Friday, 29 April 2011

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Now heres a book that's sure to divide people. Some people have been known to throw this book across the room while others will rave and defend it to the death, either way it provokes reactions.

My first experience with the characters of Wuthering Heights was through the old black and white film staring Lawrence Oliver. Me and my mum sat down to watch it (it had come free with a newspaper) thinking we were going to watch one of the 'greatest ever love stories'. Two hours later during which we experienced many WTF moments, we were left kind of disgusted/horrified/confused etc and it put me off ever reading the book.

But read it I did because heck I wanted an opinion about it and to see what all the fuss is about. Sometimes its good to read things like this because its one of those books where I thought I knew what it was all about but in-reality I didn't, much of the plot was a complete surprise (that old films left out loads.) Cathy dies surprisingly early on in the novel and most of Heathcliffs wrath is directed towards his son and Cathy's daughter. There are also other significant characters which heavily feature which again surprised me as I was expecting it to be all about Heathcliff and Cathy.

Much has been said about the general horribleness of the characters and yes as a reader I felt pushed to the limit at times with their cruelty towards each-other. But I'm not someone who has to like or connect with characters in order to enjoy a book, I guess it was the general horror at times and a kind of morbid fascination that kept me turning the pages. I couldn't look away and found it strangely absorbing. A lot of this had to do with the setting, I've read a fair few books that feature the English moors but none have had quite the desolate or foreboding atmosphere that Wuthering Heights gave to me in droves.

I can understand why it is a classic, there isn't quite another novel like it and I can also understand completely why people would hate this novel (I am sure some will say hello in the comments ;) but it isn't a classic just because of the nasty, cruel characters, there is much more to this novel in the passion, tragedy and the Gothic elements. It is a love story but just not in the conventional/normal sense.

Aside from the plot just getting downright silly towards the end I did enjoy this and I read it quite quickly. I can't say I loved it exactly but it certainly won't be one I'll ever forget. If you do decide to read this then you have to face it, you will have problems with some of the characters, as hard as it may be you kinda have to just let them get on with it and play out their own story.

I read this as part of a mini-readalong hosted by Bibliojunkie and its worth popping over for links to the other partcipants for more opinions.

Verdict 4/5

Posted by Jess


  1. I read WH as part of a different read-along. I think I would have liked it more had it not been a read-along. It sort of took the fun out of it for me.

    Parts of this novel drove me batty. Like all of the H and C names. I had that family tree by my side the entire time.

  2. I smiled at all your expressions that I could relate to: WTF moments and the "morbid fascination" flipping the pages as fast as the bullet train!

    I am glad you finally read it. that way you know what the fuss is all about now.

    You are reading Middlesex???! It would be great to read this together, because it was in my TBR list pipeline to read it soon. What page are you at now?

    Thanks for the review. I'll link up.

  3. The mention of this book traumatizes me! It's not the book per se but that god awful song by Kate Bush in the 70s that was based on Wuthering Heights.
    "It's me. It's me it's Kathy I've come home now..."
    If you're not familiar with it then just look up 'Wuthering Heights Kate Bush' on Youtube but be's terrible.

  4. You know, I hated the characters, but I really loved the novel. There was something about the passion between them that really drew me in. And while I didn't sympathize with any of them in any way, I just loved the novel when I finished it!

  5. I had to read this for English Lit at school and the only thing I remember is thinking 'are you kidding me? This bunch of effed up nutcases being horrid to each other is one of the greatest love stories of all time???'. However, I'm quite sure my current self is miles from my 17 year old self so should really give it a re-read and make up my adult mind about how I feel about this book :-)

  6. I have six copies of this book, each one given to me by a well meaning friend determined that I will like it as much as they do. I don't and I won't, but they just don't seem to get the message.

  7. I read this at school, but really should read it again. One to add to the wish list.

  8. I love Wuthering Heights precisely because it's so different from what people expect. I recently saw the rarely staged opera version, which doesn't do the book justice at all.

  9. When I read this in high school, I hated it precisely because it was so different from what I expected. But I had to reread it in college and really enjoyed it. Yes, the characters are unlikable, but they're so interesting. I've since reread it a second time and enjoyed it again, so I guess I could say I've become a fan.

  10. I wonder if people think horrible, messed-up characters can't also fall in love. They do, of course, and when they do it's bound to produce a horrible messed-up kind of love. Just like it does in Wuthering Heights.

    I'm a big fan of the book, by the way. I even love the Kate Bush song.

  11. Yes, I was surprised as well when it wasn't all about Cathy and Heathcliffe! I thought WH was OK, although nothing to write home about. For me, Jane Eyre was much better.

  12. Ti - the family tree thing was the one thing that I was ok with. I wasn't confused by the characters at all. This could be because after reading war and peace perhaps I'm better at remembering characters names!

    JoV - Im on about page 300 so if you think you can catch up then I'll wait! Its a very good book but its not one I have been racing through, I've been reading like a chapter here and there really.

    BookMarc - thanks mate I now have that dam song suck in my head ;) it was my dads favorite song so I know it well. you should totally type noal fielding wuthering heights into UTube.

    Allie - it is werid, I really dont have to like characters to enjoy a book and this one and Lolita I think proves that.

    mummazappa - I think my 17 year old self would have loved this LOL but then maybe I wouldnt have been able to let go as much back then?

    Annie - blimey Annie that sucks. Its bad enough when ppl thurst books onto you that you really dont want to read let alone six!

    booketta - did you enjoy it in school?

    Amy - I would have thought the dramatics of an opera would have suited it really well, I dont think the film I watched particualy should it well either after saying that.

    Teresa - thats interesting you enjoyed on further reading. I do think if I was to read this again then I would love it, it does play on the mind anyway.

    C.B. James - I think you hit the nail on the head there. I wondered at first if it was not a lttle far fetched but then I thought, nah you hear of mucked up stuff in the name of love in the news all the time.

    Tiny Library - I think Jane Eyre is certainly more of a crowd pleaser for many reasons but I tried really hard not to compare them.

  13. Here's my only 'problem' with Wuthering Heights: like Crime and Punishment, the climax seems to come in the first quarter of the book! Cathy dies, (the crime is committed) and we're left to suffer the rest of the novel with the main character's angst.

    This said, I still felt a tremendous amount of compassion for Heathcliff...adoption carries around a lot of its own issues, including pain of separation. But, that's for a whole other post, isn't it?

    Overall, I liked the 'passion, tragedy and Gothic elements' as you so eloquently listed.

  14. You know, I have to say that from the first moment I read this book, I was in love with it. Perhaps the angsty 16 year old in me loved the drama between H and C. And now, the 22 year old in me likes seeing that even flawed characters can fall in love, albeit that love will also end up being flawed. And I maintain that there is nothing like a stroll along dark and foreboding moors to accompany a gray fall day! I'm glad you finally read the book and, more importantly, enjoyed it. Thanks for a great review!

  15. Cathy! Cathy!!!!!!!!

    I read this book back in high school, and most of what I remember is trying to figure out which one was grownup Cathy and which one was her daughter. It got kind of confusing. Heathcliff did a lot of wandering around on the moors in the rain. It seemed so dark and cold all the time. Everyone was depressed. It wasn't really my cup of tea but I am glad you liked it. :)

  16. I think I may have to re-read this one soon. I hated the characters and was frustrated by how self-destructive they were, but I did love the descriptions of the moors. I think I would appreciate the novel more now that I know what to expect. The first time around I thought it was a love story, but it's more a story of hate.

  17. Despite being a huge Victorian lit lover and her sister Charlotte being my all time favourite author, I cannot get through this book. I have attempted reading it 3 or 4 times but always abandon it. Well don for getting through it and enjoying it!

  18. Bellezza - I had no idea that would happen as I didnt realise all these other characters were in it, perhaps thats why I got on ok with it maybe?

    wereadtoknow - its one I would be hesitant to recommend, you you recommend it? I think so many people dislike the characters that its a real love/hate one. glad to say I liked it though but I think my 16 year old self would have devoured it with glee.

    Pam - LOL yeah its not a feel good one is it.

    Avid Reader - I think it is a love story but a really twisted kinda sick love story but there is so much hate in it as well. I can see why readers have loved/hated it.

    The Book Whisperer - I dont think this is for everyone, even Charlotte wasn't too sure so your in good company!

  19. Much prefer Charlotte's Jane Eyre to WH. Will read Anne Bronte's Tenant of Wildfell Hall in July, so I'm curious to see how I like that. I'll look forward to your review of Middlesex, which I thought was a weird, funny, and sad book. Well worth the read!

  20. I am late commenting as I have been away, so much to catch up with now. Interesting to read your thoughts on Wuthering Heights, which I consider a must read classic although it is so angst ridden.