Howards End Vs. On Beauty

by Charlotte Reads Classics

Howards End 

I think the motto of the book is ‘Only Connect’. I loved Howards End, it was my first time reading E. M. Forster, and I am very pleased I finally got around to reading one of his novels! It mainly centers on class struggles in pre first world war / turn of the century England. A brilliant set of generally quite unlikeable characters… it sounds a bit silly but I only discovered recently that books with no characters you would ever want to emulate or befriend can be just as or even more enjoyable than books with a character you think is awesome. You’ve got the Schlegel sisters- batty scatterbrained romantic Helena, who loves art and ideas and the idea of duty and charity but can’t put it into reality, and steady Margaret – family orientated, practical, with more going on inside her head than you could ever imagine. I love the connecting theme in the book, basically all the characters’ lives intertwine through a completely random and seemingly insignificant occurances and acquaintences.

On Beauty 

I read this a few years ago and loved it. Recently read it after reading Howards End, and I think I can now appreciate its parallels. Love the ridiculous academic idealism… are American Universities really like Wellington?! The characters are enjoyable in their diversity, and I enjoyed (especially when I was a bit younger) their quest for an authentic identity. Zadie Smith is a brilliant author, but I don’t think I completely understood her satire of art and beauty. There is possibly a muddled up point in the novel but I wasn’t quite sure what she was getting at. I am happy to be enlightened though! I did like reading about the families and marriages and how love changes over a lifetime. I think for the most part it was a realistic description.

Think I will try and find some more connecting yet seemingly very different novels.