sometimes witty book reviews
Title: Where Angels Fear to Tread
Author/Year: E. M. Forster, 1905
Found: Set text for my College’s book club
Read time: One week of before-bed reading
If you come to Where Angels Fear to Tread expecting a satirical yet light hearted romp like that found in Forster’s A Room with a View, you won’t be disappointed for the first three chapters. Thereon in however, one experiences a much darker side to Forster’s ‘usual’ adventures in whimsy.
Published a decade or so before his (arguably) most famous novella, Angels tracks the fate of a respectable English family bound through marriage to a contemptible cad native to and residing in the tiny Italian town of Montenario.
Lilia Herrington is sent to Italy by her in laws after the death of her husband. She has become ‘wayward and uncontrollable’ and regarded as a less than suitable mother for poor little Irus. She is chaperoned by the much younger Charlotte Abbott. To spite the Herringtons and in the name of ‘love’ she marries the beautiful yet brawny son-of-a-dentist Gino. They marry and within weeks Lilia is crumbling under the restrictive nature of small-town Italy. Before we’re even half way through, Lilia has died in childbirth and the Herrington matriach is determined to save the baby.
The less-than-dynamic brother/sister duo that is frustrating Phillip and haughty Harriet Herrington are dispatched to Tuscany to save face and the day. Things grow dark and the novella take a nasty twist into glaring reality as tempers flare, plots are planned and Caroline turns up intent on…no one really knows. But there is a fight scene.
Thus ensues a fraught battle for the destiny of the baby. To grow up loved and uncouth or to be brought up unloved but extremely well?
Best read with nougat and muscat at hand.