Wuthering Heights

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Wuthering Heights (Hardback) By Emily Bronte, book reviewWuthering Heights by Emily Brontë was published in 1847, originally under the pen name of Ellis Bell, and is the author’s only novel. A dark and stormy novel set on the Yorkshire moors, Wuthering Heights tells the story of Cathy and Heathcliff and their respective families.

The action is related through narrators; the principal narrator is Mr Lockwood, a tenant of Heathcliff who is told the story of Heathcliff’s past by the housekeeper Ellen (Nelly) Dean, who was involved in all the events. Much of the novel, therefore, is set in the past. In the present day, many of the characters are dead, and Heathcliff has possession of Wuthering Heights and the nearby Thrushcross Grange, where Mr Lockwood is staying. As Mrs Dean reflects, we learn of Cathy and Heathcliff’s childhood, their involvement with the Linton family of the Grange, their tortured love story and the stream of unhappy endings which surrounded them.

This is no sweet and gentle love story à la Jane Austen. Wuthering Heights is a novel which reflects its setting of the cold, bare and dangerous moors. None of the characters are allowed to find happiness, although there is a likely happy ending to the novel, and all suffer in some way which can be connected to Cathy and Heathcliff’s unhappy love.

Most of the characters fear Heathcliff, and this is transmitted to the reader very well. You find yourself hoping that he’s not going to walk through that door or round that corner, so that the other characters may have some chance at peace. But he always seems to turn up – and while Cathy is delighted to see him, no one else is.

“Don’t let anyone tell you it is a difficult read…”

Cathy is not a living character for much of the novel, yet strangely remains a presence throughout. I say strangely, because apart from mentions of her by Mrs Dean (in a “god rest her soul” manner), she is only really a presence for Heathcliff. Her husband Edgar mourns her, but not in the same way as Heathcliff, who is constantly searching for her ghost to haunt him. Yet he does not talk of her often, and so you might not expect her to be a presence, but she very much is. Unlike the formal dialogue of Austen’s novels of a few decades earlier, Emily Brontë shows no such restraint. Although the characters cursing is mild for modern readers, it is apparent that it wasn’t common in writing of the time. Saying that, we are told more often that a character gave vent with a stream of cursing, than we actually read the cursing directly.

I have been reading Wuthering Heights in a new edition, published by White’s Books. It is a hardback, but in paperback size and with a paperback price – easy to carry about but still looks nice on my bookshelf. It also includes an introduction by the author Victoria Hislop, which is nice enough but doesn’t really add anything; fortunately she chooses not to compare her writing to Emily Brontë’s, although she comes close she sticks to the subject of being influenced by Wuthering Heights. Also included is Charlotte Brontë’s preface to Wuthering Heights, written in 1850.

Wuthering Heights is rightly considered a classic of English literature. The story is gripping, terrifying, passionate and dark, and keeps you turning the pages to the very end. Don’t let anyone tell you it is a difficult read – it’s not, and even if you were to find it a bit tricky, it’s well worth it.

Many thanks to White’s Books for providing a review copy of Wuthering Heights.


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Wuthering Heights
by Emily Brontë

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Written by eilidhcatriona
eilidhcatriona

A Scottish lass in her late twenties living in London. A prolific reader always interested in something new.

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