A study in quick characterization and hard-working dialogue that feels easy. This is the second time I’ve read and enjoyed this, so the 5 stars, but this story leaves me with a puzzling problem. SPOILERS throughout the rest of this.
I read this a while back, before or just after the film version came out, and I remember loving every bit of it. But I did not remember at all that main bit of the last chapter, where the author has to acknowledge that his hero, George, had no agency throughout the book [structure problem]. He does this well, by having George think it to himself:
He was a boy after all. When it came to the point, it was she who remembered the past, she into whose soul the iron had entered, she who knew whose room this had been last year. It endeared him to her strangely that he should be sometimes wrong.
… All the fighting that mattered had been done by others—by Italy, by his father, by his wife.
Not too romantic. Meanwhile, Lucy has lost all – her standing at home, the affection of her mother and her brother, even the goodwill of two-faced Mr. Beebe. She pays a high price for the affection of a man she now calls in this chapter a baby:
"George, you baby, get up."
"Why shouldn't I be a baby?" murmured George.
Unable to answer this question, she put down his sock, which she was trying to mend, and gazed out through the window.
Who wants to marry a baby? But I remember this book as very romantic, and it’s billed as a romance. Is this some sly move on Forster’s part to lure in the romantic reader and spoon her some reality as well? “Sure love, but you pay for it.” If so, the revelation about Charlotte does the trick—quickly distracting us from the continuing-to-be-bad choices women face and to the completion of a romantic arc from before Lucy’s times.
So perhaps this is a good model of cutting your somber social comedy with the honey of romance and youth (and Italy). Which contemporary books do this as well?