3 out of 5 stars
This is really more like 2.5 stars, but I gave it an extra half a star because it is a classic. But honestly, I disliked this book, very much. I just...I don't know, I think I read a different book than those who have professed *absolute love* for it. I was expecting this epic romance, especially after Lennie claimed it as her favorite book ever that she had read 23 times. But this is not a story of romance and love. It's a story of revenge and hate. I think if I had gone in knowing this, I would have liked it better. But, as I did not, I felt duped. So, in case you haven't read it and are looking for "true love" and happy, lightheartedness...this ain't it, keep on moving. Romeo & Juliet is more lighthearted than this. ;)
First of all, it's confusing as crap. The beginning of the book is actually the end of the story and the dude talking, Lockwood, is not even part of the story. He just happens along and is interested, so he gets the housekeeper, Nelly, to spill everything she knows. Not that it was hard to do, Nelly is a big old gossip. To make it interesting, let's pretend she's Dorota from Gossip Girl (please no spoilers though, as I am horribly behind lol), but not as willing to be nice and helpful.
Second, everyone has three different names...there are 2 Catherine's, several Linton's & Earnshaw's (first and last name), and I don't know what else. Maybe they only had about 5 choices for names back then, but it was super confusing. And then there's the characters themselves. Aside from Nelly/Dorota, there was maybe one other character that I didn't despise. I can't even say I liked them, I just didn't despise them as much as the rest. I understand that it was Bronte's intent to make truly unlikeable people and let me just say, she succeeded. They were selfish, spoiled, cruel, vindictive...I could go on, but why bother? And that's just the 2 main characters, the love interests, Heathcliff & Catherine. Yikes.
What about the story, you ask? Well, try to keep up, because I'm going to run thru this fast and furious. Heh. Heathcliff (I'd call him Chuck, but as there is only one Heathcliff, that wouldn't make much sense...but this whole review won't make sense, so I'll go for it), the "hero" of the story, is a little orphan ruffian that Catherine #1's (let's call her Blair just for funsies) father brought home when she was little. There are theories that Chuck is actually Blair's half-brother, which ew. Blair & Chuck grew up together, starting out as brother & sister types, but it grew into an obsessive, consuming type of love. That love was stifled though when Blair started growing up and into her "society" role more while Chuck grew more into a heathen. He did try at one point to be better for her though..."Nelly, make me decent, I'm going to be good." But it was no use, Blair's heart was still with him, but her mind had moved on to bigger and better and she married her neighbor, Edgar Linton. (Nate)
It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him; and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.
Chuck freaks and runs off and then comes back a few years later, wealthy, handsome, and bent on revenge. He wants everyone to suffer like he did or he'll die trying. Over-dramatic much? "Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living; you said I killed you--haunt me, then! The murdered do haunt their murderers, I believe. I know that ghosts have wandered on earth. Be with me always--take any form--drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!"
Are you totally confused yet? ;) It gets better/worse. Nate has a sister, Isabella, who for some stupid reason, falls in love with Chuck (before finding out his true nature) and marries him. Blair & Nate have a daughter, Catherine #2 or um....Serena? Sure, why not. Then Chuck & Isabella have a son, Dan. (I can't even remember his real name at this point.) Blair dies shortly after childbirth, Isabella runs away from Nate before their son is born and dies when Dan is 10 or so. Oh wait, I forgot about Blair's brother, um, crap I can't remember his name either, let's call him Eric. Eric had a kid somehow too, named Hareton. (actual name...I'm running out of GG names, so let's just stick with that) I'm not really sure when or how Hareton came about, to be honest. Eric is even meaner and more violent than Chuck, if that's possible.
(awesome comic strip from Hark, A Vagrant...
So, we've got Nate & Serena (which is kind of awkward now that I think about it, but oh well) living at Thrushcross Grange and Chuck, Eric, Hareton, & this old crotchety guy named Joseph, that speaks gibberish half the time (seriously, I skipped over most of his speeches), living at Wuthering Heights. Eric dies at some point and thanks to a serious gambling problem, leaves his entire estate to Chuck. Dan is supposed to move in with Nate & Serena after his mother dies, but after Chuck finds out about him, forces Dan to live with him and his merry men. Dan spends one day with Serena, but it's enough to make the two fall in love. Psshhh...they're like 10 & 12 or something. Dan is a weakling, so he doesn't do well with Chuck. Serena is just as much of a spoiled brat as her mother, gets her way with everything, plus Dorota is getting on in years (like 45), so she can't keep up. Serena runs into Dan again one day a few years later and decides that she loves him (I know they've all been sequestered in the country for years, but falling for the first guy you see? Kind of weird.). She also meets Hareton (who is maybe 5 years older?) and teases him mercilessly about his poor upbringing and inability to read. And she doesn't care that he's technically her cousin. (Important point for later)
So, we've got Dan & Serena in love sort of, Nate trying to keep the two apart but obviously not succeeding, Chuck trying to keep the two together (revenge reasons), and Dorota screwing everything up as much as possible. Nate gets sick and dies, Serena & Dan get married (although Serena has realized what a miserable sap Dan is), forced pretty much by Chuck, they all move into Wuthering Heights, everyone is miserable. There's lots of abuse: physical, emotional, animal. It's awful and makes you miserable too. Maybe that was Bronte's whole point? Dan dies, because he's a weakling, Serena is left all alone with Chuck & Joseph (who is still mumbling) & Hareton, who she starts to see some promise in. Unfortunately, Hareton hates her after all her abuse over the years. Nelly convinces him to give her a chance, the two start to fall for each other (COUSINS! Remember??!), Chuck is super pissed, but can't stop it, so embraces it sort of. Actually, I don't really know what happens, but he kind of goes crazy, literally, towards the end and then he dies. Serena & Hareton are the only ones left (except for old Joseph & Nelly, who I totally think hooked up) so they decide to get married. Seems logical. And that's it.
xoxo, you know you love me.
And a name glossary, in case you got totally confused :) Plus, an awesome family tree by RachelKiwi that I could have used at the beginning of the book!
Catherine 1 Earnshaw--Blair
Catherine 2 Linton--Serena