I’ve decided to finally dive into some more gothic novels because I love the genre and I love weird stories. Since discovering that there’s so much more to the genre than just mysterious moors and manors, I’m curious to broaden my horizons. Of course, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte doesn’t branch out from what I’ve read so far. But after this I will.
A bachelor rents Thrushcross Grange for a year, seeking solitude after an embarrassing sort of fling. His landlord is the mysterious Heathcliff who lives at Wuthering Heights with his miserable daughter-in-law and the son of the former, and now deceased, master. While laid up with a cold, the bachelor convinces his housekeeper, Mrs. Ellen Dean, to relate the history of Heathcliff and Wuthering Heights. She weaves a tale of misery and abuse for everyone involved, starting with Heathcliff’s childhood there with Hindley and Catherine Earnshaw. Though Heathcliff and Catherine loved each other, Catherine ended up choosing to marry Edgar Linton and Heathcliff chose to pursue vicious revenge against everyone who slighted or wronged him, expecting to finally arrive at a place of satisfaction and peace.
I’m not sure I’d even read a synopsis of this book before diving in, I just knew it was a classic and is classified as a gothic novel. I wasn’t prepared for everyone to be awful. It’s actually a quite miserable story, with very little by way of happiness and goodness.
Told by way of a story from the housekeeper, readers don’t quite get inside the characters’ heads and we must realize that everything is colored by the housekeeper’s perception. However, as one who at one point or another loved each primary character, we’re led to believe that she is about as honest a narrator as one could hope for.
Unlike some older novels, this one doesn’t seem to get bogged down as much in wind-swept moor scenes, which helps keep the story moving quite quickly. I kept reading on, expecting some dramatic redemption arc to emerge, but it really didn’t. While I enjoyed the book, it’s definitely not a feel-good book and not the kind of thing to read if you’re already feeling down.