A novel by E. M. Forster, published 1908.
It opens in an English pensione in Florence with a confrontation between Lucy Honey‐church's chaperone Miss Bartlett and the upstart Mr Emerson and his son George; the two men offer to exchange rooms, in order to give the ladies a room with a view, a favour which they reluctantly accept. The novel describes the inmates of the Pensione Bertolini, among them the clergyman Mr Beebe and the ‘original’ lady novelist Miss Lavish and their reactions to Italy and to one another. Lucy is disturbed first by witnessing a street murder, and then by an impulsive embrace from George Emerson during an excursion to Fiesole. Miss Bartlett removes her charge from these dangers, and the two return to Surrey, where Lucy becomes engaged to a cultured dilettante, Cecil Vyse, whom Mr Beebe, who has reappeared as the local vicar, ominously describes as ‘an ideal bachelor’. The Bertolini cast continues to reassemble as the Emersons take a villa in the neighbourhood. Lucy comes to realize that she loves George, but it takes her some time to extricate herself (helped, unexpectedly, by Miss Bartlett) from what she describes as ‘the muddle’. The second half of the drama is played against a sharply and intimately observed background of tennis and tea parties and amateur piano recitals; it ends in the Pensione Bertolini, with George and Lucy on their honeymoon.
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E. M. Forster (1879—1970) novelist and essayist