Finally, my Brontë virginity is gone!
This classic has been on my to-read list for years… but sadly it didn’t live up to the hype. While I’m not fully disappointed, I’m a bit “meh” about it all.
So what didn’t I like?
First, the story within a story trick rarely works for me–particularly given that in this case, the present day story (stranger renting house) was inconsequential. Furthermore, the fact that the housekeeper spills out a detailed family history to an utter stranger seems ridiculous.
Speaking of the characters: almost none are likeable. They’re not even likeable in the antihero you-know-he’s-bad-yet-like-him anyway style. They are just petty, obsessive, small minded… or on the flip side, SO nice that they’re weak and ineffectual.
(I also got bored of parsing what Joseph, one of the servants, was saying. His thick Yorkshire accent was a chore to read; I skimmed over most of it.)
Third, Heathcliff isn’t sexy or romantic. Instead he puts Edward Cullen to shame in terms of obsession. He doesn’t know what love is – he just knows what he wants.
Fourth, I got excited about ghosts. The story kicks off with a creepy ghost/nightmare scene which led me to believe there would be more visitations. Instead the rest of the book was dedicated to reliving the past, with no ghosts whatsover until the last pages of the book.
So why have I given this story any stars at all?
The middle section of the book wasn’t bad, mostly because the present day interjections were kept to a minimum, so I could ignore the story-within-a-story aspect. As you get to know the characters, their family drama gains some element of car crash appeal, which carried me through to the end.
Now, the last hundred-odd pages are the saving grace of the book. Forget about Catherine and Heathcliff–it was the Cathy/Linton relationship that captured my attention. Nevermind that Linton is horrible and Cathy is an idiot; I couldn’t help but read their story with horrified fascination.
Plus, the conclusion was very satisfying. And a little bit creepy.
In sum: this isn’t a classic for the faint-hearted. The first half of the book is a tough slog, but if you push your way through to the end, you will be (somewhat) rewarded.