Books to Fall in Love with this Valentine’s Day

A Room with a View // E.M. Forster

E. M. Forster’s A Room with a Viewis one of my favourite novels, a story I had fun reading. Forster’s work mostly depicts the Edwardian upper-middle class in a satirical, extravagant manner, but since it’s Valentine’s Day I thought I would look closer at the relationship between Lucy Honeychurch and George Emerson in the novel. Forster celebrates love as a means to oppose what was expected of wealthy young women in light of the contrary ideologies and influences of English Conservatism and socialism in Edwardian England. At the end of the novel, Lucy marries her equal.

The story begins in Italy. In a t00-English hotel, Lucy and her cousin Charlotte meet Mr Emerson and his reserved son George. Lucy and George become increasingly close during the trip away, resulting in the infamous kiss in the field of violets in the Italian countryside. Charlotte instantly objects to the notion of a relationship between the two.

The second half of the novel is set in Surrey. Lucy gets engaged to Cecil Vyse, a well-to-do man whom she does not love. In the idyllic English countryside, George comes back to Lucy’s life when his father moves into a house across the street from Lucy’s family home. The two parts of Lucy’s life she wants to keep apart – the passion she briefly experienced in Italy with George and the ‘proper’ way of life in England – merge, resulting in emotional turmoil for Lucy.

Forster’s novel celebrates love between equals. In the end, what is expected of Lucy is seconded to her love for George; she breaks off the engagement with Cecil and is inspired by Mr Emerson to act in the way she truly wants to, away from the influence of her family and social class. This is truly a lovely story, and the love Forster creates between these two characters presents the progressive nature of Edwardian England; if we were to compare this to Wuthering Heights, when Catherine chooses what is expected of her over the love she feels for Heathcliff, we can see the development of feminist ideas in matters of love perfectly.

Words by Caitlin O’Connor

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