One of my quarantine books was Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. I had gotten it through a Blind Date With a Book program from another library, taken in by the vague promise of a semi-haunted gothic manor in the countryside. Imagine my surprise when I unwrapped it to find Wuthering Heights. They tricked me into taking out a classic!
Wuthering Heights is a book that I somehow never read in school, and something that never sounded appealing to me – the idea of a tragic romance wasn’t really my style, and I was used to seeing romanticized images of the famed characters of the story, Cathy and Heathcliff. However, I was determined to finally read it, and what better time to do so than when you’re stuck indoors most of the day due to quarantine?
I was wrong about this book. It’s not a romance. There is romance of a sort in here, but this is a dark, bleak book, and very uncomfortable. It’s a book about abuse, anger, obsession, and revenge. It’s difficult to like any of the characters in the book save maybe a few – and even there I’m not quite sure. Because of the subject matter, it wasn’t an easy book to read. I’m not even sure I can honestly say I enjoyed reading it. Do we ever really enjoy reading or watching difficult, dark things? But I don’t think that makes them any less worthy of our attention.
So, how do I feel about it? This is a question I’ve been thinking over the past few days since finishing the book. I believe I liked the book, in a sense. I feel it was a good book, perhaps even a great book. I don’t know if I’ll ever revisit it because it was so dark. But I’m glad that I read it, and when a book has you thinking about it days after you’ve finished, I think that says something about it. There’s a sort of wildness to the book that is difficult to explain.
Included in my edition were a couple forwards by Charlotte Brontë, author of Jane Eyre and perhaps the most famous Brontë sibling. It also included an introduction by another author. All of this was interesting to read in order to get an insight in both Emily Brontë’s life and of the entire Brontë family. This has made me a whole lot more interested in learning more about the family, and of Emily Brontë.
If you ask me in a week, or in a month, or in a year, it wouldn’t shock me if my opinion of this book changes over time. I do recommend checking it out at some point if this book at all intrigues you (maybe not during quarantine – perhaps go for something lighter!). And if you do end up reading it, I’d also recommend looking up Kate Beaton’s funny webcomic portrayals of scenes from the book in her comic Hark! A Vagrant.
– Anne, BPL