I’d been told that if I enjoyed Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, I’d love Wuthering Heights – and I certainly loved the writing. This passed the “I don’t want to go to sleep, I’m reading” test with flying colours.
The characters were all delightfully complex – both female protagonists were wilful, impulsive and emphatically not a literary description of the author. As in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, the structure is that of a man narrating a woman’s story, told from a woman’s point of view for most of the plot, which I find ambitious but both Brontë sisters manage it beautifully.
As in Jane Eyre, I found the intensity and the violence of the romance a little strange – but I suppose that’s a function of taste and custom. I also had some difficulties with the length of the plot – the first half was much stronger than the second. The latter half neatly completes the plot circle, but I felt that a tragic ending after the first half would also have been possible.
Of all the Brontë books I’ve read (so far I’ve skipped over Villette and The Professor), The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is still my favourite, but Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre vie for second place. Jane Eyre has a stronger plot, Wuthering Heights is much more fluently written – and all three thoroughly deserve their status as highlights of the literary canon.
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