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Exclusively from Audible
'Ah for darkness...not the darkness of a house which coops up a man among furniture, but the darkness where he can be free!'
Maurice Hall knows he must choose between living life in the shadows or denying himself a chance at love and fulfilment. Aware of his attraction to the same sex, in a time where it was considered unlawful and immoral to have homosexual desires, Maurice must decide whether to battle or submit to a prejudiced 20th-century English society.
A passionate and poignant tale, E.M. Forster's Maurice was a masterpiece ahead of its time. Incapable of believing that his contemporaries would accept its content, Forster refused to publish it, fearing that it would expose his sexuality along with his hero's.
Having witnessed, at 16, the very public trial and chastisement of Oscar Wilde, Forster grew up with an acute awareness of the kind of society he inhabited. This affected him immensely and, as such, he refused to publish any further fiction during the last 37 years of his life. Despite being one of the most celebrated authors of British history, Forster's talents were as constrained as his love life. Realising that he could never publically talk or write about the issues he held close to his heart, Forster made A Passage to India his last work.
He wasn't mistaken about his society, and when Maurice was published, posthumously, many were scandalised by the controversial content.
Unfortunately, Forster never experienced the freedom which his protagonist seeks, but Maurice has far outlived an age of bigotry and is now widely celebrated and critically acclaimed.
Having started his career as a leading child actor, Peter Firth received a Tony Award nomination for his performance in Peter Shaffer's play Equus (1973) at only 21. He later starred with Richard Burton in its film adaption, earning him a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and an Academy Award nomination. His other film work has included roles in Pearl Harbor (2001) and The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005).
He is best known for his role as Sir Harry Pearce in the BBC show Spooks (2002-2011), appearing in every episode of the show's 10 series. Recent roles have included Jacob Marley in the BBC's Dickensian series (2015) and Ernest Augustus in ITV's drama series Victoria (2016).
He has narrated several audiobooks such as Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Birdsong and Witness. In 2015, Peter starred in Audible's multicast drama Amok.
I had an old recording of Maurice on cassette many years ago and adored it. Finally, this intelligent and moving novel is available again at Audible, and I couldn't be more satisfied with this new recording.
Maurice is a very literate and thoroughly enjoyable novel concerning same-sex love among an intolerant and hypocritical society. The rather poetic descriptions of Maurice's inner life as he stumbles about in self-discovery are just as accurate and appropriate today as ever.
The scathing humor in Forster's more famous novels is properly not as apparent in Maurice, as its subject matter was obviously a more personal one for the author. The fact that the book wasn't published until after Forster's death lends a definite eloquence to the story. During his lifetime, the novel was shared only among his closest friends.
Peter Firth, a great actor, gives a measured performance that is perfectly suited to Forster's style. The romantic aspect of the story is that much more powerful because the narration is restrained. Forster is so honest and matter-of-fact, purposely dry because his subject is so very affecting.
45 of 49 people found this review helpful
First off, one has to be a fan of Forster, that's easy. I came about him through the movies made from his writings. I loved the movie Maurice, that is until I listened to Peter's narration of the original. Suddenly the movie treatment was horrid. They manipulated the movie to suit their media as movie-makers often do. The book was far better than the movie, more insightful. The ending left me speechless and hopeful that Forster might have written a sequel. I so did wish to know how Mr. Hall and Mr. Scudder got along later in life. Of course there is no such book, sadly. Anyway, have a listen to this. You won't be disappointed!
22 of 24 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
"Maurice" was not quite what I expected, yet from the start, one feels how important this novel is. It is unfortunate that this work is rather obscure. I believe it should be read by everyone as a way of looking into homosexuality with the intent to see it as normalcy to those who have no choice in what they feel. Mr. Forster understood this and wanted to bring this knowledge to a world that was not, and in some ways is still not, ready for it. Maurice himself spends a great part of his time loathing himself for the things he feels yet is in a state of bewilderment because he can't conceive of feeling any other way. He wants desperately to love and be loved and as a result brings himself misery when he doesn't think he'll ever be worthy of the emotion. In the process, his unhappiness spreads into his surrounding world, effecting his everyday life. Peter Firth's narration was spot on, a perfect voice for the plot of the book, which was superbly written. It's a novel I will certainly listen to again for it gave me a great deal to think about. The deeply human characters, especially Maurice and Alec, are perfect catalysts to show the reader/listener, without judgement, that everyone has a right to happiness and love, and, when it comes to tolerance, what a long, long way society has come.
14 of 15 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to Maurice again? Why?
I will listen to this book again. The performance was really good and I enjoy good gay fiction that isn't heavy on the sex. In this book intimacy is mentioned without sounding vulgar.
Who was your favorite character and why?
As much as I liked Maurice because he reminded me of myself, I like Alec and his part of the story. Alec really took the story to a new level.
Which scene was your favorite?
I loved the meeting at the museum between Maurice and Alec. I found myself getting anxious and emotional from about this point on in the story.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
I would have loved to have taken half a day to listen to the story all at once. If I had been reading the words myself, I might have read all in one sitting. As it was, I enjoyed the performance and wish it was longer.
Any additional comments?
If you like gay fiction and television series like Upstairs Downstairs, you will enjoy this book!
17 of 19 people found this review helpful
In the wake of the recent overturn of DOMA and Prop 8, I occasionally came across articles and social media posts referencing one of E.M. Forster’s lesser-known classics, Maurice. Having never read or listened to it before I thought this was an appropriate time to pick it up.
Due to the fact that that homosexuality was illegal in England for much of Forster’s life – and that Forster himself was a closeted gay man – the author requested that the novel not be published until his death. But the themes and subject matter may be the least shocking thing about Maurice (especially to contemporary ears). And indeed, as is often noted by Maurice’s first love, Clive Durham, the Greeks wrote about homosexual love quite rapturously. No, the most intriguing thing about Maurice – and here is the spoiler alert – is that this story has a happy ending. One is so prepared to expect tragedy from such a premise. But the fact that Forster could imagine two men finding happiness, if not societal acceptance, in pre-WW1 Britain, was remarkably forward thinking for his time. However the two men have to literally disappear into the ether, and the story ends that way - with a true vanishing - giving one the sense that Forster was unable to conjure up a viable realistic circumstance in which a relationship such as this could flourish. But he writes with such exhilaration for a possible future that Maurice ultimately serves as a hopeful and wonderful last testament from the grave.
Peter Firth’s reading is elegant, and perfectly captures the various levels of social strata through which Maurice travels, lending credence to the impossibility of the situation that a modern reader might struggle to grasp otherwise. He illuminates the desperation and anxiety with which Maurice faces his predicament and his clarity of tone helps the listener hear and feel the story beneath some of the heavier, more intellectual monologues that Forster peppers throughout. This definitely falls into my list of classics that are better heard than read.
34 of 39 people found this review helpful
A beautiful book, performed stunningly by Peter Firth. This novel was written early in the 20th century, but not published until after the author's death. Forster is a master storyteller, and Maurice contains all the seeds of the author's genius. It is a book about gay men, yes; but it is also a book about society, psychology, and love. I highly recommend it. The Merchant-Ivory film of the novel is quite good, too.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up Maurice in three words, what would they be?
What a wonderful story. EM Forster!!
What did you like best about this story?
The deepth of feeling and description of what the character is thinking and feeling. <br/>I have read this book so many times I cannot count.
What does Peter Firth bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Fabulous. The characters are brought to life.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I love it. It make me cry every time.
Any additional comments?
Buy it - keep it. Consider referring to this story for relationship advice. It's wonderful!
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
Maurice is the intimate story of one man's coming to terms with his sexuality and his desires contrasted by his struggles of living in a suppressive culture and the binding social expectations set by class standards. Bold by the standards of the time that it was written, I found Maurice to be both sad and beautiful. Sad because of the frustration of defeat and the ensuing heartbreak Maurice endures. But beautiful because of the hope and determination that rises from the courage Maurice finds to live his life fulfilled as his heart commands. Peter Firth's narration is really very good; his voice is cultured and rich and he has the emotional power to carry the story to the end. I know that I will listen to Maurice again and again, it's that good.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful
Normally, I shy away from the classics on audio since many of those who read them are boring. Peter Firth brought this book to life for me and I would highly recommend it to anyone. If you loved the movie, you will thoroughly enjoy the audio book.
15 of 19 people found this review helpful
Fascinating and beautiful. Frank portrayal of homosexuals in a "Downton Abbey"like setting. The psychologies of these characters are marvelously portrayed. While I love the movie, the novel gives you insight into the point of view of Clive and Scudder. The movie portrays Maurice's point of view primarily. I have read this book twice. It was wonderful to listen to Peter Firth's interpretation. There is a very sexy vibe even while honoring the chaste and dry British tone.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed the story. It has an air of innocence while being subtly gentle and calm about the characters dealings of homosexuality. It paints a good picture of ideologies of a certain class and time and how men would have dealt with it.
I liked the narrating of variable accents and voices that kept different characters clear.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Profound love story, beautifully written and deeply satisfying. Excellent narration with brilliant characterisation. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I understand the importance of this text, as a piece of LGBT literature, and I'm usually a fan of E.M. Forster's work (being most familiar with Howards End). I found the part of this I listened to incredibly monotonous and dry, and was disappointed. I think I'll try reading the book instead.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful