Sunday, 29 July 2012

1st Summer Book Review: 'Maurice' by E.M. Forster

The first book I am going to review in my Summer Book Review list is 'Maurice' by E.M. Forster.  I had already read a Forster book called 'Howards End', and found it really enjoyable.  This is what spurred me on to read 'Maurice'.  E.M. Forster's life spanned 1879 to 1970 and he was 91 when he passed away.  He was homosexual, in a time when gay men could be arrested for 'lewd behavior', and so, although he wasn't closeted, only close friends and family ever really knew about his sexuality.  I believe that it is this difference of character that must of helped Forster to see past some of the social and sexual laws of the day to the very heart of the matter.  For example, in 'Howards End', Forster is able to give the readers representations of female characters who are intelligent, flawed and complex.  That is what is so brilliant about his characters; each of them has their vices.

In 'Maurice', Forster wanted to create a protagonist who is human in every way, and not an idealised character:  "someone handsome, healthy, bodily attractive, mentally torpid, not a bad business man and rather a snob. Into this mixture I dropped an ingredient that puzzles him, wakes him up, torments him and finally saves him."  This 'ingredient' that Forster speaks of is Maurice's homosexuality.  This is partly what sets 'Maurice' apart from many other books of the time.  However, because of the nature of this book, Forster didn't feel he could publish it while he was still alive, so it was only published after his death in 1970.  There were so many things I loved about this novel. I loved how the main character was painted, with an honesty and a sensitivity that is breathtaking to read.  This novel is fairly short and didn't take long to read at all but it is one that will stick with you for a long time afterwards.  The three main characters of this novel are all fascinating.  At no point did I grow tired of any of them, because, although they weren't all pleasant all of the time, each was written with detail and truth.  I think what made me really interested me in his novels was the way in which he wrote.  His writing has a freedom and directness about it, which I felt marked it out from some of his contemporaries.   Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to as many people as possible.  My concluding summary of this novel: a beautiful, English summer romance, with a twist.  5/5

N.B.  There is a brilliant 1987 Adaptation of this novel, starring James Wilby, Hugh Grant, and Rupert Graves, that I would highly recommend to anyone who reads and enjoys the book.

Summer Reading

Recently, I finished my English Literature A-Level.  It was a joyous day as I had been having a great  amount of difficulty getting through the course, out of sheer boredom and a sense of frustration over the 'ticking the boxes' problem that the course had.  Because of this, I was all set to have a reading-free summer, just letting myself breath after an intensive two year course where everything I read was controlled by a book list for my A-Level.  In fact, what I found was that finishing my English A-Level had the opposite effect.  Of course, for a time, I didn't read, but within a few weeks, watching endless amounts of TV, amongst setting up and developing my Etsy business, began  to be increasingly dull and monotonous.  So I returned to my first great love:  Reading!  Studying the subject had all but killed my passion for literature, but as soon as I no longer had a teacher standing over me, repeating, 'Form, Structure, Language', I began to enjoy reading again.  So, I joined a website called, which allows you to collate all the books you want to read, all the ones you have read and what you thought of them, amongst other things.  I also rejoined my local library, which I had a membership to when I was younger, but had stopped going to once I joined school.  It was fast and easy to sign up to and when I walked through the doors, I was reminded of all the happy times spent there as a child (and this is said with  no sense of sarcasm!).

So, to add to my summer reading excitement, I thought I would start a sort of summer reading review/book list.  I'll read the books and then write a small review, telling you whether I think the novel is worth reading or not, and how much I enjoyed it.  I will also be updating you on all my summer art and fashion projects.  So, lets see how long I can keep this up, with any sense of regularity!

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