself.
    All of the prose makes the book readable but at the same time it is sometimes so wordy I find myself switching off and then having to reread and missing plot points.

    It is a book about a changing nation and changing society. The end of the height of the empire when to be English is to be the best and brightest but before the First World War which changed England's relationship with Europe and society as a whole. Each character seems to be looking for stability when everything is changing around them. Charles wants the security of money Henry wants a return to the comfort of marriage. Meg wants a home to feel secure in. Helen wants to find truth and justice and doesn't comprehend that no one else cares for either. I do wonder if Forster was totally sexist and really thought women were as they are portrayed, or if he was just writing the commonly held views of the time.
  • (3/5)
    The story as a whole is take-it or leave-it. Nothing special, groundbreaking, breathtaking, etc; no characters of particular interest or note. Whatever. What I enjoyed about this book was the philosophical discourse and how amusingly outdated - and yet somehow prescient - it was.
  • (5/5)
    This novel is beautifully written and, for a book written before World War I, surprisingly relevant to today's political and social climate. The central conflict seems to be between Margaret's ideals and how these manifest in real life. She is intellectual, well-educated, and has a strong will, which makes it disappointing to see her make choices that seem counter to these aspects of herself. I felt so irritated with her for some of the mistakes I saw her making, but in the end, she seems to come to a place of compromise that is better for (nearly) everyone involved than what would have been available had she dug in her heels from the beginning. The novel seemed to be gearing up for a grand confrontation and dramatic decisions, and so at first this compromise ending was unsatisfying to me. But upon reflection, I decided that the ending is all the more realistic for the lack of fireworks. Gradually I saw that the decisions Margaret made that were so frustrating to me were frustrating because they're the kinds of decisions I think anyone makes who has ideals and also lives in the world. It's more satisfying to read about people bucking convention, throwing off everything they once valued and making a clean breast of it as a shiny, new person, but it's not realistic. We can make external changes, but we don't really become new people, or if we do, it's a slow metamorphosis, and one we can't govern ourselves, contrary to the promises of self-help books, talk shows, and websites selling fitness programs.Compromise doesn't give the dopamine release that I crave, and it doesn't feed the desire I still feel despite my constant efforts to the contrary to see punished people I think have done wrong, but it provides a much more loving and sustainable model for change than the dramatic ending. Only connect.Some quotes that spoke to me:p.25: "It is the vice of a vulgar mind to be thrilled by bigness, to think that a thousand square miles are a thousand times more wonderful than one square mile, and that a million square miles are almost the same as heaven."p. 52: "I'm tired of these rich people who pretend to be poor, and think it shows a nice mind to ignore the piles of money that keep their feet above the waves."p.91: "Actual life is full of false clues and signposts that lead nowhere. With infinite effort we nerve ourselves for a crisis that never comes. The most successful career must show a waste of strength that might have moved mountains, and the most unsuccessful is not that of the man who is taken unprepared, but of him who has prepared and is never taken...Life is indeed dangerous, but not in the way morality would have us believe. It is indeed unmanageable, but the essence of it is not a battle. It is unmanageable because it is a romance, and its essence is romantic beauty."p. 128: "The feudal ownership of land did bring dignity, whereas the modern ownership of movables is reducing us again to a nomadic horde. We are reverting to the civilization of luggage, and historians in the future will note how the middle classes accreted possessions without taking root in the earth, and may find in this the secret to their imaginative poverty."p.132: "I don't believe in suiting my conversation to my company. One can doubtless hit upon some medium of exchange that seems to do well enough, but it's no more like the real thing than money is like food. There's no nourishment in it."
  • (3/5)
    I read this, initially confusing it with "A Room With a View", which I read ages ago; I was a third of the way through before I realized my mistake. While there were parts of this book I liked very much (Margaret's outrage that Henry sees no parallels between his behaviour and that of Helen, for example), by the end I was glad to say goodbye to a cast of characters who were either unlikeable or inconsistently portrayed. Margaret's willingness to compromise everything she had previously stood for, simply to marry Henry, was puzzling, and Helen's behaviour SPOILERSin sleeping with Leonard while his wife was presumably in the next room was so unlikely as to be unbelievable to me. The ending, with Henry being a shadow of his former self and agreeing to share a house with Helen and her baby was rather convenient; the idea that he and Helen would become fond of one another utterly impossible.Both Helen and Margaret muse at different times about how their affluence cushions them from having to make the compromises and hard choices most people live with on a daily basis, but seem to feel pretty good about that when push comes to shove. Morality is not really a focus of this book and (probably very bourgeois of me), I was appalled by most of the decisions the characters made. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
  • (4/5)
    Story of two sisters, Margaret & Helen, with themes about money, class, learning, England
  • (3/5)
    It's one of those books I should give 4 stars to for writing quality but it's kind of a 2 in terms of how well it reverberated in my mind (which is to say it is Not For Me), so I'll split the difference and call it a 3. Forster and I do not see eye to eye and I didn't understand what he even really meant half the time. Just not my kind of thing.
  • (4/5)
    Margaret and Helen Schlegel are idealistic, artistic, and seem to exist in a world untouched by the realities of the increasingly modern world in which the Wilcoxes thrive. When the lives of the Schlegel sisters intersect with those of the Wilcox clan, it is a surprisingly long lasting connection that will ripple through their lives for years to come.A lovely novel that is as much about the encroachment of modern life as it is about the fascinating relationship between the Schlegel sisters. Written with gorgeous prose, Forster creates a beautiful world for the Schlegels to exist in within a bubble of money and ideals that is constantly buffeted by the realities in which the Wilcoxes reside. Fascinating for its depiction of Edwardian society in the years prior to WWI, this is a quiet but enthralling classic novel to experience.
  • (2/5)
    If you identify with early 20th century upper class British, then you might like this book. Others will find it dated and irrelevant. I did. It might have been good in its time, but I read it 100 years after its time.
  • (4/5)
    Howards End is a wonderful adventure into the lives of Edwardian England. By the end of the novel, I not only wanted to be a Schlegel sister, I wanted to inhabit Howards End itself and make a wonderful, artsy, educational life for myself. The characters are so believable, and they seem to move throughout the story of their own accord. There were a few moments when I felt as though I could skip ahead through some long narrations, but other than that, I enjoyed the book and looked forward to every turn of the page! I would recommend this book to anyone with an imagination!
  • (1/5)
    I know this is a classic and it's been on my list for a long, long time. But I just didn't like it at all. :(
  • (4/5)
    "Only connect..." The book's epigraph is a succinct way of stressing the importance of human relationships and connections, because they enrich life. Also (secondarily), they are nothing to shrink from.
  • (4/5)
    Through much of the first half of this book, I thought the story was disjointed. I couldn't understand why certain characters were even part of the story. But, as the story progressed, I found myself drawn to the story. Wonderful characters and a strong narration by Nadia May.
  • (4/5)
    Dissolves into pointless melodrama at the end and the "fallen woman" Jacky stuff is kind of weird (what happens to her?) but the concert chapter (those descriptions of Beethoven's Fifth!) and the following scene at Wickham Place ensures that this book deserves its spot on 20th Century classics lists:

    "If only he could talk like this, he would have caught the world. Oh, to acquire culture! Oh, to pronounce foreign names correctly! Oh, to be well informed, discoursing at ease on every subject that a lady started! But it would take one years. With an hour at lunch and a few shattered hours in the evening, how was it possible to catch up with leisured women, who had been reading steadily from childhood? His brain might be full of names, he might have even heard of Monet and Debussy; the trouble was that he could not string them together into a sentence, he could not make them "tell," he could not quite forget about his stolen umbrella. Yes, the umbrella was the real trouble. Behind Monet and Debussy the umbrella persisted, with the steady beat of a drum. "I suppose my umbrella will be all right," he was thinking. "I don't really mind about it. I will think about music instead. I suppose my umbrella will be all right." Earlier in the afternoon he had worried about seats. Ought he to have paid as much as two shillings? Earlier still he had wondered, "Shall I try to do without a programme?" There had always been something to worry him ever since he could remember, always something that distracted him in the pursuit of beauty."

  • (5/5)
    Two sisters encounter another English family while on holidays in Germany and develop ties that carry on through the novel. Howards End is the name of the family's estate north of London based on the author's beloved childhood home, and it plays a symbolic role in the story that creeps up on you. There's a thematic parallel here with "Passage", the communication challenge in this case being between and across social strata within a single culture. Both novels propose bridges built from compassion, from assuming there are commonalities to be found versus doggedly insisting upon an "us" and "them" dichotomy. To achieve it we must lay ourselves emotionally open, sensitive to our own hearts first before we can presume to understand the hearts of others.I found the opening very engaging, didn't care for some plot turns in the middle but was deeply held by its ending. Events are interspersed with impressive psychological insight in the quieter passages. I wasn't always on point with following the symbolism and nuances of the activities, just as I wasn't entirely free of wanting something eventful to happen during the interludes, but then I was rewarded for reflection or patience respectively. This fault lies with me rather than the novel, and I think a second read would go much more smoothly. E.M. Forster is a classic "writer's writer" who knows how to turn a metaphor to his advantage or recall an earlier passage at precisely the correct time.
  • (4/5)
    Really well-written. Good characters, excellent storyline. And not anything simple to it. The relationship between Meg and Mr. Wilcox is complicated. The struggle of Leonard Bast to overcome ignorance and poverty. The misplaced idealism of Helen. So much depth to this novel.
  • (5/5)
    Story set in Edwardian England of two sisters. A very interesting story of two independent, socially conscious females during a time when men still ruled and women had few if any rights. I found the characters interesting, the story is engaging though some of the social commentary gets a bit much, over all, a good story and picture of Edwardian England.The novel examines England at the turn of the century through three families; the Wilcox (representing Imperialism), the Schlegels (½ German siblings who pursue cultural of reading, education, art and philosophy), and the Basts (a young couple representing the lower middle class). Through these three groups, the author shows us Edwardian England social conduct and manners, the upper class idealism and materialism, and the effects of poverty on the poor. I enjoyed the story and so far consider it the best of E. M Forster though I’ve only read one other, A Room With a View. The Schlegel sisters were such strong female characters to the point that I wondered how a male author of the time could write so well of these women. This was a contemporary novel of its time. Women suffrage was something that was discussed but not realized. Meg and Helen were both well read, intellectuals who enjoyed philosophy and expressing their opinions. I liked Meg best and found Helen a bit annoying but in the end, she came through. Meg is more conventional and Helen more adventurous and emotional. Besides being a good example of social commentary, it’s a really good story.
  • (4/5)
    Nothing much happens in the first half of this E.F. Forster novel, set in Edwardian England. That is, there’s a lot of intellectually self-conscious conversation about art, culture and philosophy by two well-to-do sisters, Margaret and Helen Schlagel, and a bit where their path crosses with a considerably less well-to-do gent named Leonard Bast, a clerk in an insurance office who is trapped by poverty, class and an unfortunate marriage into a much more subscribed life, but who aspires to something more poetic. It’s when their lives become entangles with the lives of the nuveau-rich Wilcox family, the tenants of Howards End, that things start becoming more complicated. Literally, Howards End is a pretty country house, neither plain nor ostentatious but – as they say in the fairy tale – just right. Symbolically, it represents a simpler, more stately world in which people understand the importance of remaining connected to the land and family. Because this novel is, at its core, a story about an England in transition between two value systems: agrarian vs. modern. The characters, in one fashion or another, wrestle with the values and ethics of the “new world” in which they find themselves, trying to forge a balance between old values and modern principles.It’s not just poor Mr. Bast who aspires to something he can never achieve. Pretty much everyone in this book possesses the same fatal flaw. Helen nurses a socialist vision of a world in which the poor are provided equal access to education, wealth, and achievement. Mr. Wilcox, a successful “new money” aristocrat, wants to believe his England a “progressive” world in which efficiency and capitalism reign triumphant. Margaret wants the man she has fallen in love with to be worthy of her love. One by one, each of them is destroyed (or nearly destroyed) by their witting/unwitting self-delusion.About the only person who doesn’t nurse allusions is Wilcox’s first wife, a lingering representative of English yeomanry who senses her breed is dying away but who, unlike her husband, understand the substance and integrity of the principles that are being sacrificed to the gods of business. Howards End is her ancestral home, and as long as she lives, she serves as the roots that keep her family grounded. It is when she passes and her family embraces rootlessness that everyone comes to grief, in the way that all 19th century novels seem to do, with disillusion and disgrace eventually resolving into unhappy equilibrium. In the case of Howards End, everyone realizes that they have been betrayed by self-delusion and that, as the first Mrs. Wilcox understood all along, it’s the connections we make to land and family that sustain us. This isn’t the easiest read. The pretentious intellectualism of the first chapters is off-putting; then, later, it’s hard to stand by and watch the characters advance relentlessly towards their own destruction. But I found the themes of the tale worthy, the characters interesting, and Forster resolves the tale in an ending that isn’t unremittingly bleak, which is more than I can say for other novels of this period and genre.
  • (5/5)
    Just re-read this and now am reading Zadie Smith's On Beauty. I was obsessed with Forster in high school (Maurice, etc) and am happy to know that Howards End not only holds up but in fact is improved by time. I found myself thinking of Mrs. Dalloway quite a bit. Also, I enjoyed the depiction of the posh ladies' discussion circles, in which rich British ladies debate how best to give their money away to the poor. I was also shocked by how obvious/explicit the queer content is now. I thought I was reading so naughtily and detectivishly when I first read it, but it's laid quite bare. Odd.
  • (4/5)
    There are a million books about the inner lives of English people. Here is one of them.
  • (5/5)
    One of the densest books I've ever read. And I mean that in a good way -- it's like one of those Byzantine ivory carvings (no movie tie-in pun intended) that open up and have all those tiny devotional episodes going on inside. Layers and layers of commentary all wrapped up in this almost fragile -- but actually really forceful -- writing. What a total trip.
  • (4/5)
    This novel had so many lines that I wanted to write down and save for later. I might have done so but after a while it seemed less than feasible. There were just too many! Forster is pretty remarkable as a twentieth-century writer for being able to produce floaty philosophical prose from his narratorial perch.

    The introduction to my edition (Everyman) approached it as a novel about the English class system and critiqued it for arguing that you could solve the class wars with the power of true love.

    But really I think to write anything about this book without using the word "feminism" at least once is appalling. This is a great feminist novel, and it's not trying to solve the problems of a society - it's showing how an individual can learn to become an authentic, integrated person and thus overcome gender roles and cultural norms. Love doesn't solve anything; love is in fact imperfect until the characters figure out who they are and what they really want.

    Of course, I could still fault Forster for creating a protagonist who tries to reform a man with the power of love and arguably succeeds. Margaret's efforts do fail miserably until Henry is overcome by his own wrongdoing in the person of Charles (the Mr. Rochester solution, so to speak), but for Margaret to have married him and then to be vindicated by the plot is questionable. "Marry losers because eventually they'll reform themselves" is bad advice. But Henry Wilcox isn't a really bad loser, and Margaret loves him, and we're shown the real consequences of her marrying him pre-reform (she's even willing to leave him when he rejects Helen), so that's all right I suppose.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed reading this novel several years ago and, like other great novels, found it more insightful and deeper upon rereading. Forster’s novel, regarded by many as his best, turns upon the beauty which Margaret Schlegel glimpses within her chosen one, Mr. Wilcox. Where others see only a man bound by his snobbery, his wealth, and his homilies — “My motto is Concentrate” — Margaret sees only a life-challenge:"It did not seem so difficult. She need trouble him with no gift of her own. She would only point out the salvation that was latent in his own soul, and in the soul of every man. Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height."The portrait of Margaret and her sister and brother, Helen and Tibby, can be seen as emblematic of Forster's own liberal values. The Schlegels are devoted to living a civilized life that cherishes the arts, music, literature, and thinking. This life is in contrast to the Wilcox family who value practical affairs, materialism, and suspicion of imagination. Their attempts to unite result in conflicts. Of the minor characters I found the sad life of Leonard Bast particularly poignant. The novel is beautifully written even if its details sometimes fail to convince the reader of the reality of the characters.
  • (2/5)
    Apparently I will never tire of swimming against the tide. This opus has been consecrated as some sort of modern classic -- whatever in Hell that is supposed to mean -- but I must fail to join in the Hosannas. I am well aware that one must carefully distinguish the artist from the artistic product, yet somehow in this story I discerned a kind of mind-spiritedness or at-least arrogance behind the principal character, who already had plenty of it in her own right. Too bad, since Forster at his best can be enjoyable and even instructive.
  • (5/5)
    Along with Passage to India, one of Forster's two great novels that deserve to be called great literaure. Howard's End alone manages to take on large themes while keeping much of the charm and warmth that draw many readers to Forster's earlier novels of awakening.