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A Room With A View

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message 1: by Mindi (new)

Mindi | 8 comments Overall, I will say that I found this book enjoyable. In alot of ways, I identified with the 'coming-of-age' feel to the book. Lucy's journey of being a woman, and finding out her beliefs, limitations, and resultantly changing her perspective on her role and place in the modern world resonated with me. I enjoyed that perspective of the book, probably because it reminded me of myself not to long ago.

This book is listed as '#1 in best lovers', which I'm not sure I quite agree with. The romance portion of the novel seemed secondary to the other focus of the story. George and Lucy's relationship was not well articulated or described, and I can't say that I truly understand their draw to each other or what sustains their attraction. It was sort of an after-thought for me.

I thoroughly enjoyed the characters of this novel. They were seemingly, unapologentically themselves. In particular, Cecil and George. Cecil was coarse and pretensious, but totally aware and willing to admit to his superficialness. George was resolutely melancholy and appeared to be attempting to navigate his post-adolescent existentializm. The sort of honest, assessment of each of the characters selves was welcomed and enjoyed.

message 2: by Erin (new)

Erin | 5 comments I do agree that this book is a tale of coming to age and less a book about lovers. Mindi's said a lot that I agree with. George is most definitely melancholy.

Lucy's attempts to run from her feelings certainly seems part of growing up. George made a statement that, I feel, speaks to this right after the forest pool incident (my favorite quote of the book):

"There is a certain amount of kindness, just as there is a certain amount of light," he continued in measured tones. "We cast a shadow on something wherever we stand, and it is no good moving from place to place to save things; because the shadow always follows. Choose a place where you won't do harm - yes, choose a place where you won't do very much harm, and stand in it for all you are worth, facing the sunshine."

I enjoyed the writing and the story - the coming of age in a time when feminism (perhaps yet unexplored and unlabeled) was on the cusp and "radicals" were "in." ...or "out" depending on your perspective.
Lucy's mother, proclaimed radical, seems somewhat traditional and conservative in what she verbally expresses and unwittingly demonstrates to Lucy is the role of a wife. Other female figures, her cousin - Miss Bartlet, are also traditional/conservative in what they display as being the female role. The author, Miss Lavish is one of the few that navigates more independently through the world, something Lucy seems to want, and yet Lucy admonishes her for reasons wrapped in Miss Lavish's career.

At any rate, with all these conflicting messages and unconscious displays, I understood Lucy's confusion and desire to control as much as possible of herself.

message 3: by Steva (new)

Steva | 16 comments Mod
Yeah I am on board with the coming of age theme, more than the lovers theme. Mindi and I discussed this a little bit and agreed, we don't understand why George falls so suddenly and passionately in love with Lucy. Most of his experiences with her are during the first part of the book, when they are all in Italy, and she hasn't quite transcended her small-minded, victorian girlness yet. They don't even interract very much in Italy. I dunno, it reminds of me of the main plot hole in Grease 2. Stephanie isn't all that. She's hot, but she's clearly dumb, rude, and desperate to fit in. And yet Michael, a hot, smart dude w/the Aussie accent working for him, instantly decides he needs to risk life and limb to buy a motorcycle, adopt a secret persona, and master complicated trick riding techniques just to tap that. It just doesn't add up. Am I right, or am I right?

I digress. I liked A Room with a View a lot. Part 1 was boring, but Part 2 made up for it and then some. I thought all the dialogue and interaction between Cecil and Lucy's family was delightful. I really love the character Cecil - I love how Forster developed this character with so many overt flaws but doesn't villianize him at all, still makes him a redeemable, sympathetic guy at the end who you almost feel bad for laughing at. Also Lucy's mother cracked me up, especially when she goes off on how the idea of a female author is offensive. I wonder if that was Forster's opinion trickling through, or he was being cheeky? I never quite know what to think when stuffy male authors try to tackle the female point of view, I find it particularly uncomfortable when a male author writes a female character who expresses opinions that further a sexist agenda.

message 4: by Katie (new)

Katie | 3 comments Maybe I've become too brainwashed by overly-romanticized American love stories, but as others have commented, the love story ultimately fell flat.

When George gushes his love to Lucy (p. 195 in my version): "''No good', I thought,'she is marrying some one else, but I meet you again when all the world is glorious water and sun. As you came through the wood, I saw that nothing else mattered. I called. I wanted to live and have my chance of joy.'"

I mean, where did that come from?! It's a romantic line, but I wasn't buying it. Personally, I wasn't feeling George: he was too sullen and serious for most of the book than ridiculous for the rest. And why was he always stealing kisses?! Forster captures well the intricacies of Edwardian (or is it Victorian?) manners, but I think he is lacking in the romance department. I felt no passion in these scenes. Perhaps I'm not prudish enough (or just too modern)to understand.

Cecil's reaction to the whole engagement break-off was also baffling. He was painted as a boor and sexist, but then became sensitive and understanding when it suited him best to become outraged. Overall, the speed with which a resolution was reached following the climax felt rushed. Forster spent longer resolving who would pay Mrs. Bartlett's cab fee than the breaking of an engagement.

Finally, since I am nit-picking here, I also didn't care too much for Lucy. I can see the book as a coming of age story, but I really didn't feel that Lucy came of age. Sure she chooses George over Cecil, which would seemingly be hard (yet in the book, the switch of fiances happens with amazing ease for all concerned), but otherwise I didn't see a great transformation take place. Mr. Beebe kept alluding to her potential to become this amazing creature, and I kept waiting for it to happen.

More than anything, I thought this was a book on manners and society. There seemed to be much discussion on what was appropriate and not during conversation and the such. For example, when Mr. Emerson offered to switch rooms, "the better class of tourist was shocked at this, and sympathized with the newcomers" (p.5). Then much ado follows on about this situation. Again, this appeared to cause a greater stir than the exchange of fiances.

Not to say I didn't enjoy the book. I did, but not as much as I expected based on my penchant for Jane Austen and all period drama. I just didn't get the love story and I didn't really care about George or Lucy (Mr. Beebe and Mr. Emerson, on the other hand, were both quite wonderful.)

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