My favourite read this January was A Room With A View by E.M. Forster. It was one of those books that had been on my TBR for ages but I never actually sat down to read. (I still didn’t, to be fair. I listened to it on my Loyal Books app, an app full of public domain, free audiobooks that I cannot recommend enough.)
In A Room With A View Lucy Honeychurch travels to Florence with her cousin Charlotte and ends up in a pension full of curious English people. They switch rooms with a father and son, the Emersons, because as they say, ladies appreciate a nice view and men don’t. The son, George Emerson, makes rather an impression on Lucy and throws all of her ideas about her rigid, organised life off balance. Can she ever fully go back to her old ways?
The ‘view’ continues to be a prominent motif in the rest of the book. It matters strongly how the characters are observed and which surroundings they are perceived to be in. For example, when Lucy and Cecil talk about her always picturing him in a room instead of in nature, this marks the start of their own awareness of the differences between them. Similarly, meeting someone in different surroundings than you had expected to is synonymous to ‘things not always working out the way you planned them’.
“It is impossible to foretell the future with any degree of accuracy, that it is impossible to rehearse life. A fault in the scenery, a face in the audience, an interruption of the audience on to the stage, and all our carefully planned gesture mean nothing, or mean too much.”
I loved this symbolism, as well as the vivid descriptions of the scenes we see our characters in. I enjoyed the numerous conversations about the meaning or logic of life and the psychological development that is paired with them. I giggled at the sharp witticisms about Edwardian England. It honestly was a treat of a book.
I really recommend it to anyone who would like to read ‘a classic’ full of beautiful sentences but with a concise story line. The book is also relatively short, so it is easy enough to throw it into the mix without it taking up half a year’s reading time.
Have you read A Room With A View? Or watched the film with Helena Bonham Carter? What is your favourite quote?