Bright Young Things discussion

A Room with a View
This topic is about A Room with a View
47 views
Group Reads Archive > October 2016 A Room with a View by EM Forster

Comments Showing 1-30 of 30 (30 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 1002 comments Mod
Welcome to October's fiction read, A Room with a View by E.M. Forster. Please share your thoughts!

Enjoy!


message 2: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val I'm not going to share too many of my thoughts this early in the month, but I do have a question for anyone reading it:
Did the 'love triangle' aspect of the book work for you?

I hope it isn't a spoiler to say that there is one; it is also suggested in the 'blurb' for the book.


message 3: by Jan C (new) - added it

Jan C (woeisme) | 1526 comments I tried listening to this one. It had to go back to the library before I got off chapter 3. I also have it on kindle. I don't hold out a lot of hope for enjoying it. But I will give it a try.


message 4: by Connie (last edited Oct 04, 2016 06:49AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Connie G (connie_g) | 162 comments I finished the first chapter of the book, and will be reading it slowly since I have other reading to do for a book club. I saw the Merchant-Ivory movie, which was beautifully filmed, a few years ago. So I'm picturing the characters in my mind as I'm reading.


Nicole | 22 comments Connie wrote: "I finished the first chapter of the book, and will be reading it slowly since I have other reading to do for a book club. I saw the Ivory-Merchant movie, which was beautifully filmed, a few years a..."

That movie is very charming, it's true, but I find that the book is a much darker and more serious venture. I'll maybe wait to say more until people are further along in the book to avoid spoiling things, but I think what Lucy is facing is perhaps not best described as a love triangle.


Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments I watched the movie over the summer, which prompted me to pick up the book and to nominate it here. I'm really glad that all happened and that we're reading it.

I do think the movie is lighter than the book, but not terribly so. I think the movie translated the book really well overall. There are some really bad book-to-movie adaptations and this one was really good.

I agree that I don't think it's really a love triangle. I think it's more... duty vs. heart, almost, though that's not quite right either. I think there was definitely a contrast between Cecil and George and what they represented as a whole and to Lucy.


message 7: by Val (last edited Oct 03, 2016 06:06AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val It is the Cecil/Lucy relationship which bothers me.
I couldn't really see why Cecil would propose to Lucy once, let alone three times. If it was simply that he felt it his duty to marry, he wouldn't, he would move on to someone else. I had to assume he fell in love with her as far as he was capable of it.
As for Lucy turning him down twice in several months together in romantic Italy, then accepting him once she finds out he doesn't like her mother, brother, cousin, friends, house, furniture, village or the society she keeps, I'm completely baffled.
Do you think she saw it as a duty Bronwyn?
If so, to whom or what?


Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Right, Cecil and Lucy definitely don't fit. I thought she accepted him before she really found out he didn't like anyone in her family, I could be remembering wrong though - I may have read it too fast! He wrote to her mother and Freddie asking for permission, which made me think he hadn't met them yet? Once we see them all at the Honeychurchs, they're already engaged and Lucy had just returned I thought. If it was like you said, after she found out he doesn't like anyone, I really don't understand why she accepted.

Maybe duty wasn't the right word, but I think with him proposing so many times maybe she felt she ought to accept? And he was fairly socially acceptable.


Nicole | 22 comments I think it's a question of doing what others expect of you versus doing what you want, or what will make you happy. Or maybe not even what others expect, but something that fits with some image of what you should be like, or are like. So duty makes sense for me in that context. It's not so much doing something specific for other people to make them happy, as tamping down what you're like to meet some more amorphous expectations, if that makes sense.

I think it's also a question of emotional safety for Lucy; not loving Cecil also makes him the safe choice. And also being lost, and having to do something, and having marriage be on offer.

Oh now I'm wanting to read this again (it's already been like 5 times, and I said to myself that I wouldn't read it again....)


message 10: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val He writes and asks to visit and she accepts his third proposal during it (the visit), so perhaps the dislike wasn't as clear to her as it became later. I could be remembering it wrong, but I got the impression that he was quite dismissive all the time he was there.
I like Nicole's point about emotional safety, he is certainly a safe choice. Lucy does seem more than usually frightened of emotions, sexual feelings, etc. (unless she is playing the piano).


Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Ah, okay, I didn't remember it right then. He was definitely looking down on them the whole time he was there, but since I thought it was all after she'd accepted I didn't see that as something she would have known before.

He's absolutely the safe choice. And after her experiences in Italy and being shaken up a bit, I can sort of understand why she'd accept him and want to feel unshaken again. Even though everything about her says that she isn't that person anymore, and she just can't see it herself.


Richard Hello,

Coincidentally I recently started reading A Room with a View, so I will see if I can drop in here in between study periods, job searches and other demands on my time. But I'm a slow, uneven reader and often find it extremely difficult to put my thoughts into written words, so I might just observe and try to learn some things from the discussion, if that's okay.

I have read up to the end of chapter Seven but started again in order to try to read 'deeper', so I'm at the beginning of chapter Two (In Santa Croce with no Baedeker).

Finally, I've seen the film two or three times (most recently about a year or two ago) and enjoyed it very much. Finishing the book will be a good excuse to watch it again.


message 13: by Connie (last edited Oct 04, 2016 06:52AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Connie G (connie_g) | 162 comments Lucy seemed to want to learn about art and culture, so maybe Cecil seemed like he would be a "proper", socially acceptable husband when she accepted his proposal. Then she later found out he was trying to remake her as a person, and did not value her opinions. She tired of his constant teaching and condescending ways. He seemed to be treating her as a possession rather than a person.

George seems to represent passion, and he loves her for herself. She would be choosing a life where stuffy rules would be relaxed, and her ideas would be important. So she not only has the choice of a different man, but also a different lifestyle.


message 14: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val Connie wrote: "Lucy seemed to want to learn about art and culture, so maybe Cecil seemed like he would be a "proper", socially acceptable husband when she accepted his proposal. Then she later found out he was trying to remake her as a person, and did not value her opinions. She tired of his constant teaching and condescending ways. He seemed to be treating her as a possession rather than a person."
That is true Connie, but she already knew him and had just spent several months in Rome with him, where he would have have been in full lecturing and condescending mode (one imagines), so she can hardly have found it a new aspect of his character.


message 15: by Connie (last edited Oct 04, 2016 08:57PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Connie G (connie_g) | 162 comments That's a good point, Val. In Rome, he was with his mother who thinks Cecil is wonderful. He doesn't seem to be rude to his mother, probably because they are a lot alike. Charlotte Bartlett, a dutiful person, was also with them in Rome after she and Lucy left Florence.

But in Lucy's home she is seeing how Cecil is interacting with her mother, her brother, and the neighbors as well as how she is being treated. She has given some thought to the kind of life she wants with some freedom. Also, George told Lucy that Cecil's interest was books, not people.


Connie G (connie_g) | 162 comments Cecil is a great character because he is just so obnoxious that it's humorous. Forster seems to be poking fun at the snobs with all their rules and manners. The people who are the least gracious and polite are the ones most concerned with proper behavior. Miss Bartlett falls in that category too.


message 17: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val Connie wrote: "Cecil is a great character because he is just so obnoxious that it's humorous. Forster seems to be poking fun at the snobs with all their rules and manners. The people who are the least gracious and polite are the ones most concerned with proper behavior. "
The book is funny and I thought several of the characters are exaggerated just enough for him to be poking fun at them. His main target is the snobbery, rules, manners and conventions of the upper middle class as you say, but Miss Lavish, with her search for 'the real Italy', and Mr Emerson, the sentimental Fabianist / socialist, are funny too.
I didn't find Charlotte obnoxious, although she could be annoying at times. She has been given the job of chaperone, which she takes seriously but isn't very good at, while she has no more experience of the real world or men than Lucy (although there is a hint that she might have had some romance in her youth, I think). Her concern about George and the kiss is mainly that Lucy's mother might find out and think she hadn't been doing her job. It would have been considered a serious assault on a girl's virtue to her generation, but it is Lucy who insists on running off to Rome to escape the situation. She thinks George's behaviour is that of a predatory male, which it is from the outside, but tells a novelist about it, which suggests she also finds it romantic or exciting (or, at the very least, interesting enough to gossip about).


message 18: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 931 comments I really loved rereading this. Forster's writing is so beautifully readable, very concise and witty. Must say I think Cecil is a much more vivid character than George - as Connie says, just so obnoxious, although he becomes more sympathetic later on. I think George's dad is another great character, but George himself is perhaps a little colourless, as Mr Right so often is!

I have the feeling that Lucy rather enjoys being in Cecil's inner circle for a little while, as one of the very few people he doesn't disapprove of - but it becomes increasingly impossible to put up with his snobbish dismissals of everybody and everything else.

I've been meaning to watch the excellent film of this again - hope to do so this weekend.


message 19: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 931 comments I've now watched the Merchant-Ivory film again and enjoyed it a lot - very true to the book. Daniel Day-Lewis is perfect as Cecil, and so is Maggie Smith as Charlotte - but the whole cast is excellent. I know I also saw a more recent TV adaptation, but don't remember it in any detail.


Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments Judy, I totally agree. Cecil, as obnoxious as he can be, is much more fleshed out and interesting than George. I felt this way in the movie too. George is kinda just there and brooding and... Cecil's annoying, but at least he has character! (And yes, Daniel Day-Lewis is just perfect as Cecil.)


message 21: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val There is nothing particularly wrong with George, but the lack of anything interesting in his character emphasises the physical nature of the attraction between him and Lucy and explains why she runs away. Her flight would be an over-reaction if she simply liked him or found him interesting.


Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 651 comments That's a good point. He's still a bit dull to me though... :)


message 23: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val Bronwyn wrote: "That's a good point. He's still a bit dull to me though... :)"
Yes he is, and Julian Sands isn't sexy enough to dump Daniel Day Lewis for.


message 24: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 931 comments Just found a page which has an article about the book and some reading group questions at the bottom:

http://www.penguin.com/read/book-club...


message 25: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 931 comments Bronwyn and Val, glad to hear I'm not the only one to find George somewhat boring. I bet Daniel Day Lewis was glad he got the chance to play Cecil rather than George!

Also, in the film, I didn't think the way George runs around shouting "yes!" works all that well, although it's a great contrast with the way Cecil is always saying no to everything. I do think Mr Emerson is a great character, though, in both book and film, and Denholm Elliott is very good in the role.


message 26: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val Judy wrote: "Just found a page which has an article about the book and some reading group questions at the bottom:

http://www.penguin.com/read/book-club..."


Interesting article Judy.
Mr Emerson certainly fits with a lot of what I have read about Edward Carpenter and his views, although obviously Carpenter never had a son.
I didn't know that 'Some even believe that the entire work is a homosexual romance with Lucy as “a boy en travesti.” ' but I did think it would work as one.

The discussion questions look a bit more like subjects for an A-level essay than starters for a lively discussion, but I will think about them and comment later.


message 27: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 931 comments Val, I can see your point about the questions - I have a feeling there were one or two interesting ones though, so I will have another look!

I did wonder about gay content in the novel when reading it - Lucy's hidden relationship was one aspect. I'd be interested to read more about this.


message 28: by Roisin (new)

Roisin | 729 comments What a wonderful discussion! I wish I'd read this again. I know a little bit about Carpenter, but probably not as much as others here. Gay writer, I think? He was Forster's mentor. Remember this being mentioned in a copy of Maurice that I read in the 80s. : )

I have not read Carpenter's writings, but I'm assuming that he was a free-thinker, which would fit with Mr Emerson.

Forster was writing at a time when homosexuality in the UK was a criminal offence, so it would make sense that Lucy for him was really a male. Maurice was published after is death, I think. He dedicated that book to a 'happier Britain' or something like that.


message 29: by Roisin (new)

Roisin | 729 comments Val your comments on Charlotte, etc are interesting and correct I think. Charlotte Bartlett she says the following after Lucy is kissed by George. “I have met the type before,” she adds ominously, “They seldom keep their exploits to themselves.” It sounds as if she has some experience of men, some of which was not happy or lasting, perhaps?


message 30: by Roisin (new)

Roisin | 729 comments Anyone read this from Zadie Smith on Forster?
https://www.theguardian.com/books/200...

These passages come from this long but interesting discussion on Forster:

'Forsterian characters are in a moral muddle; they don't feel freely; they can't seem to develop. Most comic novelists fear creating one-dimensional characters; Forster bravely made this fear a part of his art. His critical definition of "flat characters" has been often ridiculed, and Forster was never able to say, analytically, quite what it was he meant by it. He only knew that he recognised one when he saw one, so to speak, and he suspected they had their own particular uses within the ethical universe of his novels. And it is these novels that speak eloquently where his criticism did not. The emotive lesson we gain by reading through them is exactly this: that we lose a vital dimension when we embrace the esprit des serieux . We become like Miss Lavish, the too-confident comic novelist of A Room With a View, or Harriet Herriton, the strident guardian of public morals. Like them, we become existentially flat when we grow morally inflexible, consistent.
Forster, like Austen, abhors the vain, the self-important, the mannered, the blind and the foolish. But there are some fascinating differences. What one might call conscientious abstainers appear frequently in both authors: Cecil Vyse, Mr Beebe, Philip Herriton find their matches in many of the paternal figures in Austen, most noticeably Mr Bennet. By conscientious abstainer, a specific philosophic type is meant here: this is the man whose life-reading skills are as good as we might hope them to be, but who chooses only to read, to observe, but not to be involved. They are the novel's flaneurs. They invariably think of themselves as "students of human nature", and they are condemned by both authors as Aristotle properly condemns them, as people inured to the responsibilities of proper human involvement. But the nature of the condemnation is different for each author, and employs two different styles. Austen shows her laissez-faire fathers as irresponsible to their families, playing pointless intellectual games that neglect a practical, social necessity - in most cases, the inheritance or future marriages of their daughters. No attempt is made at their interior life; the pre-Freudian Austen does not care why they are so, only that they are so.'


back to top

unread topics | mark unread


Books mentioned in this topic

A Room with a View (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

E.M. Forster (other topics)