Here is a fun fact: read is not a noun. But this is clearly not an issue for the editors of 1001 Books, who are content to describe A Room with a View as ‘a simply delightful read’.
Pet peeves aside, I definitely agree with the sentiment. A Room with a View follows the wonderfully named Lucy Honeychurch who is taking her first trip to Italy, accompanied by her overprotective and interfering cousin Miss Bartlett. The title comes from an early encounter, the type of conundrum that echoes throughout the novel: on arriving at their pensione, the ladies discover that the room with a view promised to them is unavailable. Fellow travelers Mr Emerson and his son George offer to swap rooms with them but while Lucy would like to, Miss Bartlett thinks it would be quite improper. As Lucy continues her stay in Florence she continues to find herself torn between her own desires and the restrictions of polite society. The second half of the novel is set at her home in Surrey as Lucy must choose between two admirers: George and Cecil, who embody this predicament.
I wish I had read this while I was in Italy. The descriptions of scenery are so clear and evocative. The light, the trees, the lakes in both Florence and Surrey present beautiful pictures full of light and shade. Nature is almost an extra character and the novel has a wonderfully grounded sense of place. 1001 Books calls it a satire of social conventions and a coming of age novel and I loved the way Forster was able to capture Lucy’s increasing awareness of her emotions. Even with an omniscient third person narrator, Lucy’s initial sense of confusion and discomfort is almost palpable. It’s a convincing picture of a young girl beginning to realise what is and is not acceptable and her innocence is the perfect tool to demonstrate the ridiculousness of some of these rules.
The characters and situations were all so convincing that I felt like I could almost fall into this book. The art, scenery and Lucy were so lovely that I wished I could.