©, (P)2002 Commuter's Library
Years ago, I had seen the movie but never read this classic by E.M. Forster. This is a scrumptious novel that I enjoyed on many levels. On one level it is a romance novel, but there is far more. I also enjoyed the fascinating cast of characters, each of whom was vividly portrayed, well-rounded, believable, and contributing to a landscape of Victorian society. If you have ever fallen in love with Florence, Italy (or any other magical place), this will make you long to return for a visit. The novel is thoroughly engrossing and entertaining. A few times, I found myself laughing out loud. To become acquainted with the protagonist, Lucy Honeychurch, is to savor a rich experience of coming of age. The narration by Wanda McCaddon is superb. The personality and voice of each character are captured with great vitality in her performance. I will surely read (or listen to) this book again! Very highly recommended.
What else can I say about this marvellous thing, possibly E.M. Forester's best work? The love story is perfect, and the characters are alive - too alive almost, as you can't help getting a tad aggravated with Lucy at moments and love her nonetheless. Much of the story is set in Italy - where Forster spent such a long time himself - and perfectly so, hilarious at times and sad; and also so wise you'll barely notice, and when you do it hits you in the gut like you'd just stumbled over a treasure. Although the story is set decades ago, if you are an experienced creature, you will relate, trust me.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
E. M. Forester???s A Room With a View (1908) opens with the upper-middle class British tourist Lucy Honeychurch and her spinster chaperone Charlotte Bartlett complaining about not having a room with a view in their Florence pension. Mr. Emerson and his son George offer their viewed rooms to the women, but Charlotte is affronted by the crude interference of such ???common??? men. Isn???t Mr. Emerson an atheist-socialist and his son a railroad worker? The novel depicts Lucy???s struggle to mature into an independent thinking, living, and loving woman beneath the stifling weight of cultural convention, familial expectation, and fear of passion.
While I really enjoyed watching the 1985 film of the novel, listening to Wanda McCaddon reading the audiobook evoked in me another magnitude of laughter, tears, and ecstasy. She effortlessly switches between male and female voices, expressing their different personalities through slight changes in her tone or manner, and her distinctive, gravelly voice enhances the wit and heart of the novel.
There are many memorable scenes: of beauty and romance (George kissing Lucy amid the foamy field of wild Italian violets), of social comedy (Lucy, her mother, and Cecil Vyse coming upon the nudely frolicking George, Freddy, and Mr. Beebe by the pond in the woods), and of moving insight (Lucy talking with Mr. Emerson in Mr. Bebe???s study). Throughout, the lines are witty, the insights into human nature telling, and the philosophies of life stimulating. And the characters are adorable! Mr. Emerson so eccentric, kind, open-minded, and frank. George so passionate and honest. Lucy so ???muddled.??? Freddy so simple and healthy. Mr. Beebe so full of good humor. Even the mean-spirited, priggish snobs like Cecil and Charlotte are sympathetic. And there are many compelling themes in the novel about gender, class, culture, tourism, youth, love, and life. And Forster???s Florence is magical and mythical: ???fate.???
This is a charming listen. Forster is a great observer of English middle classness (which has changed less than it should). The reading is easy on the ear and the book is a great pleasure. I was nearly put off by the fact that I disliked the movie but am glad that I took the chance.
What a touching and uplifting story! The characters are so well written with depth and understanding. It brings out all kinds of emotion only a great story can do. And, this version of audio is read wonderfully.
I read constantly - hardbacks and ebooks, but I've always got a "listen" on my iphone. I trek all over the world, but my books travel with me.
of deep suppression of human emotional needs - it takes Italy to birth the inappropriate love afair and the beauty of the English countryside to nurture it to maturity...beautifully wrtten and narrated.
The story isn't fast paced, but it is lively and witty enough to keep me engaged. I feel let down by the quality of the recording though. It isn't even the fault of the narrator, simply that the recording has a tin-like echo to it even though I downloaded Audio 4. It doesn't feel like a professionally produced work.
On the surface this is a delightful well-written romance, in the audible version beautifully brought off by a lovely reading by Wanda McCaddon. But its real purpose seems to have been to explore the rigid class structure of Victorian England, its hypocrisy (the Honeychurch family's standing in society for example is simply due to the deceased Mr. Honeychurch's foresight in purchasing Windy corner) and the challenge to it (represented by the forward-thinking atheistic Mr. Emerson). Forster's sympathy obviously lies with the removal of the class structure as shown by Lucy's ultimate choice of husband and the title of the final chapter "the End of the Middle Ages" but it is not an unconditional vote; Mr. Emerson's choices lost him his wife and the understanding of his son and in Chapter 19, the author has Lucy thinking "it seemed dreadful that the old man should crawl into such a sanctum [the clergyman's house] when he was unhappy, and be dependent of the bounty of a clergyman" he having said to her "We have pushed our beliefs too far. I fancy we deserve some sorrow."
There are some complaints; Mrs. Honeychurch's failure accept Lucy's choice is out of character and the reader is left tantalizingly to speculate on Charlotte's sudden change from opponent to ally and to wonder what lay in her past.
I gave Bleak House 4 stars, Room with a View is not as good, it's more of a 3.5 but well worth the read/listen.
I'm not sure how a voracious reader like me missed this classic novel, but luckily, my book club picked it and I promptly downloaded the audio (narrator: Wanda McCaddon). I found myself immediately transported to Florence, Italy, and completely captivated by the travails of young Lucy Honeychurch. Everything about this book is perfect: the descriptions of Florence and the muddy Arno (where I visited long ago and toured with my then-future husband); the stinging digs at tourists who go abroad only to stay clumped together with others of their same nationality (in my experience, tourists have not improved at all since Forster's time); the characters with their personal foibles, dreams and fears. Even the titles of the chapters are wonderful: "In Santa Croce with no Baedeker," "Lucy as a Work of Art," "Lying to Mr. Beebe, Mrs. Honeychurch, Freddy, and The Servants." Many times I laughed out loud, often caught my breath at the beauty of particularly beautifully written passages, and constantly ached with longing to be young and in love again. The narrator was wonderful and I found myself wishing the book would never end.
This, like any well-written book, has several levels. I thought the title was referring exclusively to the view of Florence...not so. This was a beautifully written character study. So glad I finally got around to it.
This was great fun to read immediately after returning home from Italy. Reading detailed descriptions of places I had just been was great fun. Who doesn't enjoy thinking, "Oooh, I was standing right there!"?
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