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The story of a house and two sisters, Howards End is also a subtle meditation on national, sexual and social identities. Half German by birth and middle-class English by upbringing, Helen and Margaret Schlegel struggle to come to terms with the problems of their inheritance in Edwardian England. If the contrasting temperaments of the heroines often recall Sense and Sensibility, the comparison with Jane Austen is fully justified by the power of Forster’s irony and the brilliance of his wit.