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A Room with a View by E. M. Forster

A Room with a View (1908)

by E.M. Forster

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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  1. 30
    Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (upster)
    upster: It's refreshing and fun
  2. 20
    The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim (SylviaC)
  3. 20
    Howards End by E. M. Forster (sturlington)
  4. 10
    The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe (StarryNightElf)
    StarryNightElf: Two ladies travel in Europe during the Edwardian Era.
  5. 21
    Merchant Ivory's English Landscape by John Pym (carlym)
    carlym: [Merchant Ivory's English Landscape] includes quite a few photos from the movie version of [A Room with a View].

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Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
For Christmas, I ordered an mp3 player (Library of Classics) that was pre-loaded with 100 works of classic literature in an audio format. Each work is in the public domain and is read by amateurs, so the quality of the presentation is hit or miss. After sampling about a dozen more well-known offerings, I was left to select those with which I was less familiar. That is how I came across A Room with a View.

The novel is set in the late 19th or early 20th century, first in Florence, Italy and later in the English countryside. A young, naive Englishwoman named Lucy Honeychurch is accompanied by a cousin and clergyman on an Italian vacation where they come across other countrymen and women at an Florentine pension that caters to the English. There she meets a young Englishman named George Emerson with whom she strikes up a brief dalliance.

Upon returning to England, she becomes engaged to a “proper” English gentleman, but is strangely thrown together again, by happenstance, with young Mr. Emerson. The novel explores the struggle between the feelings of Ms. Honeychurch and the societal mores and conventions of English society of the period.

Some of the language and customs of the characters are moderately amusing seen through current eyes, but by and large, the story is terribly boring. Most of the book is taken up with dialogue that quickly becomes tiresome. It is a very simple story, relatively short and of little import. When compared to the author’s A Passage to India, this novel is found woefully lacking. ( )
  santhony | Jul 11, 2014 |
This charming book completely suited my current mood. The heroine is Lucy, who we first meet on a trip to Italy with her spinster cousin. There are, of course, competing suitors to marry Lucy, but though the outcome is predictable, all the characters were interesting and memorable and the travel scenes a lot of fun. ( )
  japaul22 | Jun 8, 2014 |
I don't deal with romance much. It's a trait that's bled over from real life experiences into my tastes for a very long time, but it wasn't until recently that I started vivisecting it for more credible reasons than "I don't like chick flicks/soap operas/other degenerating names for lovey dovey things that females are supposed to like". If there's one thing I've learned, it's that something is always wrong at the heart of things whenever the word "female" is incorporated into an instinctive dislike.

The word "female" is also a major hint. Now, I don't socialize with as often or with as many people in real life as the average person, but even I've picked up on myriad tropes of conversation that are ubiquitous for females in their twenties, aka me: Do you have a boyfriend? No? Oh, are you looking for one? No? Oh, you're not interested in a boyfriend? Don't you want kids? Now take that and apply it to every form of media aimed at women, from book to movie to television commercial and everything in between. Being someone with far greater interests in more important issues than the future of my womb, this omnipresent intrusiveness is annoying enough without actively seeking it out in entertainment centered around romance, or rather the series of male fantasies society likes to pretend is acceptable for anyone and everyone.

In short, if you want to sell me a romance, it either needs to avoid the problematic tropes or subvert them entirely, period. Life is short and made even shorter by the majority of others you converse with constantly bringing up a problematic version of love and sex and all that jazz, and as consequence I have no time for that shit in my literature. The issue's insidious enough that even female authors don't realize it most of the time, so let me get to the point already and explain just what I'm doing with this book that all signs say should be putting me off forevermore.

Had it not been for reading Howards End immediately previous, I would have spent the majority of A Room with a View expecting Forster to fail. It's obvious why the latter is far more popular than the former: lots of comedy, lots of twists and turns, lots of outrageous characters, and a minimal amount of the juicy expoundings of thought and form and Big Ideas that I so adored in the previous. Both works operate through a female main character, but in ARwaV it is not until the very end that Forster is giving said character credit for her own intelligent autonomy, thereby showing me that he did indeed know what he was doing.

It's not perfect. I could bring up the usual Edwardian White English Male excuse, but seeing as how this work does romance magnitudes better than the majority of modern day works by both sexes (don't be lazy and consign it to Nora Roberts/50 SoG, that's instinctive dislike based on the word "female" and you know it), I'll forgo the easy "sign of the times" classification. What interests me more is how Forster handled his balance between social justice and individual happiness, less masterful here than in HE but all the more potent for its seeming conformation to the stereotypical "happy ending". True, Lucy running away from George to would have unequivocally demonstrated her refusal to be defined by a man, but in exchange she would be defined by a society with an inherently problematic view of relations between women and men. Love is a human thing that is only achieved through mutual respect and complete lack of defining the other party by their respective parts; Forster's awareness of this, as well as his acknowledgement of the efforts men need to make as consequence of their ideology based privilege, won the day.

Also, he did make me giggle a few times. That's always worth something. ( )
1 vote Korrick | May 29, 2014 |
I have a very vivid memory of reading E.M. Forster's "A Room with a View" while sitting in a tent somewhere on a camping trip out west. So, I thought this was a probably a re-read for me.... but now I think I just made that memory up. I was certainly familiar with the plot, as the Helena Bonham Carter movie was on endless repeat on HBO when I was young so I knew I loved the story.

The novel tells the story of Lucy Honeychurch, who lives in the repressed Victorian age where young women do what they're supposed to rather than following their passions. She gradually and quietly wakes up as the story progresses.

This book was straight up my alley... the writing is great and full of marvelous little insights. Nostalgia may have pushed this up a bit to 5 stars for me, but it's a book I definitely wouldn't mind reading over again. ( )
  amerynth | Apr 26, 2014 |
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 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.” ( )
1 vote varwenea | Mar 8, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Forster, E.M.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davidson, FrederickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ekman, MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simpson, MonaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stallybrass, OliverEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, CandaceEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"The Signora had no business to do it," said Miss Bartlett, "no business at all. She promised us south rooms with a view close together, instead of which here are north rooms, looking into a courtyard, and a long way apart. Oh, Lucy!"
She joined the vast armies of the benighted, who follow neither the heart nor the brain, and march to their destiny by catch-words.
If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays [piano], it will be very exciting both for us and for her.
She was like a woman of Leonardo da Vinci, whom we love not so much for herself as for the things that she will not tell us.
There is a certain amount of kindness, just as there is a certain amount of light,” he continued in measured tones. “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.”<>
It makes a difference, doesn’t it, whether we fence ourselves in, or whether we are fenced out by the barriers of others?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553213237, Mass Market Paperback)

This Edwardian social comedy explores love and prim propriety among an eccentric cast of characters assembled in an Italian pensione and in a corner of Surrey, England.

A charming young Englishwoman, Lucy Honeychurch, faints into the arms of a fellow Britisher when she witnesses a murder in a Florentine piazza. Attracted to this man, George Emerson—who is entirely unsuitable and whose father just may be a Socialist—Lucy is soon at war with the snobbery of her class and her own conflicting desires. Back in England, she is courted by a more acceptable, if stifling, suitor and soon realizes she must make a startling decision that will decide the course of her future: she is forced to choose between convention and passion.

The enduring delight of this tale of romantic intrigue is rooted in Forster’s colorful characters, including outrageous spinsters, pompous clergymen, and outspoken patriots. Written in 1908, A Room with a View is one of E. M. Forster’s earliest and most celebrated works.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:57:19 -0400)

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"The love of a young British woman named Lucy Honeychurch for a British expatriate living in Italy is condemned by her stuffy, middle-class guardians, who prefer an eligible man of their own choosing." -- Provided by publisher.

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Fourteen editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Three editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141183292, 0241951488, 0141199822

Feral House

An edition of this book was published by Feral House.

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