First of all let me get this straight; I'm not exactly into classics. I mean they're ok and I enjoy them enough to make myself read at least one a year during the summer but they aren't my cup of tea.
Howards End is the house of Mrs Wilcox. The house, although vital to the book, is not used that often. And the book is based around three families; the Schlegle's, the Wilcox's (a rich capitalist family) and the Bast's (lower middle class). It is based around the Schlegle sisters, Margret and Helen who throughout the novel attempt to make the Wilcox's less prejudiced and to help the Bast's. So it comes as no surprised that they are portrayed very positively.
The novel reminds me of Lady Chatterley's Lover in style (I'm a third of the way through that at the moment). The ideas presented about gender and class also seem to be very similar, it wasn't surprising to find out that the author of Howards End defended Lady Chatterley.
I think that overall I would give it 3 stars. For such a great literary book that feels mean but then again there are parts that Forster could have really milked. At the end, something happens, which could have been incredibly exciting and perhaps even scandalous Yet in comparison to the rest of the book it is incredibly rushed and makes me think that by the end Forster had given up on it. I just think that Forster could have really done something with it, made the book that one chapter longer, maybe not even. It would have made it better considering that exciting bit is so badly done and the characters have very little reaction to it which detracts from how believable they are in the novel and before that Forster had built it up really well.
So 3 stars I think, I'd be tempted by 2 but even I cannot be that harsh to what is undoubtedly a great piece of literature.