A Room with a View by E.M.Forster

A Room with a View cover

“Life,” wrote a friend of mine, “is a public performance on the violin, in which you must learn the instrument as you go along.”

I absolutely love this analogy; mostly because it is so true!

When I first started reading E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View I wasn’t that impressed. I found the opening chapters slow-going and, to be honest, slightly dull; however, now that I have finished reading the novel in its entirety, I can appreciate that part one serves an important purpose: with it Forster lays the foundations of a simple but compelling love story.

FYI: The novel is divided into two parts: the first – and shorter of the two – is set in Florence, at a boarding house occupied mostly by middle-class English tourists, whilst the second part takes place in Surrey, in a sleepy village called Summer Street.

Like Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, A Room with a View is quite short – just over 200 pages – and takes no time at all to read. I actually ended up really enjoying the second part of the novel, especially the dialogue and Forster’s depiction of Edwardian Middle England.

A quick Google search has revealed that the novel was adapted for the big screen in 1985, starring Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, Daniel Day-Lewis and Judi Dench – some of my favourite actresses. I don’t normally like watching adaptations of books I’ve enjoyed reading; however, I’m keen to see this one. With such a stellar cast it’s surely got to be worth a squiz?

On that I’ll leave you with another quotation from the novel!

“…but if we act the truth, the people who really love us are sure to come back to us in the long run.”


UPDATE ON MY NOVEL: I finally finished the first draft and posted it off to be edited on Wednesday. Should have the report back by November, ready to start my second draft!



Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five Novel Cover Slaughterhouse-Five: The Children’s Crusade is such a great little read. Written by Kurt Vonnegut and published in 1969, the short novel (just over 200 pages) tells the story of Billy Pilgrim and the bombing of Dresden during the final days of the Second World War. Billy Pilgrim is unique in that he has the ability to travel through time and to relive, at will, episodes from his life.

As Billy journeys backwards and forwards in time the reader learns about his experiences as a soldier and prisoner of war, his career as an optometrist in the fictitious town of Ilium, New York, and the terrible loss of civilian life which occurred during the final assault against Hitler and the Nazi regime. I, for one, never realised that significantly more people were killed in Dresden in a single night than by the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

Slaughterhouse-Five is similar to Sophie’s Choice by William Styron in that Vonnegut weaves together a series of subplots to create one, fluid narrative. It is impressive the way Vonnegut manages to keep the reader engaged while jumping backwards and forwards in time and place, from war-ravaged central Europe, through 1960s America and across the universe to the alien planet of Tralfamadore, where Pilgrim is supposedly kept captive in a zoo alongside a Californian adult movie star. The story certainly is unique!

The end of the novel also has a New Zealand flavour, which was a nice surprise:

“Billy found himself paired as a digger with a Maori who had been captured at Tobruk. The Maori was chocolate brown. He had whirlpools tattooed on his forehead and cheeks.”

I would definitely recommend Slaughterhouse-Five. It’s incredibly easy to read; it’s punchy and to the point; and above all it’s really entertaining.