A Room With A View
By E.M. Forster
Cast:
Cathy Sara.......... Lucy Honeychurch
Gary Cady........... George Emmerson
Sheila Hancock..... Charlotte Bartlett
Julia McKenzie...... Mrs Honeychurch
John Moffatt.......... Mr. Emmerson
Stephen Moore...... Mr Beebe
Barbara Jefford..... Miss Lavish
Roger May............ Freddy Honeychurch
Nathaniel Parker... Cecil Vyse
Anna Cropper........ Miss Alan
David Collings....... Mr Eager
Andrew Branch...... Pheaton
Derek Waring........ Sir Harry Otway
Pauline Letts......... Mrs Vyse
Sara-Jane Derrick.. Minnie Beebe
Jonathan Keeble.... Floyd

Review of Book
Generally speaking this Edwardian novel assembles an impressive cast of British eccentrics that can be observed during their stay abroad (in Italy to be exact) and back in Surrey. The conflict of modern thinking and conservative rules of behaviour are mirrored in Lucy Honeychurch. A young woman who's soon finding herself at war with the snobbery of her own class and her own wishes and desires for a young man, George Emmerson, who unfortunately isn't quite in her social class.

The book uses her coming to terms with her own need to be a free spirit to display a satirical look at the English abroad and their idea of Italy as being a liberating vision of life as it could be - only if merry old England wouldn't be what it is (was). One might tend to say that this novel has a coming-of-age theme: Lucy emerges as a self-conscious woman who's learned that she has to decide where she wants to go and with whom she wants to share her life with.

This audio adaptation is a very precise picture of what Foster had in mind. He tone of the narrators is sometimes very near to a satire when it comes to the strange ways of articulation and behaviour that's necessary to bring across the overemphasised ideals of what the British higher class was all about during this period.

E.M. Foster's third book was published in 1908 and remains one of his best-loved ones. A Merchant-Ivory movie turned the story into an award-winning movie.

Part One (Miss Honeychurch, Giotto and too much Beethoven)
Lucy Honeychurch, a young upper middle class woman, visits with her older cousin Charlotte. At their guesthouse in Florence, they meet Mr. Emerson, a fellow guest, who generously offers them the rooms belonging to himself and his son George, because these rooms are the ones "with a view". Lucy loves to play the piano, she's very passionate about it.

Our heroine's visit to Italy is marked by several significant experiences. In Santa Croce church, George Emmerson complains that his father's way of behaviour. Mr. Emerson tells Lucy that his son needs her in order to overcome his youthful melancholy. In the Piazza Signoria, she comes in close contact with two quarrelling Italian men. One man kills the other, and she faints, to be rescued by George. On their return trip home, he kisses her, much to her surprise. She keeps this a secret.

Part Two (Good men and violets)
On a short trip outside Florence, Lucy wanders in search of one of her fellow travellers. However, the Italian cab driver leads her instead to George, who is standing on a terrace covered with blue violets. George sees her and again kisses her, but this time Charlotte observe the scene and chastises him after they have returned to the pension. She and Lucy are leaving for Rome the next day.


Part Three (A proposal and a bathing party)
The second half of the book is set in England (Surrey), Lucy's home, where she lives with her mother and her brother, Freddy. A man she met in Rome, the snobbish Cecil Vyse, proposes marriage to her for the third time, and she accepts him. He dislikes her family and the country people she knows, finding them coarse and unsophisticated. The Emersons move in to a nearby old villa, much to Lucy's dismay.

George mingles with the Honeychurches. One Sunday when Cecil is at his most intolerable, he reads from a book by Miss Lavish, a woman who also stayed with Lucy and Charlotte at the pension in Florence. The novel records a kiss among violets, and Lucy realizes that Charlotte had been talking.

Part Four (The triumph of Phaeton)
In a moment alone, George kisses her again. Lucy tells him to leave, but George tells her that Cecil is not the right man for her, characterizing him as controlling and appreciative of things rather than people. Lucy realizes that George is right, and breaks off her engagement that very day.

However, Lucy will not believe that she loves George, because she hates the idea of what other people might think of her. Because she's so concerned about the gossip she wants to stay unmarried and travel to Greece. She meets old Mr. Emerson by chance, who's trying to convince her that she loves George and should marry him, because it is what would make both happy. Lucy knows that he is right, and even though she must act against convention, she marries George. It ends with the happy couple staying together in the Florence pension again, in "a room with a view".

Nat's Reading
Nat's playing Cecil Vyse - an annoyingly arrogant man who becomes Lucy's fiancé for a short period of time. Cecil is snobbish and despises people of Lucy's hometown, finding them unsophisticated and coarse in comparison to the affluent London society he is used to. He doesn't like Lucy for being herself. He makes an idol out of her - an abstract vision that he clings to. He treats people without any sign of empathy or respect. He is a pitiful decal picture of an authoritarian and manly man, who is actually awkward and self-centred.

Nat's reading emphasises this superficial man brilliantly and yet what I found contrary to some of the other players in this adaptation his haughty tone doesn't get on ones nerves. There's even a bit of tragedy in his voice - his lines are hard to bear, but the tone says something about Cecil: "OK you're not happy here - change for God's sake."

My favourite is:

"It is a question between ideals, yours and mine - pure abstract ideals, and yours are the nobler. I was bound up in the old vicious notions, and all the time you were splendid and new." His [Cecil Vyse] voice broke. "I must actually thank you for what you have done - for showing me what I really am. Solemnly, I thank you for showing me a true woman. Will you shake hands?"

"Of course I will," said Lucy, twisting up her other hand in the curtains. "Good-night, Cecil. Good-bye. That's all right. I'm sorry about it. Thank you very much for your gentleness."

 


Details

A Room With A View
Author: E.M. Forster
Dramatised by David Wade
Publisher: BBC Worldwide Ltd. (BBC Radio Collection), recorded and broadcast on BBC Four in 1995 (4 parts: June 11th, June 18th, June25th and July 2nd, 1995), this edition 2000
ISBN: 0-563-55322-7

 

 

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