A Passage to India
Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Objective, but Interested
The tone of the novel tends to be objective, as if it were trying to present an unbiased view of the characters. This tone is especially useful when we get to the trial scene, where nobody seems to be thinking clearly and everybody seems to be on the verge of hysteria. On the other hand, it's not as if the novel were completely disinterested, either. It strikes a sympathetic note here and there, particularly when a character struggles to grapple with the big questions in life, what Fielding calls the "muddle."