Monday, November 5, 2007

A Room with a View

First, I must be clear that I started reading A Room with a View before this week’s episode of The Office. Although I would gladly join the Finer Things Club, it did not inspire me.

Instead, I found this book at my apartment and decided it was high time I read it. I started it as a teenager, but when I discovered the film version—which I adore—was so faithful to the book, I didn’t see the purpose.

I enjoyed A Room with a View, but this is a case of the film spoiling the book. The Merchant-Ivory production is so good that the book has to pale in comparison. Of course, if I had read the book first, I might feel differently.

For example, one of the most breathtaking, beautiful, and romantic scenes in all cinema is when Lucy Honeychurch stumbles into a field of violets, in Italy, with Puccini swelling in the background, and George Emerson kisses her. Sigh.

According to the book, “George had turned at the sound of her arrival. For a moment he contemplated her, as one who had fallen out of heaven. He saw radiant joy in her face, he saw the flowers beat against her dress in blue waves. The bushes above them closed. He stepped quickly forward and kissed her." The images are lovely, but the film clip has shaped all my romantic ideals.

I was also struck by the portrayal of women in the book. Cousin Charlotte and Eleanor Lavish are pathetic, Mrs. Honeychurch doesn’t believe females are capable of writing books, and even Lucy is described as vapid and empty headed. Lucy breaks off her engagement to Cecil Vise under the pretext of embracing her freedom, of maintaining her individuality as a female. Yet, she really ends the engagement because she is in love with another man.

I can only hope that Forster is commenting on female stereotypes and not simply contributing to them.


Wanna-Be Lit said...

I am very proud of you for reading this novel. I have started it a few times but never finished.

notaconnoisseur said...

I have decided that I need to watch the movie again. Notice that I have not decided to read the book.