One hundred and five years ago tonight, on the first Christmas Eve of World War One, a curious thing happened.
World War One, or the Great War, began in 1914. Like other long conflicts in history, many soldiers had gone to the battlefields enthusiastically, believing the war would be brief. When the first wave of soldiers departed for the front in July 1914, many imagined they would return home in a month or two, flushed with victory. By December 1914, they had been thoroughly disillusioned. So many soldiers had perished on the battlefield already, and both sides now understood the war would be a prolonged death grapple, one in which they fervently believed their own army must triumph.
Where Angels Fear to Tread was E.M. Forster’s second novel. The book is set in England, late in the Victorian period. The plot revolves around the story of Lilia Herriton, a young English widow and mother. Critics say Where Angels Fear to Tread is not one of Forster’s best works, which is a good example of why you should not trust critics. It’s a great book.
The Herritons, led by Lilia’s mother-in-law are watchful, repressive people, who deeply dislike the unrefined young woman the oldest son married. Mrs. Herriton embodies malice as few women do. “For six months [Mrs. Herriton] schemed to prevent the match, and when it had taken place she turned to another task—the supervision of her daughter-in-law. Lilia must be pushed through life without bringing discredit on the family into which she had married.”