E.M. Forster’s Where Angels Fear to Tread

This book’s been on my reading list for ages now! I finally got around to purchasing a copy at Waterstones in London while I swung by on my way back to the U.S. from Europe recently. My original introduction to E.M. Forster’s was his book Howard’s End. After watching the film adaptation of that book, I realized why Forster’s work lends itself so readily for motion picture adaptations. The stories capture quintessential British dilemmas within a short period timeframe.

The plot to this book is rather straightforward. Basically, Lilia Herriton, played by Dame Helen Mirren, goes to Italy and marries Gino, the son of an Italian dentist, played by Giovanni Guidelli. I have to say that the film adds layers to the story that make it better than the book. It’s one of the rare, very rare, times when I say or write that because the novel, while rich story-telling, is also rather sparse in details. It’s like Forster knew that it would become a film at some point. Now that’s some foresight! Anyway, one of the details I really enjoyed was the age differences between the characters. It was not immediately apparent in the book.

A film favorite, one that also features in Howard’s End, appears in this film too, Helena Bonham Carter plays Caroline Abbot. If I’m frank, I loved her work in Howard’s End and I, obviously, know she’s in A Room With A View. Check out my link for that review in the Table of Contents. She may have disliked, or chosen to distance herself from, her corset era, but I loved it. Anyway, she’s really immersed in the plot. She accompanies Lilia along the way and has a connection to Philip, Lilia’s brother-in-law from her first marriage. Philip is played by Rupert Graves.

If I write anymore on the plot, I will ruin the entire story. It’s not like E.M. Forster is known for writing long, complex epics. Instead, he sticks to a rather simple crescendo that leads to a climactic moment. To peak your interest just a little bit in the climax, there is a baby and death involved. You do the math. Ugh! My heart broke. It’s all about British heritage, you know? That’s at the core of it, like so many British novels. In any case, read it and watch the movie! It’s totally worthy entertainment.

Works Cited

Forster, E.M. Where Angels Fear to Tread. Penguin Publishing Group, 2008.

Where Angels Fear to Tread. Directed by Charles Sturridge, Sovereign Pictures, 1991.

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