Margaret Schlegel's life is swept out of its planned course by her involvement with the wealthy and unpredictable Wilcoxes. Helen Schlegel has a falling out with her boyfriend Paul Wilcox, and this, thinks her family of cultured intellectuals, will be the end of their interaction with the extravagantly wealthy Wilcoxes. They are surprised when the Wilcoxes more from their estate at Howards End to an apartment just across the street from them. An unpleasant row between Helen and Paul is expected, but Paul is actually living in Nigeria and, with Helen vacationing in Germany, the families coexist in peace. Helen's older sister Margaret even befriends Mrs. Wilcox, shopping with the older woman and throwing her a party. When Mrs. Wilcox suddenly dies, her husband Henry finds a handwritten note leaving Howards End to Margaret, for all of her kindnesses. Henry and one of his sons are the only ones who know about Mrs. Wilcox's intent, and they keep it a secret.
Meanwhile, the Schlegels have befriended a man named Leonard Bast who works at an insurance company. They meet him at a symphony performance and, mesmerized by Helen, the man begins grows to adore the family, modeling himself after them in a renewed interest in intellectual improvement. As Margaret becomes friendly with Henry Wilcox, the older man urges Leonard to quit his company, which Henry believes to be a lost cause. The Schlegel's lease runs out and Henry rents them a swanky apartment in London which he owns. Soon after he proposes to Margaret who quickly accepts, to her own surprise.
Margaret attends the wedding of Henry's daughter, an unpleasant affair for her. During the frivolity, Helen arrives furious that Henry told Leonard to quit his job. Having taken him up on his careless suggestion, Leonard is now unemployed and without prospects. Margaret demands that her fiance provide Leonard with a job. Henry intends to oblige but soon meets Leonard's mother who he realizes was a prostitute with whom he had a lengthy affair a decade before. Margaret does not hold this against him, but agrees that he cannot give a job to Leonard.
Leonard is aghast and finds solace with Helen. One night, talking late about his troubles, the two have sex and Helen becomes pregnant. She leaves the country in shame and Leonard retreats from involvement with the family. Margaret and Henry get married. Months later, when Margaret sees her sister while she is at Howards End picking up some of her belongings, she implores upon her husband to help care for her. Henry judges Helen to be a ruined woman and refuses. Margaret is furious and leaves with Helen for Germany.
Leonard is still wracked with guilt and decides to confess that he is the father of Helen's child to Margaret. He looks for her at Howards End, but is attacked by one of Henry's sons. Struck in the head with the flat side of a sword, Leonard crashes into a bookshelf which falls on him, prompting a fatal heart attack. Margaret and Helen return after his death and the two of them settle into life with Henry at Howards End. Helen has her baby and the two sisters never leave, still living at Howards End over a year later.
Best part of story, including ending:
I thought all of the characters were well-drawn and believable, especially the Schlegel sisters.
Best scene in story:
The scene where Leonard dies seemed....far-fetched I guess. It didn't seem to take much to kill him, but I think I'll always remember that scene. It kind of amused me, I guess.
Opinion about the main character:
I like Helen and Margaret's relationship. It has all the elements of a real sister relationship: lots of anger, love, and forgiveness.