Kristel's Reviews > A Room with a View

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
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's review
Mar 13, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: romance, classics, literary-fiction

(My last Back to the Future review. It's interesting how I say here that I feel emotionally distant from British literature characters, and now I cry monthly about Lord Peter Wimsey)

E.M. Forster’s A Room With a View is an unexpected romance. I’m not just talking about the plot itself, which revolves around the coming of age and sensual awakening of a young young British woman during her first visit to Italy. By romance, I’m talking about the act of reading the novel itself: I unexpectedly fell in love with the story. You see, I never felt any passion for English novels before. I’ve not ignored them completely, having read about 15 novels so far but considering the vastness of British literature, that number is frankly pathetic.

The usual turn-off for me are the characters, mainly because I find many of them emotionally inaccessible. Maybe that’s too harsh a description but I can’t think of anything else. I don’t see restraint as a necessarily bad thing (see my fondness for Hemingway’s stories), but when I have to make too much effort to empathize with protagonists, I tend to lose interest. I felt this way with the works of John LeCarre, John Fowles, even Oscar Wilde (technically Irish, but let’s not quibble). Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse is the exception. But for that novel, it was the exquisite language of that novel that won me over, and not the people.

E.M. Forster makes it easy for you to care about his characters. They are all so... vulnerable, all of them fumbling for their own versions of an ideal life. Some of them succeed without even realizing it. I didn’t expect to like the main character, Lucy Honeychurch, or even care about her unemployed, Italy-vacationing, upper-middle class existence. Yet I did. My favorite character is Mr. Emerson, George’s father. Such fanciful notions on philosophy and existence, an old man I’d love to listen to all day. But then, I do have a weakness for talkative old men.

There is so much to be said about E.M. Forster’s breezy, evocative style. He vividly depicts Florence at the height of spring, the English countryside’s bright summers giving way to the frostiness of autumn. I also take it as a sign of great cosmic irony, having read it when Manila’s weather was at its most humid and oppressive. Heh.
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