Wuthering Heights has been on my list of ‘to-dos’ for some time now. Several reasons led me to believe that I would like it despite the fact that I knew almost nothing about it:: 1) It’s Gothic. 2) It was written by the sister of the author who wrote my favorite book. 3) At the time, people used to think that the same person wrote Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey, so I knew it had to be something similar to my favorite book in writing style. 4) It’s somewhat of a romance (though a different kind than I thought).
This novel was not what I expected. First, the plot completely unfolds in retrospect. The narrator (who is a man, another surprise) is a new tenant of a property that neighbors the landlords @ Wuthering Heights. When he calls over to meet the man, he is astounded by the behavior of everyone in the house, and encounters a ghost in one of the upper rooms. Once he gets back to his own house, the housekeeper, who has lived on the grounds since she was a child, begins to tell him the tale of how things came to be the way they are (so technically, there are two narrators, one man and one woman).
Coming from Mansfield Park, this novel was exciting and easy to read. I can see how there could also be some name confusion (the family trees get a little interesting), but all and all it’s a much more modern feeling novel than an Austen; it read quickly and there was much more excitement.
Basically it is a story of Heathcliff, a man who came from nothing and how he basically comes to have everything, except the one thing he wants:: to be with his true love. He’s a harsh and sinister man, and just generally grotesque. He’s manipulative, mean, vengeful and unlikable. The rest of the characters are also very flawed and quite unhappy. It’s not a very happy story, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good book. On the contrary; while it doesn’t come close to Jane Eyre in my eyes (others would argue otherwise), Wuthering Heights is still worth reading – yes, even outside of a school assignment. It’s haunting and desperate and it’s about striving for love, and how even that isn’t enough sometimes. It’s a solid four stars.