There's not much I can't say about this wonderful book that hasn't already been said by others much more eloquently and comprehensively.
So I'm not going to say much.
Well, not that much. I like to talk about books too much not to say anything. Forester's timely classic centers around a young girl, Lucy Honeychurch, who takes a trip to Italy with her spinster cousin, Charlotte, and there meets some other English travelers including Mr. George Emerson. Lucy is young, impressionable and used to being told what to think and what to do. However, while in Italy, she and George witnesses a murder (a dispute over 5 francs!) and she begins to slowly understand that life is more than just doing and feeling the things society says you should. George, I think, sees this potential for true emotion in Lucy. He himself is on the brink of some sort of change and sees Lucy a woman who can understand the complicated emotions he is experiencing. But Lucy is scared, she doesn't quite want to leave her safe world behind and so leaves Florence and her unsettling encounter with George. Upon returning to England, her trip seemingly behind her, Lucy accepts the proposal of one Cecil Vyse, a young man who she also spent time with in Rome. No one really likes Cecil and for all his professed modernism and intellectualism, he really just wants to keep Lucy on a pedestal. Thankfully, she finally wises up after another unsettling enounter with George Emerson in which she finally makes choices for herself and no one else.
All this happens with such subtle humor and wit. Forester is a master at understatement and descriptiveness at the same time. He paints the scenes of historic Florence with as much precision and beauty as he does Lucy's country home in England. I want to ramble through the woods at her house and see the church and pond. He makes it all come alive and it's beautiful. And the names in this book, they are undeniably English! Lucy Honeychurch, Windy Corner, Cecil Vyse - I mean, doesn't he just sound like a wimp? What's more is Lucy's transformation into a woman who can take charge of her own life and decides what she wants - even when those around her my be hurt by her choice. A beautiful book with so much insight and wit. I loved it.
Summer Reading Blitz update: 8/10