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Review originally posted A Frolic Through Fiction: [...]

Well didn’t THIS take me by surprise!

I did not expect to enjoy this quite as much as I did. Wow.

Right. So the main thing that puts me off reading classics is the amount of effort it takes me to read them compared to my usual books because of the difference in language. Yes , I know it is more educational for me to read more complex books occasionally. But when I read for enjoyment, sometimes I just don’t want that extra struggle. And by sometimes I mean most of the time. But this book was nowhere near as difficult to understand as I thought it would be! Of course, it did take me longer to read because it was still different, but I’ve read classics that are much denser and feel like mud to get through. This didn’t. At all. Especially with the note pages at the back of the book to help you through some of the language meanings.

Honestly, I think the only time I’d struggle was when one character in particular would talk – Joseph. Dear lord, did that man have a thick accent! Half the time I had no idea what he’d be rambling on about, but like I said, the note pages are there (in this edition, at least) to help you through. I swear, most of the notes are just devoted to translating his accent and phrases!

Enough about accents though.

This book grabbed my attention from the start. It’s told in a very interesting way – and this is where I try my best to describe it to you guys while probably confusing everyone. I apologise in advance. So, you read the book from Mr Lockwood’s point of view, as he’s hearing the story of Catherine and Heathcliff through the housekeeper, Mrs Dean. If that makes sense. So you start at “present day” (though obviously not OUR present day), then go back a few years to the beginning of the story, and gradually make your way back to “present day”. If that confused you, I’m sorry for my awful explaining skills – but I promise it all makes perfect sense when you read it! What I’m basically trying to say though is that it doesn’t just feel like a random story, but you’re discovering it for a reason.

Also, the perspective you’re reading from isn’t the main character – or even a side character – but more of a…bystander? I don’t think I’ve read a book from that point of view before!

As for the actual story, although it’s by no means as action based and thrilling as most of the books I read, it was highly entertaining for me. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the Victorian drama! And yes, I say Victorian drama specifically, because everything was so much more dramatic during those times. If you look at someone without smiling, you’re basically the devil’s spawn and have no soul. I mean, look at this. One character was looking after another while they were ill, and here’s how it was described…

“His health and strength were being sacrificed to preserve a mere ruin of humanity.”

I know it’s probably wrong, but I can’t help but be amused by phrases like that! The book is so dramatic, and yet if the events happened nowadays, it’d hardly be anything. And yet everything seems like a shocking downright disgrace to humanity, purely because that’s how the book is written. And it was sort of nice to see how everything – every word, every action, every meal or object or journey – meant so much more back then. It made me feel like I was living in the Victorian times, and with how much I adore history, that’s a massive bonus to me.

At first I was VERY confused about how all the characters were related. So, so confused. But about halfway through it all became clear in an instant. That moment, oh how it felt like a ray of light burst through the clouds fogging my mind . I couldn’t make sense of it before, but just went with it and continued enjoying the story regardless, and then suddenly another person comes into play and CLICK everything suddenly makes sense.

I actually said aloud “OHHHH NOW I GET IT”

So other than the original confusion with the relations of the characters and the struggles of understanding Joseph’s accent, I had no other problems with this book. I loved the drama, I loved the gothic feeling surrounding the (very highly detailed) settings, and I loved seeing the difference between the society then and now.

I feel like this book is a great place to start if you want to get into classics. I mean, that’s what I’m trying to do, and it’s certainly worked for me! I honestly think this is my favourite classic so far (along with Pride and Prejudice).
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Like many people this isn’t the first time I have read this, and of course won’t be my last, as this is a story that seemingly captivates so many people throughout the world. One of the most original, indeed possibly the most original story in the English language, Emily Bronte’s only novel is a pure masterpiece and a pleasure to read.

Opening in 1801 the story then goes back through the last quarter of the 18th Century, and then up to the present, finishing as it does in 1802. Set on the moors and taking in two households, Wuthering Heights, and Thrushcross Grange this story broods menace and isolation. Although the nearest village is Gimmerton this does not really appear in this tale, although some of the characters do make trips to it and further afield. Despite the expanses of the moors and two largish houses as settings for this tale, in many ways the whole story is quite claustrophobic. As Mr Lockwood takes up tenancy in Thrushcross Grange he sets out to visit his landlord, Mr Heathcliff, whom he finds rather surly and disagreeable. From Mrs Dean the housekeeper of the Grange he finds out the recent history of these two houses, and their respective owners and families.

It all begins though with the appearance of the foundling who is called Heathcliff. Taking in love, jealousy, hatred, emotional blackmail, dysfunction and vengeance this is a story that will hold you breathless, no matter how many times you read it. From what could be an interesting story full of incident and jollity, Emily Bronte instead creates something that is gothic, dark, menacing and brooding. As we see the original characters become bitter and twisted we see how their actions also have repercussions for the newborn generation, leading to a seemingly unstoppable cycle that leads straight to Hell. Can this cycle be broken, or is it doomed to perpetuate itself?

Although on first publication no one could dispute the masterful writing and passion in this book it did create quite a bit of controversy, as Emily Bronte delved deep into the roots of our psyche to create some wonderfully dark characters and situations and shining a light on what can go on behind closed doors. Something like this we take in our stride and recognise in our day and age, but it was something that was kept hidden away and bottled up in the 19th Century.

This edition does contain footnotes, but although they look as if they should be active ones due to the way they are set out, they are not, so please be warned that you cannot click on one and find the relevant information. There is also a section of suggested questions for reading groups, which I must admit I don’t know whether any groups ever use anyway.
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on 1 September 2011
"Wuthering Heights"' attraction lies in its mystique - this is a book quite unlike any other, with a plot line that challenges the concept of a novel. It is true that none of the characters are likeable but there is a longing for redemption throughout the book that tempts the reader into entertaining the idea of hope and forgiveness. The book cannot be read in the context of more conventional novels even of its own period, there is no real plot beyond a chronological narrative of births and deaths, yet this novel is important in its fearless depiction of man's inhumanity to man.

There are some negative aspects to the novel's plot, such as the reader being left completely at a loss as to the matter of Heathcliffe's new found fortune, and from a general perspective it seems unrealistic that such a bunch of people could co-exist in the same setting at all. Hindley Ershaw lost his land through gambling with Heathcliffe, but it seems very unlikely that Heathcliffe would ever approach a man he hated and suggest a game of cards, let alone play into the early hours of the morning. Lynton Heathcliffe as a character is somewhat surplus to requirement, he quickly dies off without having materialised into a character either inheriting his father's captivation or having achieved redemption on his father's behalf through his own good nature. Two families as so interwoven and yet mutually hateful would be hard pressed to live or visit each other let alone sit together on the hearth and constantly damn each other to hell.

On the positive side the novel is carnal, demonic, attractive, dark - it is far from boring. This is a book whose main selling point is its uniqueness. The narrative structure is well written and refreshing even by today's standards.

Don't buy this book if you're looking for happy endings - you will, however, find a novel that is soulless yet seeking love, and hopeless but seeking of redemption. A truly unique novel and a masterpiece of English literature.
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on 20 July 2011
There wasn't as much romance as I thought there would be, but that doesn't mean it was a fantastic book. The characters are wonderfully flawed! Cathy (Earnshaw/Linton) is a selfish young girl who loves Heathcliff with a furious passion, yet marries Edgar Linton because he is safe and secure. Despite choosing Linton, she still is furiously jealous of her sister-in-law, Isabella, who seems to love Heathcliff. Heathcliff himself is probably, and rather strangely, the character I felt most sympathetic towards. He was brought up to be a gentleman but when his foster father dies, his foster brother treats him as if he were a devil, separating him from Cathy. People, even Cathy, begin to treat him like dirt, so of course he wants revenge on them all. Yet even though he is full of hatred, he still manages to love the selfish and undeserving Cathy. Linton is a very flawed character; noble, kind, yet has no warm blood in his body, cries pathetically, and has no back bone. He judges Heathcliff for no reason but of his appearance, and marries Cathy knowing she loves Heathcliff.

But by far the best character is Nelly (Ellen). She's not biased in her story telling: she disliked Cathy for her selfishness and how she treated Heathcliff and Linton. I loved this because you would have expected her to like Cathy, somehow.

Well, there are enough reviews for you to see this book is good. I just added my to the pile.
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on 26 October 2012
Of the two student editions available on Kindle, the Oxford World's Classics edition is the better printed having no misprints/typos; unlike the rival Penguin Classics edition which is quite careless in this respect, (like a lot of other Penguin Classics.) However, be warned that the Oxford edition does not have the advantage of the usual Kindle Interlink which would take you to the end notes and back to the text quickly. Instead, the reader will have to bookmark the notes at the end of the book. If Amazon could correct this flaw, the Oxford edition would be a winner in the e-book market for the serious student, as it has a good introduction, bibliography,and a reliable text based on the standard edition. And the notes, when you get to them, are excellent, especially since they include translations of dialect speech.

P.S. As the above review makes clear, Amazon (!), I was discussing the Penguin and OWC editions of the novel. As usual Amazon fail to discriminate which edition is under review. I have now purchased the Norton International edition on kindle annd would like to request that more Norton Critical editions be made available on kindle. The current selection available is an odd mixture of well known and obscure titles. More Jane Austen and Henry James would be welcome, for example. This edition of Wuthering Heights has everything a student could want, with the kindle bonus of a selection of typefaces and print sizes. A pity the editor is from 'Wasington' according to the title page.
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VINE VOICEon 4 February 2014
Surely everybody knows the story to Brontë's Wuthering Heights, have at some point become aware of the ferocious Heathcliff and the stubborn Cathy. What you'll find here isn't a retelling, but a wonderfully accessible edition of one of the great classics in English Literature. The story itself is timeless, atmospheric, creepy and at times shocking enough to effect the most modern of readers. Accompanied with a biography of the author, a timeline of events pertaining to the story and initial publication of it and also enough footnotes to keep you informed, this is a very comprehensive and well rounded edition of a marvellous classic.
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on 4 September 2009
There are probably all sorts of misconceptions about this book by those who've never read it - certainly I had a preconceived idea which bore no relation at all to the reality. The story of Catherine and Heathcliff is generally thought of as one of the great love stories and, though it is, it is a very dark and twisted love - Romeo and Juliet this ain't!
Their love is wild, fevered, uncontrollable, possibly unconsumated and utterly doomed, and as characters they pretty dispicable - jealous, selfish, manipulative and, in Heathcliff's case, violent, abusive and extraordinarily vindictive. When Gordon Brown was asked which literary character he most resembled, he cited Heathcliff. He obviously hadn't read the bits where Heathcliff physically and mentally abuses children and women and, at one point, stamps on another man's head! The setting is bleak, Gothic and otherworldly, with none of the cosiness of Pride and Prejudice or the sweet, God-fearing goodness of Jane Eyre.
There are problems with the novel - it has a non-linear structure which, while groundbreaking, is at times hard to follow, and it seems almost as if, towards the end, Emily Bronte is getting bored of the whole business. But although flawed, it is nevertheless breathtakingly, dementedly brilliant, and not quite like anything else.
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on 23 April 2015
First read this many years ago for GCE 'O' Level - wonderful book -still one of the best of its kind.
Always amazes me how this family managed to write such soul-searching, enervating literature when they were mainly marooned on the Yorkshire Moors.
Knocks modern novels into a cocked-hat - there is NO overt sexual prose, but, my goodness, it is there, expressed in strong, dynamic terms.
Cathy & Heathcliff, what a duo.
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on 11 April 2016
I have read this classic in hardback & paperback & decided to get it in Kindle. I am glad I did - it is one of the greatest novels in world literature. I have only given it 4 stars as a note of caution : the few illustrations are not at all clear & all except one were of red indians hunting buffalo - unless my eyes are playing up!
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on 5 March 2013
I will keep my review short, as I imagine everything that can be said regarding the story has been.

Having been forced to sit through hours of period dramas as a child, thanks to my mother, I previously had something of an aversion to this kind of book - how wrong I was! I'm a bit of a dunce when it comes to literature, but here's my thoughts:

This has to be one of the most intense reads out there: the characters, the setting and the story itself. Bronte's prose is so poetic, if you aren't used to reading older novels it can slow you down a bit: at 245 pages it is a short book, but it took me a few days and I did have to refer to a dictionary more than once.

I found it a very atmospheric read, the descriptions are very evocative throughout. The moors and weather drive the imagery so well and most people know the symbolism; comparing Heathcliff's character to the elemental harshness of the landscape.

The characters are also very complex, no one stands out as particularly likeable. This is something noticeably missing in a lot of modern novels - not to mention movies - that need to define the 'good guy'. Heathcliff especially, invoking many different emotions throughout the story - ranging from pity to outright dislike!

I highly recommend Wuthering heights to anyone, even if it is outside of your usual reading material - it is short enough to keep you interested and could well improve your intellect and vocabulary, given the wonderfully poetic prose.

Buy it!
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