Howards End is the story of the liberal Schlegel sisters and their struggle to come to terms with social class and their German heritage in Edwardian England. Their lives are intertwined with those of the wealthy and pragmatic Wilcox family and their country house, Howards End, as well as the lower-middle-class Basts.
When Helen Schlegel and Paul Wilcox's brief romance ends badly the Schlegels hope to never see the Wilcoxes again. However, the family moves from their country estate, Howards End, to a flat across the road from them. When Helen befriends Leonard Bast, a man of lower status, the political and cultural differences between the families are exacerbated and brought to a fatal confrontation at Howard's End.
Considered by some to be Forster's masterpiece it is a story about social conventions, codes of conduct, and personal relationships in turn-of-the-century England.
In 1998, Howards End ranked 38th on the Modern Library's list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
Actor, writer and artist Edward Petherbridge has long been praised for his tragic and comic roles throughout his long career with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal National Theatre. He has won the Olivier and London Theatre Critic's Awards and has twice been nominated for a Tony Award. His major roles on stage have included his memorable performance of Newman Noggs in Nicholas Nickleby and Malvolio in Twelfth Night. He has also performed in stage musicals such as The Woman in White and the musical version of The Importance of Being Earnest. His onscreen career has included roles on television in The Brief (2004), Midsomer Murders (2007), Land Girls (2011), Doctors (2012) and The Borgias (2011) and in films such as The Statement (2003) and Pope Joan (2009). He has narrated E. M. Forster's Where Angels Fear to Tread and Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray audiobooks.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Mr on 20-12-14
Better than expected!
This novel has all the hallmarks of Forster's work: connections, the wood as something beautiful / a haven, the ideas of class. The story twists around in the usual unpredictable Forster way. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would actually! Petherbridge is a great narrator and does justice to the novel.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
By sora on 23-06-14
A very Edwardian reading!
Somehow, Edward Petherbridge's reading emphasises the Edwardian-ness - don't be surprised if you find yourself speaking in a rather clipped, golly gosh way after a few hours of listening! I'd like to hear it read by someone with a more modern voice, but maybe that would just sound wrong. I still think it's a wonderful story, sadly misrepresented by the film version (although the film is still worth watching). The book explores so many conflicts - class, art v industry, women v men, city v countryside - and much of the writing is profound. But some of the sentiments are 'of their time', especially about the motives and motivations of women.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By susan on 25-03-14
It's all in the narration
Edward Petherbridge has exactly the Edwardian delivery that Foster needs. Can I give the narrator 10 stars? I read this book years ago but this reading that I bought on the recommendation of a friend, uncovers humor and nuances that I totally missed before. I actually lost sleep not wanting to turn if off for the night.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
By Julian on 25-05-17
I was a little cautious embarking on this, having fallen asleep during the Emma Thompson movie version, but it was clear from the opening pages that I was in for a surprise - Forster's narrative and digressions fascinate endlessly. His theme of rootlessness remains highly relevant today, and he describes an England on the cusp of disaster with uncanny prescience. Leonard Bast's tragedy was amplified a million times over in the Great War just a few years after the writing as the Wilcoxes of the world plunged ahead heedless. Meditations on music and art, nature and landscape intersect with and complement the story, though it has power to move on its own as the characters shift and change in contact. Forster's style is quotable - he does not shy from taking on the big themes of life and death, art and commerce, town and country, clearly seeking a post-Christian settlement after the fashion of the age. Petherbridge's narration is sensitive and stately paced, only breaking the spell occasionally by sinking to an inaudible whisper during dialogues (inconvenient for listening while driving). This is not one to send you to sleep.