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2018/19 Group Reads - Archives > A Room with a View - Chapters 1 thru 3

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message 1: by Deborah, Moderator (last edited Dec 31, 2017 09:59AM) (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4492 comments Mod
Since I have a bit of quiet time today and tomorrow will be hectic as I will be packing for a few days in NYC, I've decided to post this a day early.

Forester was greatly influenced by the art of Italy. His writing is clear and concise, yet has subtle hints of deeper things not discussed openly in his time, i.e. the possible homosexuality of Rev. Beebe. He uses a third person narrator to acutely observe and describe not only his characters, their human nature, but also the restrictions and rules of society.

Lucy is a young woman, although we are not told of her age, who struggles between following her instincts and following what society deems to be correct. She desperately wants to appear a "woman of the world", yet it seems this is her first trip abroad. Charlotte, on the other hand, seems to have a traveled a bit, but is completely constrained by what society deems to be correct behavior.

Some questions to get us thinking. Please remember anything in the books or things that stand out to you are all eligible for discussion. The discussion questions are just my way of putting on our thinking caps and giving us a place to start.

I am using an old Vintage paperback because that was what resided on my shelf. When I reference page numbers, it is from this edition. I am hoping that it will at least help a bit in finding the passage regardless of what edition you may be utilizing.

1. Beebe says "it is so difficult - at least, I find it difficult - to understand people who speak the truth." (chapter 1, pg 9) Why is someone who speaks the truth difficult for him?

2. Charlotte finds a note above the washbasin in her room (after the room swap). Why does she feel so threatened by this note? Do you think it will become an important piece of the story later?

3. Miss Lavish says "...you will never repent a little civility to your inferiors" (chapter 2, pg 19) when referring to the Italians. Why does this "clever lady" feel she is above them?

4. What is the difference between acting beautifully and delicately?

5. Why does Mr. Emerson tell Lucy to let go? What restrictions should be ignored? (chapter 2, pg 30)?

6. Lucy becomes more truly herself when playing the piano. What activity in your life creates this sensation?

7. What does Rev. Beebe mean when he says "If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting - both for us and for her"? (chapter 3, pg. 35)

8. Why is being original so valued by Lucy?

9. What does Miss Lavish symbolize? The Alans?

10. Why are the Emersons different from the British?


message 2: by Piyumi (new)

Piyumi | 44 comments Happy New Year one and all :)

I'm reading this for the second time and finding interesting tidbits about travels.

1. Beebe says "it is so difficult - at least, I find it difficult - to understand people who speak the truth." (chapter 1, pg 9) Why is someone who speaks the truth difficult for him?

I suppose many find it difficult to understand people who speak the truth since many of us, at times because of good intentions, cover the truth with white lies, and other lie out of habit. But perhaps Rev is not speaking about truth as oppose to lies. He is commenting on Emersons ability to speak the truth as he sees it.
A person who speaks the truth would have a different upbringing or have a unique outlook on life and therefore different sensibilities.

6. Lucy becomes more truly herself when playing the piano. What activity in your life creates this sensation?

Dancing, :) for me its dancing. All the restrictions and restrains fall away when I hear the music and begin to move with or against the rhythm.


message 3: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2224 comments Mod
This section is very cutting about the British abroad. Reminds me of later comments on the "ugly American". They have reproduced their own culture in the pension and mostly are very superior about the Italians and even about their fellow lodgers. Or they claim they love the exotic and use that to patronize Italians in their own way.

The strictures of society seem totally ridiculous, so that the room switch almost doesn't happen and when it does, Lucy can't have the room where a young man had been (or maybe Charlotte wanted the bigger room and used that as an excuse.)

I was a little confused about the note Charlotte finds above the washbasin. I think it is called interrogation point or something like that. I assume that is a question mark and it is the only thing there, just an open-ended question.


message 4: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments Reminds me of Henry James' novels contrasting Americans and Europeans. Some Americans still do that visiting abroad, with their 5-star hotels with American food.


message 5: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4492 comments Mod
Robin wrote: "This section is very cutting about the British abroad. Reminds me of later comments on the "ugly American". They have reproduced their own culture in the pension and mostly are very superior about ..."

Yes one question that immediately came to my mindis do you travel and expect the comforts of home or do you travel to experience other cultures


message 6: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4492 comments Mod
Piyumi wrote: "Happy New Year one and all :)

I'm reading this for the second time and finding interesting tidbits about travels.

1. Beebe says "it is so difficult - at least, I find it difficult - to understand..."



Is it this or maybe we jus can’t handle the truth


message 7: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4492 comments Mod
Piyumi wrote: "Happy New Year one and all :)

I'm reading this for the second time and finding interesting tidbits about travels.

1. Beebe says "it is so difficult - at least, I find it difficult - to understand..."


I find the same release in dance. It’s the one time I feel wholly myself
Robin wrote: "This section is very cutting about the British abroad. Reminds me of later comments on the "ugly American". They have reproduced their own culture in the pension and mostly are very superior about ..."


message 8: by Lisa (new)

Lisa 1. I think that people who speak the truth are not necessarily kind. I don’t mean that they are deliberately mean or hateful but they often ignore social niceties and manners and speak things as they see them. I suppose some are able to “speak the truth in love” but love isn’t always kind. Sometimes love is revealing the truth to others even if it is momentarily unpleasant and hard to hear.


message 9: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4492 comments Mod
Lisa wrote: "1. I think that people who speak the truth are not necessarily kind. I don’t mean that they are deliberately mean or hateful but they often ignore social niceties and manners and speak things as th..."

It’s an interesting perspective. I tend to be very direct and honest but temper it with thinking does it need to be said, is it helpful, is it kind, and what do I expect by saying it. Many don’t temper it so I can see where it can come across as harsh or impolite


message 10: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4492 comments Mod
When you travel do you look for the comforts of home or do you want to experience something different?


message 11: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments I like to be adventurous all day and then, in the evening, settle into a place that’s comfortable (though not necessarily like home). I’m afraid my notions of travel were shaped, and not necessarily in a good way, by traveling with my grandmother as a teenager. She liked to travel in the way of her youth—sail to Europe; put up in châteaux and castles; hire an envoy to make arrangements. And she thought she was being economical because her mother used to travel with her own sheets!

On the bright side, I got to stay at places like the Portmeirion in north Wales (before the fire, when it was still exactly like the TV show The Prisoner, which had been filmed there), the Château de Mercuès in southern France, and so forth.


message 12: by Linda (new)

Linda (lindy-lou) | 9 comments Deborah wrote: "Piyumi wrote: "Happy New Year one and all :)

I'm reading this for the second time and finding interesting tidbits about travels.

1. Beebe says "it is so difficult - at least, I find it difficult ..."


In the society portrayed in this book, much effort was expended in presenting an "acceptable" and refined persona, and being honest and true to one's own self was often not consistent with that. How difficult it might have seemed to deal with honesty and not the more predictable accepted modeled person.


message 13: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4492 comments Mod
Linda wrote: "Deborah wrote: "Piyumi wrote: "Happy New Year one and all :)

I'm reading this for the second time and finding interesting tidbits about travels.

1. Beebe says "it is so difficult - at least, I fi..."



That’s a really good point, and really not one that had crossed my mind. I’m so glad you posted this as it makes me think more


message 14: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4492 comments Mod
If you were a young woman, like Lucy, would you want to follow the restrictions imposed by society or go your own way?


message 15: by Robin P, Moderator (last edited Jan 04, 2018 07:55PM) (new)

Robin P | 2224 comments Mod
Deborah wrote: "If you were a young woman, like Lucy, would you want to follow the restrictions imposed by society or go your own way?"

I was raised by nonconformists (socialist and anti-war activists). Although I admired them, I wanted nothing more than to fit in. So as a young person, I was kind of a goody two shoes, not taking risks or standing out. That changed a lot as I got older! For Lucy, she really hasn't seen much of life and no other society than English.


message 16: by Piyumi (new)

Piyumi | 44 comments Deborah wrote: "If you were a young woman, like Lucy, would you want to follow the restrictions imposed by society or go your own way?"

Born in to an Asian background, I had rather conservative ideas put in my head about how women ought to be, but fortune had it that I was raised abroad in a international sphere and therefore was exposed to modern thinking on liberalism, equality and feminism from an early age.
In my twenties I was able to travel on my own for my higher studies and career, which further expanded my ideas and helped formulate my thoughts as they currently are. The world needs gentleness and variety in thinking and there is a male dominant ideology that dictates the how and the whys, which needs to change.
All of the above culminated my thinking in going my own way. Lucy is discovering the world and herself at the same time, I'm loving how the morality and the 'genteel' is broken down at every corner.
She is pulled away from her 'well brought up' attitudes, by the circumstances that she is faced with and the decisions she makes due to 'what others might say about her'. I'm intrigued to know how she evolves in to herself.
I managed to let go of that fear of the Others only very recently.
Although I went my way and go my way, I was a prisoner to those fears and isolated myself from polite society for a long time...till I met my own tribe of like minded people, and that has made all the difference in the world.
I think the Emersons might be to Lucy, what my friends are to me.


message 17: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4492 comments Mod
Piyumi wrote: "Deborah wrote: "If you were a young woman, like Lucy, would you want to follow the restrictions imposed by society or go your own way?"

Born in to an Asian background, I had rather conservative id..."


Very well said and thought out. I enjoyed this


message 18: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Dyson | 3 comments I find the question mark comparable to being 'abroad' for these characters. As they move amongst Italians and each other, they are challenged by those who think and act differently. Already, differing metanarratives are being juxtaposed, the religious and the atheist, the conservative and the socialist, the property owners and the bourgeois.


message 19: by JJ (new)

JJ | 45 comments What is the difference between acting beautifully and delicately?

Maybe acting beautifully means acting upon ethical convictions without regard to social norms or constraints. Maybe acting delicately means to be more aware of other peoples feelings and to say things politically correct. To act in a way that you know won't be offensive to others.
The Emerson men appear to have little understanding of etiquette. Or, they do understand but just don't care. People mistake them for uncivil and disillusioned people. However, they are probably the most genuine characters. They seem mysterious to me. We don't have much background information on them.


message 20: by JJ (last edited Jan 06, 2018 05:59AM) (new)

JJ | 45 comments Lisa wrote: "1. I think that people who speak the truth are not necessarily kind. I don’t mean that they are deliberately mean or hateful but they often ignore social niceties and manners and speak things as th..."

Yes, that is true. However, if something is true, it needs to be said (depending on what the truth is) regardless of others feelings. Telling someone about their flaws is obviously wrong and hurtful. If the truth is hard to say, but is very beneficial for the other person to be told, it still has to be said. For example, when a mentor or teacher tells us truths; we don't always like it. Just because we don't like it doesn't mean it's not true.

Truth is good, the opposite of truth would be lies and disillusionment. People have a hard time admitting truths because they have to admit they were wrong. It takes a humble person.

Truth that is important to the well being of others needs to be said in a diplomatic way, even if the majority of people don't agree with it. That means a majority of the people are blind.

Now it's for us to decide whether or not Mr. Emerson and his son are truer than the rest of society. I think he could be more diplomatic about it. Mr. Emerson looked like a buffoon visiting the church and scaring off the other people there. He could have had better timing and tact in the church. Mr. Emerson is rather a rash man.


message 21: by Linda2 (last edited Jan 06, 2018 09:54AM) (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments Deborah wrote: "If you were a young woman, like Lucy, would you want to follow the restrictions imposed by society or go your own way?"

When I was that age, I was strictly by-the-book. No imagination or creativity and no opinions on anything. Extremely conservative in everything. It took me decades to find myself. But Lucy is more independent in 1908 than I was in 1964. I would never have gone traveling, alone or with someone else. She's sitting on the fence post and might go in either direction.


message 22: by Piyumi (new)

Piyumi | 44 comments Deborah wrote: "Piyumi wrote: "Deborah wrote: "If you were a young woman, like Lucy, would you want to follow the restrictions imposed by society or go your own way?"

Born in to an Asian background, I had rather ..."


:) Thank you


message 23: by Piyangie (new)

Piyangie | 167 comments Deborah wrote: "If you were a young woman, like Lucy, would you want to follow the restrictions imposed by society or go your own way?"

This is a hard prediction to make. If I had lived in the time of Lucy, perhaps I would have tried the same path she took - self-denial. But Lucy had the courage to understand what she was about at the end, and to break herself from the strict bonds of convention; and that too without much support from her loved ones.
Would I have done the same in that period of time is questionable.

However, Lucy reminded me of myself about 10 years back when I too realised what I have been doing for the whole of my life - living mostly in order to please my loved ones and to be acceptable by the society, until I realised the frustration that was building up on me. It was a breaking point and I knew I had to get hold of me before it is too late. In such a situation it is easy to break free and act in a manner to please yourself and yourself alone. So perhaps, if I were placed in a similar situation in the period of time of this story, I would have acted similar to Lucy.


message 24: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4492 comments Mod
Piyangie wrote: "Deborah wrote: "If you were a young woman, like Lucy, would you want to follow the restrictions imposed by society or go your own way?"

This is a hard prediction to make. If I had lived in the tim..."


Women in most societies are taught to put everybody else first and follow the rules. More women suffer from depression and anxiety. I can’t help but wonder if there is a connection.


message 25: by Piyangie (new)

Piyangie | 167 comments Deborah wrote: "Women in most societies are taught to put everybody else first and follow the rules. More women suffer from depression and anxiety. I can’t help but wonder if there is a connection. ..."

I'm sure there is, Deborah. What you say is true. In most societies, women are expected to sacrifice their free will and submit and live in self denial. This can lead to serious repercussions. And while some may cope, others will break down with severe anxiety and depression.


message 26: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4492 comments Mod
Piyangie wrote: "Deborah wrote: "Women in most societies are taught to put everybody else first and follow the rules. More women suffer from depression and anxiety. I can’t help but wonder if there is a connection...."

It is interesting to note that centuries later women still struggle with this. It must have been even harder in Lucy’s time.


message 27: by Linda2 (new)

Linda2 | 3744 comments There has been some progress...


message 28: by Piyangie (new)

Piyangie | 167 comments Rochelle wrote: "There has been some progress..."

I think modern women are in much better position than the women in Lucy's time. But yet, are women totally free from restrictions?


message 29: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments Certainly we are not free from the soft tyranny of expectations—especially when it comes to sacrificing our work in the outer world for the sake of domestic activities such as childrearing, caregiving, chores, etc. Men often simply don’t see this kind of work as necessary, defaulting to women.


message 30: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4492 comments Mod
Abigail wrote: "Certainly we are not free from the soft tyranny of expectations—especially when it comes to sacrificing our work in the outer world for the sake of domestic activities such as childrearing, caregiv..."

We also typically are the home manager - the one to put things on the grocery list so we don’t run, remember the birthdays, wait for repair people, etc.


message 31: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments Yes, all these things are like threads of a spider web, thin but surprisingly strong, holding us in place.


message 32: by Piyumi (new)

Piyumi | 44 comments Abigail wrote: "Yes, all these things are like threads of a spider web, thin but surprisingly strong, holding us in place."

Oh I like how you termed that, 'holding us in place'....that is precisely what I feel too.

Even with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement, from the very start there was a avalanche of arguments against women 'voicing' their abusive experience, in this day and age even.

What struck me about Forster was how back then he and I am sure others were thinking on Feminist lines and Equality derived from Women's Rights...and yet it must have been subdued, as they try to do even now. But Forster was using these terms we still are reluctant to use. I was overwhelmed when Lucy was thinking how much she prefers and looking for a partner who sees her as an equal. So it was not so unheard of back then. And Forster is brilliant for having formulated such a female character.

But the current movement for women's rights and basic decency is also been fought by women standing in Solidarity with other women, which must have happened in the past, but its not always in the rhetoric I feel.

For example Meryl Streep and others have commented that they now talk to each other (female actors) and they push for THAT specifically. Which tells me that women have not always stood by each other and get caught up in the patriarchy.

That is one way THEY 'hold us in place' I feel, us not standing by each other. Like it should be a given thing that we stand by each other, that should be the norm and not the culture where even women are not believing other women or not doing it because they fear the backlash and the labels that come with us speaking against Women's treatments.

The Women's March that has taken place around the world second year running is another activity which will help to change the old ways of looking at women and what you term so well as 'soft tyranny of expectations' Abigail.


message 33: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 701 comments I have been enjoying your eloquence on the subject, Piyumi!


message 34: by Piyumi (new)

Piyumi | 44 comments Abigail wrote: "I have been enjoying your eloquence on the subject, Piyumi!"

Thanks Abigail :)...I do get carried away and you succinctly put the main issue so well.
I've really enjoyed this book and the amazing discussions here.


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