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

a room with a view A Room with a View by E.M Forster

Paperback

TBR pile

Signet Classics 2009 (originally published 1908)

 Synopsis- A Room with a View is a 1908 novel by English writer E. M. Forster, about a young woman, Lucy, in the repressed culture of Edwardian England. Set in Italy and England, the story is both a romance and a critique of English society at the beginning of the 20th century.

 Review- I really wanted to like this story more but I was quite disappointed with it. A Room with a View is a classic that is set in Florence, Italy, as well as England. I ordered a copy because it was on my TBR list of books set in Italy that I wanted to read before my honeymoon to Europe.

Lucy Honeychurch is on holiday with her cousin in Florence when she meets George Emerson, a mysterious character whom she has intense feelings for… she interprets them as negative feelings; that of dislike and disdain. She winds up dumbfounded when George kisses her and has no idea how to process the event. She puts it down to George having some kind of problem… even though it seems he has had an effect on her. She is persuaded by her cousin to keep moving on their trip where Lucy subsequently becomes engaged to the pretentious Cecil Vyse who seems to think, unbeknownst to her, that he can mould Lucy into the perfect wife. George ends up back on the scene and takes the opportunity to kiss her again. Lucy is left feeling flabbergasted and begins to wonder what her true feelings are for Cecil and George before deciding on whom she wishes to marry.

Although I enjoyed the writing style and the Jane Austen era that seems to enjoy gossiping and obsessing over social class and expectations, I did have issues with the structure of the story and the characters. Firstly, George is in the story far too little in the beginning for me as a reader to have developed any real connection or warmth toward him, in fact his father seemed to be a more prominent figure in the story. For a romance novel, this element wasn’t a strong point. He does make a re-entrance in the second half of the novel, but by then I felt it was too late and wasn’t too fussed about whether they got together or not. I really didn’t want Lucy to end up with Cecil which obviously wasn’t going to happen since the author chose not to even share their meeting and their decision to marry- I assumed this was a ploy for the reader to not become too fond of Cecil, which I didn’t. Then there was Lucy who was sweet in a naïve kind of way but really was quite a weak character for a heroine. She had little sense of who she was, she didn’t even know she had feelings for George, she was easily persuaded by those around her and it wasn’t until the very end that she actually spoke up and actively made decisions about her life instead of passively going along with whatever was decided by others. For that reason, the ending kind of saved the story for me because I felt that at least it got somewhere. At least Lucy learnt something, even if I have no idea whether George is a good fit for her or not.

A Room With  A View certainly won’t become a favourite among the classics for me, but I may check out the movie and see if my view can be persuaded!

Overall Rating

3/5

“It was okay”

A Room with a View can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers.

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7 comments

  1. I have to disagree with you on this one. A Room With a View is one of my favourite novels. I see it not as a romance, as as more of a critique of British society at the turn of the century and a coming-of-age tale about a young woman who matures and learns to make choices that will make her happy, rather than choosing what she believes everyone else expects of her. George is more of a prop that aids Lucy’s growth, rather than being a hero and character in his own right. Regarding the film, do view it at some stage–beautifully shot, superbly cast and won several Academy Awards.

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    • I suppose if it’s not viewed as a romance then the structure of the story with the late introduction of George doesn’t seem too much of an issue. But at the same time, I really struggled to connect with her, which makes it difficult to like the story. I will take your advice though Kathryn and track down the movie.

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  2. I haven’t read the book, but I’ve seen the movie several times – I highly recommend it! As Kathryn says, it’s visually beautifully and the casting is perfect. I took my mother to see it when I was twenty or so and dropped unsubtle hints about sending me off on a finishing tour of Europe with my one of my cousins but alas my hints went unheeded (or, being of a more modern generation, she figured I could take myself 🙂 )

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