2010: 80. A Room With A View

"The Signora had no business to do it," said Miss Bartlett, "no business at all.  She promised us south rooms, with a view close together, instead of which are north rooms, looking into a courtyard, and a long way apart. Oh, Lucy!"

A Room With A View, E.M. Forster

I love this book.  I had forgotten how much I loved it until I re-read it - or maybe I had just read it and not loved it before, but I love it now.  I think that the Modern Library is probably correct to put both Howards’ End and A Passage to India higher on their list, but I love this one best of all. It’s just a perfect confection and pean to love and its power.  Most of all, I love Lucy Honeychurch, who stumbles through obstacles to figure out who she is, and, by opening her heart to the right man becomes the best version of herself.  I love that Forster was able to write such a sympathetic heroine.  She is a real live girl, and he takes her journey to selfhood seriously, where other (male) authors wouldn’t bother with the story of a young woman figuring herself out.  Even when she’s being a bit of a ninny he takes her seriously, and pokes fun at her without cutting her down, and her journey is a bildungsroman really, just a different kind than we see for male heros.  I think of this book as being the opposite of the issue I’ve raised with D.H. Lawrence, and more recently with Winesburg, Ohio - here, even though the facts of Lucy’s struggles aren’t perhaps things that modern readers can sympathize with (because, really, her problem is that she has fallen in love with a slightly socially unacceptable man, and has to come to grips with that), the emotions are modern ones - accepting ones true self, not hiding from ones really emotions, and thus, the book seems as relevant today as it did when it was written.  And, finally, I love that it’s so fun to read - the beautiful setting, SPOILER happy ending, the lovely characters.  Not to mention the totally charming film version which I’ve just added to my Netflix queue.  Oh, I do love this book.

On a totally unrelated note, this is the first book I ever read in e-book form.  I downloaded it for free for my iPad, and while I’m certainly not giving up on the printed page (what on earth would I decorate with?), I found it reasonably enjoyable to read a book in this format.  I’m generally too cheap to buy any e-books,  but I’d read more free classics in this format,  and consider buying something if, say, I had a trip coming up and wanted to carry fewer books with me. 

Categories:  Re-Read, Fiction, Modern Library Top 100

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017