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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

I finished re-reading Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte last night. The first time I read this book was in high school and I hated it. I gave it one star on GoodReads which is basically unheard of for me. But all I remembered was that the main characters were ugly, self-destructive, and it was NOT your typical love story.

I am struggling to come up with a good plot summary and it's tough! This story is about Cathy and Heathcliff. Cathy and Edgar Linton. Love. Death. Anger. Jealousy. Revenge. Lots of revenge. It's basically what you get when you take two families, throw them out in the middle of nowhere among the moors and heath, throw in an angry and jealous orphan (Heathcliff). Oh, and of course there may (or may not) be a ghost (or two).

It sounds chaotic but it really isn't. The whole story is narrated by Nelly, the loyal housemaid who retells the story to Mr. Lockwood, a new tenant. I still wonder what a different book this would be if the story was told from Cathy or Heathcliff's perspective.

I've been in a reading funk lately but this was the perfect story to get me out of it. I loved it. While many of the characters are ugly and unsympathetic, I was absorbed in the story. It's definitely like watching a train crash or a Jerry Springer show, and I'm normally not a big voyeur. Wuthering Heights is now at five stars on GoodReads.

Go read it and don't stop until you read Chapter 34 (my favorite chapter).

For those of you who have read it, what do you think? Here's my rambling thoughts:

I understood Heathcliff. I didn't like him or excuse his behavior but I did feel sorry for him and I kind of understood why Cathy liked him (the younger him, not the older him).

Edgar. Come on. Who doesn't like Edgar. I mean, poor Heathcliff really didn't stand a chance. Although, oddly enough, I like the tall, dark, handsome look so I'd have probably liked Heathcliff.

Cathy. Eh. I thought she was kind of a brat and kind of wondered why everyone fawned over her. These kids seriously needed summer jobs.

The ending. LOVED it.

Favorite description of Heathcliff:

The light flashed on his features as I spoke. Oh, Mr. Lockwood, I cannot express what a terrible start I got by the momentary view! Those deep black eyes! That smile, and ghastly paleness! It appeared to me, not Mr. Heathcliff, but a goblin; and, in my terror, I let the candle bend towards the wall, and it left me in darkness.

Of course, I couldn't end this without pictures. What a portrait Emily paints of the moors and heath:

Funny thing, I read Wuthering Heights mostly on my iPod touch using a cool app called 101 Classic Novels and it's free!
So the photo at the top is the cover I always associate with Wuthering Heights. I really like this newer one from Penguin but it kind of makes Cathy seem timid, which she is definitely not:I was so addicted to the story I starting watching the newer movie version staring these two:But I'm going to have to go back and watch some of the other versions. Like this 1992 version with Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche:
Or this 1939 version with Lawrence Oliver. Seriously, Lawerence Oliver was cast as Mr. Darcy, Heathcliff, Orlando, Maxim de Winter...and those are just the ones I've seen.

I can totally see how Wuthering Heights can be a love it or hate it book. Obviously not all of the characters were written to be likeable or loveable. But the story of jealousy, revenge, love, and hate just sucked me in and I loved it.

Also Reviewed by:

The Raucous Royals (2009 movie review)


  1. I konked out the first THREE TIMES I tried reading this book, but the fourth was the charm. I read it as an adult, by the way. I think I was 27 or so. I can't say that I loved it, but I did admire the fact that it wasn't a typical love story. It was emotional and edgy and chaotic, and for that I am tooootally a fan of Emily Bronte.

  2. It went from 1 to 5 stars? That's quite a turnaround! I read this one years ago and didn't care for it, but it's nice to know a reread could change that :)

  3. I've read it twice and still don't love it; I wish I did because I do like the writing. I did feel sorry for Heathcliff in the beginning, but when he just disappeared and then was pissed because Cathy moved on, I didn't feel sorry for him any more.

  4. I hope to be reading this one at some point this year. I really want to visit the Brontes house too.

  5. I am SO GLAD you are now a convert - this is one of my very favorite books. :)

  6. Truthfully, I don't like Edgar. I'm mad for poor, messed up Heathcliff. Ahhh, the flawed anti-hero...always my favorite.

    By the way, the Masterpiece Theater version (2009) is by far my favorite adaptation. I've seen it about six times. Gees.

  7. Hi! I'll read this book. Loved it when you say you've changed your mind. Sometimes our vision of a text change much over time.


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