Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review: A Room With A View, by E.M. Forster

There are some among our readership who really have it in for E.M. Forster (what gives?), but we hope you’ll bear with us as we review that author’s A Room With A View.

The book was my first introduction to Forster, and I have to say that I came away generally pleased. It’s not a read that will keep you on the edge of your seat- its major plot points are conversations, betrayals of confidence, and rumors about who will rent the vacant cottage at such and such a place. But if it won’t keep you on the edge of your seat, I think there’s enough to keep you in  your seat- to keep you reading right to the very end.

Now, it is at its core, a romance. This means that the story is wholly dependent on a simple misunderstanding between the two principle characters stretching the entire length of the book. If George an Lucy were able at any moment to actually sit down and have a half-way decent conversation, there would be no story. But true to form, they aren’t; and so there is. Fine.

But here’s where Forster really whimps out: The tension builds and builds (Will Lucy end her engagement to Cecil? Is George’s father really a murderer? Did George not only steal a kiss, but blabber about it to a popular novelist?) We anxiously await the moment when George and Lucy do  finally hash things out, when she realizes that she loves him and always has- but just at the crucial moment- Forster fumbles the ball! He hits the fast forward button and next thing you know, George and Lucy are back in Florence, reminiscing about the winding road that brought them back there. No catharsis, just a few loose ends tied up after the fact. It’s as if he thought that scene would be really difficult to write, so he played it out off-stage. It was a bit of a disappointment.

Still, there is a lot of beautiful writing, some great characters and nice settings. And he presents enough interesting insights into love and happiness and religion to have earned a second read from me. So, for the Forster fans out there: where should I go next? Howard’s End? Or A Passage To India?


  1. Howard's End! The only Forster book I've ever read- for a college course, but I still enjoyed it. Not my favorite book, but I've always been telling myself to reread it.

  2. It's a tough call. The Modern Library folks put APTI at #25, and HE at #38.

    (Not that their list is anything close to gospel on the subject):