This stage ends with George and Lucy’s first kiss (end of Chapter Six)
Lucy Honeychurch lives in a world in which actions are more often than not dictated by politeness and social cues, rather than real emotion. She’s a bright young lady, but she still can’t quite figure out how to negotiate the boundaries of society. The longer she stays in Italy, where things are evidently more straightforward and less uptight than they are in England, the more she realizes that she has questions that her former way of life don’t answer. This initial stage ends when George kisses her amongst the violets, an event that sends her into a whirlwind of action as she attempts to regain control of her unruly life.
The Confusion Worsens
Chapters Seven through Eighteen, in which Lucy actively denies her true feelings.
Lucy attempts to exert control over her romantic situation, but in the process, she just manages to confuse herself and everyone else even more. She gets engaged to Cecil, tries to make it work, but in the end, is forced to disentangle herself from him. Like the end of a Wes Anderson movie, practically every single character we met earlier converges upon Lucy’s house towards the end of the novel, and she is forced to lie to all of them to maintain her semblance of control. At the end of this phase, it appears as though all is lost, and Lucy is headed towards becoming Charlotte Bartlett, Jr., professional spinster.
Everything Comes to Light
Mr. Emerson’s heart-to-heart with Lucy, in which she finally faces up to her love for George, and its aftermath.
Mr. Emerson reveals to Lucy what nobody else is willing to tell her – when you really fall in love with someone, you shouldn’t throw that person away. He saves her from the looming darkness of a lonely and regretful existence and gives her the strength to reach out and grab the object of her desires (George, of course!). While this comedy ends conventionally in the most important way, with the reunion of the two lovers, it also has an unconventional twist – not everyone is reunited. Lucy’s family is actually divided by the marriage, since her mother and brother don’t approve of the marriage. However, the young husband and wife try to look at this split optimistically, hoping that their honest love and affection for each other and for Freddy and Mrs. Honeychurch will bring the family back together in the future. We sure hope it does.