Book review: A Room With A View by E.M. Forster

Thoughts and overview of assessment

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Written in 1908, E.M. Forster’s A Room With A View is about Lucy Honeychurch’s journey to self-awareness. 

Forster was only  29 when it was published. Literary commentators have considered this to be Forster’s most “optimistic book.”

In the Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge I will tag this as a classic romance. The book could also be considered for the book written by someone under 30. This book 48 of 52 books I intend to read for the year. 

I am still uncertain if I truly felt the romance in this book. But is labelled as a classic romance and based on the time period I guess the label may apply.


Goodreads summary

This Edwardian social comedy explores love and prim propriety among an eccentric cast of characters assembled in an Italian pensione and in a corner of Surrey, England. A charming young English woman, Lucy Honeychurch, faints into the arms of a fellow Britisher when she witnesses a murder in a Florentine piazza. Attracted to this man, George Emerson, who is entirely unsuitable and whose father just may be a Socialist. Lucy is soon at war with the snobbery of her class and her own conflicting desires. Back in England she is courted by a more acceptable, if stifling, suitor, and soon realizes she must make a startling decision that will decide the course of her future: she is forced to choose between convention and passion. The enduring delight of this tale of romantic intrigue is rooted in Forster’s colorful characters, including outrageous spinsters, pompous clergymen and outspoken patriots. Written in 1908, A Room With A View is one of E.M. Forster’s earliest and most celebrated works.


At the beginning of book, Lucy and her older cousin Charlotte are on vacation in Florence, Italy. In the opening scene the cousins are in the dining room of their villa, the Pension Bertolini,   discussing their disappointment  about not having rooms with views of the Italian countryside but instead their windows face the courtyard and as such they feel that they may as well still be in England as the layout and views are so similar. Their complaints are interrupted by an elderly man, Mr Emerson who is vacationing with his son George. Mr. Emerson offers to swap rooms with the young ladies so that they may enjoy the view that he and his son do not particularly require.  

Miss Bartlett refused the offer, she thought the Emersons too forward and their behaviour unconventional. After an intervention by an elderly clergyman, Mr Beebe, the rooms are swapped.

The book is lighthearted and filled with odd characters with very strong opinions. There is coming of stronger coming of age narrative than any romantic elements. The main character Lucy is learning more about herself and the differences in opinions and world views that she must decipher. Lucy faces a continuous struggle throughout the novel, a struggle to maintain behaviours that reflect that which is expected and appropriate and those that are her natural inclinations. 

The motif of views, what is seen and how what is seen is absorbed and interpretated is evident in the representation of polarizing perspectives in the narrative.  For the time period,  very liberal opinions on the roles of women and their education are presented. Also women and  our rights to free thinking and movement and women as creators are also discussed.  One character, Miss Lavish, in the first part of the novel is ridiculed by men and women for wanting to write a novel. Later it is discovered that she did indeed write her novel but her nome de plume is distinctly masculine. There are vague themes of feminism that are introduced but not fully developed. 

One Goodreads reviewer, Samadrita describes the book as a sort of bildungsroman (a novel dealing with one person’s formative years or spiritual education) and I am inclined to agree with this assessment. 

This book is in the public domain and is available for free download on Bookshout.  I read listened to a dramatic Libriovox recording. Was such a great presentation. Here is a link to the Librivox reading:


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