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.
|A Room with a View is a surprisingly entertaining novel set in Italy and England in the early 20th century. It is about a high society girl learning to follow her heart.|
Book Club Ideas for A Room with a View
For Room with a View, we decided to have the book club where there would be a beautiful view. We wore our big hats, which were styling at the beginning of the century.
Instead of your classic tea party, we decided to liven things up a bit (channel our more daring Lucy sans Cecil) and have mimosas while relaxing in our adirondack chairs.
As you mingle with the guests be sure to use phrases such as “Jolly Good”, “Gentle folks, uh!” and “Oh, but I shall die”. You should also say things that may seem brilliant, but really have no meaning such as “the darkness last night was appalling.”
For table decorations, you could also use violets, which recur throughout the book. Lucy was amongst violets “covering the grass with spots of azure foam” when she stumbled upon George, who “insulted” Lucy, per Miss Bartlett. You could also put a bowl of candy violets on the table.
For a musical selection, I recommend Beethoven and Schumann, which Lucy plays on the piano: “Like every true performer, she was intoxicated by the mere feel of the notes: they were fingers caressing her own; and by touch, not by sound alone, did she come to her desire.”
Book Club Menu for A Room with a View
It began to rain so we had to move the party inside. These pictures were taken before I bought my new Nikon D90 camera. The difference in quality, as you will see in later posts, is very evident!
For more tea party ideas, see the book post for The Great Gatsby.
Book Club Resources
Discussion Questions for A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
- Lucy Honeychurch must make a decision between what is expected of her and what her heart is telling her to do. Do you think she made the right decision? What would you have done if you were in her place?
- How do the two locations of the book, Italy and England, support the attitudes and feelings of the characters, such as passion and repression?
- In one scene, Lucy passionately plays the piano. In the oppressed era of this novel, is music her way of expressing her inner feelings? In what other ways did she use music as an outer expression of her thoughts?
- How does Cecil’s comparison of Lucy to works of art say about what he thinks of her?
- A Room with a View is described as a social comedy. Which character do you think provided the most comedic relief? Who was the biggest bore?
Edward Morgan Forster was born in London in 1879. He studied at King’s College, Cambridge. He wrote six novels, four of which appeared before the First World War, Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905), The Longest Journey (1907), A Room with a View (1908) and Howard’s End (1910). An interval of fourteen years elapsed before he published A Passage to India. It won both the Prix Femina Vie Heuruse and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He last novel, Maurice, was published posthumously in 1971. He also published two volumes of short stories and a number of non-fiction books. E. M. Forster died in 1970.
The sinking of the Titanic occurred toward the end of the Edwardian period. The time period and storyline in the movie Titanic is similar to A Room With a View. A proper girl, dating a pompous arse, meets a more adventurous boy and decides she must follow her heart. In my search, I found an excellent documentary about The Titanic by The History Channel (sorry, no Leonardo DiCaprio in this one).
My favorite quote of the book is “It isn’t possible to love and to part. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you”