New Read: Howards End

After watching the BBC’s delightful 2017 adaptation, starring the brilliant Hayley Atwell and Matthew MacFadyen, I was inspired to put E. M. Forster’s turn-of-the-century classic, Howards End onto my new list for The Classics Club. Then in March, I picked this up thinking it would be perfect for spring.

Howards End is considered by many to be Forster’s masterpiece, in which the author explores the slowly changing landscape, social conventions, codes of conduct and relationships in turn-of-the-century England. He does this with humour and pathos through the lives and interactions of three very different London families: the bohemian Schlegels; the rich, capitalist Wilcoxes and the impoverished Basts. The meeting of individuals with such polarised social status, world outlook and economic situation makes for some positive effects, comical blunders but also some disastrous consequences.

What, or should I saw who, really made this novel for me was the engaging Margaret Schlegel, an intelligent, idealistic and independent woman, with a love of the Arts, nature, travelling and social justice. Who, in a time when there were still many constrictions on women, is courageous enough to live the life and be who she wants to be, whilst also lovingly accepting others for who they are. Highlighted in her unwavering love for her rather irritating younger siblings: the flighty Helen and the pompously philosophical Tibby.

Similar it is with her love and compassion that Margaret draws many of the other main characters into the story and drives the plot along. First she befriends Ruth Wilcox, the matriarch of the Wilcox family, who is sick and alone, and in Margaret, Ruth believes she has met a kindred spirit. This later leads to the blossoming romance between Margaret and the widowed Henry Wilcox, who is a kind, practical and unsentimental businessman. Margaret also encourages and tries to help Leonard Bast, a poor Bank clerk with a passion for literature and music, after Helen accidentally takes his umbrella.

A lot of the story takes place in London, a little on the coast and in the country, however in the air always hangs Howards End… This house was the prized possession of Ruth Wilcox, which she wished to bequeath to Margaret, however even though her family don’t feel the same about the place, yet they can’t bare to part with it either. I could so easily picture the old, rambling house set in its semi-wild gardens, surrounded by fields out in the suburbs; that have yet to be swallowed up by London’s gradual expansion. For much of the book the house lies empty and it is Margaret who unintentionally brings life back to it. Forster creates a beautiful symmetry: beginning and ending the story with Howards End.

Oh I could go on, but I will stop. Overall I thought Howards End was a touching, humorous and masterful tale of family, society and change in the early 20th century, with vibrant characters and vivid descriptions of place. This did turn out to be a perfect read for Spring. Great read.

Have you read this? Or anything else by E. M. Forster?

This is book 8/50 for my Classics Club II reading challenge.

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Goodbye May, Hello June 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? May has absolutely flown by for me in a blur of four friends and family birthdays (including my baby brother’s 21st!), a lovely bank holiday weekend, buying a new car, and a short term at work which led to another week break. Even though it flew by, it was a quieter, more relaxing month, which left me plenty of time for some great reading. Here’s what I read:

Fiction: 3          Non-Fiction: 1

First, I finished reading the engaging, turn-of-the-century classic, Howards End by E. M. Forster off of my Classics Club list, which I was inspired to add to my list after watching the BBC’s delightful 2017 adaptation. I found the book to be an equal delight and the perfect spring read as I had hoped. Then I travelled further back to 16th century Scotland and France, in By Sword and Storm by Margaret Skea, the gripping and eagerly anticipated conclusion to Skea’s brilliant Munro Scottish Saga trilogy. It was great to catch up with well loved characters and see some conclusions for them… although I think teasingly left open enough for the possibility of more.

Finally, for something completely different, I indulged in a short, fun read of Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist by M. C. Beaton, the sixth full-length mystery from Beaton’s long-running cosy crime series. The premise for which was so familiar I thought this was a re-read, but the further I got into the twists and turns I had no idea what was coming, so either my memory is worse than I thought or I never actually read/finished this before.

Alongside these fictions, I also finished my continued read of the fascinating biography, Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley. Started back in January, I took my time over this in-depth and enthusiastic look into this beloved author’s life through the places and spaces that mattered to her.

Pick of the Month: I can’t choose!

Altogether that is a brilliant four books read – not only does that make this my best month numbers wise this year, it was all top-notch quality too. At the end of the month, I also started reading my first book off my 10 Books of Summer 2019 Reading Challenge: Runemarks by Joanne M. Harris; my book club‘s next read, Undivided by Vicky Beeching; and my Classics Club Spin result: The Time Machine by H. G. Wells.

In June, I look forward to a trip to a local Film and Comic Con; a special ‘Vision Evening’ at my church; celebrating Father’s Day and a trip to the theatre to see The Lady Vanishes. It is shaping up to be a busy month – Here’s hoping there is still plenty of time for reading!

What did you do and read in May? What are your plans for June?

Challenge: 10 Books of Summer 2019

The sun is shining and we seem to be hurtling towards summer! So it is with much pleasure that I announce Cathy is hosting her brilliant 20 Books of Summer challenge (with the option of 15 or 10 levels too) again this year. As usual I am aiming for the lower goal and here are the 10 books I hope to read:

  1. Cold Fire by Dean Koontz
  2. The Dragon’s Blade: The Last Guardian by Michael R. Miller
  3. Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott
  4. The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory
  5. The Moor by Laurie R. King
  6. Queen of the North by Anne O’Brien
  7. Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
  8. River Rising by John A. Heldt
  9. Runemarks by Joanne M. Harris
  10. Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

The challenge runs from the 3rd June to the 3rd September, so just after that I will check back in with you all to discuss what I manage to read!

Are you taking part in this summer challenge? Are there any of these books you think I should read first?

Goodbye April, Hello May 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? April has been another super busy month with a rainy school residential trip, an Agape Meal on Maundy Thursday, a gloriously sunny Easter Sunday, a St George’s Day extravaganza in our castle grounds and a lovely trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon. Where did my two weeks off go?! Even with all that though, I enjoyed some great reading, especially in my garden in the mini-heatwave we had. Here’s what I read:

Fiction: 2          Non-Fiction: 1

First, I lost myself in the historical fiction The Tudor Crown by Joanna Hickson, which continues Hickson’s War of the Roses story from the brilliant The First of the Tudors. I didn’t love it as much as the first book, however it was still a fascinating glimpse into the lost history of Henry Tudor’s exile. Then I moved on to the riotous fantasy Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett, the eighth instalment in Pratchett’s fantastical Discworld series and the first book following Captain Vimes and his ramshackle Night’s Watch. With magic, a secret society, mysterious goings-on, incompetent policing and dragons, what is not to love?!

Alongside these fictions, I also read the Christian non-fiction Love Wins by Rob Bell, which challenges the old presumptions of heaven and hell, and offers courageous, provocative alternative answers. My church’s book club will meet to discuss this at the end of May.

Pick of the Month: Guards! Guards!

Altogether that is three books read. During the month, I also read a little more of Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley  and the turn-of-the-century classic Howards End by E. M. Forster. I also started reading historical fiction By Sword and Storm by Margaret Skea: the eagerly anticipated conclusion to her Munro Scottish trilogy.

In May, I look forward to celebrating my brother’s special birthday and to a short term and so another week off very soon! A quieter month, with hopefully even more time for reading.

What did you do and read in April? What are your plans for May?

The Classics Club: Spin #20 Result

Last week, The Classics Club announced their 20th Spin event. The idea for which is to list 20 books remaining on our Classics Club lists, numbered 1-20, and the number announced today is the book we have to read by the 31st May 2019. So the results are in and our spin number is…

19

Which means I will be reading The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, which I think it a great result for me. I have long wanted to read this but just don’t seem to be getting round to it – in fact The Time Machine is left over from my first list – so this will finally give me the push I need. Not sure I will make the deadline though, as I have Howards End by E. M. Forster to finish before I start this.

Have you read this? If you also took part, what was your result?

The Classics Club: Spin #20

It’s time for The Classic Club’s 20th Spin! To join in simply list any 20 books that remain on your Classics Club list before Monday, 22nd April. On that day, the club will announce the winning number and then all you have to do is read the corresponding book by Friday, 31st May 2019. Here is my list:

  1. Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott
  2. Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon by Jane Austen
  3. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen [re-read]
  4. Persuasion by Jane Austen [re-read]
  5. The Marvelous Land of Oz by Frank L Baum
  6. Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
  7. The Professor by Charlotte Brontë
  8. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  9. A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  10. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  11. The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle
  12. The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas
  13. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy [re-read]
  14. The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling
  15. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  16. The Black Corsair by Emilio Salgari
  17. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  18. Heidi by Johann Spyri
  19. The Time Machine by H G Wells
  20. War of the Worlds by H G Wells

I have changed my list dramatically from the last spin, where I wanted to take advantage of the longer time period to tackle one of the more imposing tomes, however I made a slow start to my new list last year. So now I have replaced the tomes with all the children’s classics and other shorter classics on my list to make my life and reading a little easier.

Are you taking part in the Spin too? What book do you think would be good for me to get?

Goodbye March, Hello April 2019

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? March has been a super busy month for me with Shrove Tuesday, my dad’s birthday and Mothering Sunday to celebrate; a school trip to Water World; and a special evening of music and talks about dealing with anxiety and depression at my church. Even with all that going on, I have been able to set time aside to read and here is what I read:

Fiction: 3          Non-Fiction: 1

First I read Lives of Notorious Cooks by Brendan Connell, a 2012 fictionalised collection of surreal, succinct biographies of famous and legendary cooks. Not the type of book I would usually go for, however it made a nice change and it was the lighter, shorter read I was looking for. In parallel I was reading the lovely, easy-going children’s classic, Little Men by Louisa May Alcott, the 1869 sequel to the utterly charming Little Women. After a heavy first year (2018) into my new Classics Club list this was just what I needed.

Finally, I rounded off my lighter March reading fare with a fun re-read of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, the last book in Collins’ bestselling, young adult trilogy: The Hunger Games. Still not my favourite instalment in the brilliant series, but I definitely enjoyed it more the second time around. It has also been great refreshing my memory of the extra details of the books, after having enjoyed the highly successful film franchise.

Alongside these fictions, I also read Christian non-fiction The Death of Western Christianity by Patrick Sookdheo, a fascinating – if a little depressing – look into not only the decline of Christianity but also the growing opposition from an increasingly secular Western society. Sadly I won’t be able to attend my church’s book club meeting to discuss this, as I will be away for the night on a school residential trip.

Pick of the Month: Mockingjay

Altogether that is a perfectly respectable four books read, which is even more impressive considering how much I have been up to. During the month, I also read a little more of Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley and I started reading historical fiction The Tudor Crown by Joanna Hickson and the turn-of-the-century classic Howards End by E. M. Forster.

Looking forward to April, I have the school residential trip (as mentioned above) to go on and I very much look forward to the Easter break, which should hopefully afford a good rest, some wonderful celebration and plenty of time for reading.

What did you do and read in March? What are your plans for April?