A Room With a View


Paperback, 1986



Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML: A Room with a View is a romance and a social critique of Edwardian society. A young woman is chaperoned to Italy by her bitter aunt. There she meets an intriguing, but eccentric young man. Back in England she finds herself respectably engaged to a proper gentleman, but is thrown into a muddle when her young man from Italy moves to her English town. The novel celebrates the chaotic, unsure muddle of feelings over a kind of lifeless acceptance of the way things are..


½ (2503 ratings; 3.9)

Media reviews

E M Forsters romantext präglas av en oerhört njutbar balans mellan utsagt och outsagt, mellan ytlig elegans och underförstådda referenser till en betydligt dunklare verklighet.

User reviews

LibraryThing member baswood
Muddling through with E M Forster, whose wit is at its sharpest in this superb novel. The simple tale of a young woman whose spirit is awakened after a trip to Italy, which leads to her rejection of a "good" marriage, which Forster transforms into a novel that explores many aspects of life and
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society for the upper middle classes in England at the turn of the 20th century.

The novel was published in 1908, when 19th century mores were still prevalent, but under attack from a rising middle class. This is only one of the many recurring themes in the novel. There is the struggle for individuality, the barriers between the social classes, a religious community losing its grip and of course a woman's place in a changing society. These heavyweight themes are all there for the observant reader to discover, however they are presented with such a lightness of touch and such good humour that the the reader is more likely to gasp with pleasure than to become embroiled in a serious discussion of the human condition. That is the art of this novel.

Forster's dialogue is brilliant and witty throughout and his keenly observed characters are so well rounded that when they do or say surprising things (and many of them do) we are not surprised. The most obvious examples are Cecil Vyse's acceptance of Lucy's rejection of him and her subsequent assessment of his character; "His voice broke, I must actually thank you for what you have done - for showing me what I am." Then there is Mr Beebe who we have come to think of a reasonably progressive and tolerant parson, whose belief in celibacy allows him to take pleasure in broken marriage engagements. Forster's favourite character and one that I think he uses to speak through is the old Mr Emerson. A free thinking socialist whose sometimes outrageous comments signal major issues for the characters. "Beware of muddle" he says "life is glorious but it is difficult" Many of the characters are in a muddle, feeling their way through, most of them trying to do right, but all of them constrained. Lucy and George do break free, but it does not lead to happiness ever after. Life and world event intervene as Forster makes clear in an appendix written in 1958. Surprisingly enough the most underdeveloped character is George. We hear about him mainly through his father Mr Emerson, who relays to us his sons thoughts and personality. Whenever George appears he is largely silent or boisterous or just is. Perhaps this is what Lucy loves.

Forster's ability to conjure up the effects of landscape and surroundings on his characters is brilliantly evident. Here is Lucy unchaperoned at last and exploring Florence. She is restive and thinking about not wanting to be a "medieval lady". She comes into the Piazza Signora where a dramatic event is about to happen:

" Nothing ever happens to me she reflected,as she entered the Piazza Signora and looked nonchalantly at its marvels, now fairly familiar to her. The great square was in shadow: the sunshine had come too late to strike it. Neptune was already unsubstantial in the twilight, half god, half ghost, and its fountains plashed dreamily to the men and satyrs who idled together on its marge. The Loggia showed as the triple entrance of a cave, wherein dwelt many a deity, shadowy but immortal, looking forth on the arrivals and departures of mankind. It was the hour of unreality............."

The notorious male nude bathing scene is vibrant and full of youthful vigour and Forster describes the lush green sward freshened after rain. "The three gentlemen rotated in the pool breast high after the fashion of nymphs in Gotterdammerung". Homo erotic? maybe, but no more so than D H Lawrence's wrestling scene in Women in Love and this naked bathing scene ends in farce and high spirits.

As in A Passage to India and Howards End a carefully organised social event goes awry and leads to an event that will be life changing for those involved. In Passage to India it was Mrs Quested in the caves of Malabar, here it is an excursion to a wild mountain picnic spot above Florence. The ingredients are all here: The Emersons have been mistakenly included in the outing although by this time they have been more or less ostracised by the rest of the English group. They are not the right sort. The journey up in horse drawn cabs is fraught with difficulties and Mr Emerson argues with the others over the cab driver's dalliance with a girlfriend. They arrive in high dudgeon and wander off on their own. In a scene reminiscent of Mrs Quested in those caves, Lucy slipped down a terrace and lands at the feet of George:

"This terrace was the well-head, the primal source whence beauty gushed out to water the earth.......For a moment he contemplated her as one who had fallen out of heaven. He saw radiant joy in her face, he saw the flowers beat against her dress in blue waves. The bushes above them closed. He stepped quickly forward and kissed her."

Unlike the scene in the Marabar caves there is no mystery here. George comes forward and kisses her, but still the consequences are enormous for both of them.

This is a relatively short novel: just 200 pages and the events take place within a one year time span. There is however so much to enjoy and so much to ponder over that its the sort of book you end up flicking back through almost as soon as you have read it: for the sheer pleasure and joy of reading
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LibraryThing member ChocolateMuse
I could really identify with the themes in this book. A Room with a View, for me anyway, is very much about society and intellect and freedom and manners, and how all those things conflict with each other. It's the kind of thing I've been thinking about a lot lately - how people seem to choose at
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some point in their lives whether to pursue a kind of broader understanding of life and people and the meaning of things, or whether to sink into the easy, mechanical acceptance of the limits of society. Lucy Honeychurch, the protagonist of this novel, is forced to make this decision, perhaps more consciously than many. I suppose it's a coming-of-age novel in a lot of ways, but I hate to label it that way, because it's so much more than that - social commentary, intelligent wit, and also a surprisingly romantic love story.

The amount of humanity and humour in this book surprised me all the way through. This is mainly because of my preconceived ideas about E.M. Forster, which came from my reading his The Art of the Novel in my undergrad days. I found that book pretentious to the nth degree - however I'd probably think differently if I read it again now. (I remember him writing something about plot being a pale worm dangled on the end of forceps, and I thought any author who despised plot should have been a bus driver instead.)

This is a book with characters who are complex, varied, likeable (or hateable), and touchingly human. His humour is subtle and enlightening; an example of this is in his chapter headings, e.g. Ch 9. Lucy as a Work of Art, and Ch 10. Cecil as Humorist. Or Ch 6. The Reverend Arthur Beebe, the Reverend Cuthbert Eager, Mr Emerson, Mr George Emerson, Miss Eleanor Lavish, Miss Charlotte Bartlett and Mis Lucy Honeychurch Drive out in Carriages to See a View; Italians Drive them. Actually, the humour seems more crass taken out of context - within the context of the book it's lighter, and contains layers of meaning.

I enjoyed this book far more than I expected to, having hated The Art of the Novel and not appreciated Howards End as I probably should have. Once I was fairly into it, I devoured it, finishing at about 1.00 am, despite an early start the next day, which I think is something of a recommendation.
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LibraryThing member Donura1
Another English Classic down and too many to count left to listen to. Room with A View, one of the many E. M. Forster greats, as a Librivox audio book was very satisfying. I must give credit to the reader, Kara Shallenberg, for reading with feeling and lilt. It so makes a difference. I wear my iPod
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and listen to books whenever I am doing mundane work or knitting or sewing. I find that many of the classics calm me and humor me at the same time and needless to say, there is an unending supply waiting to be heard.

Lucy Honeychurch was a breath of fresh air for a time period when young single women were mostly at the mercy of their mothers or the men they had promised to marry. Lucy and a senior cousin take a trip to Italy to immerse themselves in the art of Florence. They stay at a pension that caters to English travelers and it is there that Lucy meets Mr. George Emerson and his father. The Emersons are different from your typical English gentlemen. George was somewhat a bohemian for the day and an atheist. Lucy seems to even doubt herself and how she became immediately enchanted by someone so different from her circle in society so she denies her feeling for as long as possible and almost loses the one thing she was sure she wanted. Love.

Forster illustrates class, and gender issues with great feelings but he also draws beautiful nature settings with words.

I am now going to treat myself to a viewing of the film, with Helena Bonham Carter. Said to be one of her best roles.
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LibraryThing member dschander
I first read "A Room With a View" by E.M. Forster when I was in college, and though I remembered the book with fondness and kept thinking I should reread it, what I couldn't actually remember was why. Finally, I can answer: the writing is wonderful. It's full of all these little truths and
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statements about life you've always thought yourself but never put into words. And the story, though simple (a young woman goes abroad for the first time to discover the world and discovers much about life along the way), is true in that way only fiction can be. It's a fast read as well: you feel you've only just begun and look up to discover you're somewhere in the middle, then done.
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
The introduction in the edition I read describes this as a "sunny novel." It is indeed--the first draft was Forester's first try at a novel, written when he was young, and very much in league with youth, and a youthful spirit. The light tone, the focus on romance, the good-humored social criticism
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and gentle social satire reminds me very much of Jane Austen, even if Forster was as far removed from her Regency era as his Edwardian is from ours. I had a smile on my face from the very first pages at how sharply drawn were Miss Lucy Honeychurch, a young Englishwoman visiting Florence and her companion Miss Bartlett, spinster martyr and chaperone.

Even just reading the chapter headings was illuminating and amusing. One of the most revealing, I think, was In Santa Croce with No Baedeker. Baedeker was the popular travel guide of the day, which told you just what proper reactions you should have to the art around you. Lucy through much of the novel will be peering at the social Baedker of the reactions of her fellow British around her trying to decide just how to act rather than looking into her own heart. As much as anything else, this is her coming of age novel.

Oh, and yes, romance. Her love interest to my mind isn't drawn all that strongly or appealingly. I didn't fall in love with George Emerson in the way I have the romantic heroes of Austen or Bronte or Gaskell. He's shown as rather impulsive and immature and not all that articulate. His father comes across more strongly as a character than he does. For all that, it's still is a strong appeal to let love be--and the ending gives more grace to certain character than I would have expected. It's a novel lovely and lyrical and warm.
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LibraryThing member bell7
Lucy Honeychurch is visiting Italy with her cousin, Charlotte, who as an older single female has come along as a chaperone. While on the trip, she meets an "original" older woman, Miss Lavish, who is writing a novel; the stuck-up clergyman Mr. Eager; and the Emersons, a father and son duo whose
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forthrightness and political leanings rather shock some of the more orthodox crowd. Her time in Italy affects Lucy greatly: she sees a man murdered and experiences her first kiss. Upon returning home, she must decide between living up to the expectations of tradition, as embodied by her cousin Charlotte, or following the desires of her heart.

Perhaps it's because I read [A Passage to India] as an English major, or maybe it's the many layers to E.M. Forster's classic story that made me feel, when reading it, that I could write a paper about his use of inside and outside, of old and new. Class distinctions are still important, particularly to the older characters and city dwellers, while less so to the younger and country folk. Lucy's fiance says at one point that Lucy pictures him inside a room, which seems connected with his repression of her spirit and independent thought, hugely in contrast with George Emerson and Frank Honeychurch's behavior outdoors in the Sacred Lake. The layering of metaphors and brilliant characterizations made this a real pleasure to read, and I would not hesitate to read it again knowing that I would get just as much - if not more - out of it with multiple readings. At the same time, the story is accessible and compelling, a classic that is neither long nor slow reading. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member andreablythe
While traveling in Italy, a young Victorian woman Lucy Honeychurch hopes to explore and learn about the artwork and architecture of the area. Instead she has a brush with violence that leads her into a an intrigue with a young man. She flees her passion, traveling from Italy back to England, where
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she must learn to listen to her own heart.

I was impressed with Forster's take on his characters, making them complicated and interesting and often funny. I especially enjoyed his portrayal of Lucy, who's independent spirit is hidden deep down beneath her layers of appropriate behavior. Forster treated her as a person and even advocates a level of equality between a man and a woman, especially in romantic relationships, hinting that the kind of man as protector role which puts women down is a backwards kind of ideology.

Forster is compassionate about his characters, showing depth of soul and potential for redemption even in the antagonists whom other writers might villainize.

On top of that Forster's writing style is gorgeous with crisp clean prose. He weaves in metaphor beautifully without resorting to the kind of over the top sentence construction that can be confusing and is often seen in older works. The simplicity of style makes for a smooth and easy read.

I loved it. More Forster, please!
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LibraryThing member soylentgreen23
"A Room with a View" was recommended to me by a very good friend, though I think, given enough time, I would have gotten round to reading it anyway. It's a delightful little book, a tale of love and life, of one girl's discovery that there is more to life than a stolid middle-class English
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existence. It's also a tale of English customs around the turn of the twentieth century, and of the English tourist abroad. At times the wit is scathing, and rightly so; the reader cheers when what was obviously going to come about finally does, but along the way there is such humour that the story can never be considered boring.
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LibraryThing member Narshkite
Reread-Started as a 5-star, and absolutely remains a 5-star. I have only one nit to pick, and for me that is pretty amazing. Said nit: Why does Cecil suddenly become human, and not just human but certifiably humble, after Lucy shares her reasons for ending the engagement? Okay, back to work. I do
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not doubt that I will be thinking about this issue all day despite back-to-back meetings that actually require my focused participation. Full rtf

Back for the review --

It is easy to forget E.M. Forster was a radical, but he most definitely was. He hung out with Virginia Woolf, he was (obliquely) public about being a homosexual at a time when that was a dangerous choice, he championed gender equality, and he rejected the strictures of upper crust British life in theory if not always in practice. His chafing under societal pressures is so central not just to this book, but to his next, the beautiful Howard's End, and the frustrating and touching Maurice. When I read this in my 20's I don't think I realized how revolutionary some of this was. That may be in part because discussion about the rights of workers and women gets mashed up with overly romantic somewhat nauseating messaging about how love is the answer to all things. Anyway, reading this many years later I was astonished by how ahead of its time much of this was. George says that the future must be one in which men and women are equal. This is really quite shocking. More shocking though is the subtle way in which Forster conveys Mr. Beebe's homosexuality, and hints at Cecil's in the early part of the last century. Most shocking perhaps is Lucy's rejection of money and family to run off and find passion with a socialist aesthete. Could anything have been a more clear rejection of the tenets of 1920's British mores? And Forster makes the reader feel good about all this, casting the horrid Charlotte and the effete Cecil as the exemplars of things proper and English and casting the sweet, shy, depressive George and his loving and defiantly innocent father as the exemplars of modern thinking. How could anyone root for Charlotte and Cecil in that matchup?

I know this is primarily a love story, passion over propriety and all that. I love a love story, but honestly reading this as just a love story it doesn't really do it for me. There is, literally, not a single conversation or interaction between George and Lucy that would indicate why he loves her. It is hormones. At least Cecil loved her for her music. George thought her beautiful most definitely and in need of his protection (to save her from ugliness like the blood covered postcards) but they never exchange any other information. Lucy loves him in part for his awkward decency shown in the ceding of his rooms and their view and the postcard incident, and for his honesty and spontaneity in expressing his feelings, and hormones too. There is something there, but George, no. There is not a lot to root for when boiled down to romance. Luckily the book is so much more than that. It is a wonderful and witty slice of life, it is a call for a new day in England, it is an ode to Forster's beloved Italy, and it is a coming of age story (as regards Lucy.) A joy to (re)read. But yeah, I still don't get how the scales fell from Cecil's eyes. I really want to understand that better.
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LibraryThing member nemoman
Florence is one of my favorite cities and a recent article in the NYT caused me to finally read this book. The novel has three aspects, While in Florence the book serves as somewhat of a travel book with Forster's evocative descriptions taking me back. The novel also functions as a comedy of
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manners, in that it is difficult to understand how constipated Victorian mores could be. Finally, the book triumphs as a romantic novel as the heroine does alright in a Dickensian ending. At times I had to force myself to continue slogging through the text. Forster obviously was trying to convey a break by the modern with Victorian times; however instead of touching this theme gently, he hit it with a sledgehammer. I do not recall the Merchant-Ivory film being faithful to this text, so I will have to watch it again,
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LibraryThing member TheAmpersand
"A Room with a View" is a good novel in the nineteenth-century style, but it becomes a really interesting novel when one considers that it feels like one of the last of its kind. The old themes and plot devices -- marriage, propriety, manners, financial security, and consideration -- are still
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present, but in a changing, modernizing world. Indeed, a lot of the manners that allowed characters in previous romantic novels to effectively communicate with each other sometimes seem like hindrances to communication here: much of the time, the author seems to suggest that language itself can be a barrier to real understanding. Forster also includes a few characters with unmistakably modern ideas, describes the way that suburbia is encroaching on traditional English country life, and, most exciting of all, explores how values associated largely with the twentieth century, such as freedom and independence, might affect the traditional novel. Forster's imagery, particularly his use of water, seems more attuned to post-Freudian or Modernist writing as well. The novel's ending didn't surprise me in terms of plot -- this is, after all, a love story -- but it takes a few genuinely surprising thematic terms that would have been almost unimaginable in, say, a Jane Austen novel. It might not be an exaggeration to say that "A Room with a View" feels like the Victorian novel writing itself out of existence.

The novel also has some other attractions. Forster has a lot of fun with the English abroad, who seek to bring their own country with them or take pride in finding an probably imaginary "real Italy." And then, of course, there's Lucy Honeychurch, the female character at the novel's center, who is wonderfully human and sympathetic. She's not as headstrong as Elizabeth Bennett, but because the conflict she feels, which often hinges on the conflict between her own affection for her upbringing and her desire for a new sort of life, her character might be an excellent recapitualtion of all the novel's themes. I didn't find "A Room with a View" to be a fun or thrilling read; in its way, it's very formal. But that doesn't mean it isn't a very, very good novel.
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LibraryThing member george.d.ross
What a dreadful, dreadful work of sentimental nonsense -- I'm frankly sorry to have read it. I can't believe this is what passes for serious literature in some circles.

The whole piece is supposed to show the contrast between the shallow, conventional "high society" and the radical free-thinkers who
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oppose them. But these free-thinkers, supposedly so in touch with Nature and Truth and Love come across as sometimes tiresome, sometimes plainly mad.

I also found the love story entirely unconvincing -- what on earth did Lucy see in a foul-tempered brute like George?

I could write more about the subtle misogyny of this work, but it would just raise my blood pressure, so I'll let it lie.

At least the writing was stylistically elegant and enjoyable to read.
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LibraryThing member echoesofstars
This book is about an English young woman, Lucy, who is caught in the battle between propriety and passion. Overall, Lucy has little say in the matters that concern her life. At first, she does not reflect deeply on the events that happen to her and because of her. It is not until she witnesses a
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murder that she begins to think about the events that happen to her and how she interacts with and shapes them. However, she only understands herself and her actions through discourse with other people, who easily influence her frame of mind with emotional appeal or intellectual argument.

At one point, Mr. Beebe observes that if Lucy were to live with as much passion as she plays the piano, both her life and the lives of those around her would be much more interesting. Although she ultimately alienates her family to pursue the man whom she loves, even this decision is not reached without the strong influence of Mr. Emerson. In this respect, although the author's definition of passion won over propriety, I was sincerely hoping that Lucy would be able to throw off all the harnesses of well-meaning advice and reach her own conclusion of what do do with her life. I was also disappointed with the rather abrupt and mostly happy ending. In my opinion, although Lucy grew in self-awareness, she never truly discovered herself apart from the influence of others.
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LibraryThing member shootingstarr7
When I began A Room with a View by E.M. Forster, I wasn't sure what to expect. It's not a long book- less than 200 pages- but I got stuck about one hundred pages into Howard's End four years ago and never completed it. So in late May, I began reading it. It took me nearly a month and a half to
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complete it, making the story feel much longer than it actually was. I couldn't quite suss out the relationship between Lucy and Charlotte, or exactly why Charlotte found Mr. Emerson and his son so objectionable. I struggled with the rhythm of the novel nearly the whole time they were in Italy. But then they returned to England, and I finally got a feel for Lucy and the rhythm of the story, and in the end, I really enjoyed it.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this novel is that Forster accurately reflects the changes of society and the novel at the time. The conflict between old Victorian proprieties and modern sensibilities and equalities plays out in its pages much the way it did in real life. The upper classes (as well as those who aspired to the upper class, in Charlotte's case) tried to retain their old social values, while the working classes sought progress. And though he never says it explicitly, Forster suggests that those touting progress and reform were more sensible than those who clung to the old ways. This is especially clear in the depictions of Cecil Vyse and George Emerson; Cecil is portrayed as being boorish and lazy, and nearly opposite of George Emerson, whose quiet strength ultimately wins Lucy's heart.
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LibraryThing member varwenea
Some women would be satisfied simply being a “Leonardo”, so beautiful and mysterious, like the Mona Lisa by DaVinci. But not Lucy Honeychurch, our heroine desires to be a living, breathing woman with her own ideals – “a rebel who desired, not a wider dwelling-room, but equality beside the
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man she loved. For Italy was offering her the most priceless of all possessions – her own soul.”

Some men can envelope a woman like a room, a room without a window, without a view. That’s Cecil Vyse. Her fiancé is a handsome gent from a respectable family – mediaeval, “Like a Gothic statue. Tall and refined… Well educated, well endowed, and not deficient physically.” This man checks off like a grocery list of traits to look for in an ideal husband in the Victorian ages, but alas he is soulless, “the sort who can’t know any one intimately.”

Lucy, our resident Victorian rebel, finds in George Emerson, the man who literally offered his room with a view in the Bertolini Pension during a chance meeting while vacationing in Florence but also becomes the man who offers her the life she wants – to be with a man who is capable of sharing his life, open and picturesque, like a room with a view. Tada!

In all honesty, the book is simple in plot. The fun is in reading the time it represented. I’m not sure I like having “the comic muse” and “the reader” included in the writing. I also didn’t get into the book immediately. A bit slow, a bit dulled by early 1900’s female conventions. But clearly, Lucy is at the verge of bursting at the seam with individualism. From Father Emerson to Lucy early in the book, “… Let yourself go. Pull out from the depths those thoughts that you do not understand, and spread them out in the sunlight and know the meaning of them.” When her betrothed “laughed at her feminine inconsequence” and concluded her frowning is “the result of too much moral gymnastics”, how does one learn what she really wants and accept who she really is? Father and son Emerson and a questionable “prematurely aged martyr” of a cousin/chaperone Miss Charlotte Bartlett will help Lucy find the way.

Some quotes:

On Gossip:
“The Ghoulish fashion in which respectable people will nibble after blood.”

On Men vs. Women:
Freddy (Lucy’s younger brother upon meeting George): “How d’ye do? Come and have a bathe.”
“Oh, all right,” said George, impassive.
Mr. Beebe was highly entertained.
“’How dy’ye do? how d’ye do? Come and have a bathe,’” he chuckled. “That’s the best conversational opening I’ve ever heard. But I’m afraid it will only act between men. Can you picture a lady who has been introduced to another lady by a third lady opening civilities with ‘How do you do? Come and have a bathe’? And yet you will tell me that the sexes are equal.”


“The Garden of Eden,” pursued Mr. Emerson (father), “which you place in the past, is really yet to come. We shall enter it when we no longer despise our bodies.”
Mr. Beebe disclaimed placing the Garden of Eden anywhere.
“In this – not in other things – we men are ahead. We despise the body less than women do. But until we are comrades shall we enter the garden.”

On ? – heck, I don’t know. It’s just beautiful, a paragraph that I would never be creative enough to write:
“That evening and all that night the water ran away. On the morrow the pool had shrunk to its old size and lost its glory. It had been a call to the blood and to the relaxed will, a passing benediction whose influence did not pass, a holiness, a spell, a momentary chalice for youth.”

On the concept of doing minimum harm in life, but enjoying it nonetheless:
“There is a certain amount of kindness, just as there is a certain amount of light. We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows. Choose a place where you won’t do harm – yes, choose a place where you won’t do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine.”

Lucy’s farewell to Cecil:
“’When we were only acquaintances, you let me be myself, but now you’re always protecting me.’ Her voice swelled. ‘I won’t be protected. I will choose for myself what is ladylike and right. To shield me is an insult. Can’t I be trusted to face the truth but I must get it second-hand through you? A woman’s place! ….. Conventional, Cecil, you’re that, for you may understand beautiful things, but you don’t know how to use them; and you wrap yourself up in art and books and music, and would try to wrap up me. I won’t be stifled, not by the most glorious music, for people are more glorious, and you hide them from me. That’s why I break off my engagement. You were all right as long as you kept to things, but when you came to people –‘ She stopped.”
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LibraryThing member StoutHearted
In an era where the heroine playing Beethoven was considered shocking, the novel seems before its time. The Emersons are Socialist athiests devoted to the philosophy of freedom, causing them to behave in a manner that defies convention. Caught between the allure of the Emerson son George and her
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socially acceptable, yet dry and repressive, fiance Cecil Vyse, Lucy is on the cusp of womanhood and learning where her place in life is supposed to be.

Her journey begins in Italy along with her fussy chaperone and cousin Charlotte, the two lamenting over the lack of a view in their room. The Emersons impulsively offer to switch rooms, which offends Charlotte and the older ladies present. The Emersons don't understand that social rules deem it shocking for unmarried ladies to put themselves under the obligation of men they are not introduced to. After much pressing and awkwardness, Charlotte reluctantly accepts the switch. From then on, the Emersons' fate becomes entwined with Lucy's. Lucy and George seem brought together by fate: through witnessing the murder of an Italian passer-by, through the carriage driver' miinterpretation of Lucy' poorly translated request to be take to "the good man" (meaning clergyman), through Cecil's cruel joke on Lucy's neighborhood by securing the uncouth Emersons a home promised to more respectable ladies, and through Charlotte's actions. Cecil and Lucy have no such fatalistic connection. Ultimately, Lucy must make a choice between each man and the vastly different lives they represent.

Forster is magnificent with scenery, especially depicting the sensuousness of the Italian countryside. He does great justice to his heroine by depicting her as more a child being repressed by her society. She has hidden passions of her own, as revealed by her piano-playing that stirred the romantic feelings of a clergyman. Despite these feelings, religion is depicted as a repressive force. It is another clergyman that, during an outing to the countryside, forces the carriage driver's girlfriend to get out in the middle of the journey when the couple is caught kissing. These clergymen are English, and the country's presence in Italy is the source of much repression. In England, the repression is almost suffocating: it is at her home there, Lucy is stifled by her engagement with Cecil. Only when in Italy is Lucy free. Italy represents passion, sensuality, and openness, the polar opposite of England. Forster daringly suggests that society de damned, follow your heart wherever it takes you. It is a beautiful sentiment, rendering this one of the most romantic novels of all time. Wonderfully written whether tackling romance, humor, or conflict, this novel is worth rereading.
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LibraryThing member john257hopper
I read this purely because of the Italian setting, though only the first section is set there, in Florence. A lot of action then takes place "off-set" as it were in Rome, before the setting transfers to England. I found most of the characters rather irritating and the situations esp in the England
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section very dull, though there are a few funny moments due to the ridiculous snobbery of some of them.
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LibraryThing member Gypsy_Boy
Easily my least favorite of his major works. The book was, for me, so much of a slog that about halfway through, I put it aside for more than a month. I found the writing just tedious. Finally, I picked it back up and, with the exception of the last chapter or so, pushed myself to finish it. I
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truly enjoyed, say, Howard’s End and with Passage to India, but the writing here struck me as difficult. I couldn’t always follow the story, frankly, and thinking about it, I believe it is because Forster is being more much more oblique. That is, I think, in part because he is writing about English society and the people he was writing about made it a point to be oblique: candor and clarity were nothing if not avoided. Indeed, several times I went back over chapters I’d read when, later in the book, a character referred to something that I simply didn’t catch or understand at the time. I did think the last chapter or two improved things markedly, but overall, I was very disappointed at the difficulty I had and how little I ultimately I enjoyed it.
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LibraryThing member ctpress
A young man steals a kiss from Lucy Honeychurch on a vacation in Italy - and Lucy begins to question her narrow life, her selfish fiancé, her conventional family, her bleak future.

What I appreciate about Room With a View

- Forsters empathy with his characters. Even aristocratic and selfish Cecil
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Wyse we sympathise with when he’s rejected.

- It’s sunny, optimistic and witty - very witty. If you want the “darker” E. M. Forster read Howard’s End.

- I like the way Lucy Honeychurch is questioning herself, her choices, her opinions, her ideals - the way her irrational mind is trying to make sense of the restricted, narrow world she has grown accustomed to.

- That George Emerson remains an enigma throughout the story. His actions we get explained mainly through his father - he’s the fresh wind blowing new life into Lucy’s existence - but a big questionmark to Lucy as well as to the readers.
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LibraryThing member Bookmarque
I was determined to get through this. Tedious was the beginning with its stifled characters and their traveling and their petty foibles. I found myself drifting off during the reading only half paying attention.

Finally, Lucy goes home and accepts Cecil. He sounds like a pill but she’s deluded
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enough to think she loves him. Then the Emersons show up to rent a cottage in the neighborhood. Weirdly enough, Cecil knows them also and rather than let two old spinsters have the house, he suggested the Emersons. Lucy’s younger brother (or maybe he is older – I couldn’t tell) makes friends with George and one day at their house he happens upon Lucy in the garden and kisses her.

This is not the first time. It had happened once before in Italy but it was a secret. This time she can’t let it go and when she tells him off he declares his undying love for her. He also declares his dismay at her preference to marry Cecil. “You don’t mean to marry him?” He cries. He lists all of Cecil’s shortcomings and they are all spot on the mark. This actually has its desired effect and Lucy breaks the engagement. She tells herself over and over it’s not because of another man. But it is. It’s not overt, but it’s fairly obvious that George & Lucy should be together. At the end they are.
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LibraryThing member AlisonY
I've a feeling I'm going to be out on a limb with this review, but, despite having loved the other EM Forster novels I've read, I found A Room with a View to be as dull as ditchwater. I've been looking forward to reading this book for ages, so my disappointment is only multiplied.

This was
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definitely a case for me where the film totally surpassed the book. I loved the film - those gorgeous Florentine views, the fanning of the flames of desire between Lucy and George, the humorous dialogue played out so well by Bonham-Carter in particular. But the book fell so flat! The first 150 pages bored me rigid - it was only in the last 50 that it got mildly interesting.

I get that Forester wanted us to feel Lucy's growing sense of boredom and desire to feel that wonderment in life, but I felt entrenched in the dullness of her world. The characters she engaged with were largely pretentious and emotionless, and I just couldn't feel anything for any of them. Even the budding romance between Lucy and George left me cold. There was so little interaction between them it was hard to feel from those 4 or 5 short encounters any building of the desire between them.

It was obvious by page 20 what was going to happen in the end, and I was just glad to reach that point so I could shut the cover forever and move on.

2.5 stars - yaaaaawwwwwnnnnnnnnnn
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LibraryThing member sturlington
A Room With a View is a charming love story and a wonderful introduction to Forster's work. But it's also a treatise in how to live. The protagonist, Lucy Honeychurch, is a young woman with potential who hasn't yet begun to live her life. In the first part of the book, she has traveled to Florence
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with her cousin and chaperon, Charlotte Bartlett, where she first witnesses a murder and then is kissed by George Emerson before an amazing view. The question is, will she allow these experiences to transform her?

In Part 2, Lucy has returned home to Windy Corner and Summer Street, where she becomes engaged to the insufferable Cecil Vyse. Lying to herself and everyone around her about her true feelings, as well as her unconscious desire to be an independent woman who is permitted to fully own those feelings, Lucy is in danger of becoming a member of the "vast armies of the benighted," as Forster describes it. She is not true to either her head or her heart, and so marches along in a fugue state. Some people live their whole lives that way (hello, Charlotte!), which would be the greatest of tragedies, Forster implies.

Forster's characters make this story come alive. Each one is a complex, real human being. The reader senses that, even while Forster gently pokes fun at all of his characters, he feels genuine affection toward them. And he allows them to surprise us. Even the ones we've dismissed as snobbish and insufferable are allowed to say something insightful or perform a compassionate act. And so they come to seem like real people to us, people we are glad to have known.

A Room With a View is worthy of a reading and a rereading. It is a book to make you both think and feel.
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LibraryThing member lmichet
As a girl, I think I'm supposed to like this book? Well, I found it interesting but a bit floppily characterized-- NOBODY in the entire universe behaves like George. I don't care what you say about it-- nobody does. He's like some kind of transcendentalist puppet. Apparently, Forster based him off
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of someone he admired/loved? I'm not sure. It may explain why George is such an unrealistic fellow. Even his faults are supposed to be charming, for christ's sake.

Also: can't beat Forster for beautiful description and interesting character conflicts, even if the characters involved are George-style ideological megaphones. I enjoyed those parts of this book a LOT. All in all, I think I still prefer Passage to India, though. That doesn't mean, however, that you shouldn't all go out and read this book right away. You all SHOULD. It's mandatory if you speak English and have a soul, apparently. And no wonder-- it's fine fine stuff.
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LibraryThing member cdeuker
Many wonderful things in this novel about finding love and fighting conformity. Lucy is an endearing heroine, brave and cowardly in turns. The minor characters are interesting, the descriptions of place (Windy Corners, Florence) tremendous. Marred for me by a bit more preachiness than I like, and
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also by the lack of depth of George, Lucy's love. He's depressed at first, has sporadic Lawrencian attacks of "life," is depressed again, and is saved in love by his father at the end. It's hard to rejoice with Lucy in such a choice for life. Still, beautifully written and even though preachy, I'm in agreement with all that's being preached.
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LibraryThing member clfisha
Set in the beautiful locations of Tuscany and Sussex we follow Lucy Honeychurch and her chaperone touring Italy for the first time and beginnings of freeing herself from straight-laced British society.

In fact if you have seen the delightful film you pretty much know what you are getting; wonderful
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characters from the supercilious suitor to our naive passionate heroine, wry humour, some wonderful observations on English society and the clash of cultures, plus a bit of romance. You also get some great writing, a mostly tight paced plot and unfortunately an odd ending that seems a tad stuck on, but really that's not too much of a fault.

Recommended to those looking for a brief taste of Edwardian fiction, lovers of romance and those just wanting an enchanting, dreamy read.
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Vintage (1986), Paperback

Original publication date



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