I was surprised to discover that this classic, suggested by a friend, was not in my collection of 52 Great Books to Read that I have been using, but I guess it can’t have them all.
Room is a charming tale in its own way, a love story crawling its way into the light late in the book. I found it difficult to read at times, as I had a hard time crediting frequently unattributed dialogue to the right person. But in the end, it mostly made sense, and I imagine the particular problem is solved in the popular film version of this book.
I did appreciate the revealing moment in chapter 15 when it is suggested that Lucy Honeychurch is the room with a view, figuratively speaking, and while Cecil Vyse has very recently checked in, he has already forgotten the view. Or something like that.
It not really being my genre, I struggled with what should have been a quick, easy read. Even so, there is marvelous prose–even poetry–in the literature. Here are a few of my favorite lines:
In discussing the Piazza Signoria and the Greek statues within, Forster writes,
Here, not only in the solitude of Nature, might a hero meet a goddess, or a heroine a god.
The free-thinking wisdom of the elder Mr. Emerson was of course quite appealing in a story full of stiff-shirts:
To be driven by lovers– A king might envy us, and if we part them it’s more like sacrilege than anything I know.
The humorous statement about the Cecil’s attitude bears a degree of truth in most of us today:
Of course, he despised the world as a whole; every thoughtful man should; it is almost a test of refinement.
When Cecil finally appreciates the view, we read of Lucy:
From a Leonardo she had become a living woman, with mysteries and forces of her own, with qualities that even eluded art.
Forster has a delightful way with words, and it is best in between the dialogue.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Until we meet again in Florence…