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Even if you have never read this story before you are probably aware of the plot as it has been a film and a TV drama. As well as being a favourite of mine this has always been enjoyed and, along with 'Howard's End' both books have similarities with the works of Jane Austen.

Written in the Edwardian Age before the First World War this book starts to show how society was gradually changing at that time, and which was the beginnings of our modern society. Written with a lightness of touch this in a way conceals the issues that arise here, such as independence, freedom of religious thought, politics, class structure, and the stiff upper lip. Both a social comedy, and a comedy of manners there is much to have a chuckle at. Right from the beginning with a father and son offering two women their hotel rooms as they have better views, we can see how the structure of society and etiquette is brought into question. We tend to forget that a hundred years ago society was much more rigid than it is today, which as shown here does lead to all sorts of situations that are funny. With romance thrown in as well this is well worth reading, by men and women and I hope that it gives you as much entertainment as I have got from this story over the years.
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When the young and pretty Lucy Honeychurch visits Florence with her much older and rather prim cousin Charlotte acting as chaperone, she is dismayed to find the rooms at the pension at which they are staying are without a view. Already staying at the pension is Mr Emerson (a middle-aged man of a lower social class than Lucy and Charlotte) with his son George, and Mr Emerson is very keen to offer Lucy and Charlotte his and George's rooms which are complete with the desired view over the Arno. Charlotte, though, is offended by Mr Emerson's over-familiar approach and refuses his offer, afraid that by accepting she will put herself and Lucy under an undesirable obligation to someone of a lower social standing. However, when Mr Beeb, an Anglican clergyman with whom Lucy has already become acquainted back in England, intervenes and assures Charlotte that Mr Emerson only wishes to be kind and that there is no harm in accepting his offer, Charlotte relents and she and Lucy get their view. Despite accepting the Emersons' offer, Charlotte warns Lucy not to encourage them, but when Lucy subsequently witnesses a murder in a street in Florence, it is George Emerson who comes to Lucy's rescue, and Lucy cannot help but be appreciative of how the young man deals with the situation. Lucy, however, does not realize that George Emerson, who is an unusual and passionate young man, is falling in love with her and when George's feelings later get the better of him, Lucy and Charlotte are shocked by the consequences. Back in England, Lucy is wooed by the pretentious Cecil Vyse, who thinks himself superior to most of those around him and who takes Lucy's cultural education in hand - and Lucy, surprisingly, doesn't initially seem to see what a bumptious fool he is or that he appears to regard her as some sort of a trophy. But when George Emerson suddenly re-appears on the scene and lets Lucy know that his feelings towards her have not changed, what does Lucy decide to do?

First published in 1908, E.M.Forster's 'Room with a View' is filled with a vivid cast of characters (of which I have mentioned only a few) and I found this novel an entertaining read from start to finish. It is interesting to watch Lucy being torn between conflicting values and to see her struggling to escape from the social boundaries of her class (her energetic piano playing reveals a desire for a more adventurous life; in fact when hearing her play Mr Beeb remarks: "If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting - both for us and for her"), yet she very nearly allows herself to be consumed by those social conventions. And it is even more enjoyable to see her maturing and coming to the realization that class and decorum are not as important as others might have her believe, and that there is more value and beauty to be found in truth and in freedom of expression and, of course, in love. An entertaining and satisfying read and although not as nuanced as the author's 'Howards End' or 'A Passage to India' I was engaged in Lucy's story from the first page to the last.

4.5 Stars.
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on 13 June 2017
I bought a copy of this - my favourite EM Forster on discovering that although I've read the book several times the edition I had read was my late mothers and I must have given that copy to a niece for her impending A levels. Delightful to return after a long pause to a well loved friend. What more is there to say?
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on 17 January 2015
I expected something much more sentimental (blame Merchant Ivory) but the novel is sharp, witty,ironic and equivocal. Something is rushed about the resolution with the gnomic Mr Emerson revealing the truth about love and the spectre of cousin Charlotte looming ... but this is really a light, in a good way, critique of society with an erotic undercurrent throughout.
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on 26 May 2017
I wish to make a comment about the audible narration. I did not think that this was of the highest quality in terms of delivery, pronunciation etc. I have heard much better. I know the book and am perfectly happy with all other aspects of it.
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on 4 July 2016
I found this to have aged quite nicely. The portrait of the players survive s the passage of time and the gentle abuse of the class system and ^decent behaviour^ continues to do entertain.
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on 24 July 2015
I adore this book and have read it over and over again. Every character is a gem and every incident a delightful little drama. It's not often I enjoy a romantic tale told by a man but this one I do.
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on 22 April 2017
Enjoying reading this classic again.
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on 11 May 2014
This is my favourite film and the soundtrack is just fabulous, my kids think it's great I have the tune from mr. Bean's film. I am trying to educate them...honestly. Chi Il Bel Sogno Di Doretta....this is truly a beautiful piece.
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on 1 June 2013
The film is wonderful and when combined with this sound track it is simply terrific. Kiri is in marvellous form as she sails through Pucini's famous arias. If you like romantic opera buy this CD treat the other tracks as a bonus.
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