Howards End is the story of the Schlegel sisters and their struggle to come to terms with social class and their German heritage in Edwardian England. Their lives are intertwined with those of the wealthy Wilcox family and their country house, Howards End, as well as the lower-middle-class Basts.
©1910 E M Forster; (P) 2014 Audible, Inc.
I love listening to Audible when I'm walking to work. I like a lot of different types of fiction, and promise to review more!
This novel has all the hallmarks of Forster's work: connections, the wood as something beautiful / a haven, the ideas of class. The story twists around in the usual unpredictable Forster way. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would actually! Petherbridge is a great narrator and does justice to the novel.
Howards End is a fascinating portrait of the State of England (not Britain) in the early 20th century. It tells you things about class, nationality, anti-intellectualism and so on in a way that any number of history books can't. But I have never been able to believe that either of the Schlegel sisters would make the decisions they do about men. It's not that women and men don't make bad decisions about each other: they most certainly do and there are plenty of great novels about it. But whereas George Eliot, for example, convinces me that Dorothea would marry Casaubon, Forster utterly fails to convince me about his two women. I'm with Margaret's husband, for example,in not believing that such a lively, intelligent woman could be so submissive. I hoped that an audiobook would show me the error of my ways. Edward Petherbridge is excellent, but can't put in what's not there.
Somehow, Edward Petherbridge's reading emphasises the Edwardian-ness - don't be surprised if you find yourself speaking in a rather clipped, golly gosh way after a few hours of listening! I'd like to hear it read by someone with a more modern voice, but maybe that would just sound wrong. I still think it's a wonderful story, sadly misrepresented by the film version (although the film is still worth watching). The book explores so many conflicts - class, art v industry, women v men, city v countryside - and much of the writing is profound. But some of the sentiments are 'of their time', especially about the motives and motivations of women.
Not on the strength of this. After persevering for hours, I finally admitted defeat and gave this one up with a good third of the book still left... I've never done that before. I even got to the end of Me Before You, and that was DISMAL. This isn't dismal, just really, really dull.
Too long, too waffley, too frightfully, frightfully middle class and ultimately, just too tedious and irritating. Entire chapters go by without anything really happening other than the two sisters pondering at length the relationships between music and art and life and love and class and money and literature and the universe and blah, blah, blah, blah... It's just one endless stream of self indulgent, navel-gazing noodling, laced with large amounts of snobbery and sexism – a very well observed commentary on the awfulness of the English class system I'm sure, but when I found myself hating all of the characters, I decided to give up. I'm now listening to a Sarah Waters book which has interesting characters and pace and a STORY, praise be! Things actually happen! The relief is immense...
The first one, until I realised just how excriuciatingly tedious it was going to be.
At least half of it.
The incredibly clipped narration is perfect for this book (Edward Petherbridge could make Brian Sewell feel like a real peasant), and it's extremely good for falling asleep to....
"It's all in the narration"
Edward Petherbridge has exactly the Edwardian delivery that Foster needs. Can I give the narrator 10 stars? I read this book years ago but this reading that I bought on the recommendation of a friend, uncovers humor and nuances that I totally missed before. I actually lost sleep not wanting to turn if off for the night.
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