July in The Reader's Den: A Room with a View
"So enamored is he of light and air blowing through his fictions that it is impossible for him to be dull or stuffy or anything but deliciously fresh and original," wrote Henry James Forman for the New York Times of E. M. Forster (1879-1970) in 1923. Who doesn't want a little light and air in their reading during the heat of summer, as well as some romance?
E.M. Forster's 1908 novel, A Room with a View, has romance in spades, along with social comedy and commentary that still stand up 100 years later. Modern Library ranked Forster's third novel at number 79 on its list of the 100 best novels of the 20th Century. Merchant Ivory produced a film adaptation in 1985, with Julian Sands as an incredibly attractive George Emerson, Helena Bonham Carter as Lucy Honeychurch, and Daniel Day Lewis as Cecil Vyse.
The story begins in Florence, where Miss Honeychurch has traveled with her cousin and chaperone Charlotte Bartlett. The two ladies sit in the dining room of their pension, surrounded by other English tourists and the English proprietress, lamenting their misfortunes. They had been promised two rooms with a view of the Arno, but instead have been lodged in courtyard-facing rooms, which smell and are far apart from each other to boot.
It is at this moment that Mr. Emerson, who is staying at the pension with his son George, breaks in to their conversation to offer up their two rooms, which do have a view. The question of whether or not to accept this offer is one that leads to much debate, as Miss Bartlett can surely not allow Lucy to be "under an obligation" to these two most unacceptable men. Will Lucy be able to shake off the social constraints of her friends and family and begin to live freely? After all, everybody wants a room with a view; just ask Debbie Harry!
Get a copy of A Room with a View and start reading! Place a hold on a print copy, an audiobook on CD, or download an e-book or e-audiobook. Next week we will have discussion questions posted, but feel free to begin commenting this week!