Where Angels Fear to Tread
E.M. Forster, 1905
160-200 pp. (varies by publisher)
"Let her go to Italy!" he cried. "Let her meddle with what she doesn't understand! Look at this letter! The man who wrote it will marry her, or murder her, or do for her somehow. He's a bounder, but he's not an English bounder. He's mysterious and terrible. He's got a country behind him that's upset people from the beginning of the world."
When a young English widow takes off on the grand tour and along the way marries a penniless Italian, her in-laws are not amused. That the marriage should fail and poor Lilia die tragically are only to be expected. But that Lilia should have had a baby—and that the baby should be raised as an Italian! —are matters requiring immediate correction by Philip Herriton, his dour sister Harriet, and their well-meaning friend Miss Abbott.
In his first novel, E. M. Forster anticipated the themes of cultural collision and the sterility of the English middle class that he would develop in A Room with a View and A Passage to India.
Where Angels Fear to Tread is an accomplished, harrowing, and malevolently funny book, in which familiar notions of vice and virtue collapse underfoot and the best intentions go mortally awry. (Summary from Random House.)
The novel was adapted to film in 1991, starring Rupert Graves, Helena Bonham Carter, Giovanni Guidelli, Judy Davis, and Helen Mirren.
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