A Room with a View is a charming, wonderfully written love story set in Edwardian England, which made me laugh, smile and sometimes squirm. Lucy Honeychurch is a young girl trying to discover herself as she travels to Italy with her cousin, Charlotte Bartlett. Here she meets many different characters, including the lower-class, unconventional George Emerson, whose bluntness and rejection of societal rules intrigues Lucy. As she returns to her family home in England, Lucy finds herself in an engagement with the traditional, pompous Cecil Vyse, and an exciting love story ensues.
I found Lucy to be a highly relatable and loveable character. As a young woman she is optimistic and seeking adventure, wanting to go out and explore Florence on her own in search of beautiful things. She struggles between feeling restricted – by her family and societal expectations of women – and wanting to transgress these boundaries, and also wanting to please the people who care about her. One of my favourite lines in the book is when Lucy questions why most ‘big things’ are un-ladylike. Her early encounter and confusion with first love is heart-warming and funny, and throughout the novel as she continues to meet with struggles I found her just as relatable.
The personification of rigid, overbearing, English middle-class society in Cecil, and passion and radical thinking in George effectively presents such conflicting themes. I deeply disliked Cecil; his arrogant manner and his need to lead and protect women was infuriating. Nevertheless, I loved to hate him. The love triangle, not unlike those I have read in Young Adult contemporary, was frustrating and exciting, and incredibly enjoyable to read about.
I highly enjoyed A Room with a View, particularly through relating to Lucy and relishing reading about all the different eccentric characters she met and the effects they had on her. I loved that the book challenged many issues at the heart of English Edwardian society, at the same time as being a relatable, witty, coming of age love story.