Tag Archives: Florence

The best novel ever? E.M. Forster – A Room with a View

068159I went off for the weekend to Italy this month to recreate my solo trip of 2000 when my main criteria was making sure I travelled to Florence and San Gimignano owing to my love of A Room with a View and Where Angels Fear to Tread.  So of course the only book I could possibly pack for a trip to Florence was this one.  I’m not sure how many times I have read this – at least six, I even chose to write my English A level coursework on it.

I was inspired to read this book after watching the fantastic Merchant Ivory adaptation , I fell in love with Julian Sands when I was about fifteen.  It was with trepidation that I reread this,  often the books you loved when you were younger no longer stand the test of time.  At first I thought it’s all just a series of implausible coincidences or fate as George calls it and the characters seemed undeveloped but I found myself falling in love with this book all over again.  The snobbishness of the characters and Forster’s portrayal of the English tourist are so funny.

dvd_room25Lucy Honeychurch visits Florence with her “prematurely aged martyr” cousin Charlotte Bartlett, there they encounter no room with a view and the unconventional, irreligious father and son, Mr and George Emerson.  The novel  opens with the Emerson’s offering the ladies their view which leads to the “better class of tourist being shocked at this ill breeding”.

botticelli-birth-venusItaly changes Lucy and makes her want equality with a man and understand her soul.  The novel is concerned with Lucy’s ‘undeveloped heart’, as Mr Emerson says, “you can transmute love, ignore, it muddle it but you can never pull it out of you”.  There are lots of funny incidents in the novel such as Lucy buying a postcard of the Birth of Venus, which she likes apart from the naked Venus  who spoils the picture.

If you are a true romantic, don’t Read the 1958 appendix ‘A View without a Room’ , where Forster takes a witty but depressing view of Lucy and George’s marriage after the novel ends, it will leave you disillusioned.  My advice is to stick to  enjoying the brilliance of the original novel.

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A Death in Tuscany – Michele Giuttari

Giuttari used to be the head of the police force  in Florence so he is obviously well qualified to write these kinds of stories.  Unfortunately it wasn’t really my kind of crime novel, I prefer a proper whodunit like Agatha Christie or PD James, this is more drug, child porn, Mafiosi type (which ironically his author photo makes him look like).  I did try to read this or another of his before and failed to get much further than the first couple of chapters, I kept going with this one but would not read anymore of these again.  Apparently this was a bestseller in Italy and he is the “leading Italian crime writer” but I think this is crime writing for men.

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