Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Room With A View by E.M.Forster

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.

Great Quotes:

"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?"


Emmie-Lew said...

GREAT review. I'm looking forward to reading this! I'll comment again when I'm done! Thanks, Kammy!

Stephanie said...

Love this book! At our book club, our leader came prepared to intricately discuss the kissing scenes. It was so fun to pull those out of the book and discuss them independently and see the sequence.

We were also impressed that a guy wrote this book.

And, the naked man scene. Yeah, we discussed how if there was a naked woman scene maybe it would draw the carnal man to more thoroughly read the chapter. But, to the women reading about naked men, it's should I say...repulsive. or just funny.

Great book. Fun personalities. I highly recommend it!

Kammy said...

Em--can't wait to hear what you think, I hadn't read it since college. I think I read it 5 or 6 times back then.

BTW--Miss Bartlett does not remind me of any of my EGAN relatives :) of course.

Steph--how fun that you read it for book club. I'm hoping to get it on our list for next year! Sounds like you had a great discussion! I wrote a paper on the kissing scenes for my film and lit class the semester I was engaged! So romantic.

Kim Edwards said...

Kammy, did we see that movie together at International Cinema? I loved it so much. I think I will have to read the book this summer! Thanks for the great review!

Kim Edwards said...

Kammy, I would also love to read your paper on the kissing scenes. That sounds like a fun assignment!

Kammy said...

Kim--I'm sure we did see it! I saw it everytime it was there. I'll have to see if I still have my paper somewhere! I'm sure I do, but the question is WHERE?

kim said...

great review kam! you've inspired me to read it, yet another book to add to the "to read" list. i've never read this book before, but i loved, loved, loved the movie! in fact a friend made a collage for me of the best movie kisses and that was one of them. i remember rewinding it over and over again. i love how he sees what he wants and goes after it.

warcolby said...

i'm laughing about your nudity warning. your uncle should have warned me about it. i saw the movie at the international cinema-edited ofcourse. i loved it and was so excited to watch it again with my mom and sister at christmas. lets just say, it was quite a surprise!! i haven't read it and that sounds up my alley right now. i need to email you-soon

Julie E. said...

I haven't read this since college. I really enjoyed it then, but would probably love it even more now. I'll add it to my constantly growing list...

ColbyWarnock said...

I'm so glad you recommended this book. It was a pure joy (I loved loved loved it too!!!). I love how he portrays Lucy and like stephanie said, kind of surprises me that a guy wrote it (i'm usually not that impressed with some old guy trying to write about the innerworkings of a young woman). And I love forster's sense of humor about the characters.

Kammy said...

I watched Howard's End again recently. It is good, but sad. I love Emma Thompson's character Margaret, and Helena Bonham Carter. It's definetly darker than A Room with a View, dealing with social issues, but more dramatically. Very tragic, but I still recommend it.