12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2005
What a relief! This was a short, simple, easy read that I truly enjoyed. The young and beautiful Miss Lucy Honeychurch, accompanied by her dear older friend Miss Bartlett, is first introduced to the reader in Florence, just arrived at the pension they will be staying at during the course of their holiday in Italy. The ladies are vexed to find that they have not received rooms with the views they wished for; overhearing them, an elderly man and his son offer to trade rooms with them, for they have rooms with perfect views; and hence the title of the book.
This is when Lucy first meets George Emerson, an attractive, if not unconventional, young Englishman. Lucy encounters him again when she witnesses a public murder in the streets, and George attends to her after she faints. This is when his passion for her is first ignited. This inward flame is only stoked more when he and his father are accidentally invited on a daily outing with Lucy and her friends, and George sees Lucy alone in a field full of flowers, beautiful and surrounded by beauty. He cannot help but kiss her, which is entirely un-gentleman-like. Miss Bartlett witnesses George's display of affection, and decides that to keep her young companion's innocence safe from George's intentions, the two of them must leave immediately for Rome, without so much as a goodbye to George or his father, and stay with some family friends, the Vyses.
The story opens up again in a quiet, small neighborhood in the country, with Miss Lucy Honeychurch engaged to Cecil Vyse, whom she became better acquainted with in Rome. Then, by mere coincidence--or is it fate?--George Emerson and his father, whom Lucy never expected to see again, reenter into her life, and complicate things. Should Lucy flout convention and follow her heart, which is leading her to George, or will she remain with Cecil, the safe and respectable choice, who she knows can never make her truly happy?
Find out for yourself! Forster does a great job of painting with certain clarity and humor the scenes and characters of this story. This classic is a breath of fresh air, and I'm sure that even if you aren't a huge fan of British Literature, you will love it.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 1999
E. M. Forster's "A Room with a View" can certainly be taken as little else than a charming and amusing Eduardian love story. But to do so is to belittle the true grace and beauty of this stunning piece of literature. Like so many of Forster's works (indeed, like so many of his contemporaries), "A Room with a View" is about grappling with the infinite in a world so seemingly, "flat, stale and unprofitable." Through the medium of a story, Forster brings to light the heroine's own internal struggle from childishness, to mindless conformity ("the ranks of the benighted"), to a sort of "awakening." In short, Lucy Honeychurch's own journey is parallel to the historical changes in mindset that have formed our modern restless society. The book is rife with meaning and symbol, found in action as well as chapter titles. The language is beautiful, the characters charmingly (and sometimes sardonically) drawn, and the sense of place outstanding. "A Room with a View" is an excellent starting place for those interested in reading the works of Forster, both because of its brevity and also because of its historical youthfulness (his first novel). Although I felt the ending lacked in explanatory action, and I was not wholly satisfied with its philosophical conclusion, "A Room with a View" is doubtless an excellent piece of literature that works on several levels. Lovers and scholars of the various liberal arts would do very well to read this, as well as lovers of Eduardian and modern British novels.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2009
Forster has a knack for making the ordinary extraordinary. He turned a country house into a magestic palace in Howards End and did the same for the everyday lives of countryfolk in A Room with a View. A quick read that is full of surprises, this book deals with a number of Modernist issues that were slightly ahead of their time.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This elegant little novel totally swept me away. It is so perfect from any angle I look at it. I know that this will be one of those novels I will always keep in a prominent place on my bookshelf and return to my whole life.
This exquisite novel primarily concerns Lucy Honeychurch. The novel begins with Lucy on a trip in Italy. She is accompanied there mainly by members of her own society, the upper class of England among which she has been raised. While in Italy, though, Lucy is confronted by the Italian society where she notices the classes seem to mix easily. She is also confronted with George Emerson. George is simple, direct, and of a lower class, and he is having existential worries. Despite themselves (or their pasts), the two begin to fall in love with one another, and their experiences eventually lead to their realizations of what their hearts really desire.
As it is with all of my favorite novels, I really cannot do A Room With a View justice with this review. This is a truly lovely book. The prose and the pace is perfect. There are so many sentences which are just perfect little gems by themselves. The characterizations are complex. The plot is romantic and funny. The thought behind the novel is meaningful and life affirming. There's not much more that any novel can do. A Room With a View is perfection.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 1997
i loved this book and have recommended it to everyone i know. forster captivates his reader by making them feel right there smack in the middle of the muddle between lucy and george. he carries out a kind of jane austen comic manner throughout the whole book, and you are just compelled to laughing. he describes his characters so meticulously, that you can just about relate each of them to a person in your own life. forster once said that he thought this novel was " slight, unambitious, and uninteresting " (gardner 403) but he was very mistaken. this novel is a light-hearted glimpse into the lives of the well refined english society and its unfortunate black sheeps. i especially enjoyed the way forster addressed the attraction between george and lucy, i've never read any book that has made me so thrilled at the end when the two lovers finally become one. of all forster's novels, i think this one is the funniest, most genuine, and heartwarming novel for any audience. i very highly recommend this novel
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2001
A Room with a View is a prominent novel about a man and a woman, class, and societal expectations and pressures. Lucy and her cousin Charlotte are offered rooms with a view of Florence, Italy by Mr. Emerson and his son, who are willing to exchange for them. The strict and drained Miss Bartlett does not wish to have an obligation to the Emersons, who are deemed less than polite society will condone. Their rector, Mr. Beebe, tells them he believes the exchange is proper and the ladies get their view of Florence. It becomes clear that Lucy herself wants a view of life and later confesses to her fiancé, a priggish intellectual, that she imagines him always in a room with no windows, with no view. The novel's love story is compelling, but the secondary themes of class and society structures are equally strong, with the truly noble characters emerging in the end with great strength.
A Room with a View has everything a reader could ask for. Not only does it contain a beautiful and romantic love story that will capture your heart, but it contains the most simplistic comic relief, that it forms the perfect balance. Just as the story starts to get involved in deep romance, Foster will roll in a statement that will lighten the whole picture, and leave the mind simply happy.
Foster writes in a way so calm and gentle that you want to fall in love with the book itself. He makes every word seem like it has such a great importance, that without it, the story will fall apart. One can tell this novel was written with a passion for life and love and with the force of a sensitive and empathetic mind.
However, this gentleness leads to an extremely slow moving plot that sometimes winds up dragging along the reader. At some points, I found myself getting swallowed by the words and not really fully digesting them the first time. The key to aptly appreciate this novel is to have patience, knowing that the conclusion is well worth pacing the plot.
Foster also created such a basic and easy plot that some chapters seemed to drag on until the idea was pulled through. Nevertheless, since there was not a complicated plot scheme to follow, the reader was able to concentrate on the language and characters illustrated in the novel. This way, it was also so easy to make yourself a character in the book and put your feet right in the room or scene to get the full effect of the atmosphere.
Another aspect that was interesting to follow along with is how the novel conveyed very differently each level of society was looked at and thought of. Even though these thoughts on society may not have been the primary theme, they were definitely prominent throughout the novel. The lesson that can be learned from this aspect of the novel is that the entrenched morals of society should be thrown away in favor of passion and the natural instinct.
The greatest fallback would have to be the British language used by Foster. I am not a big reader of British literature and I found the wording at little times to be a slight bit clumsy and awkward to follow. Although this stood in the way of the greater aspects of Foster's novel, it was definitely not a reason I would give for not recommending this astounding novel.
This would have to be one of the greatest novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Anyone who believes they have the patience to appreciate this accomplished writer's work, will be utterly satisfied. The book is at every facet entertaining, no matter what genre of novels you're partial to.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2000
British writer Forster writes a romantic love story which takes place in England at the turn of the century. Young Lucy, is engaged to Cecil, a man of her class and social level. However, her views of the world changes drastically when she takes a trip to Florence, Italy and meets George.
George and his father are rumored to be socialists and free thinkers. They quickly prove they have a tongue. George and Lucy have many interactions. First, they exchange rooms on account that Lucy's view is not what she wanted. He also helps her home after Lucy sees a bloody fight in the town's square. They also take an excursion to see a beautiful valley, where George makes his intentions known that he appreciates Lucy.
When Lucy returns to England, George once again is put in her midst. With George's influence, Lucy begins to see that Cecil is stifling her. Challenging her Victorian principles, she must decide between the free willed George or the controlling Cecil.
I enjoyed the book a great deal. It reminded me of a British version of a Sinclair Lewis novel where Lucy must challenge her societal roles. There is also a hint of women's liberation in the book as well. The idea is similar to Lewis's "Main Street". However, I did find the book challenging to read; I am not a big reader of British literature and I found the wording a little clumsy and hard to follow. None the less, it was a good read and the ideas that Forster conveyed make this one a classic piece of British literature.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2011
Old-as-time plot line (young woman growing up and going against convention) is livened somewhat by Forster's interesting heroine, Lucy. I found the ending a bit dissatisfying, perhaps because we don't get to see the reactions of Lucy's loved ones to her final choice. Although I haven't seen the movie, it is extremely easy to visualize a Merchant-Ivory type production from reading the book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2010
This charming little novel which has recently celebrated its centennary can be easily put down as a period piece. E M Forster foresaw it already in his note which he added to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first edition. Yet a prospective reader would be most wrong to disregard it. There is a lesson here which still needs to be learned by many.
The title gives away some of the content - the main heroine, Lucy Honeychurch, needs to get away from the stuffy atmosphere of late Victorian England in which she was brought up - the symbol of which is for EMF the room. Her escape takes place in stages - the first of them is her trip to Italy where she finds landscapes and people most different from those she was accustomed to. It is also there that she meets the man she falls in love with, George Emerson. Yet these changes come too quickly for her. Lucy yields to the demands of her chaperone and escapes back to England, finding on the way a more appropriate suitor, Cecil Vyse.
When the three young people meet again in England, a fight for Lucy's soul begins anew. Lucy has to decide whether she prefers Cecil who will keep her under his protection in his house as a work of art for others to admire, or George with whom she will have to face the challenges of the world but be free.
What is the lesson for us today in a world where there are neither chaperones nor stage-coaches? We also must make similar decisions - choose freedom which always comes at a cost or safety for which we must pay with our soul. We choose between being true to ourselves or satisfying the demands of others. Lucy's adventures may serve as a perfect food for thought for those facing seemingly dissimilar but actually very similar decisions. It is the more valuable as Forster does not show easy decisions or easy solutions. The happy ending never comes free and yet still it is worth striving for.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2014
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.