Aubrey's Reviews > A Room with a View

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
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really liked it
bookshelves: 4-star, r-2014, reviewed, r-goodreads

I don't deal with romance much. It's a trait that's bled over from real life experiences into my tastes for a very long time, but it wasn't until recently that I started vivisecting it for more credible reasons than "I don't like chick flicks/soap operas/other degenerating names for lovey dovey things that females are supposed to like". If there's one thing I've learned, it's that something is always wrong at the heart of things whenever the word "female" is incorporated into an instinctive dislike.

The word "female" is also a major hint. Now, I don't socialize with as often or with as many people in real life as the average person, but even I've picked up on myriad tropes of conversation that are ubiquitous for females in their twenties, aka me: Do you have a boyfriend? No? Oh, are you looking for one? No? Oh, you're not interested in a boyfriend? Don't you want kids? Now take that and apply it to every form of media aimed at women, from book to movie to television commercial and everything in between. Being someone with far greater interests in more important issues than the future of my womb, this omnipresent intrusiveness is annoying enough without actively seeking it out in entertainment centered around romance, or rather the series of male fantasies society likes to pretend is acceptable for anyone and everyone.

In short, if you want to sell me a romance, it either needs to avoid the problematic tropes or subvert them entirely, period. Life is short and made even shorter by the majority of others you converse with constantly bringing up a problematic version of love and sex and all that jazz, and as consequence I have no time for that shit in my literature. The issue's insidious enough that even female authors don't realize it most of the time, so let me get to the point already and explain just what I'm doing with this book that all signs say should be putting me off forevermore.

Had it not been for reading Howards End immediately previous, I would have spent the majority of A Room with a View expecting Forster to fail. It's obvious why the latter is far more popular than the former: lots of comedy, lots of twists and turns, lots of outrageous characters, and a minimal amount of the juicy expoundings of thought and form and Big Ideas that I so adored in the previous. Both works operate through a female main character, but in ARwaV it is not until the very end that Forster is giving said character credit for her own intelligent autonomy, thereby showing me that he did indeed know what he was doing.

It's not perfect. I could bring up the usual Edwardian White English Male excuse, but seeing as how this work does romance magnitudes better than the majority of modern day works by both sexes (don't be lazy and consign it to Nora Roberts/50 SoG, that's instinctive dislike based on the word "female" and you know it), I'll forgo the easy "sign of the times" classification. What interests me more is how Forster handled his balance between social justice and individual happiness, less masterful here than in HE but all the more potent for its seeming conformation to the stereotypical "happy ending". (view spoiler) Love is a human thing that is only achieved through mutual respect and complete lack of defining the other party by their respective parts; Forster's awareness of this, as well as his acknowledgement of the efforts men need to make as consequence of their ideology based privilege, won the day.

Also, he did make me giggle a few times. That's always worth something.
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Reading Progress

May 15, 2014 – Shelved
May 15, 2014 – Shelved as: misc
May 15, 2014 – Shelved as: on-hold
May 22, 2014 – Started Reading
May 24, 2014 – Shelved as: 4-star
May 24, 2014 – Shelved as: r-2014
May 24, 2014 – Shelved as: reviewed
May 24, 2014 – Finished Reading
September 16, 2014 – Shelved as: r-goodreads

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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message 1: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Excellent!!!I do need to read this. I saw the film eons ago and it's high time I read the original.


Melissa Coyle Love your review and plan on reading this one this summer. I loved Howards End and A Passage to India is also on my stack.


message 3: by Fionnuala (new) - added it

Fionnuala Your review has made me curious about A Room with a View, having only read the other two mentioned and loving the way he writes. I don't even have a film notion of this one.

I like what you say about how the tag 'female' inevitably equals a specific type of predictable 'romance' in books, films, soaps but when you say, Being someone with far greater interests in more important issues than the future of my womb I wonder about your choice of words, specifically, 'greater and 'important'.
Would replacing them with 'wider' and 'universal' express what you feel at all? That's how I would phrase what I feel about the relationship between my female biology and my life as a whole but of course I don't presume that every one sees things as I do...


Dolors "Love is a human thing that is only achieved through mutual respect and complete lack of defining the other party by their respective parts; Forster's awareness of this, as well as his acknowledgement of the efforts men need to make as consequence of their ideology based privilege, won the day."
Yes. And his lack of slushy romanticism also helps to make his characters well rounded enough to shine through. Excellent review, Aubrey.


Aubrey Sue wrote: "Excellent!!!I do need to read this. I saw the film eons ago and it's high time I read the original."

Oh yes, please do so, Sue. I liked the book much better than the movie.


Aubrey P. wrote: "Have you read Howards End or A Passage to India?

His best, in my opinion."


P.! You liked my review of 'Howards End' a mere few days ago! How soon we forget!

As for APtI, I read and really liked it in high school. I plan on rereading it.


Aubrey Melissa wrote: "Love your review and plan on reading this one this summer. I loved Howards End and A Passage to India is also on my stack."

Thank you, Melissa. I'm sure you'll enjoy this one as well.


Aubrey Fionnuala wrote: "Your review has made me curious about A Room with a View, having only read the other two mentioned and loving the way he writes. I don't even have a film notion of this one.

I like wha..."


My view of the "female"/womb business is one of acceptance of the opinions of others, so long as they don't oppress anyone else. Personally, if I were given the chance to excise my womb with minimal repercussion, I would do so in a heartbeat. However, I have no desire to convince others to feel the same. As such, my choice of words stands.


Aubrey Dolors wrote: ""Love is a human thing that is only achieved through mutual respect and complete lack of defining the other party by their respective parts; Forster's awareness of this, as well as his acknowledgem..."

Thank you, Dolors. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


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