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Marilyn Lightstone Reads A Room With a View
/ BY Athena McKenzie / March 17th, 2022
With its dreamy setting, conflicted heroine and happy ending, E.M. Forster’s A Room With A View offers the best of a romantic comedy as it skewers England’s upper middle-class society. First published in 1908, Forster’s third novel – after Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905) and The Longest Journey (1907) – follows the coming-of-age and sexual awakening of Lucy Honeychurch. On a trip to Italy with her fastidious and exacting older cousin Charlotte, they meet the free-spirited – and lower class – Mr. Emerson and his handsome son, George, at a pensione in Florence. After Lucy returns home and becomes engaged to Cecil Vyse, a suitable man of her own class, she is torn between following the strict social conventions of the Edwardian times and staying true to her heart and making a life with George.
While an enduring classic of English literature, the work is probably best known for the beloved Merchant & Ivory film adaptation from 1985, starring Helena Bonham Carter as the naive Lucy, and Maggie Smith, with her trademark glower, as cousin Charlotte, which captured both the domestic comedy and the passionate emotion of the novel.
Last spring, Kevin Kwan, author of the Crazy Rich Asians series, published his own homage, a cross-cultural comedy of manners called Sex and Vanity. The New York Times described the retelling as if Forster’s “characters had been micron-deep, Instagram-obsessed and unable to make conversation.”
Sometimes there’s nothing like the original. Hear Lightstone bring this classic to life on her podcast, Marilyn Lightstone Reads.