Monday, August 18, 2014

Be honest – what do you think of Wuthering Heights?

I first read Wuthering Heights when I was 19, expecting it to be a blockbusting romantic tale of passionate love that would blow me away. It wasn’t, and it didn’t, and I hated it. I am reading it 40-odd years later and now I just find it tiresome, and if I wasn’t reading it for homework I’d have long since given up. As it is, I am half way through, Cathy has just died, and I am having a rant about the whole affair before I carry on. Now I see the book as a study in the long term effects of child abuse and neglect: it is precisely the kind of novel I would avoid, whoever wrote it and however many prizes it had won.

Aug 2010 004

Homework?  I am going on a residential screenwriting course next week and one of the tutors has asked that we read WH, and watch the acclaimed 2011 film version (yes, that really dark one) in preparation. By the way, I just googled the film to find a link for you and in the blurb under the search results it described it as “the greatest love story ever told.” Love? Really? it’s not my idea of love.

When I finished reading Unless last week, I looked at reviews on Amazon and as always, for some ghoulish pleasure, checked out the one star reviews. I’ve realised that most readers who write one star reviews of well-written novels just don’t “get” the book. And I’m wondering how many stars I would give WH if I were reviewing it on Amazon.

This second time around I am expecting nothing in terms of enjoyment, and am trying to view the book in terms of the quality of the writing, and how I would adapt it for the screen. But I do hope I’m not the only one on the course next week who detests the novel.

I haven’t forgotten Gaza. On Saturday, I went on a local demo to encourage people to boycott Israeli goods. A man wearing a grey suit and an angry red face shouted at us - “You dirty scum-bags!”

Who did he think he was? A character from Wuthering Heights?


Anonymous said...

I couldn't have said it better myself! I always thought that maybe I was missing something. I'm glad to know it's not just me. Liz from Kentucky!

Sue Hepworth said...

Phew. This post has been up two days and at last someone has come out and agreed.

lyn said...

WH is one of my favourite novels, I've read it many times. I agree with you about the romance label. I haven't thought of it as romantic since my teenage years (& then I was probably influenced by the 1939 movie with Laurence Olivier). Heathcliff is a brute & both Cathys are pretty unsympathetic characters. I love the strangeness of it & the way EB uses language, especially her use of local stories & ballads. The structure of the book is so intricately planned with Lockwood's narrative framing Nelly's with other narratives inside that like Isabella's letter & her story of how she escaped the Heights. It's not unusual to dislike WH though, I have lots of friends in an online reading group who really dislike it. Maybe you're in the majority, Sue!

Sue Hepworth said...

Thanks for your comments, Lyn. It's really interesting to hear from someone who likes the book, and their reasons.