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E. M. Forster's first novel explores the comic and tragic effects of culture clash between insular, provincial British personalities and sensual Italian culture and atmosphere.
Lilia Herriton, an impulsive thirty-three-year-old widow from London, travels to Tuscany, where she falls in love with both Italy and the handsome, carefree Gino Carella, a dentist's son twelve years her junior. When news reaches the snobbish Herriton family that Lilia intends to marry again, this time to an unsuitable Italian, the domineering Mrs. Herriton sends her son, Philip, to prevent the catastrophe—but he arrives too late.
When tragedy strikes, the Herriton family decides to bring Lilia's infant son to England to be brought up properly—but not everyone is satisfied with the situation.