“Something tells me we’re not going to like this place,” declares Rosemary Hoyt’s mother in the first spoken words of Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night. “I want to go home anyway,” Rosemary replies. It’s a moment of exquisite irony, considering Fitzgerald has just spent 500 words describing the perfect isolation of the Hoyts’ French Riviera environs, where “the pink and cream of old fortifications, the purple Alp that bounded Italy, were cast across the water and lay quavering in the ripples and rings sent up by sea plants through the clear shallows.” It’s a traveler’s utopia, with all the romance of an undiscovered paradise and none of the touristic trappings — yet Rosemary, a follower in all things, doesn’t immediately see it that way. But with her unexpected introduction to Dick and Nicole Diver, models of cool elegance and social surety, Rosemary feels the sense of possibility she longed for in her travels open up. With one chance encounter, the promise of the trips unfurls itself. Dick’s voice “promised that he would take care of her, and that little later he would open up whole new worlds for her, unroll an endless succession of magnificent possibilities.”
Possibility is, of course, the raison d’etre of the vacation novel: the narrative is a respite from the tiresome repetition and banality of daily life. It’s a crisp Mediterranean breeze floating through our hunched-over-turkey-sandwich-at-our-desk lunch break, a rustle of forest leaves instead of the shuffle of files. And that could be enough: the power to transport and entertain is a worthy goal for the novel to pursue.
. . . .
E.M. Forster’s A Room With a View immediately establishes what its characters are seeking on their Italian holiday. While Charlotte Bartlett is immediately concerned with the disregarded promise of “south rooms with a view close together,” Lucy Honeychurch cannot move past the very Englishness of their hotel. “And a Cockney, besides!” she exclaims, “It might be London.” The two women talk past one another, both dissatisfied with the Italian hotel, but for very different reasons. Miss Bartlett’s frustration is practical: the two ladies were not given the rooms they were promised, and the quality of their stay will certainly be suppressed by this fact. But Lucy’s irritation stems from a feeling that she has not truly slipped away from the stifled, close collar of English society. Even on this holiday, she fears, her posture must be ramrod and her moral compass must point her north.
Link to the rest at Flavorwire
Since Room With a View is set in Florence, one of PG’s favorite cities, he decided a couple of photos were in order. (Click for Larger Versions)
This photo was taken from Piazzale Michelangelo and features Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, more commonly known as the Duomo (Italian for dome).
Heracles beating the Centaur Nessus, sculpted in 1599 by Giambologna (who is better known for The Rape of the Sabine Women) and located in the Loggia dei Lanzi on the Piazza della Signoria. The statue undoubtedly caused Lucy to have thoughts.