Apparently, 2019 is the Year of Re-Reads for me. There are a lot of books I plan to revist this year – a dedicated post will shortly follow – and the Brontës are at the top of my list. I finished reading their novels in the summer of 2017. I miss them. A lot. As I’m studying Emily’s Wuthering Heights into two weeks time, I thought now would be the perfect time to start this journey again!
So, I’ve already reviewed Wuthering Heights, as well as all the other Brontë novels (I actually have a page dedicated to my Brontë posts, so maybe have a gander when you’re free), so this will be more a discussion than anything else.
I specifically wanted to annotate my book during this re-read. I previously annotated the Wordsworth Classics edition but I was reckless back then: neon highlighters and rough handwriting. It isn’t pretty. I want a matching set with thoughtful comments, neat underlining and the occasional heart next to my favourite passages. So, long story short, I bought the Penguin Classics edition as the paper is quite thick (so the pen doesn’t seep through) and the margins are quite large, allowing me room to write all my thoughts down.
This was my third time visiting Catherine and Heathcliff and, I think, it might just be my favourite. I somehow love the book even more. I didn’t think it was possible. I noticed so many minor things, such simple things, that make the story what it is. As I already knew the story, I was able to focus on the irrelevant details, like character descriptions, or Nelly being a substitute mother to literally everyone in the novel. I found so much more to love about this story because I wasn’t focused on what was about to happen.
I must say, I really loved the first generation this time round. Usually, the second gen, with Cathy II, Linton and Hareton, is my favourite part of the story. I find that there is so much tucked into that section: social, historical, political and cultural context. As an English student, it is my first port of call. However, this time round, I enjoyed spending my time with Catherine and Heathcliff. I found their relationship more compelling this time round. Emily takes love, a thing which is so mundane, and spins it into something unhealthy and obsessive. It’s passionate but for all the wrong reasons.
For a novel full of detestable characters, Emily’s writing is filled with so much life, so much passion, and so much depth, that you cannot help but feel for the characters and their situations. Not for one moment do I want Catherine and Heathcliff to end up together (
quite frankly, I don’t think Catherine deserves to end up with Edgar either. He’s far too good for her), but I can somehow understand their relationship, and I want it to find some sort of happy medium. A harmony or balance, I guess you could say?
To close up this rather long ramble, I read the book in light of Alison Case’s Nelly Dean: A Return to Wuthering Heights. Case hones in on a fleeting idea that Hindley and Nelly have feelings for each other. I had never really picked up on that before in the original, so with this in mind, I decided to read the book from that perspective and it was really interesting. I can’t stay too much without spoiling Case’s novel, but I think she nailed her re-imagining perfectly. I couldn’t help but imagine the way Case described Nelly, and told her backstory, in relation to the original. I definitely suggest reading it if you’re a fan of Wuthering Heights!
I don’t think I’ve discussed much here actually; it seems like this is yet another ramble than something coherent, but I thought I’d let my thoughts fly away with me. I hope it was okay. Not too jumpy or awry. I just wanted to talk about my re-read! Have you read Wuthering Heights? What do you think of it? If not, what’s your favourite Brontë read? I’d love to know!
Thanks for reading, Lauren Xx