This week I’ve been reading… Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I feel a bit of a fraud writing this review for several reasons. 1. It has been well over a week since I was reading this. 2. For years I’ve been making out like I’ve read this before when actually I abandoned it three quarters of the way through. 3. I didn’t read it, I listened to the audiobook. 4. The audiobook was abridged.

Phew, good to get that off my chest.

Not that there’s anything wrong with listening to the audiobook rather than reading the book, but listening to an abridged version is only mildly more legitimate than watching the film. So where do I get the audacity to review it? Mostly because I want to have a little rant.

Nothing new there.

Although I am very apprehensive about this rant because people take Wuthering Heights very seriously. It seems to have a fan base unlike any other book I’ve come across. But deep breath – here we go.

Why has this book got such an amazing reputation? Why? For one thing it’s practically impossible to read. Joseph was a pretty main part who said some rather important things but he may as well have been speaking a different language. The Yorkshire accent is not an acceptable way to write a book.

Also, there’s no one in it actually likeable. Heathcliff is supposed to be this ultimate sex symbol but he’s just a horrible, horrible person. His whole life he’s out to get revenge – on the Earnshaws, the Lintons, his own child. And he might be in love with Catherine but he’s barely civil to her. And Catherine herself is stroppy and selfish and childish. I mean, yes, it’s a hugely romantic and tragic story but in order to buy into the romance I’d have to actually want the couple to end up together. And I didn’t read it hoping they’d get their happy ending, just wanting them to stop ruining everyone else’s.

The way it’s told got on my nerves too. I know books aren’t realistic and you’re allowed to take some artistic license but the whole story is told by Ellen, the housekeeper, and yet she’s remembering word for word conversations that happened decades ago? I can suspend my belief only so far.

Despite this being my least favourite Bronte novel (although I’ve only read two others: Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall) I think Emily might be my favourite of the sisters. I imagine her as a Marianne Dashwood character – full of romantic and tragic notions. Unlike Marianne she never gets the chance to have her heart broken for herself and try out the role of the tragic heroine. Which might have made her less willing to condemn her characters to such a fate.


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