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After O-Level we filled in time by choosing an author and writing about him/her.I picked Forster so I read the lot when I was quite young. The books were still being issued as Penguin Modern Classics; when does an author cease to be modern, I wonder? I've re-read since, especially Where Angels Fear to Tread. I think A Passage to India is the best and I *loathe* Howards End.


Yes I have read them all and loved them all. I love Howards End and have read it twice at least. I really liked The Longest Journey which is not at all the best known.

Dark Puss

I have enjoyed greatly most of the film adaptions and the only book of his I have read was Howards End which like Barbara I greatly disliked. Given Harriet's love for that book it clearly splits us; does anyone out there feel ambivalent about it?

Love the way you used the word "admission" as if somehow not reading Forster is like smoking behind the bike sheds at school.


I have just finished A Room with a View - I found it surprisingly readable and I thoroughly enjoyed his characterization. His depiction of women is skillful and nuanced and he is at times very amusing. His narrow focus allows him to work in detail on a small cast of characters, revealing their capacity for self-deception and delusion. (Miss Bartlett is at once pitiable and monstrous.) I think A Room examines both the individual and society (and the individual within society?). Class and gender appeared major themes. When reading the novel, I felt that his subject matter reminded me of Jane Austen. I have never studied any of Forster's novels or read critical material and these are my first impressions. I enjoyed his writing enough to read Howard's End next & then perhaps watch the DVDs.

Margaret Powling

I have only read Howard's End and from my memory - for it was a very long time ago - I absolutely loved it. And I read it before I saw the film, so my judgment wasn't coloured by the 'white linen films' of Merchant Ivory.


I loved A Room With a View (fantastic spiky comedy in the relationship between Lucy and Miss Bartlett and the characterisation of Cecil makes me laugh out loud) and Howard's End.

Susan in TX

I have only read Howard's End (and that only last year), but I have a handful. I'm never content with movies only. ;) I usually make myself read the book before I see a "literary classic" brought to life on film, but for some reason that didn't happen with Forster. Of course, that leaves me the pleasure of re-watching the films once I get around to reading the books.


E M Foster is definitely in the news at the moment because of Alan Hollinghurst's new novel and also Cynthia Ozik mentioned him in an interview in the Guardian last weekend...the novel I like best is A Room with a View because of the title and because of the story which to me is about the courage of Lucy Honeychurch....when I read them first I had no idea he was gay or even how that would have an effect on his view of the world and his writing but of course I am much more knowing now (aren't we all) and it is interesting to speculate on notions like concealment and secrecy and being unable to be open about things that I for instance take completely for granted......


Sorry it is Ozick

Julie Fredericksen

Have not read EMF but recently picked up "A Room With A View" at a used bookstore so hopefully will get it read sometime this year!

Simon (Savidge Reads)

I read 'A Room With A View' for my A-Levels and the fact we went over and over and over it put me right off. I remember initially thinking that it was rather wonderful and then being nored to tears by the sixth disection. Interestingly I have been thinking about reading him and have 'Where Angels Fear To Tread' by the bedside.


Their relationship was funny but I found Miss Bartlett's manipulations quite sinister after a while.

Thomas at My Porch

There are a few authors who I think are above reproach and I am always surprised when people don't get on with them. I put Forster in this camp. I have read all of his fiction and loved all of it. Where Angels Fear to Tread might be a good place to start. It is an easy, quick read that hints at Forster's later brilliance. I think Howard's End may be my favorite but A Room With A View is the one closest to my heart.


I could almost repeat what Thomas says word for word. I re-read Room With a View recently and basked in the warm glow of my enjoyment. Howard's End is next on the list to re-read, because I do love it almost equally.

Mr Cornflower

I read some of the books a very long time ago and I now recall the 'voice' of Forster more clearly than his plots or characters. That voice I found civilised, slightly preachy and earnest (not many jokes), and perhaps a little selective in that famous empathy (the artistic, unconventional and open-hearted Schlegels get a much easier ride than the philistine Wilcoxes in Howard's End, notwithstanding the book's stated aspiration to reconcile the 'passion' of the one family with the 'prose' of the other). "A Passage to India" was the one I enjoyed the most.

Dark Puss

Thomas, I'm interested in your linking writers who are "above reproach" with being surprised that some of us don't warm to them. Perhaps I don't understand what you mean by "above reproach" in this context. I don't suppose you would elaborate a little would you?


Surprised at you, Cornflower! Angels, HE, and LJ all very fine, but it's Room for me which is the best: some of the scenes in Florence which hurt even today. The films are lovely, but they're not the novel - they are a charming and lively watercolour of what should be an oil painting - missing out much, though entertaining and amusing in their own right.

PS, He wrote some short stories which don't seem well known, but which are distinctly good, and the famous "homosexual novel", Maurice, which I haven't read.

Simon T

I loved and adored Howards End, after admiring, but not enjoying, A Passage to India and A Room With A View. Well, I did enjoy Room a bit, and India hardly at all - neither of which prepared me for how brilliant Howards End would be. Such a nuanced, sophisticated, and unexpected analysis of the way people interact. I think it might be because I like Forster when he's not playing travel guide.


I've loved the films, most especially ROOM WITH A VIEW with Helena Bonham Carter and Julian Sands, among others. And MAURICE with Hugh Grant, James Wilby and Rupert Graves. I never did get around to seeing HOWARD'S END. But I'm planning to read the book, even got my hands on a good hardcover used copy.

I have read MAURICE and was very moved by it. Published after his death because of the homosexual theme, but I found it uplifting and wonderfully, engagingly written. It's not often you find a book of this type with a relatively happy ending.

B R Wombat

Just in case your shelves are not already groaning with EMF, I thought I'd put in my usual comment that he's available from Project Gutenberg.

adele geras

I love EMF! I think you will too, Cornflower. RWAV, PTI, HE and WAFTT are all terrific in my opinion. Also brilliant is his non-fiction Aspects of the Novel. Not sure that it's in print....have a go and let us know what you think!


Cornflower tried and found wanting again. That's another blackballing by The Serious Readers' Club in prospect ...



Thomas at My Porch

They are just writers that I personally like so much and think their writing ability is so high that I can't imagine why others don't like them. Rationally I know there are reasons why others may not like them, but emotionally, I don't understand why everyone doesn't agree with me.


I am also a fan of EM Forster, although I never managed to get very far with Howard's End. I rarely watch a film before reading the book but may have to in this instance - with the added pleasure of Anthony Hopkins.
The film of A Room With a View had a scene with masses of cornflowers whereas actually the book had - violets?

Dark Puss

Thank you very much for taking the time to reply. DP

Barbara MacLeod

Ah hah! Many thanks for mentioning that!

Dark Puss

I'm in illustrious compnay then! I ceased to be a serious reader in my twenties.


I haven't seen the film, but I must get hold of it now!

Thomas at My Porch

Just make sure it is the Merchant Ivory version. The recent remake was awful and the MI version is cinematic perfection. And yes, full of cornflowers!

Dark Puss

Gosh how can you have missed it! Must have been shown on terrestial TV four or five times at least! I've seen in once in the cinema and at least twice on TV. Re TaMP's comment, I had not realised there was a recent remake. Make sure you get the original and best!


I've read these three and all the others I could find, as well as the excellent recent biography of Forster. In fact, I read Howard's End almost yearly. I also love 'On Beauty,' which is Zadie Smith's adaptation of Howard's End. Not that the films aren't great, but the books are wonders.


I've read all his novels but 'Howard's End', although I'm not sure I finished 'Maurice', read it a long time ago. But anyway, his work is some of my favourite (so sensitive and insightfully aware of people) and 'A Passage to India' blew me away. I've seen a couple of the film adpatations and enjoyed them very, very much ('A Room With a View' is my fav).


I read most of Forsters novels in my late teens and early twenties just because we were all obsessed with the MI adaptation of A Room with a View which we had to watch at school. I think Room is still my favourite although I think I would like to re-read A Passage to India which I recall was rather disturbing.


On Beauty was very clever.

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