I had never read any of EM Forster's works and so I was very happy when a friend of mine gave me A Room with a View on audiobook to listen to when I was unable to read for any substantial periods of time earlier this year. I think that I enjoyed the story all the more for having listened to it. There was something very calming about lying on the lounge and being read to and it made me realise that it is something I should more often, regardless of what condition my eyes are in.
A Room with a View seems to widely be referred to as a social comedy and EM Forster used social stereotypes of the time to poke fun at Edwardian society. I listened as EM Forster poked fun at the ministry through the character of Mr Beebe, a minister with little real understanding of the true nature of relationships between people and not overtly religious outside of the pulpit. Miss Barlett was perfectly portrayed as the overbearing spinster chaperone, concerned about accepting a room with a view off two men to whom she and Lucy would then be in debt to. There was a hole host of such characters through which EM Forster seamlessly satirised the social conventions of the time.
I very much enjoyed the story of Lucy Honeychurch and her struggle with her own social conventions. She wanted so much to be a woman of the world and see and feel the beauty in the world around her, but she was stifled by her own internalisation of what was considered to be 'the right thing' for a lady of her age and situation.
It is through her fortunate meeting with the Emmerson family, and particularly the son George, that she learns that she can give in her to own passions and make decisions that arise from her own desires and sense of self rather than those rigid conventions that constrain social behaviour.
Having said all of that, A Room with a View is a very bright book. Although Forster is making comments about Edwardian society, he does so in a way that is light and funny. He focuses on the life of the individual rather than any bigger social issues. At no point did I feel particularly emotional about anything that occurred or any of the characters, which perhaps might explain why I didn't react to it as well as I might otherwise have. Whilst the characters are all very human, I didn't feel particularly close to them which I would have liked to, especially to Lucy. In the end, love conquered and I like a happy ending.
What kind of read is this?
A romance with a twist.
Do I recommend this book?
Yes, but I wouldn't recommend that you prioritise it.
Do I recommend that you buy this book?
I think borrowing it would be sufficient, but I also recommend that you listen to it as an audiobook, I really enjoyed that experience.
Did you feel like you connected to Lucy Honeychurch? I would love to know what you thought of the book if you have read it. What do you think of books that poke fun at social convention?