Thursday, February 17, 2011

A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E. M. Forster


A young woman travels to Italy with her stuffy companion and meets an angst-ridden but ultimately charming young man.


This classic novel is full of eccentric characters and witty banter. The young women travel with chaperones, the young men read German philosophy, and the Englishmen abroad dine together at one table in their hotel. Forster captures the changing attitudes toward propriety and freedom in England after the turn of the century.

Essentially, this is a story of a young woman’s awakening to the wonders of the world. For the first time she experiences art, culture, philosophy, travel and love. She has to make the classic choice between a mysterious, free-thinking man and a respectable, uninteresting one. She has to look past her prejudices and the expectations of her family and figure out what she really wants.

It was interesting to read this book as a young woman living abroad. The differences in the ways in which women travel between now and 100 years ago are striking. It made me particularly grateful for my independence. I love Forster’s way with words, and this is a thoroughly readable story.


Here's a Forster site: Only Connect


Free Kindle edition


Do you think that people must defy the expectations of their family and/or their social circle in order to attain maturity?


  1. I love all these free kindle books you're reviewing. I love to travel and have lived abroad in Scotland...I'm interested to read this and see the travel experience of 100 years ago.

  2. To some extent, yes. We all have to be jolted out of our complacency at some point. This usually leads to some sort of examination of our life, our beliefs, our value system and our habits.

  3. Not necessarily to defy their family's expectations - but maybe to exceed them.

  4. i love this book, reading your review makes me want to travel and read it again! :)

  5. Thanks for your comments!

    I think you are right about the examination of our lives and beliefs. Sometimes this puts us at odds with our families (as it did for Lucy Honeychurch) and sometimes it doesn't.

    This book definitely makes me want to visit Florence again.

    Have a lovely weekend!

  6. +JMJ+

    I don't know if Forster's message is that we comeof age by defying the "safe" expectations of their family and immediate social circle--especially since George doesn't do the same when it comes to his father's beliefs. But Forster does seem to think that humanity in general is coming of age, the Middle Ages being our infancy and the late Victorian era being a kind of young adulthood. He wants us to break free, like his characters, because the light (And there is so much light/darkness imagery in this novel!) does not lie in the past any longer, but in the future only the young will see.

    I agree with you that A Room with a View is about a young woman's awakening to the wonders of the world, and you remind me that I've always been a bit disappointed with the way Forster expresses that through a kind of love triangle--especially when both Cecil and George aren't very developed. It's Charlotte with whom Lucy really struggles--and Charlotte who ultimately sets Lucy free, although it is too late for herself.

  7. Thank you for submitting this review to the Blog Carnival. As the host of the next edition, I will send you a reminder when it goes up.

    Becky (The Book Frog)

  8. Thanks for your insightful comment Enbrethiliel. I wonder if Forster actually stops short of the lessons Lucy could have learned if this was expressed differently?

  9. I think if there's any kind of "eternal truth" in reading Forster, it's that there's always a way of moving forward that only the young can see, and if the older generation frowns too much over how they haven't learned right from wrong on our terms, we can miss chances to move forward.

    That's my take as the parent of two teenagers and a teacher-- what's the fun of having kids or trying to teach them if you don't learn from them, too?

  10. Thanks Jeanne! I think it takes a lot of wisdom to be able to learn from someone younger than you. I am already experiencing this as a teacher. I'm sure that as a parent you get to learn even more as you see your kids experience the world with fresh eyes.


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