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

PAPERBACK; 240 P. 
DOVER TRIFTS, 2005/1908 
SOURCE: FROM THE LIBRARY

From Goodreads:

One of E. M. Forster’s most celebrated novels, “A Room With a View” is the story of a young English middle-class girl, Lucy Honeychurch. While vacationing in Italy, Lucy meets and is wooed by two gentlemen, George Emerson and Cecil Vyse. After turning down Cecil Vyse’s marriage proposals twice Lucy finally accepts. Upon hearing of the engagement George protests and confesses his true love for Lucy. Lucy is torn between the choice of marrying Cecil, who is a more socially acceptable mate, and George who she knows will bring her true happiness. “A Room With a View” is a tale of classic human struggles such as the choice between social acceptance or true love.

I picked up this book based on the recommendations in Goodreads. I had been re-reading Elizabeth Gaskell (one of my favourite authors) and wanted to read something similar – and for that this was a good book. The tone is light but at the same time  the writer clearly mocks the characters and their actions, showing their moral. The main character, Lucy Honeychurch, is presented as a girl on the brink of womanhood. She travels to Italy, hoping to become a well-read woman who has seen the world. Her companion, cousin Charlotte, is a poor spinster who is always willing to give her own pleasures for Lucy’s. At least, this is what we are led to believe at the beginning. The pension they settle into is a British one and the tourists quickly divide into two groups. The clash between the old English society and the new industrial class is comical and sometimes drawn to the extreme. I find this theme that is also often used in Gaskell’s and Dickens’ work an interesting one.

A Room with a View is a love story and, at that, it is a fairly good one. But similar to Dickens’ novels I found that the characters that really made the story interesting for me were the side characters and their development. I kind of felt bad for Cevil who was portrayed as a slightly shallow character – at the same time I despised his way of separating himself from everyone else as if he was better. The secrets and attitudes of Mr Beebe, Charlotte, and Miss Lavish puzzled me long after I had finished the book. There are several layers to these characters, as well as to the whole story, and I think I’ve only scratched the surface of Forster’s work. I’ve heard that Forster’s Howards End and A Passage to India are also worth reading, so those will be added to my “to read” -list.

4/5

“Italy is only an euphemism for Fate.”

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