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Howards End

Book Review   by:InspiredPen     Original Author: E.M. Forster
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"Howards End" is novel by E.M. Forster. It was published in 1910.
 
The story revolves around the relationship between the cultured and intellectual Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, and the radical and business-oriented Wilcox family consisting of Henry, his sons Charles and Paul, and daughter Evie. After Helen Schlegel's romance with Paul Wilcox turns sour, the cultured and idealistic Schlegels didn't want to have anything to do with the Wilcox family. During a performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony that the sisters attended, they meet a man, Leonard Bast, employed as a clerk in an insurance company. His umbrella is accidentally taken by Helen.
 
Not wanting to have anything to do with them, when the Wilcoxes move from their country estate of Howards End to a London flat opposite the Schlegel's home on Wickham Place, the Schlegels sisters are obviously most surprised. Fortunately, Paul Wilcox has left for Nigeria to seek fortune, and Helen is vacationing with her cousin Frieda in Germany, so no unpleasant scene is foreseen.  Margaret, Helen's older sister and the head of the family, befriends the kind and selfless Mrs. Wilcox, and they get along well. Mrs. Wilcox dies and before her death, she leaves a note bequeathing Howards End to Margaret. The Wilcoxes destroy the note before it is published. Henry, a prominent businessman, and her greedy businessman son Charles, refuse to act on the matter.
 
Meantime, Leonard Bast, has become a close friend of the sisters. The sisters have also become friends with Leonard. When Margaret and Helen run into Henry, they discuss the struggling career of Leonard Bast. Henry warns them that Leonard's insurance company is doomed to failure, and he advise them that it is better for Leonard to find a new job.
 
Margaret and Henry Wilcox develop a gradual friendship. The Schlegels begin looking for another house when the lease expires at Wickham Place. Henry offers to rent them a house he owns in London, and when he shows it to Margaret, he surprisingly proposes to her. She accepts. Just before Margaret and Henry's scheduled wedding, Evie, Henry's daughter marries Percy Cahill. The wedding is held at a Wilcox estate near Wales. After the party, Helen arrives with the Basts, Leonard and his wife, Jacky, who languishingly declares that Leonard has followed their advice, left his old company, found a new job, but fired. Helen angrily blames Henry for his ill-considered advice. Margaret asks Henry to give Leonard a job, but when he sees Jacky Bast, he realizes that he had an affair with her few years back when she was a prostitute in Cyprus. Margaret forgives him for his past indiscretions. She also writes to Helen the sad news that there is no job for Leonard.
 
Helen and the Basts retire to a hotel in town. After Jacky goes to sleep, Helen and Leonard start to discuss Helen's philosophical observations. Having received Margaret's note earlier, a terrible down feeling descends on their chat, and unexpectedly they make love. Leonard is overwhelmed with guilt, and Helen becomes pregnant. She leaves for Germany immediately. Margaret and Henry are married, and plan to build a new home in Sussex.
 
Margaret begins to worry about her sister, and with Henry's help, she arranges to surprise Helen at Howards End, where she is going to collect some books since the Schlegel's belongings are being kept at Howards End. Margaret sees Helen's obvious pregnancy, and is filled with sympathy and affection for her sister. Helen asks to spend the night with Margaret at Howards End, but Henry refuses to let a "fallen woman" sleep in his home. Margaret points out his previous sexual indiscretions. Henry is angered, Margaret resolves to leave him, and returns to Germany with Helen.
 
Leonard decides to confess to Margaret about the underlying event that transpired between him and Helen, and he travels to Howards End the following day that the sisters are there. On arrival, Charles Wilcox thrashes Leonard for what he takes a callous seduction of Helen. Leonard has a heart attack and dies. Charles is charged with manslaughter and imprisoned for three years. Henry is shattered, and comes to Margaret for help. Henry, Margaret, and Helen move into Howards End, where Helen and Henry learn to be friends and Helen's son is born. Fourteen months later, they are still living there happily. Once again, E.M. Forster's lifelong belief in salvation through fraternal sympathy flourishes.
Published: January 19, 2009   
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