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Topic: Howard's End - Chapters 1-11

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Subject: Howard's End - Chapters 1-11
Date Posted: 10/10/2008 6:45 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
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let's get this going!

Date Posted: 10/10/2008 9:38 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
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Woohoo!  Yay, you, Hannah!  Now, i've got to drive by myself to Texas tomorrow (from southeast Alabama).  I'll be visiting my son and his family, so I've really got to get some reading done after I go to bed there.  I'll be with you as I get it read.

Date Posted: 10/13/2008 8:44 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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Ok, I guess I'll start with some observations I had about chapters 1-11.

I'm way impressed with Forster's insight into human nature.  The way he describes the thoughts of such different characters as Bast, Ruth Wilcox and Margaret Schlegel, and makes each different character ring true is amazing.  I also like how so far, none of the characters is a real "villain", even when they disregard Ruth's dying wish, Mr. Wilcox still does Margaret the justice of not thinking she manipulated her way to getting Howard's End.  I can't say I'm a big fan of Helen though, she's such a flake.  She'll go along with whatever the people she's with think.

So far I'm enjoying it quite a bit.  I've never read anything by Forster before, and I like the way the narrative in HE often reads like a conversation he's having directly with the reader.  It makes me feel like the characters are people he actually met, not just people he invented to make a point about progress or class struggle.

Anyway, this is just some initial impressions.  I can't wait to hear what others have to say.

Date Posted: 10/14/2008 10:29 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
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I've never read Forster before HE, either.  I'm enjoying it very much.  I agree with everything that you've said so far, Vanessa. 

Without trying to do it, I'm always considering how a male writer rounds out his female characters and vice versa.  Unless I'm forgetting many books that I've read (which I do tend to do), it does seem that more male writers write from the feminine viewpoint than the other way around.  Some do it quite well.  I'm still trying to make up my mnd about Forster.

I've found it interesting that we (so far, unless the book has flashbacks) are missing what went on during Mrs. Wilcox's illness.  I would love to know the conversations between Margaret and her at the nursing home.  Before this was mentioned, I thought that Mrs. Wilcox left HE to Margaret simply because they were about to lose their lease on the home.  Of course, Mrs. W. had thought that this was quite a terrible event to happen to anyone.  Perhaps we will learn, from Margaret, if she and Mrs. W. became extremely close during her visits at the nursing home.

Also, I'm always amazed when I read some of the classics (if they truly represent the ways that parts of the world and society were) how far we've come from the philosophical conversations that many of these characters have.  Perhaps I'm just having conversations with people like myself who are more concerned with politics, sportings events, the weather, and gossip!  LOL!

I'm looking foward to reading more and to hearing comments from others.

Vivian

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date Posted: 10/14/2008 7:41 PM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2008
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Here are some thoughts I am having so far about this book...

I see how much miscommunication and suspicion can change the course of relationships.  Forster shows the characters jumping to  conclusions, starting with minor cases, and drawing to bigger ones. 

First, we see Margaret and the aunt deciding who will go and represent the family for Helen.  By the time they have run out the door, a message arrives from Helen saying the fliration with Paul is over.  Had they not jumped too quickly, it would have all worked out.  (Granted, the who thing started with Helen jumping the gun.)

Secondly, we see Leonard losing his umbrella, and suspecting the women of stealing it.  He assumes they want to cause him harm.  He leaves the house upset, refusing tea, and wondering if they were in fact thieves.

Then we find the Wilcox family has moved across the street, and automatically Margaret writes a letter, saying they cannot be friends.  She is quickly rebuked and feels shame in her behavior.

Then we see what may be a large problem.  Mrs. Wilcox has left Howard's End to Margaret.  It is assumed that her visits to the nursing home were to be to perhaps woo the house away, and the family is hesitant to carry out the mother's wishes.  They assume it would be for the best to burn the letter.  Is it?

What I also find interesting is the use of photographs.  First, Forster gives us Leonard returning to his flat and describes the photograph of a beautiful woman.  The frame which it is stored breaks, and he cuts himself on the glass.  Then it is reveled that the woman in the photograph is no longer as beautiful, but older and a bit of a noose around his neck.  Later, when Margaret goes to visit Mrs. Wilcox after her blunder with the letter, she admires a photograph of Dolly, Mrs. Wilcox's new daughter-in-law.  She too, breaks the glass and cuts herself.  Will this lead to more about Dolly and her relationship with Margaret and the Wilcox family?  Or am I reading too much into this?

 

Date Posted: 10/17/2008 3:07 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
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Deb, I thought that you really had something going on the broken picture angle.  I didn't make the connection as you did.  However, I don't think that I've read about another like incident.  It may come later, however.

Date Posted: 10/21/2008 7:32 AM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
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I didn't read the comments yet. My book isn't here yet! I'll catch up.

Date Posted: 10/21/2008 10:14 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
Posts: 576
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hi JK - It's okay. I'm miserably behind. I'm suer by the time your book comes I'll still be stuck where I am now in chapter 3 lol!

well, I'm taking a break from my paper on Jane Eyre and thought I would comment on the first two chapters that I've completed thus far. :)

I really like the way it's written and narrated. It has that little "toungue in cheek" quality that I really like! I loved the line at the end of Chapter 2 suggesting that we should never be expected to ride in a train car with babies! if only that were true!

I also like how the different characters are depicted and how he shows us the impression margaret has on Mrs Munt and vice versa. I guess that's the advantage to a 3rd party narrator...you get to hear and see everything that one character does not!  I'm also wondering if the flighty way Helen and Margaret are depicted will continue throughout the book.

Also, I find it interesting how Helen asks that Margaret burn the letters after having read them.  This is hinting to me that Helen is a very dramatic person.

I can't wait to read more!

Date Posted: 10/21/2008 11:09 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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I had the same feeling as you Hannah, about the way Meg & Helen are portrayed in the opening chapters, and Helen's drama-queen attitude.  They reminded me, at that point, a lot of the Dashwood sisters in Sense & Sensibility.

Date Posted: 10/22/2008 9:02 AM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2008
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I noticed that the image given of Mrs. Munt is that she does not have children of her own.  Also, what about her husband?  He is not mentioned.  I assume he has passed on.

At the beginning of chapter three we are given some background information on Mrs. Munt.  She did offer to move in when her sister died to help take care of the three children, but was refused.  She offered again 5 years later, but again, was turned down.  She is a good person, but perhaps likes to meddle a bit with her nieces and nephews affairs (investments, love affairs, social meetings, etc.)  I think the family loves her very much as she loves them.

I guess she is written as the (now) typical spinster aunt...

Date Posted: 10/22/2008 12:53 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
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Mrs. Munt is definitely interesting!  I like how Forster described the "Foreign Things" with capital letters :) I also liked how even though the home investments were depreciating Mrs. Munt still felt like she was right.

Just the way he writes about the different people gives you a very definite perception on who you think they will be.

Date Posted: 10/24/2008 4:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
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Hi everyone,

This is my first Forster novel also. I like the narrative and occasional subtle humor. Have to admit that I wasn't real keen on this book but I'm enjoying it so far.

Like Vivian, I would have liked more info on Mrs. Wilcox's illness and conversations with Margaret during that time. Perhaps there will be more about that later in the book.

Deborah - good observation about the use of photos. Will be interesting to see if this continues or leads to something.

While reading chapter 4 I was struck by Forster's descriptions of the sisters - Helen better looking and apt to entice people while Margaret not as attractive and hanging back when Helen becomes the center of attention.

My favorite part so far was chapter 5. "To trust people is a luxury in which only the wealthy can indulge, the poor cannot afford it." What a great statement of the times.

Also, when Margaret talks about how people base their decisions on their amount of income. She, having thoughts of a six-hundred-pound (income) person. " . . . the very soul of the world is economic, and that the lowest abyss is not the absence of love, but the absence of coin." There is a certain amount of reality in that statement.

 

Date Posted: 10/25/2008 10:38 AM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2008
Posts: 310
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Sheila,

   I like what you have to say about this book!  I agree with your comments.  I too, wish that more information is given about the wife's illness and I liked the authors description of the two sisters.

   It is almost as if the brother was an afterthought.  He is given very little to do.  A good secondary character, but not much involved.

 

Deb

Date Posted: 10/26/2008 12:31 AM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
Posts: 576
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Okay, I've finished our first section now.

I love it!

One thing I've noticed is that this is a book that could easily take place today almost...you know, replace the carriages for cars and the 600 a year to 600,000 a year. lol. It feels like it's discussing problems and issues that take place today. The part that had the luncheon for Mrs. Wilcox reminded me of the difference between the older generation and the new today. Also the idea that Mrs Wilcox was concerned with being a wife and a mother while Margaret and Helen think about equal rights, etc. Same oppositions are occuring in today's world!  I guesss what I'm trying to say is that the book feel timeless so far. We'll see if that holds up. :)

Now, to the elements of the story....It seems strange that Margaret and Mrs Wilcox were friends. It seemed like one was always offending the other and trying to make up for it. It would be interesting to witness their dynamics in real life. They are unlikely friends I think. But, at the same time they are rather similar...and I imagine Mrs Wilcox saw that and realized that Howards End would be more appreciated and loved in Margarets hands than in her own families. (which I thought was sad).

I also love how the narrator gives little hints about what's to come. just enough to keep you reading and wanting more!

Sheila - I agree about the part in Ch 5. That totally jumped out at me.

I feel like at this point we've been given a taste of a lot of different characters and I'm waiting to hear how they come in later! I just know Paul is going to reappear. And when Helen said that she would never love anyone in the Wilcox family again I just heard the dun dun dunnnnn music in the background.

Date Posted: 10/26/2008 5:24 PM ET
Member Since: 12/3/2007
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I'm a little behind, but I'm catching up. I finally got to read through chapter 7 today. It took me awhile to get into this book, but I am beginning to like it as the plot thickens.
Date Posted: 10/26/2008 6:17 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
Posts: 576
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what do you like the most so far? or what about it made it difficult to get into at first?

I'm glad that you are starting to like it :)

Date Posted: 10/27/2008 9:34 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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Hannah - I agree that there is a certain timelessness to the book. Isn't that supposed to be one of the hallmarks of a classic :-)

Date Posted: 10/27/2008 12:52 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
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I think so! I've just never really noticed one that stood out as timeless before as much as this one :)