A Room with a [magnificent] View by E.M. Forester
“Yes, For we fight for more than Love or Pleasure; there is Truth. Truth counts, Truth does count.” (pg. 240)
Compelling my sentimental soul, I bought the vintage edition of Mr. Forester’s popular novel from a used bookstore in Long Beach, CA. I had previously “viewed” the film adaptation of his work and found it a bit odd: quite strange with an underdeveloped plot line. With my prejudiced thoughts, I swiped my magic plastic. I felt an obligation to the store because of a bit of scene with the owner over the electrical switches near the bathroom. I need go no further. I’d like to thank the Holy Spirit’s intervention bringing this delightful story before my eyes once more. Forster’s opening chapter finds his main character, Lucy Honeychurch, touring Italy with a humorous and self depreciating elder cousin, Miss Charlotte Bartlett. Lucy’s pretenses and proper educational upbringing produced by southern England’s propriety of the early 1900’s is challenged by two men of unconventional and tactless [by societies standards] trespasses: Mr. Emerson and his son Mr. George Emerson, along with the vivacious Italianos she observes amidst the stuffy British tourists. Under the call-it-as-you-see-it, sincere, and philosophic voice of Mr. Emerson, Lucy begins to peal back the veils, “veil after veil, and he saw to the bottom of her soul” (pg. 238), placed before her by societies ideals of what a young lady should be and what true love of another person really is. Confused and confounded by all she is exposed to, her thoughts are “muddled” as she grapples with whether to continue her sheltered existence in safety or embrace life as a liberated woman in the very best sense. Forester is not promoting a blasphemous feminist sentiment but is promoting an equality and companionship amongst men and women that hitherto was unheard of in society. Forester promotes not the shielding of the weaker sex but a hand-in-hand, side-by-side, relationship which present day takes as precious.
Throughout the novel there is an impulse to have a clear view at ones disposal. I would like to think that this is an intentional metaphor by Forster in expressing the nobility of clearly seeking out truth and exposing reality, embracing reality, and sharing reality as a perfect gift. A view is an encompassing ability to have a perspective of ones surroundings, unhindered by misgivings of what one could see. [I have not literary source to 2nd my notion of Mr. Forster’s intentions, however.]
A Room with a View is poetic, humorous, and beautifully truthful. Contrasted with the widely read novels of the illustrious Jane Austen, Forester presents a more desirable day-dream for modern day romance. He accentuates the deep need within an individual to be wholly known, not for birth and class, opinions or tastes, likes or dislikes, but for what truly defines our person hood. Perhaps how one reacts, behaves, one’s uncensored thoughts and dreams accepted without repulsion, and the mysterious unconditional pull of love is all that one truly needs to satisfy the earthly longing for love as it does for Lucy and George. [Oops!..a bit of a spoiler: Don’t act as if you didn’t know what was coming.]
I highly recommend Mr. Forester’s brilliant novel! Enjoy!