Ahh British literature. It’s like an ice cold glass of lemonade on a hot day in the South: it’s utterly refreshing and makes you feel better about your day. Or at least that’s how I see it. And along with British Lit, I’m a huge sucker for star-crossed romance novels. Which is probably why my favorite book in the universe is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, which is what I am recommending to you today.
Wuthering Heights tells the story of Catherine Earnshaw and her family’s “adopted servant” Heathcliff. It’s like a reverse Cinderella story in which the female princess falls in love with the poor servant boy from the stables. However, no star crossed love story flows smoothly. They have quite a tumultuous love story and once Catherine realizes that she cannot marry Heathcliff, she berates him and leaves him out in the cold….literally. She marries Edgar Linton, a man of much higher standing but soon realizes the tragic mistake she has made. This realization leads to imminent disaster and one man’s journey for revenge against the family who made him feel less than noble.
The reason why I love this book so much is simply because of the story. I know there are hundreds of similar plots out there but this one just stands out above the rest. The Bronte sisters were two of the most talented writers of their time and the characteristic I love most about them is their ability to bring passion to the page. While reading this book, you can literally feel the passion and the desire between Heathcliff and Cathy. You can feel the love they have for one another and you feel their pain during their separation. In most books of this genre, you aren’t able to truly “feel” what the characters are feeling, which I feel is quite an important factor in reading. If you aren’t able to share the characters’ emotions, then you aren’t getting the full literary experience. You also aren’t getting your money’s worth. Or you wasted a swipe of the library card.
While there are about a million movie versions of this classic, my all time favorite is the 1970 adaptation starring Timothy Dalton (sigh) as Heathcliff. I believe this version captures the essence of the book better than all the rest. And Dalton embodies the character of Heathcliff and brings the right amount of vigor to the screen. My second favorite is the 1992 adaptation starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche. These are two of my favorite actors and they have such a great chemistry which makes the relationship between Heathcliff and Cathy so much more intense and passionate, which is how it should be.
My favorite quote from the book is spoken by Cathy during a secret conversation with her maid, Nelly. She speaks this when she realizes that she can’t marry Heathcliff, but the fact that she still loves him more than life itself captures her. “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” I mean does that not just make you weak in the knees? Forget Darcy and Cullen. I’m all about some Heathcliff.