Review by Ryder Islington
This is a love story, without the romance. Set in England in 1801, it’s the story of Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, from an early age, when Heathcliff is found in the streets of London and brought home to the countryside by Catherine’s father, to the great house called Wuthering Heights.
There is nothing that can separate the two. Catherine, with her family’s fair skin and light hair, is bedazzled by the swarthy skin, black hair and black eyes of little Heathcliff. And he worships her. Down the road live the Lintons, in Thrushcross Grange, with children who play with Catherine, but refuse to be around ‘that little heathen’ Heathcliff. And so the hatred begins in and among the children of the two families.
The story is told to Mr. Lockwood, a tenant of Thrushcross Grange, by a servant, Nelly, a few years after the events told. This is a good story, though much harder to read than Jane Eyre, written by the authors’ sister. In particular, there is a servant at Wuthering Heights named Joseph, whose English is atrocious, and with an accent that only makes him so hard to understand that I almost dread the scenes where he talks. On top of that, the inter-marriage of the players is so convoluted that I still have to keep a score card to remember how everyone is related.
Despite all that, the story is too good to pass up. It is filled with anger, shame, grief, sadness, jealousy, but also with love, patience and generosity. And the end makes the entire book worth the read. As a writer, I learned a great deal from this book about how not to write dialogue, and how not to confuse the reader. Yet I return to this book every December, reading from a leather-bound edition that includes Jane Eyre, the two books being the most popular by the sisters, Charlotte and Emily Bronte.
I recommend this book to lovers of history and madness.