Set in Italy and England, this is a rich and romantic story of Lucy Honeychurch and the choice she must make between love and convention. Commuters Library presents a wonderful reading of this time-honored classic by Wanda McCaddon.
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E. M. Forester???s A Room With a View (1908) opens with the upper-middle class British tourist Lucy Honeychurch and her spinster chaperone Charlotte Bartlett complaining about not having a room with a view in their Florence pension. Mr. Emerson and his son George offer their viewed rooms to the women, but Charlotte is affronted by the crude interference of such ???common??? men. Isn???t Mr. Emerson an atheist-socialist and his son a railroad worker? The novel depicts Lucy???s struggle to mature into an independent thinking, living, and loving woman beneath the stifling weight of cultural convention, familial expectation, and fear of passion.
While I really enjoyed watching the 1985 film of the novel, listening to Wanda McCaddon reading the audiobook evoked in me another magnitude of laughter, tears, and ecstasy. She effortlessly switches between male and female voices, expressing their different personalities through slight changes in her tone or manner, and her distinctive, gravelly voice enhances the wit and heart of the novel.
There are many memorable scenes: of beauty and romance (George kissing Lucy amid the foamy field of wild Italian violets), of social comedy (Lucy, her mother, and Cecil Vyse coming upon the nudely frolicking George, Freddy, and Mr. Beebe by the pond in the woods), and of moving insight (Lucy talking with Mr. Emerson in Mr. Bebe???s study). Throughout, the lines are witty, the insights into human nature telling, and the philosophies of life stimulating. And the characters are adorable! Mr. Emerson so eccentric, kind, open-minded, and frank. George so passionate and honest. Lucy so ???muddled.??? Freddy so simple and healthy. Mr. Beebe so full of good humor. Even the mean-spirited, priggish snobs like Cecil and Charlotte are sympathetic. And there are many compelling themes in the novel about gender, class, culture, tourism, youth, love, and life. And Forster???s Florence is magical and mythical: ???fate.???
Years ago, I had seen the movie but never read this classic by E.M. Forster. This is a scrumptious novel that I enjoyed on many levels. On one level it is a romance novel, but there is far more. I also enjoyed the fascinating cast of characters, each of whom was vividly portrayed, well-rounded, believable, and contributing to a landscape of Victorian society. If you have ever fallen in love with Florence, Italy (or any other magical place), this will make you long to return for a visit. The novel is thoroughly engrossing and entertaining. A few times, I found myself laughing out loud. To become acquainted with the protagonist, Lucy Honeychurch, is to savor a rich experience of coming of age. The narration by Wanda McCaddon is superb. The personality and voice of each character are captured with great vitality in her performance. I will surely read (or listen to) this book again! Very highly recommended.