When the young English widow Lilia Herriton takes off on the grand tour and along the way marries a penniless Italian, her in laws are far from amused That the marriage should fail and poor Lilia die tragically are only to be expected But that Lilia should have had a baby and that the baby should be raised as an Italian are matters requiring immediate correction by Philip Herriton, his dour sister Harriet, and their well meaning friend Miss Abbott Fools rush in I guess I m a fool I thought E M Forster was easy to read, almost too easy sometimes Delighted with his nearly faultless prose, I read his thin first novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread 1905 , all in one afternoon Forster tells the story of a young English widow who is seduced by her romantic vision of Italy and Italians and yearns to escape her controlling and snobbish in laws in England Her hasty marriage to a member of Italian nobility sets her English relations afluFools rush in I guess I m a fool I thought E M Forster was easy to read, almost too easy sometimes Delighted with his nearly faultless prose, I read his thin first novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread 1905 , all in one afternoon Forster tells the story of a young English widow who is seduced by her romantic vision of Italy and Italians and yearns to escape her controlling and snobbish in laws in England Her hasty marriage to a member of Italian nobility sets her English relations aflutter, leading to all sorts of sadness, disappointment, and eventual tragedy Line by line, the novel is very well written and a pleasure to read, but the tale s superficial chauvinism, scant humor, and rough ending left me with a nasty case of indigestion I couldn t believe a book by one of my favorite authors really could be as nauseating as a quick first read made it out to be So, after dinner, I started slowly reading the book again Not surprisingly, with a careful second reading, I found the book to be muchpalatable still prickly in parts butpalatable.In the afternoon, all of Forster s obvious foreshadowing was lost on me, and I missed much of his dry, understated wit and self deprecating irony The characters seemed sketchy and melodramatic, and the plot seemed to ramble But with a second reading, I found that I really liked Philip, whose disillusionment with false romance and gradual understanding of love and real humanity are at the heart of the story Gino, Lilia, and Miss Abbot were each muchdeftly drawn than I at first realized even Mrs Herriton and Harriet aren t so bad once you get used to them The humor popped out when I took the time to clearly imagine the scenes I was reading And what I had mistaken for a loosely organized, muddled first novel, was really very carefully balanced and symmetrical.So, what did I learn from this book When it comes to E M Forster and I suspect many other authors, too , it really pays to re read and to read slowly Maybe requiring this much attention from the reader is the flaw of a first novel or an overly self conscious novel I ve never before felt compelled to immediately re read any of Forster s other books But it was a rewarding undertaking, and I suppose that from now on, once I finish a book, I ll re read the first chapters, which typically are teeming with important and telling details, before I pass judgment on a book Written in 1905, this was Forster s first novel It is a comedy of manners, and does show signs of his great talent Out of his four best known novels though, this seems by far the weakest I personally think it would have worked better as a novella or even a short story later he did write very good short story collections.The balance of this short novel feels wrong The early descriptions of upper class characters enmeshed in their own culture are really rather dull, and would have benefited f Written in 1905, this was Forster s first novel It is a comedy of manners, and does show signs of his great talent Out of his four best known novels though, this seems by far the weakest I personally think it would have worked better as a novella or even a short story later he did write very good short story collections.The balance of this short novel feels wrong The early descriptions of upper class characters enmeshed in their own culture are really rather dull, and would have benefited from a lighter touch andwit One character in particular, Mrs Herriton, is a very dislikeable matriarch figure, outraged by anything she feels is not correct, and manipulating all around her Surely there is ample scope here for aevident sense of the ridiculous The lengthy descriptions are tedious, and needed judicious editing Additionally the first scenes at the station introduce nearly all the characters at once, which is confusing The plethora of overbearing and unsympathetic female characters, plus rather passive male ones, can probably be attributed to the fact that Forster s early childhood was mostly spent in the company of women He clearly tried to write about what he had observed He set most of the action in Italy, where he had spent a year travelling The fictitious town ofMonterianois apparently very similar to Monterrigioni, in Tuscany But Forster has been criticised for portraying the Italians in a stereotypical way After many pages of build up, the reader feels that inevitably something traumatic has to happen, and is not disappointed Even then though, the important events in the story happen off stage The impression gained is that Forster wasconcerned to contrast the social s than to tell the story itself This reminded me strongly of D.H Lawrence in fact much of this novel has the feel of Lawrence s writing By halfway the novel is much improved, and another very satisfying twist comes at the end It is worth sticking with, I feel, as it does redeem itself Romance only dies with life I spent some delicious summer hours rereading Forster s first novel, thinking of Europe and its contrasting, yet matching characters, its various climates and cultural reference points The eternal question of how to cope with social environment and human nature remains unhappily unsolved but beautifully illustrated in front of an Italian artistic landscape backdrop, with a cast of English characters struggling with suppressed emotions What is important in life Romance only dies with life I spent some delicious summer hours rereading Forster s first novel, thinking of Europe and its contrasting, yet matching characters, its various climates and cultural reference points The eternal question of how to cope with social environment and human nature remains unhappily unsolved but beautifully illustrated in front of an Italian artistic landscape backdrop, with a cast of English characters struggling with suppressed emotions What is important in life Sensuality and natural instincts, as Lilia seems to think when engaging with an Italian dentist s handsome but uncultured son, Gino Sophistication and belief in art as a means to find purpose and satisfaction Friendship Passion Where angels fear to tread that is life without the gloss of romance to make it look prettier than it is Seen in close up, sexual tension is not glamorous or even particularly exciting, and a m salliance is a marriage too, just like a conventional one, and it comes with the same issues, once the romance has worn off.Sacrifice oneself to convention to satisfy other people Is that the path for angels to treadsecurely Hardly What for To engage in petty unselfishness , as Forster eloquently sums up a life lived for appearances As the sad novel of unfulfilled dreams, unspent passions, unseen art and unlived life comes to a close, I believe I know what to take from it We can t ever rely on somebody or something else to give us meaning If we look for purpose and satisfaction in other people, rather than within ourselves, we will always, always be disappointed For other people don t pursue our happiness, not even when they claim to love us They pursue their own goals, and if we happen to cross their path we may be used as a vehicle on their quest, that s all If we want to be brave angels, walking joyously on the path that leads to an interesting and fulfilling future, we have to look for our own meaning Where angels like to walk This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here Some, but not all writers, can suffer with teething troubles on that first novel, E M Forster s 1905 Where Angels Fear to Tread is a prime example It s a valiant effort for a writer in his early days before what would follow, and I can t help but compare this to the delightful novel he wrote only three years later, A Room with a View , which pleasantly surprised me as to just how good it was This, just wasn t in the same league Our Mr Forster pretty much corners the literary market on E Some, but not all writers, can suffer with teething troubles on that first novel, E M Forster s 1905 Where Angels Fear to Tread is a prime example It s a valiant effort for a writer in his early days before what would follow, and I can t help but compare this to the delightful novel he wrote only three years later, A Room with a View , which pleasantly surprised me as to just how good it was This, just wasn t in the same league Our Mr Forster pretty much corners the literary market on English tourists being overwhelmed by the dream of another country, and what happens when that dream clashes against reality Here, that clash ain t pretty What it is, however, is sharp witted, emotional, and sometimes uncomfortable, about what it means to be a tourist, and what it means to put stock in the dream of another place.Bon voyage Lilia , a young unsophisticated widow, is being dropped off at the train station by her in laws the domineering Mommy Dearest Mrs Herriton and her children, Philip and Harriet They are sending her on a trip to serene Italy with the young but trustworthy Caroline Abbott, to escape the droll life in Sawston, England, and prevent her from making a bad love match up Yep, we re back in those days of frilly hats, turned up moustaches and fine porcelain skin with not a blemish in sight Hello, Edwardian era repression You do look awfully uncomfortable in that corset my dear.In Monteriano, Lilia marries the handsome but selfish Italian, Gino Carella but soon finds herself in an unhappy marriage with little personal freedom, and the cultural struggle between England and Italy becomesheated The set up swiftly changes when Lilia s newborn comes into the picture, and the novel turns into what one could describe as an old fashioned custody battle Philip and his sister Harriet set off to Italy to try and save the child from a poor upbringing And the pleasant nature than went prior is gone, turning the novel into aweighty affair The characters havegusto, and appear pained with panic, one in particular is forced into drastic measures that will effect the outcome It doesn t help when Caroline confesses her love for Gino, but there is no walking off into the sunset hand in hand, Forster s horizon is filled with a storm rather than blue skies.E.M Forster is a terrific immersive writer, and it doesn t take much to be drawn into his stories This short novel does contain some gorgeous prose, and it s quick to fall in with his social political commentary, and the well rounded dynamic characters are easy to love or hate Just don t get down on yourself if you end up buying a one way ticket to Tuscany, canceling the ticket, buying the ticket again, and then canceling it again After all, you re only human And there s no one that understands fickle, flawed humanity like E.M Forster So why not a better rating simple, I felt this wasof a writing exercise, where he was wearing trainers and not shiny shoes, the whole novel seemed it was written by a man still trying to figure himself out as a writer Even the best have to start somewhere, right The ending also felt limp, casting a shadow over what when before The idea s were there for sure, and he would only improve, writing eventually in nice polished shoes Worth reading, but lacking certain ingredients that would eventually turn him into one of Britain s finest By the time my morning coffee and croissant comes around, this isn t likely to be lingering in my mind Whereas A Room with View , which was read some time ago, still floats about occasionally