80. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte (1847)

I blow hot and cold about Wuthering Heights. At various points in my life I’ve thought it’s the best of the Bronte novels; at other times, I just want to attack it with a pencil and  scalpel. There’s no doubting the miraculous achievement of Emily Bronte’s imagination, and the weird power of Cathy and Heathcliff’s doomed love, filtered through the multiple narratives. But in other ways I think the book’s a frustrating mess. I just can’t get interested in much of what happens after the death of Cathy – and that’s at least half of the book. Heathcliff is really exciting to start off with, but he ends up as a tiresome old windbag as the dramatic impetus dribbles away to nothing. I understand why people adore Wuthering Heights, and I’m totally up there on the moors with the hand beating at the windowpane etc, but for me the book is less than the sum of its parts. I think this explains why all the screen and stage adaptations, with the possible exception of the Olivier-Oberon one, have been so rotten.

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Filed under My top 100 novels

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