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Review Revisited: Emily Brontë – Wuthering Heights

December 12, 2014

Re-read. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847)

Read By: Anne Flosnik
Length: 12h 19m (336 pages)

Genre: Classics

Originally read: 14 October 2006
Re-read Started: 09 November 2014
Re-read Finished: 14 November 2014

Where did it come from? Audible. (I also have a paper copy floating around somewhere; that’s the cover I’m using.)
Why do I have it? It was a free download a while ago; and when my book club decided to read it, I figured audio was the way to go.

I love you so much
I’m going to swear to destroy
your whole family.

Summary: Mr. Earnshaw brings home a street urchin from a trip to the city and names him Heathcliff. He becomes weirdly obsessed with Earnshaw’s young daughter Catherine. Everyone is awful to each other, has awful offspring with other people, is awful to each other some more, and then dies.

Original Review: It’s not exactly that I didn’t enjoy this book; the prose was wonderful (if easier to listen to than I imagine it would have been to actually read) and the story moved along well enough. It’s just that I’m completely confounded as to everyone who treats this book as a classic romance and love story. Personally, I found every character (except the narrator and Nellie Dean) to be an insufferable asshole most if not all of the time. I’ve very little patience for people behaving capriciously and then whining about the consequences of their actions and ranting against fate and society and how it’s everyone’s fault but theirs. It’s hard to really enjoy a book, no matter how good the writing, when you spend most of the time wanting to administer sharp kicks to the shins to everyone involved for being such selfish, self-absorbed, annoying jerks. 3 out of 5 stars.

Thoughts on a Re-read: I was right on the first time around. My book club decided to read this, and I initially wasn’t going to re-read, because while I didn’t remember a lot of the details from my first read, I remembered disliking all of the characters. But I wanted the details fresh in my head so I could talk about the specific reasons that I disliked everyone (other than them being giant insufferable jerks.) So I re-read (or, rather, re-listened). And yup: still a bunch of jerks. I still don’t understand why this book gets treated as a romance – I guess, with the whole poor brooding Heathcliff being devoted to Catherine for life and beyond? – but it doesn’t read as love or really even devotion so much as obsession and monomania… not romantic at all.

Both the original time and this time I listened to an audiobook rather than reading a print book. It’s the first time I’ve ever listened to the same book read by two different narrators – the copy I originally got from the library was read by Michael Kitchen; this time it was a version from Audible narrated by Anne Flosnik. Again, I didn’t listen to them close enough together in time to make a whole lot of direct comparisons, although I can say that I found some of the secondary characters (Edgar and Isabella Linton, mainly) slightly less awful this time around. I also could not understand the vast majority of Joseph’s lines as read by Flosnik, whereas I was more able to puzzle them out the first time through.

So, yes. Everybody in this book is still awful, and while the writing is lovely, and very descriptive, and makes me want to go out and find a moor so I can wander around it and brood, I think I can forego a third reading — at least for another decade or so.

I’ll stick to the Hark, A Vagrant! version: (1), (2), (3), and a related comic.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Unsurprisingly, there’s a bunch of ’em over at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: 1801—I have just returned from a visit to my landlord—the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 14, 2014 4:28 pm

    I think this is one of those polarizing books. You either love it or hate it. For me, it is one of my all-time favorites. Yes, the characters are awful, and the Catherine/Heathcliff affair is creepy. However, there are redeeming qualities to it. The story ends with a hopeful note – that these two families can finally come together and bury the long-held animosity. The confusing relationships serve the purpose of highlighting the isolation of the two families, and there is no better picture of the messiness of love and dysfunctional families. Yet, I can see that how those attributes I love about it can upset others or cause them to feel differently.

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