Friday, July 17, 2015

Book Review: A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

A Room with a View is one of those classic novels that probably doesn't need much explanation, but I will try anyway. The story follows Lucy Honeychurch, an upper middle class young English woman, who goes on a trip to Florence, Italy with her spinster cousin, Charlotte, as her chaperone. While in Florence, Lucy and Charlotte are thrown into mixed company with other English tourists staying in the same building. The group spends quite a bit of time touring the area together, and Lucy finds herself spending quite a lot of time with the Emersons, a father with his son George. George is kind of sulky, but informal while his father is very friendly even in situations where it is not considered "proper conduct". One fateful day, Lucy is in the town square when George comes up to talk to her - they are both alone. Suddenly two Italian men start fighting loudly with one another, and one suddenly falls into Lucy seeping blood - the other man had stabbed him. George manages to catch Lucy as she faints, and he carries her to safety. When she awakens, she plays things off in a very proper style, saying she's ok, while George starts talking about how he wants to live his life. Neither of the two tell the other company that they were so closely involved in what happened, and life continues on. One day while on a picnic at a villa, George unexpectedly kisses Lucy and Charlotte witnesses. The two women are so upset that Charlotte talks to George discreetly, and Lucy suggest they press on to Rome.

The book picks back up with Lucy engaged to a rich gentleman, Cecil, several months later. Cecil is fairly boring, unadventurous, and self-centered, but he will keep Lucy in a good social standing. When one of Lucy's neighbors needs to rent one of his houses, Cecil offers it up to two random men he meets in town as a joke, and the men turn out to be the Emersons. Lucy spends a lot of effort trying to avoid George, but that becomes difficult in their small town. One day while their group are walking back from playing tennis, George kisses Lucy again - this time right behind her fiancé's back. Lucy gets upset and tells him to leave and not return, which he does. Lucy then breaks things off with Cecil, convincing herself that it's only because she knows they are not right for each other, when in reality she is trying to suppress her feelings for George.The book ends with Lucy and George together in their room in Florence on their honeymoon after they run off together.

I like this book for a few reasons. First, it's a great view into the time between Victorian behavior and everything that came afterward. Second, it's a tasteful love story, ending with the girl making the much awaited decision, and in this case she chooses her own happiness. The book itself is written beautifully, and the characters are really funny in a sarcastic way. I loved reading the descriptions of Cecil and how awkwardly Charlotte made everyone feel all the time with her constant self deprecation. This book is just as entertaining now as I'm sure it has always been. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for joining in the conversation!