Wuthering Heights - Michael Page, Laural Merlington, Emily Brontë The REAL Housewives of Victorian England

Mr. Lockwood comes to Wuthering Heights in order to rent Thrushcross Grange. He gets stuck there, with Mr. Heathcliff, a rude gentleman, a young woman, and several other strange people. While there, he stumbles upon the diaries of Catherine Earnshaw. After a strange dream, he runs back to town, where Ellen Dean “Nelly” tells him the story of Wuthering Heights.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with a TV phenomenon called “reality TV shows”, particularly ones like “Jersey Shore” and “The Real Housewives of OC/Atlanta/wherever”. I think it would be a compliment to say these shows cater to the lowest common denominator. They are primarily packed with drunken escapades, unbridled fights, and lots and lots of sex. And you know what? People like these things because of the sheer stupidity. Hell, I’ll admit to watching a few episodes of Jersey Shore, and not just because it was the only thing on my hotel TV (although the latter is true too).

I’ve heard copious things about “Wuthering Heights”: it is a classic, it is a love story, it is wonderful literature, it has great imagery/themes. They may be true, but for me, “Wuthering Heights” is a freakin’ riot book—the Victorian equivalent of the reality TV shows we enjoy today.

The characters are vicious, back-biting dogs, continuously making life miserable for each other just for the hell of it. Catherine marries a man she sorta loves just for the title; Heathcliff has an insatiable thirst for revenge; Hindley is weak; Hareton is an evil child; Cathy a ditz; Linton a wuss; Edgar powerless; and Nelly a meddle-some gossip. Probably about the only character not painted in such a poor limelight is our narrator, Mr. Lockwood, who is boring beyond belief. Lock these characters up in a room, and expect them to rail and complain and slap the hell out of each other within moments. They are all sadists and masochists, and I’m not just talking about the obvious Heathcliff. They would make PERFECT fodder for a low-brow reality TV series—I can just see Isabella (post-marriage) b!tch-slapping Heathcliff, Heathcliff and Edgar tearing off each other’s shirts and brawling on the living room floor, and Linton and Cathy slipping off to nail each other in one of their rooms.

For those that say this is a great love story: Huh? I mean, I get that Heathcliff and Catherine “love” each other, but it almost feels like more “obsessively lusting”. As for Isbella loving Heathcliff, he doesn’t turn around, love her and marry her; instead, she lives in abuse until she finally grows a pair and runs off. Linton and Cathy are constantly being thwarted in their relationship, and it is Heathcliff who forces them to marry. And on…and on… It’s more of a “How NOT to Love” story than a pure romantic love story, like “Pride and Prejudice”. NOTE: If you love A so much, marry A. Do NOT marry B and then excuse it by saying you “love” A so much that you want to *fill*in*the*blank* for A.

Also, I found myself wondering several times: how much of this story is Nelly warping? Is she purposefully making these people look bad (even her own mistress, Catherine, she insults regularly)? What parts did she not hear? How would things have been different had she kept her big nose out of the drama?

All the complaints I’ve read are 100% true. The characters are vile and overdramatic; their actions are drastically mean and seem bent for the sole purpose of causing more drama; the framing device threatens to fall apart (particularly when Cathy is narrating through Nelly who is narrating through Mr. Lockwood—can’t tell you how many times I forgot who the “I” was).

All the compliments I’ve read are also 100% true. The writing is very well-done, the story is interesting, the characters are different and not stereotypical, the outcome isn’t predictable, and the imagery is vivid and dark.

In short: No wonder this was such a controversial book when it first came out!

I think this book is definitely more interesting in audiobook format, because the author can differentiate voices, give inflections, and bring to life the arguments and vicious remarks that fly back and forth. Maybe I’m a sadist or masochist like the cast, but I rather enjoyed being a fly on the wall, listening to Nelly’s gossip about these sad people and their self-induced miserable lives. It’s not a book for everyone, but it’s definitely one of a kind.