As the weather warms up and we head deeper into spring, A Room with a View is the perfect book for a reading experience that feels like taking off a stuffy winter coat and enjoying the warmth. Today we’re talking about E.M. Forster’s 1908 (many would say) magnum opus for our “Refreshing Books on Renewal and Rebirth” series.
The novel follows Miss Lucy Honeychurch and her cousin Miss Charlotte Bartlett, a pair of well-off Englishwomen on their tour of Italy one spring and summer. Society in England in the early 1900s was extremely stuffy and restrained, especially for women. Lucy struggles with this taste of freedom and with her internalized Edwardian snobbiness when she meets the Emersons, a father and son on their own Italian adventure, who are less proper and therefore “unconventional” in Lucy and Charlotte’s eyes.
Lucy continues to run into the Emersons around Florence, and she’s confused by her feelings towards George — he’s charming and boyish, but how could she let herself be charmed by someone so carefree? Lucy must choose between what George represents, and what another stuffy English suitor, Cecil Vyse, does.
Forster fills the novel with lush descriptions of Tuscan springtime, and Lucy’s journey mirrors the thawing and warming of the landscape around her. At one point the elder Emerson tells Lucy, “Let yourself go. Pull out from the depths those thoughts you do not understand, and spread them out in the sunlight and know the meaning of them.”
Overall, A Room with a View is the perfect spring read for waking up from the cold with a revitalized mindset and intentions.