Originally published in 1847 by Thomas Cautley Newby
My edition: one of my gorgeous Penguin
Clothbound Classics hardbacks. I will have them all!
In a house haunted by memories,
the past is everywhere…
As darkness falls, a man caught
in a snowstorm is forced to shelter at the strange, grim house Wuthering
Heights. It is a place he will never forget. There he will come to learn the
story of Cathy: how she was forced to choose between her well-meaning husband
and the dangerous man she had loved since she was young. How her choice led to
betrayal and terrible revenge – and continues to torment those in the present.
How love can transgress authority, convention, even death.
It’s about bloody time pretty
much sums it up! And I was umming and ahhing over my choice for Apri on Twitter
and several lovely people loudly (and repeatedly) shouted Wuthering Heights. Ta da!
With most classic novels,
particularly the 19th Century ones, you have a rough knowledge of
the plot and the relationships between the characters – you go in with certain
expectations and they’re usually met. Wuthering
Heights threw me for a loop.
The legendary love story of Cathy
and Heathcliff is what I was expecting from Emily Brontë’s masterpiece; a tale
of love and hatred and cruelty, and I did get that, but their relationship was
only the beginning. The story isn’t even told by either the hero or heroine,
but by Nelly, the housekeeper who watched their story from the very beginning,
who is telling the tale of the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights and the Grange
to the visiting resident, Mr Lockwood. Moreover, it’s set twenty years after
Cathy’s death. Now that was something I wasn’t expecting.
I have to admit that I didn’t
really buy this as a love story until the last few chapters of the novel. I found
it difficult to see the love between Cathy and Heathcliff when the interactions
between them and the way they treated each other throughout their lives was so
full of venom, jealousy and vindictiveness. Though they were childhood
companions, there was still a divide between them and I didn’t get the sense
that they even liked each other until Heathcliff’s return. And even then it
still felt more Romantic than romantic.
As the story evolved I came to
realise that Wuthering Heights isn’t
the story of Cathy and Heathcliff’s love at all, it’s the story of Heathcliff
and how his love for Cathy shaped his entire life and the people around him. The
story soon jumps forward to the teenage years of the child of Heathcliff and Isabella,
Linton, and Cathy and Edgar’s daughter, Cathy. There is such a horrible sense
of history repeating itself with these two, enforced by Heathcliff’s actions
against the pair. It’s a twisted and doomed fate and it was fascinating to see
I had been told that there is
only one redeemable character in this novel but I didn’t quite believe it until
I was reading it. There’s a continuous discussion about whether characters have
to be likable or not for you to connect with a novel or enjoy it and Wuthering Heights emphatically shouts ‘No!’
from deep in the Yorkshire moors. These characters are often monstrous, to
themselves and those they love, and yet I still wanted relationships to form
and interactions to occur. And I ended up being suckered by Heathcliff’s
maddened declarations of passion and love for Cathy, the endurance of those
feelings, the potency of them – often disturbing, but still rather swoonworthy.
Against my better judgement…
Heights is brimming
with love, hatred, jealousy, revenge and betrayal and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It
was so much more than I imagined it could be and I now understand why it’s seen
as one of the masterpieces of the 19th Century. I’m so glad I finally
- Can it be a love story when the
characters are so repeatedly vile to each other? You decide?
- The setting of the Yorkshire
Moors is a character all in itself.
- Think Wuthering Heights is jut Cathy and Heathcliff falling in love? Wrong.