‘Don’t go fighting against the spring’ advises E.M. Forster in A Room With A View, meaning that it is fruitless to fight against nature, and particularly a nature which pulsates with life and – most importantly in Forster’s eyes – love. And, in the spirit of not fighting spring but celebrating it, we thought we would share three of our favourite classic novels with a spring theme or setting. If you haven’t yet read any of these authors, each of these is a great place to start discovering their works.
A Room A View was published in 1908 and tells the story of Lucy Honeychurch, a young woman who travels to Italy with her chaperone where she meets a father and son, unconventional Emersons. There is a pivotal moment in the story which takes place in the Spring on a trip to the hills above Florence and this experience begins a journey of transformation during which Lucy discovers the joy, beauty and creativity of the world outside the tightly-defined constraints of her very conventional, middle-class Edwardian upbringing. It is a beautifully-written, little book filled with joy, optimism and wryly observed humour.
We also love Elizabeth von Arnim’s The Enchanted April, written in 1922 and which also uses Italy in the spring as a symbol of new life and discovery. It’s the story of four women who appear to have little in common but who find themselves sharing a small medieval castle on the Italian Riviera. As a friendship develops in the beauty of the Italian spring, each of the women rediscovers a sense of hope and a new life. It’s an uplifting and enjoyable read with a lovely light touch.
Our final recommendation was written more recently than either of the first two novels although it is also set in the first part of the 20th century. The Beginning of Spring by Penelope Fitzgerald was published in 1988 but is set in Moscow in 1913 over a few weeks as the winter turns to spring. It tells the story of Frank Reid, an Englishman working in pre-Revolutionary Moscow whose life is overturned when his wife suddenly and inexplicably leaves him. It is a gorgeous and magical book written with great humanity, lyricism and with an eye for the comedy which exists even in the most difficult of times. If you have not yet discovered Penelope Fitzgerald, a Booker Prize winner, then this is a great introduction to her wonderful writing.
Written by Kirsten – IC