A Room with a View
by E.M. Forster
A Room with a View Part 2, Chapter 9 Summary
- Mrs. Honeychurch drags Lucy and her “Fiasco” (Honeychurch slang for fiancé) to a neighborhood garden party. Cecil is profoundly unimpressed by country life and says so. Lucy attempts to understand him, something that would surely be difficult for anyone.
- Now that he’s engaged, Cecil’s adopted a new persona, that of the naughty man of the world. It’s deeply unsuitable. Lucy thinks about exactly how unsuitable this self-image is for a young man who simply spent an uneventful winter in Rome with his mother, but she doesn’t say anything.
- An argument about clergymen ensues. Cecil makes what he thinks is quite a witty remark about Mr. Beebe (of whom we know he’s not a fan), but then insists that he has the utmost respect for him. Lucy, trying to be sympathetic, says that Mr. Eager is one clergyman that she really hates.
- This unintentionally leads to Mr. Emerson (who she sneakily calls Mr. Harris instead). Lucy mentions how Mr. Eager accused Mr. Emerson of killing his own wife, and surprises Mrs. Honeychurch and Cecil with the violence of her speech.
- Cecil blandly wonders about this new aspect of Lucy – after a precisely logical process, he decides that it’s okay for her to rant. Sometimes.
- Cecil starts talking…and doesn’t stop. Mrs. Honeychurch and Lucy fail to pay attention; Cecil is irritated. Cecil is also irritating.
- Lucy still looks cross, though, which makes Cecil sad. He attempts to make her feel better by quoting some Tennyson at her – an interesting approach.
- The carriage arrives in Summer Street, a quaint little town, whose quaintness is marred by two ugly new villas. Their names are Alfred and Cissie.
- Albert is already inhabited by someone with very kitschy taste, but Cissie is for rent. Mrs. Honeychurch and Lucy lament the presence of these tacky houses. As they’re passing, Alfred and Cissie’s new landlord, Sir Harry Otway, steps out of Cissie.
- Sir Harry is just as sad as the Honeychurches about Alfred and Cissie. He had thought about purchasing the land they sit on before its owner, Mr. Flack, constructed the villas, but didn’t imagine how ugly they would turn out to be. However, once built, Mr. Flack installed “an immovable aunt” to live rent-free in Albert. Because of this aunt, Sir Harry can’t demolish the villas – the best he can do is find nice tenants for Cissie.
- Cecil, malevolent little snob that he is, decides that he despises Sir Harry, and makes fun of him, suggesting that Cissie would be perfect for a bank clerk – something Sir Harry definitely doesn’t want.
- Lucy, seeing what Cecil is doing, suggests that Miss Alan and her sister (the old ladies from Florence) move in. Mrs. Honeychurch disagrees, claiming that “decayed gentlewomen” are the last thing that Summer Street needs. Cecil, to be contrary, agrees with his future mother-in-law, but Sir Harry agrees to give Lucy’s Miss Alans a chance.
- Sir Harry and Mrs. Honeychurch go to check out Cissie villa, while Lucy and Cecil walk home.
- Cecil, never one to contain his disdain, immediately expresses his dislike for Sir Harry, and for the country life he represents (not thinking about the fact that this is Lucy’s life, apparently). Lucy begins to worry that, since Cecil dislikes Sir Harry and Mr. Beebe, he might start disliking people closer to her, like Freddy (and she’s right – we can just hope that she starts seeing these red flags with Cecil soon…).
- Cecil makes a fuss about how Lucy has never been with him in the woods since they got engaged; he’s sick of going on the road (the conventional way) with her. They head home along a little footpath through the forest. Lucy’s confused by this, but knows that he’ll explain his meaning before too long.
- Which he does. He complains about how Lucy feels more comfortable with him in a room, or in a garden, or on the road – in some civilized space. Lucy protests, but he pushes on, saying that he pictures her as a kind of view. Lucy realizes that he’s right – she always connects him to a room… with no view. Together, then, they are a room and a view; we wonder if Lucy will ever find the room with a view of the title.
- Cecil whines that he would rather she thought of him in nature, rather than in a stuffy room. Lucy changes the subject.
- The couple walks through the woods, admiring the scenery. They stumble upon a pond referred to as The Sacred Lake in Honeychurch mythology. Freddy “bathes” (swims) there, and Lucy, shockingly, also did until Charlotte found out and put a stop to it. Cecil is in the right mood to be pleased rather than shocked, and thinks this completes Lucy’s wonderful simplicity. He imagines her as a beautiful flower.
- Cecil is overtaken by something resembling emotion. He asks Lucy if he can kiss her – they share an incredibly awkward and hilarious first kiss, in which the most excitement comes from Cecil’s glasses falling between them. Hot.
- In retrospect, Cecil sees that the kiss was a failure. There was nothing passionate about it (we’re reminded of Lucy and George’s kiss, which was definitely passionate). Cecil makes some revisions in his memory, and re-imagines the kiss as satisfactorily thrilling.
- As they’re leaving the pond, Lucy reveals to Cecil that the name of the tourist slandered by Mr. Eager was Emerson, not Harris. Cecil doesn’t realize the significance of this admission, but to Lucy, it’s an intimate thing to share.