I've never seen this cover before, but it's the best I could find!
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book. After raving about it at book club I came home and started reading it again for two reasons. 1) To make sure I did still love it, and 2) to see if it stands alone with out the great Merchant Ivory film I fell in love with in college.
So I know that the answer to 1) is yes. But I'm still not sure about the 2). I'm sad my blockbuster doesn't carry it because I'm really in the mood to see the movie now that I've re-read the story. The two are so intwined in my mind that I can't figure out which one I would recommend you read/see first. Just be warned that there is nudity, humorous--not suggestive, but full.
What I Love:
This story is a comedy. The characters are hilarious. Miss Bartlett must be the most annoying person ever created, but she even makes you laugh. I think we all are reminded of people that have similiar personalities. Her lines kill me. And then when Mrs. Honeychurch tells Lucy she is just like her, I felt like laughing even though I could feel the absolute horror that Lucy was feeling. I hate it when people compare me to someone who I'm convinced I'm nothing like.
I love the chapter titles. Like, "Possibilities of a Pleasant Outing," and "Lying to Mr. Beebe, Mrs. Honeychurch, Freddy, and the Servants."
I love that Forster doesn't bother with physical descriptions. He describes the views a couple of times I guess, but no lengthy list of adjectives introducing characters, no long descriptions of the monuments they see abroad. I appreciate that. I get annoyed when writers feel the need to paint every detail for us. I think it works really well with this story. Leave out the unneccessary.
Lastly, I love the story. I think it is original. It may be a little cliche that the character doesn't know who she loves, or what she should do, when it seems obvious to the reader. But it's so short and so witty. You don't spend much time being frusterated or irritated with characters. I guess I've felt that way too many times in books.
I also love the smartness of Forster's writing. The subtle and not so subtle symbolism. The Emerson's provide Lucy with a "view" throughout the story. Who provides the "spiritual guidance." The forshadowing, all of it.
Is it like Jane Austen?
So I was also trying to answer this question, 3rd reason I guess. I'm also not sure of the answer. I haven't read an Austen novel in a while. I think Forster writes more humorously. Class distinction and "properness" are kind of mocked in this novel.
What I don't love:
The only thing is that some of the book still goes over my head. Because this was written 100 years ago, there are things Forester refers to that I just don't understand. I also haven't been to Europe, which I think adds to that. There are the obvious things like Italian phrases, and words like "shibboleth." (Which I looked up, and it wasn't the intended meaning) But there are less obvious references that lose their meaning on me. None of these, however, affect the book's effect on me.
"Then the pernicious charm of Italy worked on her, and, instead of acquiring information, she began to be happy."
"I think that you are repeating what you have heard older people say. You are pretending to be touchy; but you are not really."
"Perhaps anything that he did would have pleased Lucy, but his awkwardness went straight to her heart"
"My brain has gone to pieces. Part of it lives three minutes back, when I was sure that you loved me."
"It was unladylike? Why? Why were most big things unladylike?"