Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A Room with a View by E. M. Forster (2.5/5)

The back says: In this brilliant piece of social comedy Forster is concerned with one of his favourite themes: the ‘undeveloped heart’ of the English middle classes, who are here represented by a group of tourists and expatriates in Florence. The English abroad are observed with a sharply ironic eye, but one of them, the young and unaffected Lucy Honeychurch, is also drawn with great sympathy.

In relationship with her dismal cousin Charlotte, with the unconventional Emersons and – the scene transferred to England – with her supercilious fiancé, Lucy is torn between lingering Victorian proprieties, social and sexual, and the spontaneous promptings of her heart (‘an undeveloped heart, not a cold one’). Thus there are hidden depths of meaning in the sunniest and most readable of Forster’s novels.

This edition includes Forster’s light-hearted sequel, ‘A View without a Room’.

I say: For something referred to as a ‘social comedy’ there was none to be found. Actually, I did laugh once when the men went bathing. All other times I was just forcing myself to continue reading hoping that it would get better, which it did,

but not by much.

I cannot stand Forster’s writing here. It’s just so gratingly pretentious and full of hyperbole I wanted to weep all through the first part (when they’re in Italy). I was praying for conversation so that the narrator wouldn’t have to annoy me. It gets considerably better in the second part, which Forster says he wrote much later, after having finished two other novels (appendix, p. 231). Oh, and this narrator business was such a damn nuisance. Don’t get me wrong, I love a narrator that speaks to the reader, but this

”Lucy thought this a rather good speech. The reader may have detected an unfortunate slip in it. Whether Miss Bartlett detected the slip one cannot say, for it is impossible to penetrate the minds of the elderly people.” p. 167


I will say this, there are a few witticisms here and there, and the dialogue was fine as long as it involved at least one of the Emersons and/or Freddy. Everyone else was just so irritating, especially all the women. And it wasn’t because of their opinions, they were all just so ridiculously one dimensional and just plain exhausting. Mind me, all the characters were, but at least the Emersons and Freddy were somewhat entertaining.


I get what Forster was saying with this novel, I just don’t like the way he went about doing it - it was as subtle as a pig on a dance floor. Oh and that “light-hearted sequel, ‘A View without a Room’” was as necessary as a hole in the head. It’s basically 3 pages of Forster telling us what he thinks they’re up and what may have happened to them.

So. Much. Stupid.

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