February 25, 2014

Book Club

We read Wuthering Heights for February's book club.

I'd never read it, nor seen any of the movies. 

But somewhere along the line, I'd heard about the dark and dreamy Heathcliff.  And his love for Catherine.  I had a picture of the grave with his name in my mind as well.

I thought I'd signed up to read a classic romantic tale.  You know what?  I had no idea what this book was about.

While there were a few moments of tenderness and love, for the most part, it was a dark and sad tale of mental illness, alcoholism, hurtful behavior, oppression of women, child-abuse, and just general sad human reality.  The mental and physical violence were staggering.

Also, the writing was difficult.  Unlike our last two books, The Great Gatsby or Age of Innocence, none of us had any favorite passages we wanted to read aloud to the group.

I'm glad I finally read it, discussed it with my book club, and now have my own opinions about it.  But truly, I'm perplexed at how this book became known as a romantic classic.

There is very little about it that is romantic at all.  If anything, the most impressive part is how Emily Bronte writes such believably bi-polar and alcoholic characters a full 45 years before Freud even begins his foray into psychoanalysis.

In short, this book was hard work.  I am glad I completed it, but I doubt I will return to it again.


Arvay said...

I think the romance that people associate with Wuthering Heights comes from the various movies, which lightened the cruelty.

I enjoyed the book, but didn't grow fond of any of the characters. Heathcliff is a cruel monster, Cathy senior is a selfish pain in the ass, and Cathy the younger, who is the delight of our narrator, is as spoiled and ridiculous as heroines come. The thoroughly contemptible Linton made me want to smack him, and the supposedly decent Edgar and Isabella were both insipid navel-gazing whiners. But I won't tell you how I really feel. :)

But the writing must have stood out for me, because I read the book when I was in high school, and I still vividly remember this entire contemptible ensemble of nutcases twenty years later...

bt said...

@Arvay -- thanks for sharing, as always!