0358 | Where Angels Fear to Tread | E. M. Forster

0358 | Where Angels Fear to Tread | E. M. Forster

Context: having recovered from an infection in my left leg, I went out and badly sprained my right ankle while reading this.


Haven’t read Forster for a long while and the last time I tried I found him whimsical but wordy, kind of like he was playing straight man to Evelyn Waugh. This was good though. One of his earliest novels and I liked it.

Waugh-like, this is a parody of the English class-system which Forster deals more seriously with in later more famous novels. We’re in Italy and we’re in love with everything Italian. That is, until we have to deal with the realities of Italy which the Italians have so rudely failed to conceal.

This is a story of romance v reality and the effects of that on one particular family when one of their member ends up marrying, quite unexpectedly, an Italian. What’s worse, he’s the son of a dentist.

What starts as a battle to reclaim an Englishwoman from the greasy clutches of her uncultured husband, finishes as a fight over the only child of the marriage, with tragic consequences.

The characters are farcical which keeps you wanting to read on to see what other ridiculous things they might say, do, think or presume. And he’s not done a bad job with the story weaving in a certain amount of suspense along the way.

It’s a good read, but it was never going to win any prizes. It stands far below the literary importance of later works such as Room With a View or Passage to India. But maybe it’s a good read because of it.


They were all at Charing Cross to see Lilia off – Philip, Harriet, Irma, Mrs. Herriton herself.


They were in high spirits, and elaborate compliments alternated curiously with gentle horseplay. But soon they put up their legs on a pair of chairs and began to smoke.

“Tell me,” said Spiridione—”I forgot to ask—is she young?”


“Ah, well, we cannot have everything.”

“But you would be surprised. Had she told me twenty-eight, I should not have disbelieved her.”

“Is she SIMPATICA?” (Nothing will translate that word.)

Gino dabbed at the sugar and said after a silence, “Sufficiently so.”

“It is a most important thing.”

“She is rich, she is generous, she is affable, she addresses her inferiors without haughtiness.”

There was another silence. “It is not sufficient,” said the other.


Romance only dies with life. No pair of pincers will ever pull it out of us. But there is a spurious sentiment which cannot resist the unexpected and the incongruous and the grotesque. A touch will loosen it, and the sooner it goes from us the better. It was going from Philip now, and therefore he gave a cry of pain.


They hurried back to the carriage to close the windows lest the smuts should get into Harriet’s eyes.


0358 | Where Angels Fear to Tread | Forster | 60% | Good

Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement | Style Read more about how I come up with my ratings

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