- by E.M. Forster
250 pages (1908)
an enchanting Edwardian-caricature
"If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting - both for us and for her." - Rev. Mr. Beebe
A young Englishwoman's "coming of age", E.M. Forster's acclaimed A Room With A View is set in the Edwardian era of England's history. The heroine, Lucy Honeychurch, is a well-bred upper-middle class girl who possesses an extraordinary vivacity for life. However, her future happiness and fulfillment in life seems ultimately doomed by the decorum and pretensions of society's expectations.
Little does Lucy know that her life will be changed forever under a loggia in Florence and amidst the beautiful Tuscan countryside. On a Baedecker-style grand tour of Florence, Lucy is accompanied by her chaperone and elder cousin, Charlotte Bartlett (an incompliant spinster "much discomfited by any unpleasant scenes"). They stay at an eclectic pensione filled with British expatriates. There, Lucy becomes acquainted with the handsome and unconventional George Emerson, a modern freethinking Englishman who is staying at the loggia with his like-minded father. The two men kindly exchange their rooms with a view, with Lucy and Miss Bartlett, who were given rooms with no view.
The plot revolves around Lucy's inward struggle with what high society expects of young women, versus what she desires for her own future. Lucy frustratingly finds herself at a crossroads. Should she bow to society's "rules" of 'proper' women of her day, and marry the stuffy and priggish Cecil Vyse back in England, a wealthy and learned gentleman who embodies all things viewed with favour in England's high class society. Or should she follow her heart and marry the broad-minded and genuine, yet penniless, George Emerson?
Forster's delicate and playful story-telling spirits us from an escapade through in the cobble-stoned alleyways of Florence and the lush fields of Tuscany, to the ceremonious rigidity of English lawn parties and drawing rooms. A Room With A View is brought alive by the impetus of a perceptive and contemplative mind. Highly recommended.
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