Apatt's Reviews > A Room with a View

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
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it was amazing
bookshelves: classics

A couple of days before I started to read this book I have just read and reviewed E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops an excellent science fiction short story first published in 1909 which is very well written, clever and prescient. Forster is of course not known for his sci-fi as he wrote only the one story (as far as I know). However, he is known for several classic novels including A Passage to India, Howards End and Where Angels Fear to Tread. All of which have been adapted into films. A Room with a View is his most widely read and popular work. I decided to read it after reading The Machine Stops.

Room is superficially a romance and a comedy of manners, but it is also a social satire a character study and an exploration of the human mind. The protagonist Lucy who has been living a sheltered life meets a seemingly plebeian English father and son while on holiday in Florence with her snooty cousin Charlotte. Initially she shares her cousin’s disdain for those of the lower classes until repeated encounters show her that there is more to these people than meets the eye.

A Room with a View is a pleasant, amusing and thought provoking book. I particularly like the theme of self-denial, people (myself included) often do not admit even to themselves when they like something they imagine will lower their peers’ opinions of them, basically nobody likes to look uncool! Sometime this is justifiable but as this novel shows it can leads to life changing error of judgment. A couple of quotes from this book that deal with this particular theme:
“Let yourself go. Pull out from the depths those thoughts that you do not understand, and spread them out in the sunlight and know the meaning of them”

“Passion should believe itself irresistible. It should forget civility and consideration and all the other curses of a refined nature. Above all, it should never ask for leave where there is a right of way.”
(I always pad up my reviews with quotes when I can’t think what to write!).

The romcom theme of “The course of true love never did run smooth” is prevalent for people who like that sort of thing. For me it is a less interesting aspect of the book due to its commonplaceness. I do tend to get a little frustrated with the heroines of romcoms when they acting out their self-denial. There is also a satire of people who like to act the martyr for the purpose of emotional blackmail which had me chuckling.

The characters are all believable and the central characters are quite complex, probably too complex for their own good. The prose and dialogue, as I expect from [author E.M. Forster], is beautifully written. This is one of his lighter novels and there are amusing scenes and dialogues scattered throughput the book. As I read this in audiobook format it is more difficult to make notes and highlight favorite lines.

Speaking of which, the audiobook is superbly read by Elizabeth Klett who is an American lady but reads all the dialog in a convincing English accent; the narrative parts are read in her natural accent, which makes for an interesting contrast and serves to highlight her skills. (Audiobook download link)

I prefer novels where the stakes are higher than a couple’s relationship so a 4.5 stars rating seem appropriate as a gauge of my appreciation (rounded up to 5 because GR doesn’t allow halves!). Any way, lovely book, time well spent!
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Reading Progress

June 10, 2014 – Started Reading
June 10, 2014 – Shelved
June 10, 2014 –
page 120
100%
June 13, 2014 – Shelved as: classics
June 13, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)

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message 1: by Cecily (last edited Jun 14, 2014 09:11AM) (new)

Cecily I like your review, but my attention was grabbed by the idea of an American narrator with a convincing English accent for dialog!

It was too intriguing not to listen to a sample (thank you for the link).

It certainly "makes for an interesting contrast", and I'm glad it worked for you, but... (you can guess the rest).

;)


Apatt Cecily wrote: "I like the review, but my attention was grabbed by the idea of an American narrator with a convincing English accent for dialog?!

It was too intriguing not to listen to a sample (thank you for the..."


Thanks Cecily. I should try the braille version next ;)


message 3: by Cecily (new)

Cecily Touché.


Forrest Fantastic review of one of my favorite Edwardian works!


message 5: by Apatt (last edited Jun 14, 2014 10:32AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Apatt Forrest wrote: "Fantastic review of one of my favorite Edwardian works!"

Thanks Forrest, very kind of you! Funny how his books became all the rage in the 80s for the arthouse film makers.


message 6: by Cecily (new)

Cecily Apatt wrote: "Funny how his books became all the rage in the 80s for the arthouse film makers."

Most of them by a single arthouse film maker, Merchant Ivory (this, Howard's End and Maurice - but not A Passage to India)!


Kevin Ansbro Apatt, your excellent review had me searching my bookshelves for my own copy of this book, an almost-forgotten fave of mine.
A quick thumb through had me wanting to read it all over again.

I am also intrigued by your American lady who speaks in a convincing English accent.
As an Englishman I can only think of two actresses (one American, one Canadian) who have pulled this off:
Gwyneth Paltrow (in Sliding Doors and Emma, among others).
And Gillian Anderson (simply fabulous in Great Expectations). SO good. If you haven't seen this version, then please do!
Both actresses, IMHO, are amazing and both can score a flawless English accent with great aplomb.


Apatt Kevin wrote: "Apatt, your excellent review had me searching my bookshelves for my own copy of this book, an almost-forgotten fave of mine.
A quick thumb through had me wanting to read it all over again.

I am al..."


Thanks, Kevin! What about whatshername from Bridget Jones?
I've seen Gillian Anderson in Great Expectations, funny thing, when she's interviewed in the UK she speaks with English accent, when she's in the US she does the US accent. Check out her interviews on Youtube.


Kevin Ansbro Apatt wrote: "Kevin wrote: "Apatt, your excellent review had me searching my bookshelves for my own copy of this book, an almost-forgotten fave of mine.
A quick thumb through had me wanting to read it all over a..."


Yes, whatsername from Bridget Jones is another one. Good call, Apatt.


message 10: by Cecily (new)

Cecily Gillian Anderson spent her primary school years and many subsequent summers in England, so she ought to be able to do a decent English accent!

Gwynneth did (does?) live here too, but only as an adult, so I guess that makes her plausibility more impressive.

(Judging by my original comment, I wasn't convinced by the authenticity of this English accent, either.)


Lizzy Great review, Apatt. Oh, I loved the quotes. I think they do much more than fill for your toughts. I use them a lot myself. It seems it is a book to be enjoyed. Thanks. L.


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