Dan Sandman

32: A Room with a View by E. M. Forster

In Books, Comedy, Fiction on 05/08/2016 at 12:00 pm

A Room with a View by E. M. ForsterPolite society must have been difficult to navigate in repressed Victorian England. Whom should marry for love and whom for social standing? How should one deal with one’s servants? What does your appreciation of Ruskin say about your views on socialism? Oh dear, life for social climbers can be such a slippery slope!

But fortunately, English literature has produced E. M. Forster to help us dissect the manners and foibles of those puzzling times gone by. With great wit and a good ear for conversation, Forster creates entertaining social comedies which take us into the drawing rooms of the Victorian middling classes. Tea is served, gossip is shared and the wrong end of the stick is oftentimes produced. Written six years before the Great War, A Room with a View is a devilishly amusing novel which sharply exposes the mechanisms of a particular group of people, as Jane Austen had done a century earlier. And as in Austen’s famous novels, the narrowness of the middle classes is reflected by the novelist’s inability to discuss the working classes in any meaningful way whatsoever. The silent majority are simply there to pour the tea, being treated as if they weren’t complex human being themselves.

I have enjoyed reading this relatively short novel, and I think it works well as a casual summer book with a fairly good plot that moves along at a decent pace. Readers will be encouraged to laugh at many of the characters, of which Forster is a skilled creator. In terms of genre, it might be worth thinking of this book as a romantic comedy, which is further evident when we look at the film version starring Helena Bonham Carter.

It will certainly pass the time rather nicely.


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