At the beginning of each year, I always pull out a old favourite book; it’s like greeting the new year with an old friend. This year I picked up E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View. The story begins in Italy when Lucy Honeychurch is beginning the grand tour with her spinister cousin, Charlotte. The women were promised a hotel room with a view of the Arno river and the room was given instead to a father and son, called Emerson.
The story centers around Lucy’s relationship with the younger Emerson, George but it really is about the change between the old gentile Victorian ideals, represented by Lucy and her family and her vile beau Cecil, and the new England of the modern age (20th century), of the ideas and freedom as illustrated in the Emerson’s. The countryside of Italy is lush and untamed, like the pastoral dream of a renaissance painter; while England near Lucy’s home of Summer Street is rural, comfortable and safe, the rest of England is a land of change; it’s rural roots giving way to the new be it in industry or the social classes. In many ways this is a coming of age story, as Lucy struggles with the old and the new.