A Room With a View by EM Forster

What happens in Florence, stays in Florence.

Unless this is the early 1900’s and you’re visiting the city with your annoying spinster cousin, then you kiss some boy in a field of violets for like two seconds and nobody ever lets you forget it.

This is a brief, sweet little novel about Lucy Honeychurch (winner of the prestigious award for Most Adorable Name Ever), who goes to Florence with previously-mentioned spinster cousin. Despite lack of A ROOM WITH A VIEW, Lucy has a very nice time, sees some artwork, does some self-discovery, and smooches a very unsuitable boy (escandalo!) who might be a Socialist (double escandalo!). Then they go back to England and she gets engaged to a schmuck.

For this part of the novel, I was mostly coasting along, having a reasonably good time reading about well-off English people and their Well-Off English People Problems (“Our Italian pension is owned by a Cockney lady! So-and-so isn’t the right kind of blandly religious! And for the love of God WHO WILL YOU MARRY?!”). It was mildly entertaining, and I was a huge fan of Mr. Emerson from the get-go. George, sadly, never quite did it for me, and Lucy I found to be kind of boring until, UNTIL, the glorious moment when she breaks up with her lame fiance and gets awesome. Here’s part of her breakup speech:

“When we were only acquaintances, you let me be myself, but now you’re always protecting me…I won’t be protected. I will choose for myself what is ladylike and right. To shield me is an insult. Can’t I be trusted to face the truth but I must get it second-hand through you? …you wrap yourself up in art and books and music, and would try to wrap up me. I won’t be stifled, not by the most glorious music, for people are more glorious, and you hide them from me. That’s why I break off my engagement.”

Bella Swan, are you paying attention? Because this concerns you.

After that moment, I was suddenly 100% invested in Lucy and her attempts to figure herself out. Maybe I imagined it, but it seemed like the writing became so much more beautiful after that, and I was reading the story more carefully and with more interest than I had before. It was a slow start, but Forster’s fantastic characters managed to win me over in the end (yes, even the annoying spinster cousin).

Verdict: three out of five stars


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