30 Books in 30 Days - Day 22: An LGBTQ+ Love Story
I first read Maurice when I was probably about fourteen. It was the first book I'd read that featured characters who were not heterosexual and I read it because of who it was by - I knew he was the author of 'classic' literature, which was the phase I was going through at the time. I had no real idea about the storyline or characters and so it was something of a revelation. Until I read this, I hadn't really ever considered the difficulties faced by people who did not conform to societal 'norms' of the time, but this book made me look at the society I lived in with different eyes.
It is a beautifully written book, but it made me incredibly sad, for so many reasons. The main thing that struck me at the time was how unfair it was that it had only been published after Forster's death. He wanted Maurice and Alec to have a happy ending, but it would simply have been too controversial at the time it was written. For me, reading as teenager prone to romanticise life at the best of times, it seemed indescribably unfair that this should have been the case - Maurice and Alec were meant to be together, just as Lady Chatterly and Mellors were. Why should society dictate who they should fall in love with?
I think reading this book marked the beginnings of me developing my own ideas about right and wrong, about society, about the need to 'fit in' even at the expense of your own happiness and although it took many years for me to develop this fully and be able to articulate it properly, this was the trigger for all of that.
On a lighter note - it's also one of the few books where I've seen an adaptation of it that I felt perfectly captured the spirit of the book. The Merchant Ivory film also introduced me to three of the most wonderful British actors - Rupert Graves, Hugh Grant and James Wilby (more of him later in this series) and the book is still one of my favourite reads of my teenage years.