One of my many New Year’s resolutions in 2016 was to read more classics. Unlike some of the others (go to space, being one of them), I think this one might be attainable!
To kick it off, I dove into Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. There were two reasons for this. Number one was that the company I work for is publishing a companion novel, of sorts, a really incredible novel called Nelly Dean, which offers the Earnshaws’ long-suffering maid, Nelly, the chance to really gab about the good stuff that was going on out on the moors. You don’t necessarily need to read Wuthering Heights to enjoy Nelly Dean, but this leads me to reason number two…
My co-workers made me. I was bullied into reading this book, but in a friendly way. And I did want to have a bit more background on Nelly Dean before giving it a go.
I have a complicated relationship with the Brontë sisters. Namely, I’ve never read any of them. I have a clear memory of my mom talking about disliking them when I was young and impressionable, and the opinion stuck. And I somehow never came across any of their books (nor any Jane Austens, now that I think of it) in any high school or college lit class I took. It being a New Year and finding myself in search of a New Me, I decided it was time.
I didn’t…dislike Wuthering Heights. I strongly disliked 99% of the characters, yes. But despite the melodrama, angst, and the number of times I had to read the word “ejaculated” as a descriptor for someone exclaiming, I thoroughly enjoyed the plot. I didn’t realize quite how much of a soap opera it was going to become, but I came to appreciate Emily’s (may I call her Emily?) writing style, and the easy flow of the narrative.
I also especially loved exactly two characters in the novel: Nelly Dean and Mr. Lockwood. Unfortunately, they’re the ones readers hear the least about, as they’re both so obsessed with the drama brewing around them. (Which is why Nelly Dean — the book, not the fictional maid — exists.) The Cathys were awful, Heathcliff was an abusive ass, and Hareton needed a hug and also to stop dangling his baby over a railing, Michael Jackson-style? I did not love them, I have to say, though I did appreciate their hell and torment, because I knew they were going through all of it for me.
I also now have a mighty need to re-read the Thursday Next book when Heathcliff takes a vacation in the real world. (That happens, right?)
In short, do ridiculous things happen in this book? Yes. Do plot points occur for no reason other than to make sure the plot moves in the way Emily wants it to? Yes. Do I care? Not so much, because this was clearly written with the audience in mind, and they were old-timey folks with simple entertainment needs, and I’m sure Wuthering Heights hit the spot. This one gets a solid three out of five stars from me.
Now, I’m already onto my second classic (Thomas Hardy, what’s good??), but the question remains: Which Brontë should I tackle next?
Anyhow, cheers to the first old-timey book of the year!
#Classics2016 Count: 1