As I have mentioned before in this blog, I’m not a big fan of reading books after seeing a movie, but in this case and as that of In The Name of the Rose I found that it was not a problem or detractor. This is due to the fact that the wonderful Merchant Ivory film of the same name is such a faithful adaptation of this book. I cant comment conclusively whether it would be helpful to watch the movie first, but after having a pre-official book club chat with Ms Sue I suspect it may.
Sue has not enjoyed the experience of Howard’s End, finding it somewhat unbelievable. I certainly agree with her that the scenario seems quite convoluted. However, I think that with this book Forster is trying to make a commentary and observation on social class in early 20th century England.
The story opens with a series of letters between 2 sisters, who are single and living with their brother. The Schlegels are of german heritage, independently wealthy and a little subversive. As the story evolves the initial incident in the book takes the Schlegel women’s life in all different manner of twists and turns. Some do seem surprising and slightly out of character, you feel the character of Margaret compromising her belief systems frequently. It isn’t a happy story.
Misguided sympathy and compassion, the need to right wrongs; these are the issues that take centrality to the story. The sisters are complete opposites, but their love as siblings is what wins out in the end. It is a classic tale of tragedy, where all the characters of the story are implicated in the final episode.
The book is enjoyable. Having attempted to start Room with a View (also by E. M. Forster) last year unsuccessfully, I was really pleased to have finished this book. It felt like a real achievement. Doubly so, as my study and work schedule start to reach critical stages and reading for pleasure is starting to feel like an unnecessary indulgence. At least until November…
Readability 7 out of 10
Cant put down rating 6 out of 10
Recommend to others 6 out of 10
Do I want to read another book by this author – possibly, I may attempt Room with a View again…