Book Review: Howard’s End

Howard the duck
This is not Howard’s End

Published: 1910

Author: EM Forster

For some reason I think of Howard the Duck when I hear Howard’s End.  There is absolutely no connection between the two and there are plenty of other “Howard’s” that I can associate with, but my mind is not always logical, despite my borderline neurotic need for it to be so.

Perhaps I have grown tired of “classic” novels such as Howard’s End, because they are all starting to seem to be the same.  The last few I have read, Anna Karenina, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and now Howard’s End, I haven’t liked.  Howard’s End is about two poor little rich girls, Margaret and Helen Schlegel, who sit around all day living off their daddy’s money, even long after he dies.  Basically, it is a story about the Hilton sisters (though I got the impression that the Schlegel’s aren’t that rich).

The conflict isn’t very strong, the plot seems to be centered upon the house, Howard’s End.  However, the house makes very little appearance in the novel.  It is alluded to several times in the book that the house is more a living thing than inanimate object.  This would be great if Forster ever followed up on this line, instead of just telling us.

The main male character is a sexist, elitist, jerk and somehow these are good qualities to Margaret, because she ends up marrying him.  I can tolerate the sexism, because that is the way it was, but it was the very “rightness” of that sexism that the novel conveyed that bothered me.  For example, women’s suffrage was a hot topic for the characters; the men just dismissed it without a good reason.  The women accepted this and to make it worse, suggested that if a woman can’t convince her husband to vote her way then she doesn’t deserve a vote anyway.  Which is offensive to everyone involved.

I’m sure Howard’s End has its positive notes, and I am just dulled by the repetitive plot of the “classics.”  The sexism is just a product of the times that it was published.  That doesn’t mean I have to like it.  Which is good, because I don’t like it at all.

WWYT Rating: 3.0

Goodreads Rating: 3.94/5


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