You may recall from my post last week that I've been feeling a bit of reader's remorse for not having read as many classic novels as I would like. I set myself the goal of reading at least one classic a month, and I've just recently finished E.M. Forster's fantastic novel, Howards End.
Why did I start with Howards End? One of my favorite contemporary novelists, Zadie Smith, cites Forster as a big inspiration, and has discussed how Howards End in particular informed her third novel, On Beauty (which was not as good as White Teeth, in my humble opinion, but certainly better than The Autograph Man). Plus, I'm a bit of an anglophile, and I'm a sucker for a good novel about inter-family drama and class issues. Howards End only seemed a natural first choice.
And how much fun it was to read! From the snobbery and snark to the gestures of goodwill that ultimately go horribly awry, it's a spot-on, thoughtful, dramatic, funny story with well-drawn characters, a well-timed plot, and some excellent writing. Example, from Chapter Three: "The train sped northward, under innumerable tunnels. It was only an hour's journey, but Mrs. Munt had to raise and lower the window again and again... At times the Great North Road accompanied her, more suggestive of infinity than any railway, awakening, after a nap of a hundred years, to such life as is conferred by the stench of motor-cars, and to such culture as is implied by the advertisements of antibilious pills." Ha!
Overall, I highly recommend Howards End, and I'd like to read more of E.M. Forster's work. Next up, though, is Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome.