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A Room With a View by E. M. Forster
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A Room With a View (original 1908; edition 2009)

by E. M. Forster, David Leavitt (Introduction)

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6,805None538 (3.98)448
Member:applebook1
Title:A Room With a View
Authors:E. M. Forster
Other authors:David Leavitt (Introduction)
Info:Signet Classics (2009), Mass Market Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:None

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A Room with a View by E.M. Forster (1908)

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  1. 20
    Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (upster)
    upster: It's refreshing and fun
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    Howards End by E. M. Forster (sturlington)
  3. 10
    The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim (SylviaC)
  4. 00
    The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe (RWListen)
    RWListen: Two ladies travel in Europe during the Edwardian Era.
  5. 11
    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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English (109)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (115)
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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.”

And

“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 |
In common with much of his other writing, this work by the eminent English novelist and essayist E. M. Forster (1879–1970) displays an unusually perceptive view of British society in the early 20th century. Written in 1908, A Room with a View is a social comedy set in Florence, Italy, and Surrey, England. Its heroine, Lucy Honeychurch, struggling against straitlaced Victorian attitudes of arrogance, narrow-mindedness and snobbery, falls in love-while on holiday in Italy-with the socially unsuitable George Emerson.
Caught up in a claustrophobic world of pretentiousness and rigidity, Lucy ultimately rejects her fiancé, Cecil Vyse, and chooses, instead, to wed her true love, the young man whose sense of freedom and lack of artificiality became apparent to her in the Italian pensione where they first met. This classic exploration of passion, human nature and social convention is reprinted here complete and unabridged. ( )
  MarkBeronte | Mar 4, 2014 |
I don’t often feel like a novel is too short, but in this case, there were a few places where I wanted additional narrative instead of the authorial equivalent of an ellipsis. Some lovely scenes and characters. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
A Room with a View by E.M. Forster is a sweet coming of age love story. It features fascinating characters and brilliant language. Forster writes a beautiful tale of a young woman who goes through the foibles involved with finding and realizing true love. It is a short story that is quite reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel.

It is a young woman's journey beyond childhood, set first in the streets of Florence and later in countryside of England. Miss Honeychurch, the protagonist, travels to Italy under the supervision of her elder cousin Miss Bartlett and there adventures ensue that bring her together with a host of fascinating characters.

Forster creates very full and amusing characters, from the overbearing Miss Bartlett to the rebellious elder Mr. Emerson. Each character is unique and has their own set of beliefs and are well developed in this short novel.

The imagery in this book was written masterfully and the scenes of the city of Florence and the English countryside come alive as the book is read. Forster's descriptions are vivid and detailed. Sometimes the most simplistic actions are described in beautiful detail.

The most important aspects of this book were Forster's remarks on love. Some of the best quotes within A Room with A View come from discussion on love and though not always positive in the moment are beautifully put.

Overall, A Room with a View is a charming story of youth, travel, and love. It is a short novel and worth the read, as the language is beautiful and the characters witty.
  dragonflyy419 | Feb 5, 2014 |
Like most people I had already seen the film before I read the book, but unlike most other times I found this actually helpful. The film follows Forster's narration very closely, and many scenes of the book came better to life when I remembered their rendering in the film. So I won't summarize the plot, assuming that you know it

"A Room with a View" comes in two rather distinctive parts: The first half, set in Italy, is a gentle mockery of the customs of English people travelling abroad, the second half set in England is about society conventions and their relevance in a changing environment. The introduction explained that Forster wrote these two parts at quite different times, and I think you can feel that - the narration in the second part is more serious and felt somehow self-important.

Especially in the second half I ran into a problem I always seem to have with Forster, i.e. that he discusses thoughts and emotions I can't really relate to, and does so at great lenghts. I understand that Forster wrote at a time of change, just after the Victorian era had ended, but Forster's thoughts on these changes don't have any relevance for me. I don't think that's simply because of the age of the book; I just read a Swedish classic dated 1912 which felt absolutely modern. Forster's ideas, on the contrary, only have historical interest to me.

Unfortunately, I can't command too much interest because I find the explicit description of all people's thoughts, and the detailed explanation for every motive of their actions increasingly boring. Unfortunately for me, Forster places more emphasis on the inner life than on outer plot.

That said, there were parts that I really liked, especially the characters of Charlotte Bartletts and Mr Vyse - they really came to life for me with all their maddening foibles. In stark contrast, Emerson the younger who should be hero of this book remains totally bland, like a cardbox figure that Forster needed just in order to have a trigger for Lucy's development.

And Forster's language is as always superb, that's why this book still gets 3 1/2 stars from me. Though I won't be tempted to re-read it soon. ( )
  1502Isabella | Jan 26, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (62 possible)

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!"
Quotations
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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Three editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141183292, 0241951488, 0141199822

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