A ROOM WITH A VIEW
E. M. Forster
‘A Room with a View’ is a short, sunny love story and a charming classic that your book club can easily take away for a weekend break, holiday or staycation. An enjoyable comedy of manners.
Written in 1908, E.M. Forster delights his readers with a visit to Italy starting in Florence at the Pension Bertolini, where we are introduced to a group of English characters on their 'Grand Tour'. Focus is drawn to Lucy Honeychurch and her cousin Charlotte who don't get the rooms they are expecting with views over the Arno River. This misunderstanding is quickly resolved by Mr Emerson and his son George who offer an exchange. Charlotte who is chaperoning Lucy considers this inappropriate for her charge but eventually agrees. George is young and single, from a different background and class to Lucy making them a social mismatch. However George’s passionate sensitivity and melancholy makes him an attractive love interest in the novel. Whilst in Italy there are a number of key events that shape the story’s direction; a dramatic street fight in Piazzi Signoria witnessed by the young Lucy and George, a passionate kiss shared between the two in the Italian Tuscan hills and an engagement in Rome.
When Lucy returns to her family in Surrey she has to contend with introducing her fiancé to her family, her friends and country life which is in stark contrast to her holiday experience. Her fiancé finds Lucy’s family coarse and unsophisticated. At this point, Lucy had thought her life was mapped out but her trip to the ‘chaotic’ and ‘dangerous’ Florence and her passionate encounter has shaken up her sensibilities and ignited a personality that is at odds with what is expected of her. Forster challenges the petty snobberies and constraints of the social class structures and it is through Lucy that we see an enlightening break through.
‘You love the boy body and soul, plainly directly, as he loves you…'.
For those who watched the award winning Merchant-Ivory 1985 film, there are plenty of moments that will be fondly remembered - with a remarkable closeness to the original characterisation which will not fail to disappoint the reader. Whether it’s Mr Beeb the rector from Lucy’s town (played by Simon Callow), a young outspoken novelist Miss Eleanor Lavish trying to experience the ‘true Italy’ (played by Judi Dench) or the awkward and pretentious Cecil Vyse (played by Daniel Day-Lewis), the Den thoroughly enjoyed the comic satirical touch of Forster’s story telling.
As well as providing an amusing insight into Edwardian travel to the Continent ‘A Room is a View’ remains an enlightening critique of this period. We are in no doubt the novel will delight your book club and works brilliantly as an alternative or additional choice for those planning to read one of the bestselling book club favourites recommended by the Den this year - ‘Still Life’ by Sarah Winman, which is a modern twist on Forster’s ‘A Room with a View'. Now in the Den's library.
Other great classics by E.M. Forster include ‘A Passage to India’ and ‘Howard’s End’.