I love all kinds of books! For all my friends, I am known on GR as Alicja. I don't stick with a genre, that's boring. Instead you'll get reviews from the most random assortment of fiction and non-fiction works. It's probably due to my interests being as eclectic as my book tastes.
I'm a girlfriend-loving bisexual, science fiction geek, PC gamer, historical fiction devourer, hiker, atheist, history buff, opera lover, vegetarian, kayaker, metal and hard rock concert goer, science nerd, politics debater, world traveler, M/M romance fan, and I have the ability to transform from an adult-like hard-working professional into a screaming fangirl in five seconds flat.
Rating: 5.5/5 (It was that brilliant!)
Summary: Maurice is complicated in his simplicity. He belongs to an upper middle class in 1912 Britain; has a mother and two sisters where he is the head of the household, an Oxford education, a pre-determined job, and a house and servants to manage. His life should be simple… work, marry, produce heirs. And yet he feels different. This novel explores Maurice’s path to finding out just what makes him different and how to reconcile it into his life in a society riddled with class politics. Oh, and yes, to fall in love where his kind of love is condemned and criminalized.
Review: Written in 1913/14 but not published until the 70s (after the author’s death), this novel presents an insight into homosexuality at the turn of the century in England. It wasn’t published until that time because Forster feared about the legal and social consequences of writing this novel; however, by the 70s attitudes have changed.
The below may contain spoilers in the sense where this novel being so thin on a plot, my emotional response to it and its characters may influence your own, which in this case is an important aspect in reading this novel. Therefore, if you choose not to continue to read, just know that in my opinion this novel is utterly brilliant on so many literary and emotional levels I haven’t even began to explore. Forster is a genius, this novel being a fine example; a definite must read.
It took a little while getting used to the turn of the century British style of writing but once I did the payoff was enormous (can’t stress enough just how much depth and brilliance Forster packs into this little short novel with a very simple plot). The best description of this novel is a trip into Maurice’s heart and mind as he’s trying to figure out himself and his role in the highly structured society. Maurice is a character that grew on me. He’s a bit slow and emotionally immature, qualities that are annoying at first but become endearing in the end. From the first moment Forster peals back layer by layer this complicated character as Maurice learns, fumbles, and learns over again. At the same time I love Clive, at least I loved him at first. His quick wit, intelligence, thirst for knowledge and philosophy, as well as Hellenic tendencies (and love for ancient Greece) endeared him to me. And yet, due to Forster’s brilliance I found pity for him at the end as even with all those brilliant qualities, he couldn’t find in himself any understanding and compassion for others (at least others different than him). I love the ending, Clive ‘s intelligence proved to be a determent, he lacked the depth and sophistication that Maurice, even with his limited intelligence, was able to achieve. And Alec, oh Alec, we knew him such a short time but I grew to love him as much as Maurice in the end.
The ending is perfect, just brilliantly perfect, and Maurice gets to live happily ever after (in the time that it was written a happy ending to an LGBT novel meant that it encouraged crime and that the criminals got away, that really put it into perspective just how big of a deal it was for Foster to write it so). In the end, I laughed and cried, and felt heartbroken and in love right along with Maurice; it was a very emotionally and intellectually satisfying experience.
Movie Note: Based on the novel, Maurice (1987) movie was just as brilliant. With a few minor deviations (differences around the character Risley) and omissions (omitting philosophical discussions and some of the subplots) from the novel, it carries the spirit of it onto the screen. I would recommend watching the movie as well. Plus, a sexy and young Hugh Grant plays Clive and an even hotter Rupert Graves plays Alec.