What I want to know is: why did I like the first half of this book so much better than the second half?
The first half of the book was like meeting an old friend. I read this novel once, years back. It should not have felt so lovely and so familiar. I should not have invested so deeply in the characters. It’s a testament to Forster’s narrative skill that the book should produce a feeling like that in the reader.
But when the narrative shifts from Italy to England, and deals with the consequences of the things that happened in Italy…it just started feeling clunkier.
I think it’s because, although I like the reversal of the traditional English romance (traditional being a high-status man falls for a lower-status woman, while here statuses were reversed), I didn’t like how clunky the “message” of the book got. There was little subtlety to the narrative (though the characters and their reactions were certainly wonderfully drawn). At one point, people run around naked in the woods to symbolize freedom from propriety. At that point, it’s just kinda weird. Then there’s entire lectures on love and personhood. Having just read Jane Austen, the master of subtlety, it was very jarring and not in a good way.