Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Wryly comic yet sympathetic
Forster is a real master of deadpan wit. He’s often laugh-out-loud funny, but never in a tasteless or over the top way; often, his humor has the appearance of deadly seriousness, which makes it all the more funny. His description of the Catholic “he-babies” and “she-baby” blessing themselves at Machiavelli’s monument in Santa Croce makes us weep with laughter every time. However, while we can laugh endlessly at the words and actions of his characters, we are always sympathetic to them – there is something so human about the way the narrator interacts even with the most ridiculous of characters. It’s telling that we even feel twinges of sympathy – or something like it – thinking of Cecil sometimes, despite the fact that he’s not exactly the most endearing of gentlemen (even if he is often unintentionally hilarious).