mI recently ordered a month of Starz through Amazon (I wanted to watch the Lonesome Dove miniseries and Starz was the only place it was streaming) and determined to get my monies worth I decided to look at some of the other offerings, including the most recent adaptation of Howards End. I mean, I watched the really terrible show Conviction for Hayley Atwell, Howards End feels like the least I could do. At the time I started watching it the miniseries was only two episodes in, so I was left feeling unfulfilled when I finished those two episodes and decided to pick up the book.
I’m finding it difficult to summarize the book, as it feels like there isn’t much happening until the very last bit when everything rushes together in a fairly explosive manner and then slowly settles down. I think the book is a bit like watching the tide come in. You don’t really notice it while it’s happening and then a wave comes along and destroys the sandcastle you were working on. It is far easier to say that the book is an exploration of class in England at the beginning of the 20th century. There are the Wilcoxes, a very wealthy family; the Schlegels, the continental artists; and the very poor Basts. These three families intersect across a few years and around the titular house of Howards End.
It is a deceptively simple book and it has hung around the back of my brain for a couple of weeks now. I really enjoyed it. As for the adaptation, it was fine. I’m glad it got me to read the book, which is the best purpose of an adaptation I think. However, I don’t think the novel is well suited towards adaptation, and so a lot of what makes the book so wonderful is lost in the translation.