In case you missed my previous post, this year I’ve decided to take part in the 2016 Classics Challenge, hosted by Stacey from The Pretty Books. As I’m sure is the same with a lot of book lovers, I have so many classics that I want to read and just haven’t got round to it yet – the first of which was Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte…
Jane Eyre is probably one of my all-time favourite classics; I love the plot, the language, the characters, I love everything about it. Having heard a lot about the rivalry between Charlotte and Emily Bronte,I wasn’t really entirely sure what to expect when starting Wuthering Heights. In fact, all I know about the story really has been gleamed from this:
(This is also one of my favourite dance moves, ever.)
Just to point out now, before you read any further, that there’s going to be a couple of spoilers in this next bit. Although, if you don’t have any idea of the plot, go back and watch the Kate Bush video – you absolutely will not regret it.
Right, so what I thought I knew before starting the book was that it was a sort of love story between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, who overcome all adversity to end up happy together (eventually, possibly in death, I wasn’t really sure). I’m a sucker for a classic with a happy ending – see Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice – and thought this was going to be more of the same.
HOW WRONG WAS I?
I finished Wuthering Heights nearly a week ago and I’m still trying to wrestle with my thoughts. I’ll try and list my feelings to make it easier:
- I definitely preferred the second half of the book to the first half. I feel like I was rooting for the Catherine, Hareton and Linton love triangle so much more than I was for Cathy, Heathcliff and Edgar. Obviously there are similarities between the two, but still, the second half is definitely preferred.
- I’m not entirely sure what the reaction to this will be – I’ve deliberately avoided looking at other people’s reviews about this – but I really, really, really, really did not like Heathcliff. Is it just me? I don’t think I can be the only one, but nope, not a fan. I don’t think even Tom Hardy will be able to make me fall for him, and that’s saying something. I get all the emotions and that he deals with his one true love dying (spoiler alert – although you were warned!), but still, why does he have to be such an ass!? If you are on Team Heathcliff, I’d love to hear in the comments or on Twitter what your thoughts are please.
- On that note, I’m not at all a fan of Cathy either. Unlike Jane and Rochester, who you do end up rooting for, I was actually glad Heathcliff and Cathy didn’t get to be happy. I know that was really the point Emily Bronte was going for, but man, she really nailed it.
- I do love Nelly Dean though, I will say that. I actually loved everything about the book, apart from the two main characters, who I have reserved more “love to hate” kind of feelings.
- In terms of literary skill, Wuthering Heights definitely has the edge over Jane Eyre. Emily manages to create such a morose, bleak, frankly depressing environment for these awful characters that I put the book down and felt a bit miserable. It’s so unapologetic, and that in itself, makes it brilliant. Charlotte Bronte may have written the more commercially appealing novel, but Wuthering Heights I think has so much more to offer.
If you want a love story, or anything that will bring you joy, this is probably not the book for you. Unless you find joy in other people’s misery and misfortunes. If you want a book that really was unlike anything else of its time, will make you question why you’re reading such a miserable book and is also set in Yorkshire – which in itself is a selling point – read this book. I promise you will probably not be able to feel happiness while reading it, but that’s ok.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – 4 stars
Simply because I almost lost the will to live around the time I realised this wasn’t a love story, but it soon picked up after this point.
Wuthering Heights fans, Bronte fans, Team Heathcliff and Cathy fans, people who really actually don’t like this book at all – what are your thoughts? Masterpiece or worth skipping over? Which is the better Bronte? Let me know down below.
Next month: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton