LibriVox (zipped mp3s)
Length: 7 hours, 9 min
Reader: Elizabeth Klett
The book: "Summer lovin', had me a blast . . ." Well, okay, so this isn't Grease, but it does have a number of similarities. Forster's first novel, A Room with a View is a romantic comedy about meeting people on vacation, then having to deal with different social classes back home. It's a funny and entertaining look at how people act in foreign countries and how they change when they return home.
While travelling in Italy, Lucy and her chaperone Charlotte meet a variety of fellow English tourists at an English-owned boarding house in Florence. Lucy and most of the other tourists dutifully follow their guidebooks' proscriptions of what to see and which artists to appreciate. A few of the tourists, like old Mr. Emerson and his son George, are unconventional in their approach to Italy, not following the standard opinions of the crowd. Lucy's friendship with the Emersons comes back to complicate her life when she returns to England, where conventions are more rigid and class distinctions more distinct. Forster paints a marvelous portrait of the transition of his native country out of the Victorean Era and into the modern age, couching it in a moving romance and witty comedy of manners.
Rating: 8 /10
The reader: Ms. Klett does a superb job reading this book. Her voice is clear and light, with a nondescript American accent for the narration. Her characters are all voiced in appropriate British accents, each distinct enough to distinguish different characters. Her voicing goes a long way toward developing the characters as fully fleshed-out people. I particularly loved her portrayal of the hypocritical but ultimately sympathetic Charlotte. As with Howards End, I would take Ms. Klett's reading of this book over any commercial recording.
(Entered in Cym Lowell's Book Review Wednesday. Follow the link for more book reviews)