Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Room With a View, E.M. Forster

A Room with a View'The Signora had no business to do it,' said Miss Bartlett, 'no business at all. She promised us south rooms with a view, close together, instead of which here are north rooms, here are north rooms, looking into a courtyard, and a long way apart. Oh, Lucy!'

"First published in 1908, A Room with a View portrays the love of a British woman for an expatriate living in Italy. Caught up in a world of social snobbery, Forster's heroine, Lucy Honeychurch, finds herself constrained by the claustrophobic influence of her British guardians, who encourage her to take up with a well-connected boor. In the end, however, Lucy takes control of her own fate and finds love with a man whose free spirit reminds her of 'a room with a view.'" It's also described as the most optimistic and romantic of Forster's novels. 

I enjoyed A Room With a View, and although it's not as good as most Austen, it was an excellent novel. It was very chatty; there was lots and lots of dialogue in the book. The characters talk and talk about everything that happens. It was a bit off-putting, but I enjoyed the writing and the story. The characters didn't exactly come to life for me, but they certainly were interesting. I enjoyed the character of old Mr. Emerson, especially when he berates some of the other people on the carriage ride. I'm not exactly sure when A Room With a View is set, but suffice to say, the two Mr. Emerson's are both very progressive for their time.

Unlike in Northanger Abbey, the difference between Mr. Emerson and the "well-connected boor" is not so obvious at first. When the reader first meets Cecil, the boor, he doesn't seem that bad, though not quite right for Lucy either. This makes the book and the romance much more subtle. Cecil is certainly a very interesting character, not bad exactly, but inclined to loath everyone. Emerson describes him very well on pages 190-191. Some of the middle sections dragged a bit and were a little confusing, but I ended up really loving A Room With a View. It's a very subtle but brilliant book.

Overall, the writing in A Room With a View was very compelling; I look forward to reading Howard's End too. There's a great list here of what to read when you've finished Jane Austen, and A Room With a View is most justly on it. It's an excellent and thought-provoking book, one that I would highly recommend. There are lots of interesting character sketches, and the plot is quite good, though E.M. Forster is a bit sexist.

Read A Room With a View:
  • if you like E.M. Forster
  • if you like Jane Austen
  • if you like British literature
242 pages.
Very Good! I would recommend this book!

Does anyone know when A Room With a View is supposed to be set? 

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