Tuesday, January 20, 2009

But at least they can all quote Dante.

Current book: Where Angels Fear to Tread
Pages read: 68-150

Alas, there won't be any star-crossed intrafamilial loving, due to the fact that our English half-sister has already discovered the existence of her Italian half-brother by means of picture postcards. Oh, well. Unsurprisingly, the English family of our wayward widow decides to cover up the whole ill-fated marriage and subsequent birth and ignore the existence of the offspring. That is, until it becomes unavoidable to acknowledge the existence of the Italian lad - then, the matriarch of the English family decides that they have to go try to rescue the baby from his obviously inferior father and bring him back to be raised in England. (Italy, after all, is full of papists and fornicators. Everyone knows that.)

Our widow's brother and sister in law accordingly head off to Italy, where they meet our widow's former (young female) chaperone, engaged in the same charitable pursuit of rescuing the baby. The brother-in-law (Phillip), who's been falling in love with the chaperone (Caroline), is seduced by the beauty of Italy (You were hoping I was going to say something else after seduced, weren't you? Yeah, me too.) and decides he doesn't really care that much about getting the baby, but is still willing to give it the ol' college try. Caroline, however, sees the relationship between the Italian father and his son and, realizing the fact that the man really loves his child, decides she and her English cohort are in the wrong. When I left them, Phillip and Caroline were in the local church, arguing over the proper course of action.

Once again, I can't say what will happen next, but Forster's only got about 30 pages to conclude this debacle, so I won't be in suspense too much longer. I'm not terribly impressed by the novel so far, but it moves along, at least. As for the deep and meaningful subtext of the book, I'm going with, "Classism and manners are ridiculous and unnecessary and the English can't see past their own noses to the beauty of the world that lies beyond." It's just conjecture, though. I suppose it's possible that Forster will turn the whole thing around and make it a modern morality play, but I doubt it. Not after Caroline gave us an eloquent explanation of the fact that English society stifled both her and the wayward widow and drove them to their current ends. Stifled women seem to be a theme lately. (And by lately, I mean for the last 5,000 years.)

Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion! (Twenty bucks says this book makes my "Not worthy of the top 100" category.)


  1. I just noticed... shouldn't your subheading refer to our heroine, not our hero? Unless you're intentionally thwarting grammatically-forced gender identification?

  2. I thought about it, but it seemed like a better literary reference to go with "hero."



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