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Where Angels Fear to Tread is the first of E.M. Forster's six published novels. He wrote it whilst living in Italy at the turn of the last century and it was published in 1905, when Forster was 26. The title refers to the conduct of characters in the book, yes you've guessed: they rush in. His style is much less mature than in works like Maurice and The Longest Journey (which is definitely my favourite of the three I've read) but some themes, like his disgust with the rampant conformism of contemporary society, are already clear in this earliest work.

Lilia Herriton, a young English widow in the thrall of her dead husband's controlling and bourgeois family, goes (is sent) to Italy with a respectable friend of the family to distract her from a man deemed to be unsuitable. In the small and mostly nondescript town of Monteriano she falls wildly in love with Gino Carella, and upon hearing that her 'family' in England plan to intervene she marries the young penniless rogue. Although the novel opens with a mild and comic tone, it becomes more serious as Forster exposes the dangers of intolerance and strict adherance to conventional codes of conduct. I won't detail the whole plot, even though the plot itself is not the most important feature. Like all Forster's work (apparently) this is essential reading, and a defiant acclamation of awareness and independance.

His eyes widened when he saw the sign.

"Oh no," he said. "I'm not going in there."

"You have to!"

He crossed all four of his arms and turned away. "Nope. Nuh-uh."

She fought the sudden urge to tear out her own hair.

They stood together on the road, right before a large sign telling them they were now crossing state lines. Or would be, if he would just move a few more feet forward.

"It's not that bad," she said, tugging at one of his sleeves. "Really. Thousands of people make do-"

"Because they don't know any better! They think it's normal in there. Poor sad bastards. . ." Four heads looked down, shaking in sympathy.

"It's not that bad, really!"

"But in that cartoon you showed me, it was the location of-" He looked around nervously. "You know. That Other Place."

"That was fake. Just TV."

"But that Voltaire musician says-"

"That's just his opinion."

"But you said it was a miserable, godforsaken-"

"That was just my opinion. Now we've got to get in there. Gran lives down there, and I need to go see her."

He straightened up. All four heads looked at her, their eyes literally smoldering.

"Someone you know is down there?"

"Well, yeah. That was kind of the point of the whole trip." She frowned. "You though I was just wandering around the country?"

His top shoulders shrugged. The eagle head and lion head closed their eyes in an 'eh' kind of way.

"I figured you were just itchy."

She didn't bother asking what he meant by that. Sometimes you just had to let things go with him.

He looked up at the sign, then down the road.

"You're grandmother is really in there?"

"Yes."

His feathers ruffled in a way she'd come to equate with awkward foot shuffling. "And she's dear to you?"

"Yes!"

He sighed. "Fine."

She almost didn't dare to hope. "You'll go?"

He took a step forward. In one of his hands, a spear appeared in a small bout of flames. "Yes," he said. "We have to rescue her."

"But she doesn't need-" She stopped. This was quite possibly the only way to get him to go.

"Yeah, right," she mumbled.

Sorry, Gran. Burn that bridge when we get there.

She glanced once more at the sign.

New Jersey State Line.

Ah well, she thought. Maybe it won't be so bad.

She trotted down the road and together they headed for Atlantic City.


No offense meant to any New Jerseians in the crowd. It’s not your fault the Jersey Shore exists, or that the traffic in North New Jersey is hell on earth.

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