Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wuthering Heights Review

Am I the last person in the world to read Wuthering Heights? Probably. When I saw that Kay & Kari were reading it for their book club this month, I knew I wanted to tag along. I thought, hey, I read Austen, this will be easy as pie.

Before reading the book, I vaguely knew it was a love story, with two selfish, greedy main characters and a depressing ending (or so I thought). Funnily enough, two of my favourite 'love' quotes are from this book, I knew them by heart I had just never read the book before.

“If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.” 

“He's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” 

Even if you haven't read the book, chances are you've heard those quotes before.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Remember when I thought this would be easy, because I'd read a couple of Austens?


The first couple of chapters are deliberately confusing. One of the most important aspects of the novel is its manner of narration, nothing is ever related simply from the perspective of a single participant. Instead, the story is told through entries in Lockwood’s diary, but Lockwood does not participate in the events he records. The vast majority of the novel represents Lockwood’s written recollections of what he has learned from the testaments of others, whether he is transcribing what he recalls of Catherine’s diary entry or recording his conversations with Nelly Dean. Because of the distance that this imposes between the reader and the story itself, it is extremely important to remember that nothing in the book is written from the perspective of an unbiased narrator, and it is often necessary to read between the lines in order to understand events. 


After the first couple of chapters the book gets much easier to read, I can't stress that enough. I started this book like 17 times, zero exaggeration and I struggled to get past the first 2 pages. I didn't think I would be able to continue. Once I pushed through, it started to make more sense and was an easier, enjoyable, interesting read. Phew. That's not to say it was completely easy or light, there were certainly parts I didn't understand (anything Joseph said basically) and it took me every bit of a month to read. 

It is not a pretty fairy tale love story; rather, it is swirling tale of quite unlikeable people caught up in obsessive love that turns to dark madness. It is cruel, violent, dark and brooding, and many people find it truly unpleasant. And yet it possesses a magnificence of language and design, a sense of enormous pity and great loss that sets it apart from nearly every other novel written.


I actually kind of loved that there wasn't a happy ending, if suddenly everything had worked out hunky dory and the bad things actually didn't happen it was just Nelly being silly, I would have felt cheated. You can learn from the mistakes of the past, which is the message we got from the union of Cathy and Hareton at the end of the novel. I admire Emily Brontë for not guaranteeing a certain happy ending.

One of my favourite things about Wuthering Heights were the ghosts. They constitute a key image throughout the novel. It is crucial to note that what comes back in the first dream is not a dead person but a name, and that what brings the name back is the act of reading it. The message that this sends to the reader is that by reading we are keeping things alive; which is why I love to read! Catherine and Heathcliff were alive whilst I read the book, fictitious or not. Emily Brontë is alive because I am reading her book. Jane Austen is alive because I read her books. I love it. I get to live (in my head) how they did. I get to be someone else, live a different life, live all these different lives and 'meet' all these different people. That's why I love to read.

via
Honestly, there is not much I can say about Wuthering Heights that hasn't already been said. Do I think you should read it? Yes. It's a brilliant book. If you don't want to read it, don't. Simple. But it is so unbelievably worth it, such a good book, one of the best. Classics are classics for a reason.

Have you read Wuthering Heights? Did you love it?

35 comments:

  1. I actually own it but haven't read it fully. I started and stopped it a lot too. Need to give it another go. I love the quote at the end. I find myself exhausted at the end of a good book, sad for it's ending.

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  2. haven't read this in probably 20 years (i'm ancient) but it is forever in my kindle to pick up again!

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  3. I always think of Wuthering Heights as a Horror Love Hate Story. I hated it, I have to say. I felt like Bronte was trying to show off her written linguistics, but enjoyed destroying her characters at the same time, and yet remained detached from them in a way that hints that even she was repulsed by her own narrative. I just found it hard to connect with, and on top of that my moods are influenced by what I'm reading (I was NOT a happy camper around the house when my son made me read the Maze Runner trilogy, for example) so I find WH just frustrating on every level.

    The books of the time actually didn't promise happy endings for the most part. That's what made Austen's novels so amazing at the time. Bold women who fought convention, AND got their happy ending! I need my happy endings, desperately! :)

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  4. Never read the book, but I did see the MTV movie version. I LOVE this story! So tragic... but still awesome!

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  5. i will confess that i tried, thought "WTF?" most of the time and then put it back down. same with jane eyre and all the other penguin classics. maybe i'm just not classy enough for them :(

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  6. I've never heard of it. Thanks for the review!

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  7. If you could write book reviews like this every single day I would be so happy, haha, I haven't read Wuthering Heights, so you're definitely not the last person, but I'm definitely intrigued after reading this. I love when you finally get past the first few hard chapters and can enjoy a book!

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  8. Nope, you are NOT the last person to read this because I've started it about five times and given up every time. I'm totally with you, I can't get past the first handful of pages before I'm either like "what in the actual F" or I'm asleep. In fact, I think I used the Cliff Notes to get through high school English, since we were supposed to read it.

    Do you promise it gets better!? I might try it again... If you promise ;)

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  9. Ok, so I've tried reading it before and couldn't get past the first few pages, but you definitely made me want to try it again! :)

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  10. i havent read this yet!! sooo finally putting it on my list! xo jillian - cornflake dreams

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  11. I read this book years ago. It took me forever to read it but it is a great book.

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  12. I had to read Wuthering Heights (and Heart of Darkness) the summer before my senior year of high school and keep a reading journal. I loved it; it became one of my favorite stories (then again, my tastes tend toward darker things). I love sifting through multiple accounts in order to determine what's "true". I also think it's hilarious and tragic that nearly every character goes insane to some degree (even if this just means a screw or two getting knocked loose as in the case of Lockwood). Bronte lets her characters react to things as hugely as they might, which I really appreciate. The atmosphere is unpleasant because everyone is being haunted constantly, which rings true! We of course choose how we deal with our experiences, but whether we wear the effects on our sleeves or attempt to ignore them completely, they're there and they change us. Permanently. Wuthering Heights shows the unpleasant side of it, but the story is still beautiful in its way (and gorgeously written). Awesome review! You've reminded me to reread this one :D
    ~Gianni~
    P.S.
    Have you changed your settings? I can't comment under my wordpress blog name anymore!

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  13. Your book reviews are my absolute fav thing to read. Period. I have never made it past the first chapter but you have inspired me to pick it back up again! See you in about a month - JK!

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  14. I have never read this either. I mean to but then I dont. It is on my list!

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  15. Sometimes it creeps me out how similar we are. I have actually started this book like 5 times too. Unlike you, I haven't ever finished it. I reallly need to!

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  16. I have read Wuthering Heights, it's not my favorite classic, but not my least favorite either.

    I feel the same way you do about reading. I love that I have "been" to so many places and "experienced" so many different things because of reading. Trying to explain that to a non-reader is impossible!

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  17. You were not the last person to read the book since I've never read it LOL, but I have seen the movie!!

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  18. I think that I tried reading this book when I was in hs or something and just couldn't. I have to give you props for getting through it! You and your bad ass reading skills!

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  19. Ooh I've tried but gave up after a few chapters. I think it might be time to pick it up again!

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  20. I read this high school and just didn't like it. Not that it's not well written, just that I didn't enjoy the story or the characters. I'm fine with unhappy endings, sometimes I wished more books didn't have a happily every after, but I just remember not liking this book at all.

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  21. I've tried to read it and never got through it. I don't know if I ever will, but I really appreciate your perspective!!

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  22. As an English major (having read so so so many books, and so many of them classics) this is one of my favourites. I read it in my first year and re-read it 3-4 years ago. I think I've only re-read a few books from my undergrad, so that's saying something. ;) Your post has me wanting to read it again. :)

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  23. I haven't read this in about 1,000 years, so it's definitely on my re-read list. And because of that, I confess, I didn't read this whole post! Because if it's been a year since I read/saw something, it's as good as brand new to me and I'm pathetic about spoilers, haha.

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  24. I love this post to death. You make me want to re-read it. As an English lit major, it has remained one of my favorites through time.

    Many people that hate it hate it because it's not a feel good story. To which I say life is not a feel good story. You have to live the depth of it as well.

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  25. This post, perfection! You perfectly describe what makes reading so wonderful! I read Wuthering Heights in high school but that was obviously a while ago, I need to read it again! I adore the Bronte sisters, I love this one and Jane Eyre! I love lighthearted, happy ending stuff too, but I think it's kind of awesome how dark they are because they delve into the complexities of humanity and life. Relationships are not all rainbows and sunshine and I think they really explore that.

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  26. I hate to say this because it makes me feel uneducated but I don't like to read things that I have to put much thought into. I put so much thought into work and real life situations that by the time it comes to reading for leisure I want to read something as simple as possible so I don't have to figure out what they are talking about. I can have a wordy vocabulary and a little suspense or mystery but otherwise, I like easy to follow content.

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  27. Not sure if this would be a book for me if you had trouble getting through the beginning! Story sounds awesome though!

    <3 Shannon
    Upbeatsoles.blogspot.com

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  28. You're the SECOND to last person... I haven't read it either. I like a good classic but if the beginning is confusing I'd probably give up. I usually give books a good chapter or two before I move on. I'm the same with TV shows b/c I have ZERO patience! hahaha

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  29. I have not read it either. For some reason, the classics just do not interest me at all. Give me a John Grisham or Sophie Kinsella anyway!

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  30. I've never read Wuthering Heights. I'm sort of with the commenter above - John Grisham, Sophie Kinsella - easy fun reading is my thing.

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  31. This is by far my favorite book of all time, as in on a level of your love for P & P. Glad you got through it, the beginning is super confusing!!!!! Make sure you watch the PBS two part movie on Netflix,if you haven't already. It's pretty awesome.

    Thanks for all the book reviews, too! I'm always looking for a new book!

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  32. I actually have never read Wuthering Heights (bad English major right here, I know!) - but it's on my list for the next year!

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  33. Love this review girlie and this book! You did this review soooo much justice!

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  34. I still need to read this. I need to read more. It always gets lost and that is just pathetic. Must. Schedule. Reading time. ! -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

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  35. Such a WONDERFUL review of this book. Thank you for joining in on reviewing it and thank you so much for loving it (you are my book twin after all so I needed you to love it). I'm terribly sorry for not seeing this sooner - I've been so caught up in NaNoWriMo.

    I totally agree with that you said about Lockwood. He's totally an unreliable narrator which probably lends to why I can't absolutely hate Catherine and Heathcliff. Like what if he's just a lying jerk? Even though he's probably not, even a slightly less masochistic version of them would still be insufferable.

    "And yet it possesses a magnificence of language and design, a sense of enormous pity and great loss that sets it apart from nearly every other novel written." Ummm, girl? And you're not a writing. Excuse the heck out of me with that excellently crafted sentence! It's gorgeous and captures everything about this novel perfectly.

    Also, the ghost thing is so true. No one truly dies in the book. They just live on perpetually through the torment of the other character, whether self-imposed or otherwise. I don't doubt that a certain someone's ghost is still roaming the moors :) Also, that idea reminds me of a quote from the show Game of Thrones that the iron born say: "What is dead may never die." Seems legit, especially in WH.

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