“There is certainly no rest for us on the earth. But there is happiness and as Margaret descended the mound on her lover’s arm, she felt that she was having her share.”
Margaret and Helen Schlegel, one of the best sister acts in literature, fatefully entwine themselves with the stolid Wilcox family and their lives are irrevocably changed by the association. Mrs. Wilcox’s family home, Howards End, is the crux of the novel as all hopes, dreams, irritations, misunderstandings and momentous decisions swirl inside its walls.
Margaret is one of the most brilliantly drawn, generous, intelligent, seekers of truth I’ve ever encountered in a novel and I marveled at her changeability and constant quest for connection and transparency in human relationships. Her loyalty to her sister, Helen, who is frustration itself, is the act on which the whole novel hinges.
E.M. Forster’s Howards End is a gloriously exuberant shambles and I mean that in a good way. He deftly juggles many different philosophies and social ideals while managing to also create engaging and sympathetic characters in a plot that is infused with humor. Sometimes he nearly misses, especially toward the end of the novel when his high-flown prose gets the better of the story, but mostly, it works.
I enjoy Forster’s novels because there is an innate joyfulness about them and I think he gives us really interesting and complex female characters to admire and identify with. I believe that A Room With a View is still my favorite Forster, but Howards End is a remarkable novel, one that I can only describe as a cornucopia of delight.
Have you read Howards End?