1st Thursday [11]: EM Forster’s “A Room with a View”


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…



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