I am a Bronte fan and have read and loved almost all their work, revisiting much of it in book or film almost every year, with one exception – Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte.
It has always been my least favourite book by the Brontes. I first read it when I was about 15 and I really didn’t enjoy it. I found Cathy & Heathcliff and indeed almost every character in the book spoilt, petulent and vapid, the atmosphere was bleak and depressing – the whole thing felt pretty whingey!
Having been a Bronte fan for a long time, I have discussed and debated many aspects of the Brontes & their work and I found that I’m not alone in my view of Wuthering Heights. However, I try to keep an open mind about most things and having discovered a love for olives, coffee, knitting and cherry brandy (all of which I hated in my teens) I decided I should give it another go. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while – about 20 years! Anyway, last week, I finally got around to re-visiting Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte and here’s how that little adventure turned out…
It was with some trepidation that I sat down and started with Wuthering Heights again. I told myself that I’d give it a few chapters and if it’s still not my thing, at least I tried. That first sitting lasted over two and a half hours! I only stepped away when backache and hunger could no long be ignored. I now have bags under my eyes from late night / early morning reading sessions! I couldn’t put it down and having reached the end I have taken a little break to read Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte and then I shall return and read it again. I am amazed and delighted at the change in my perception of this fabulous book.
Reader I loved it…..
My long awaited second reading of Wuthering Heights revealed how much I had missed as a teenager! Having now realised that the main protagonists of the story were barely adults themselves, I suspect that my original irritation with Catherine Ernshaw and Heathcliff stemed from the unflattering reflection it gave of my own teenage behavior and attitudes.
Also, I have yet to meet a teenager who would not stare blankly at the utterence of the phrase ‘ look at that view’, so it is clear that the remarkable depiction of the landscapes and environments that Emily acheived were lost on me, during my original reading. The ‘great love story’ between Cathy & Heathcliff was lost on me as I was a pretty cynical teenager – ah time is great teacher!
My more recent reading of Wuthering Heights has revealed a story populated by fantastiacally rich and nuanced characters. I discovered the landscape, so beloved by Emily, captured in intricate detail.
Most striking was her inherant understanding of the nature of love and how facetted and, at times obscure, it is. Yet, how it sits within the foundation of self and is unmoveable. I love how beautifully she illustrates that we often cannot be saved, especially from ouselves and that we must try to make peace with that.
I can’t wait to get back to Wuthering Heights again, I am sure I’ll find yet more wonderful detail and I long to escape back into that captivating world, so carefully created by Emily – it really has been a ‘gone to the heather’ moment.
My feeling is that; Wuthering Heights is one of The Bronte’s best works but, if like me, you struggled with it – then go and give it another chance. I hope it ensares you too!
If you need a new copy of Wuthering Heights then take a look at this edition, that is being released this month – it is a thing of beauty!
Finally, have a great week!
Thanks & Enjoy
P.S. If you’d like to read a little more about Charlotte, Emily & Anne Bronte check out this new blog piece I’ve written about the Bronte Sisters Lives.