The self-interested disregard of a dying woman’s bequest, an impulsive girl’s attempt to help an impoverished clerk, and the marriage between an idealist and a materialist — all intersect at a Hertfordshire estate called Howards End. The fate of this beloved country home symbolizes the future of England itself in E. M. Forster’s exploration of social, economic, and philosophical trends, as exemplified by three families: the Schlegels, symbolizing the idealistic and intellectual aspect of the upper classes; the Wilcoxes, representing upper-class pragmatism and materialism; and the Basts, embodying the aspirations of the lower classes. Written in 1910,Howards End won international acclaim for its insightful portrait of English life during the post-Victorian era.
Foster is a funny author for me. I think I like him till I start reading one of his books when a part of brain starts going “wait do we like him or do we just think we should”. Honestly I’m not sure. This is my fourth Foster and while I’m not entirely clear on my feelings about him I do at least know what I like about his work….the descriptions. For me one the defining features of Foster is his ability to paint the scene. His descriptions of places are so vivid they spring up in front of your eyes with little imaginative effort on the part of the reader.
This brings me to Howard’s End. Howard’s End is not one of Foster’s brilliant descriptive novels. In every other respect it is similar to his other books. It follows a group of rich people to which very little seems to happen until the end when there are great dramatics. Until this occurs the characters spend the time discussing some issue of society. In this instance money and the importance of money. It’s all very philosophical.
Given that this is not my first Foster I should be use to this pattern, however this time I just didn’t warm to it. Perhaps it was the lack of evocative landscape to dilute the philosophy. Perhaps it was the characters. Whatever it was something just didn’t click with me. For that reason it’s only 3 stars and that mainly because I recognise that while I didn’t love it it’s still better than many books I’ve given lower ratings to and therefore deserves a 3.
Avid fans of Foster will no doubt enjoy it but it just wasn’t for me.