Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Life of Her Own, With a View

Published:  January 27th, 2015
Love, Lucy
By: April Lindner
ISBN-13:  9780316400695

While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician.  After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation."  But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse have to be, does it?


       I'll go right out there and say that I don't think this book is for everyone and it definitely could have been better.  The original source material for this retelling is A Room With a View by E.M. Forster.  It is a comedy of social errors and the class divide, somewhat reminiscent of a Jane Austen novel, but not quite.  This is less about following the rules of society and finding love with someone who might be slightly inappropriate, in terms of class.  But in say, Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth at least has some social graces and knows how to act in society.  Also, she's not THAT far beneath Darcy, no matter what his pride says.  She's a gentleman's daughter.  Lucy Honeychurch in the original Room, falls in love with a young man named George who has no social connections, isn't rich and can't offer her anything other than his love.  She has to choose between socially unacceptable happiness and marrying a man named Cecil (for whom she feels nothing), who could give her every comfort she's used to and more - plus she'd still be accepted in society with her family/friends if she married Cecil.
       When you're adapting a story like that for a modern-day audience, set in the modern United States, it's difficult to translate quite what Lucy would have been giving up by marrying outside her social circle, in a downwards direction.  So Lindner tries to resolve this by making Lucy an actress, who is going to the college her father wants, majoring in business and never acting again, all so he'll pay for college.  That alone is somewhat far-fetched, due to the type of family she lives in and the time period.  It's an upper-middle class, caucasian family, with no obvious religious affiliations and no real obvious reason for this strict point of view.  Also, he forbids her to even continue acting as a hobby.  Alrighty then...and she's supposed to take a trip to Europe in exchange for forgetting her dreams?  On the trip, which she takes with Charlene (the daughter of her Mom's friend), she meets Jesse in Italy and he forces her to question how easily she's giving in to her parents about her future.  I did like the little love-hate thing they had going on at first, but once she's into him she ditches Charlene and is downright mean to her, which I wasn't super fond of.  Being a bitch to your traveling companion is just wrong, even if it's supposedly true love at stake.
       Probably the stupidest thing about this for me, was Lucy's romantic life once she gets to college.  While growing a backbone about being in plays/acting, she seems to lose all sense of self in regards to dating.  Thinking that it's over between her and Jesse, Lucy starts dating someone who seems like the absolute perfect guy.  Yet, she doesn't really have feelings for him.  But he's the perfect guy, so she should just stay with him anyway, right?  Then Jesse comes back to town, to be with Lucy, so she sleeps with him and goes on a date with the other guy the next day anyways, a "weekend away" on which he thinks they're going to have sex (I'm pretty sure it was the next day, I could be mistaken, as it's been a little while since I read this one).  It's like she just wants to miserable.  I think this novel should have been adapted in a different country/culture/place with other social expectations.  Or at least there should have been better reasoning behind Lucy's actions and lack of self-worth.  It made for an unlikeable protagonist which is never fortunate, unless it's on purpose.  Sadly, I don't think it was on purpose in this instance.  Overall, I give this one three stars because I could see the original glimmering underneath.  I also know what it's like to give up the direction of your life to the needs/wants of others.  But there was a lot of wasted potential in this one.  Maybe as a fluffy beach read, if you decide to pick it up?

VERDICT:  3/5  Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

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