Book Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Hardback (Penguin clothbound edition)

Review copy provided by publisher/ DMCPR Media

Penguin Classics, 2008 (first published 1847)

 Synopsis- 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. And how desire can kill.

 Review- Wuthering Heights is one of those classics that has been sitting on my TBR shelf for a long time. I was not privy to reading it as part of my school curriculum and after recently reading Jane Eyre, thought it time to try another Bronte novel.

I’m not going to write up a lengthy review explaining the plot because I’m sure it’s been done exhaustively. Truthfully, I did not really like this story and it mainly came down to the fact that the characters were completely unlikeable and I could muster up not an ounce of empathy for them.

Catherine was narcisstic and really cared for no one but herself. The small amount of sympathy I had for Heathcliff’s childhood quickly diminished when he returned to Wuthering Heights as a bitter man ready to take revenge. If Heathcliff and Catherine actually managed to get their act together and have a relationship I’m certain it would be one unhealthy marriage.

I’d hoped the second generation would have learnt from their parents’ mistakes, but instead young Catherine and Linton were trapped in the intergenerational dysfunction and quite isolated from the outside world. Catherine, though not as annoying as her mother, seemed desperate for companionship and sought out the affection of her cousin, Linton. He was a really pitiful character; sickly, anxious and someone who challenged the patience of those around him.  This came as a surprise given he was raised by his mother, Isabella for most of his childhood and I’d thought he would have been more stable than he was.

Wuthering Heights is no love story, it really just shows how damaging early childhood experiences can be on forming relationships and personalities. I didn’t believe in the love Heathcliff and Catherine had for each other because I felt they were both quite selfish and callous people who strived for power in their relationships not balance and equanimity.

The author’s choice of narrator- a housekeeper- also didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t like being told the stories of those in the house through the eyes of someone I also didn’t find very likeable. At times Nelly irked me because she had a tendency to dob and also because she could be quite spiteful at times too despite her fondness of young Catherine.

As you can probably tell, I didn’t enjoy Wuthering Heights very much and the most pressing emotion I felt upon closing the book (a beautiful clothbound book at that!) was relief- to finally have finished it!

Though Wuthering Heights was not for me I’m glad I gave it a go and I’m interested to know how other people experienced this story. If anything, it’s motivated me to prioritise reading more classics in the next twelve months.

Overall Rating

2/5

“Not for me”

Wuthering Heights can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

This book was read as part of The Eclectic Reader Challenge (classics):

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10 comments

  1. Honestly? Wuthering Heights is my least favourite of all of the Bronte Sisters work. I felt that Emily lacked the maturity and insight into human nature that both Charlotte and Anne displayed in their works (Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey, etc.) which is why her characters are all so difficult to relate to.

  2. I loathe this book, lol. I’ve read twice now and I didn’t appreciate it anymore the 2nd time around. All of the characters are morally bankrupt apart from maybe 1 and really, they all deserve to be miserable and die together.

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