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This is one of those classics I was never able to get very far into. The first time I got the whole gist of the story was watching the Olivier-Oberon film some time back, which surprised me with how much I disliked every single soul in the story.
Last year I finally got determined to crack the shell of this thing and listen to the audiobook. Heck, I thought, I listened to one of my most-hated-books-ever, Tess of the Durbervilles, and ended up appreciating it; surely it would work with Wuthering Heights.
Which is nothing against the narrator. Anne Flosnik was the only good thing about the experience: she was excellent.
But the book made me want to bang my head against a wall until it was over. I am glad I finally completed it. It's a good thing to have under my belt. But the one-word review I posted when I was done was, quite simply, "Phew". it was my expression of amazement at how awful it was - and, more, my relief at being through. Put it this way: there was a very high body count in this book – it was one grim death after another. But I didn't mind so much in WH because, as in the long-ago-seen movie, I hated every single character. They were either so weak that a mouse sneeze would knock them over, or strong in the way that a serial killing psychopath is strong. So there was me listening to the book thinking “Yes! Die! Die! Die!”
I honestly don't know if I've read and enjoyed a book where I've been unable to like anyone involved. And here it was beyond simply not liking anyone – this was a pulsating loathing. I don't know if I'd be able to like this one even if some of the characters were more amiable – there was another big factor in my loathing of this book: the utterly impenetrable dialect. Now, I can usually manage accents, especially British accents of all types. I love 'em. But my lord. A random sample that I pulled out: 'Ony books that yah leave, I shall tak' into th' hahse,' said Joseph, 'and it'll be mitch if yah find 'em agean; soa, yah may plase yerseln!' On paper, I can read that without such a problem. Aloud? It might as well have been Bantu.
Kind of thought it might be now and then.
But no. Hateful characters and impenetrable accents aside, this thing was just so unremittingly bleak, so grim and ugly … Heathcliff hanged Isabella’s dog. As a warning. And now if someone could explain to me why he’s considered (from Wikipedia): “an archetype of the tortured romantic hero”...
There is more to the word “romantic” than the common usage. I know that. What frightens me is the people who don’t know that, and still call Heathcliff a romantic hero. I would as soon call Ted Bundy a romantic hero.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to Wuthering Heights the most enjoyable?
I love the overall atmosphere of this story. It's quite different from the original Laurence Olivier-Merle Oberon movie. ( I haven't seen the latest reincarnation.) Cathy Earnshaw is not in half of the book and new characters that I didn't know come to life.
What other book might you compare Wuthering Heights to and why?
I compare this to Dracula as a mood piece. Even though one is much more paranormal, this book has it's share of weird goings on.
What does Anne Flosnik bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
She is quite good at the accents. My only problem is her Heathcliff was a bit of a dullard, only complaint. She does a wonderful Nellie Deane and Joseph.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I cry during the movie every time I see it. This book didn't make me cry so it didn't have the same impact on me. Wonderful story though.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Yes, if you want a book with plenty of character evaluation, this is it
Which scene did you most enjoy?
No particular scene can be singled out
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
It's a book where different emotions are felt along the way.
Any additional comments?
This is a must read for anyone who likes classics, but as Joseph, the servant at Wuthering Heights, can be difficult to read if you're not familiar with his strong accent, it's better to listen to the book. When I read it back in 1979, Joseph was the character I struggled with.
I have given the performance a lower rating. Anne Flosnik would be good for a more gentler story, but you do need a more powerful male or female reader for a story like this, given Heathcliff's brutal and vengeful characteristic. I hope to try the Juliet Stephenson reading at some stage. Anne Flosnik fell short of my expectations especially in the scene where young Cathy and Nelly are imprisoned by Heathcliff, who wants Cathy to marry Linton. At the time, Cathy is angry and distraught, especially given that her father is at death's door and I felt that more could have been made of her voice. Cathy's "We will go" needs to sound as if she really means business.