I've watched James Ivory's film adaptation about 3 times or more (mostly because of Daniel Day-Lewis), and have always had a problem with it- or rather, there's always a feeling that something's missing and I don't quite get what's going on and why the characters act the way they do.
That's why I picked up the book, hoping it would clear a few questions on my mind.
After the incident in Florence, Lucy Honeychurch, together with her cousin Charlotte Bartlett, decides to go to Rome to see the Vyses. In the next chapters, we're with other, and new, characters- Lucy's mother Mrs Honeychurch and Lucy's brother Freddy. They're talking, and discussing Lucy and Cecil Vyse. A few pages later, Cecil, whom the readers have never before seen, now appears, and announces that he and our heroine are now engaged. Episodes are cut off. The entire courtship with the 3 proposals is left out. A huge jump in time. And space.
What does that remind you of?
The Portrait of a Lady.
The difference is that the engagement news in The Portrait of a Lady produces a shock, puzzlement and a sense of outrage, whereas that in A Room with a View takes us aback because there's hardly any warning but we know nothing about Cecil to know whether or not it's a right choice- other than surprise, there's nothing else.
I don't mind the jump. What bothers me is the feeling that something's missing- I'm on chapter 11, and I still don't quite understand the relationship between Cecil and Lucy, specifically how she really feels about him, what has happened between them, why she rejects him twice and accepts him the 3rd time, why she thinks she loves him and how she really sees him. I feel cheated.
My general impression is that E. M. Forster can be rather observant (it's very good how he writes about Charlotte playing the role of a "prematurely aged martyr" to control Lucy and persuade her not to tell her mother about the kiss), and there's a quiet humour about him that can be amusing, but that's it. The kiss between Lucy and George is, I have to say, rather disappointing. Too abrupt.
There are readers out there who enjoy The Room with a View more than I do.
PS: There's a book that I really, really want to read right now- Life and Fate (though of course not "right now", I don't have time for such a big book). Several people have made me believe that I'd like Vasily Grossman. Thoughts?
PPS: Oh and I'm in Vienna, by the way. Having a good time.