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A Room with a View
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E.M. Forster Collection > A Room With a View - SPOILERS

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message 1: by Melanti (last edited Jun 04, 2018 06:59AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melanti | 2383 comments This thread is for a full discussion of our June 2018 New School Group Read selection, A Room with a View by E.M. Forster.

Discuss any spoilers in this thread.


J_BlueFlower (j_from_denmark) | 1840 comments Contains spoiler for most of the book:

(view spoiler)


Inkspill (runinkspill) | 298 comments J_BlueFlower wrote: "Contains spoiler for most of the book:

What a nice twist to have Lucy’s “grave” ..."


Yeah - I thought that was funny, Cecil was completely oblivious, but an interesting character - there was more to him and we, like Lucy, didn't realise until he leaves.

J_BlueFlower wrote: "Contains spoiler for most of the book:

I did not like the last chapter with Lucy’s conversation with old Emerson. ..."


Oh that was a coincidence - there was a moment when I wasn't sure about it either but I got the sense he's the character that is pitted from the start to, I dunno, have a different outlook - so out of all of them maybe he was the best one to make her think about it again ???


Michele | 1012 comments J_BlueFlower wrote: "...Almost everything she says is straight out of Georges mouth. That is funny in itself – given the situation..."

I took that as a demonstration that Lucy's still learning how to stand up for herself -- women in her situation aren't taught to speak for themselves so she has no words, so she "borrows" George's words until she gets far enough along to find her own.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm going to be a bit controversial here & reveal that I didn't really enjoy this book. I could not engage with any of the characters and the storyline (Lucy's character development) wasn't as interesting as I'd expected. Did anyone else find the same?


MKay | 277 comments I'm thinking that is why it took me so long to finish it Catriona. I started it several months ago and stopped for a while. I was glad to see Lucy break the engagement as I didn't care for him at all.


Inkspill (runinkspill) | 298 comments Michele wrote: "... I took that as a demonstration that Lucy's still learning how to stand up for herself -- women in her situation aren't taught to speak for themselves so she has no words, so she "borrows" George's words until she gets far enough along to find her own."

I did wonder about that - she's trying so hard to be this independent-minded woman - but when there's nothing to tell you how, where do you start?


Michele | 1012 comments Exactly! You take baby steps; you look for inspiration where you can find it; you take to heart words that resonate with you; you draw on the words of others when you don't have any of your own. I do like that at the end Lucy does start to use her own words ("You wrap yourself in books and music and you want to wrap me up too!")


BAM the enigma You know I’ve read this book, but I think it’s been too long ago to remember much. If I have time this month I’ll pick it up again. I just have this pervasive feeling of being underwhelmed


Petrichor | 300 comments J_BlueFlower wrote: "...Almost everything she says is straight out of Georges mouth. That is funny in itself – given the situation..."

I thought the same that J_BlueFlower did. Just in the moment she tells Cecil she can think for herself, she shows that she can't do it.
I was strongly reminded of this scene from Life Of Brian.

Michele wrote: "I took that as a demonstration that Lucy's still learning how to stand up for herself -- women in her situation aren't taught to speak for themselves so she has no words, so she "borrows" George's words until she gets far enough along to find her own. "

I really like this thought. Having your own mind is definitely something you have to practice. Maybe that's as true for a whole gender/society/other group of people as it is for the individual. And before you can start to practice having your own mind, you have to have the realization that you no longer want to be without one. I think this is what we witnessed in that scene with Cecil.


Petrichor | 300 comments On a different topic:

With books from this era, I often have problems distinguishing polite from impolite speech. Mr. Emerson's offer to switch rooms at the very beginning seemed very nice to me. Nowadays we don't use as many pleasantries as people did back then, so I have to pay a lot of attention to notice when they are lacking. In this book, this happened many many times.

Is it just me or do others have the same problem?


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Petrichor wrote: "On a different topic:

With books from this era, I often have problems distinguishing polite from impolite speech. Mr. Emerson's offer to switch rooms at the very beginning seemed very nice to me. ..."


I think the lack of reserve Mr Emerson showed was stated, at least with that room swap scenario, at the beginning, so from then on he was recognisable as a society 'eccentric'. But he did actually turn out to be the wisest, most insightful character. The fact that we were more likely to take his offer up as a thoughtful kind gesture nowadays shows that the author might actually have been quite forward thinking about society rules. He particularly saw how 'society women' were becoming more independent thinking - actually quite prophetic as it turned out!


Michele | 1012 comments Petrichor wrote: "With books from this era, I often have problems distinguishing polite from impolite speech. Mr. Emerson's offer to switch rooms at the very beginning seemed very nice to me. ..."

Oh yes - it's tough when social mores have changed so much! Things that seem very matter of course to us were horrifying to earlier eras. The fact that -- even after they agree to swap -- Charlotte takes the larger room "because it was the young man's" is another case in point :)


message 14: by Petrichor (last edited Jun 11, 2018 05:57AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Petrichor | 300 comments Catriona wrote: "The fact that we were more likely to take his offer up as a thoughtful kind gesture nowadays shows that the author might actually have been quite forward thinking about society rules."
I definitely agree. It's quite a feministic novel for that time. Especially as it is written by a man, I'd say it's very forward thinking.
I realized of course that it was taken to be impolite, but only because of the reactions to his offer, not during the description of his offer. To me, he seemed quite sympathetic from the start, I wonder whether it was the same for the typical reader of the book back then or whether they saw it like the pension guests and thought it to be rude.

Michele wrote: "Oh yes - it's tough when social mores have changed so much!"
Good to know I'm not the only one. :-D

Michele wrote: "Charlotte takes the larger room "because it was the young man's" is another case in point"
Totally agree. I also noticed that.


Nente | 780 comments Petrichor & BlueFlower, I'm inclined to agree with your points about the irony of Lucy's needing to be told by someone else when to think for herself - only more so. I must say I felt rather bitter about the whole thing, so please take the following with a spoonful of salt.

The story Forster is telling seems to be fighting the message he's presenting. From the story, it turns out that it is quite okay for a girl to be told what to think, only she must take care that she's told by the right person.
And this works not only with the young men - I don't deny Lucy the right to choose between two suitors - the same is true of her talks with the two older men, Mr. Beebe and Mr. Emerson. Mr. Beebe is, essentially, advising her to take some time out, which is at least innocuous (even if inwardly he would prefer her to remain single, at no point he says anything to her about that); Mr. Emerson, on the other hand, spends almost all the credit he gained with me by engaging in a kind of emotional blackmail: "my wife was very upset and died of it, now my son is upset in the same way because you don't love him" - so the implication is, if you don't love him and tell him so at once, he's going to die and it will be your fault!

So I would say we don't get to see Lucy make her own decisions and think her own thoughts, after all. Surely there was no need to suppose women didn't think independently only because they were discouraged from expressing those thoughts openly and were restricted in their actions by both legal and social norms of the times. Did Dorothea Brooke think for herself? Did Jane Eyre? Or, before these examples are rejected for being too forceful, did not little Fanny Price, the humblest of the humble, think for herself in opposition to all authority and despite her natural shyness?

Sorry, but the moral of Forster's story is not feminist enough for me.


Nente | 780 comments Also, anyone comparing this to Daisy Miller? Almost the same time period and setting, less didactic, and I for one liked it more (though less than other James' work).


Rosemarie | 1580 comments I was always annoyed with Charlotte's passive/ aggressive behaviour, which she used to get what she wanted-her way.


Nente | 780 comments Oh yes, Rosemarie, so true. And I was quite surprised by what they say at the very end, that she was always for Lucy and George getting together - how, exactly, did they make it out? I couldn't even see that Lucy's given George a moment's thought after returning from Italy.


Inkspill (runinkspill) | 298 comments it's a difficult one, Forster gives us a heroine who wants to be independent but we're left with the question: will she work it out so she is not reliant on George?

I got the impression she was less less aware, than say Jane Eyre, of how to use her strength and desire for independence.

The character of Charlotte confused me - other then comedy, I wasn't sure how else she contributed to the story?

Though I wasn't sure of the central theme that drove this story, for me, it was an interesting read (especially structure and style) - and finished wondering if I had missed something or would need to read again - so enjoyable, but a puzzle as well


Nente | 780 comments I suspect Charlotte was also presented as a "warning" to Lucy: here's what you'll be like if you don't marry! Not nice, really.


message 21: by Petrichor (last edited Jun 13, 2018 07:32AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Petrichor | 300 comments I suspect Charlotte was mainly included out of necessity for a chaperone.
Not including a chaperone in the story would probably have been too unrealistic at the time the book was written.
On top of that, I felt that she also served as Lucy's conscience and/or the personified moral guidelines she grew up with.

---

About Lucy's independent thinking:
I see it on two little children in my family: they were always asked for their opinion in all kinds of matters, even before they could speak (e.g. "do you want to drink something?"), so they developed an opinion. Much earlier than their same-aged playmates did.

I think if George really values Lucy as an individual and Lucy really had an awakening in terms of valuing her own opinion, she will develop one over time. At least I'd like to think that. It's sad and ironic that she obviously needed to be told that she can think for herself, but better this way than not at all.


Michele | 1012 comments Nente wrote: "Mr. Emerson, on the other hand, spends almost all the credit he gained with me by engaging in a kind of emotional blackmail: "my wife was very upset and died of it, now my son is upset in the same way because you don't love him""

I read this somewhat differently. Mr. Emerson knows that Lucy does love George; his argument is that for her to deny it means deceiving herself. He's the only one that asks her to be honest about her feelings, rather than pretending or doing what society dictates.


Nente | 780 comments But how does he know? He isn't really very closely acquainted with her, he never spent a lot of time observing her in George's society - how does he know? In actual fact, how does anyone know at this stage that what she feels for George is that poetic and eternal love, and not just a transient fascination born of the fact that he's so different from all the other young men she knows?


Petrichor | 300 comments Nente wrote: "But how does he know? He isn't really very closely acquainted with her, he never spent a lot of time observing her in George's society - how does he know? In actual fact, how does anyone know at th..."

I also wonder about that, but I don't have an answer.
Maybe he saw something in her reactions when he talked about George or it's just wishful thinking.


Lalitha (falcon_) | 24 comments I didn't like the book very much. I felt the characters were too cliched. Had Cecil not been such an orthodox man, what would have Lucy done? That would have made for such an interesting plot. It was very convenient to make Cecil quite an obnoxious man.

Looking at the above comments, I am not wondering that Emerson knew that Lucy loved George. My primary question is how does Lucy even fall for George? They hardly spend time with each other - she might have been infatuated with a free heart like George.


Darren (dazburns) | 2003 comments I finished this last night and absolutely loved it.

This kind of story was done a million times in 19th century, but Forster keeps it very "pure" and his writing is exquisite.

Even then, the unoriginality should've limited it to 4 stars,

but what I mainly loved was the social transition at the very beginning of the 20th century - allowing different outcomes for men/women and different behaviours to get them to those outcomes - everybody is feeling their way through "grey areas" in social norms -
typified by the scene in which Lucy confronts George and George responds with telling her it'd be madness to marry Cecil and then declare his love for her and then walk away (men's behaviour was changing as well as women's)
this sort of scene would've been unthinkable in a 19th century novel (or the consequences would've been FAR different)

the quote about not being able to get love out of you once it has struck is the key - Lucy lies and lies and lies, but can't face the rest of her life running away/lying to herself


Rosemarie | 1580 comments I agree with your comments, Darren. I loved the book too!


Leslie | 33 comments I really liked the book - gave it 5 stars. I really enjoyed the different characters. I found Charlotte very funny in her fluster to do the proper thing and protect her niece, but also sad in that she herself wanted more freedom. I also found Cecil to be a funny character because he is so pretentious but when Lucy tells him she won't marry him and why, he was so hurt.
In the scene where Lucy rejects Cecil, I took it that she was using George's words because she was unable to express her own reasons. She knew Cecil wasn't right for her but couldn't express why. But I have to agree that it wasn't clear why George was a better fit for her or how it was that they fell in love.
On the ending, I read a Kindle edition and it ends with George and Lucy on their honeymoon in Florence, just like the 1985 film. I saw another version on PBS a few years ago where there was a different ending, which I assumed was from the novel. I didn't particularly like the "new" ending. When I read the novel, I was surprised that the 2007 film version ending wasn't there. So I did some research and learned that Forster had added a postscript several years later. It sounded like the postscript quite dramatically changes the book. Has anyone read it? Is it worth seeking out?


message 29: by Nix (new) - rated it 2 stars

Nix | 112 comments Leslie wrote: "So I did some research and learned that Forster had added a postscript several years later. It sounded like the postscript quite dramatically changes the book. Has anyone read it? Is it worth seeking out?"

I haven't watched any adaptations, so I can't say anything about potential differences between page and screen, but I do have this edition: A Room with a View

It has a three-page appendix called 'A View without a Room' by Forster himself, in which he says a little bit about the development of the novel and then briefly summarizes what happens to the characters after the novel ends. The appendix doesn't change the book at all, in my opinion, it simply adds a dose of realism to the characters' lives (living through WWI and II etc.). I don't see the characters or the novel any differently, after reading it. They certainly don't do anything I wouldn't have expected anyway. Sadly, I couldn't find the actual text online either.

I had no idea that the appendix is missing in most editions. I guess I got lucky. :)


message 30: by Marilyn (last edited Jun 28, 2018 10:09AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Marilyn | 801 comments I finished last night and liked it a lot, even with its flaws. 4 stars.

As I was reading, I was thinking the story had some enlightened ideas about women. By the end, no. After Lucy ditched Cecil I wanted her to run to George. But no, not until Mr. Emerson told her to. Even though Lucy turned down the man who was socially acceptable for the man she loved, she made these decisions based on what men were telling her to do. Did Elizabeth Bennett marry Mr. Darcy because a man told her to do it?


Michele | 1012 comments Nix wrote: "Leslie wrote: "...briefly summarizes what happens to the characters after the novel ends. "

Could you possible post that here, maybe hidden under spoiler tags for those who don't want to know? I am insanely curious how the author saw things playing out. I totally disagreed with the Epilogue in Harry Potter so am not sure I will like it, but I'd still like to know.


message 32: by Nix (new) - rated it 2 stars

Nix | 112 comments Michele wrote: "Could you possible post that here, maybe hidden under spoiler tags for those who don't want ..."

Well, it's three pages full of tiny font, so I'm not going to type that all up word for word. But here is a bullet point summary:

(view spoiler)


Michele | 1012 comments LOL! No, sorry, I wasn't asking you to type the whole thing in, just summarize, so thanks :)

But good lord, that's amazingly detailed -- makes me wonder if Forster was planning to write a sequel.


Francisca | 368 comments That's fascinating about the postscript, though I have to say I rather like the ending as it stands. It's interesting how he projects them into the future of when he wrote them, I agree with Michele - it sounds like a lost sequel!


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