184 of 204 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2006
This review is aimed more toward the Norton edition than to JANE EYRE. We all know this is a classic. Bronte was simply a genius and a harbinger of romantic, dramatic, gothic, and horror writing. (However, it still irks me that she couldn't end a simple sentence with a period. Every declarative statement, it seems, must be qualified with a colon or semi-colon. Oh well. Sign of the times.)
As for the Norton edition, it's the only one to buy. Bronte makes the assumption that you have read the Bible cover-to-cover a zillion times, and for those of us who have not read it through once, Norton's annotations are more than helpful---they're essential to understanding the novel's Christian allusions. This edition also provides the reader with critical essays, contexts of Bronte's life, Bronte's reactions to critics of her day, etc.
Bottom line: you can get the Dover Thrift edition for a couple bucks, but, if you are interested in giving this classic more than a cursory read, this edition is worth the extra money.
189 of 212 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2003
Rather than delve on the contents of this strangest and strongest of English novels, so intensely poetic in its haunting darkness and otherness, I'll comment briefly on the best editions available for a good first contact:
A) Text oriented editions (that is, editions with few materials added: normally an Introduction, annotation, and perhaps Charlotte's Peface and Biographical Notice and some bibliographical indications).
1. Oxford World's Classics: authoritative text, good annotation,
2. Penguin's Classics: same as above, everything looks a little shorter but is excellent nonetheless.
3. Wordsworth Classics edition. This would be a rather fine edition as befitting this collection, if it had a good 1847 text and not the heavily tampered-with Charlotte's 1850 edition. The text itself reflects accurately that of the 1900 Haworth Edition -a careful one-. The wording changes aren't perhaps so worrying nor is the toning-down of the dialectal tirades -although funny and useless-. What is worrying is the disappearance of more than six hundred paragrapph entries (I mean just the paragraphing, not the contents itself!), that makes for a different -and worse- reading experience. Very good and full -if brief- annotation. Mass-market, glued paperback.
4. Heather Glen's for Routledge. One of the finest text-oriented editions, especially for the excellent Introduction and Epilogue together with its good annotation, out-of-print for rather obscure reasons. If you find still a very good to fine copy at amazon Canadian branch (or at abebooks.com, it would be a good buy.
5. Orchises two-volume facsimile reprint of the 1847 edition. No notes nor any additional material. the books are well produced if a little expensive. Very interesting item, but only suitable for textual scholars or would-be scholars, or otherwise for fetish-oriented WH-maniacs.
B) Study-oriented editions (i.e. editions that contain additional contextual information: early reviews, selection of Emily's poems, critical essays, chronologies of the novel or of the Bronte family...).
6. Norton's Fourth Edition (current item): OK, the text is still a little idiosyncratic, but the notes are much improved, and so is everything else (with the anthology of poems, and the critical essays). A very fine study edition but also suitable for a first contact, although annotation is still on the scarce side. Good paperback production without flaps but signature-sewn (or so it seems) and good paper and printing quality (albeit with a rather small type).
7. Broadview edition by Beth Newman: it's one of the best study editions overall. There are some minor textual foibles and the annotation is decidedly scanty (to make amends for Heywood excesses) but good and accurate, and both Prof. Newman ecellent Introduction and the selection of the additional contextual material is, arguably, the finest ever (including the very interesting document on "Brain fever"). Materially speaking, it is a good paperback without flaps with good paper and printing quality (like Norton Critical, although I can't ascertain without tearing apart my copy of Beth Newman's that it be signature-sewn instead of glue-only "perfect binding). In any case a very good buy.
7. Alison Booth's for Longman Cultural. Other of the very best study editions available. The text is deadly acuurate -except for some 1850 unobtrusive detail- on the
Clarendon 1976 reference critical edition, although the punctuation -like Norton Critical, Broadview's Newman and Oneworld's one- has been silently lightened and modernized throughout. It looks like glue-only "perfect binding" paperback, but perhaps it is signature-sewn. Paper and printing quality are good enough. The only misgiving I have is the overdone fragmentation of contextual material (good and relevant material though it is): there are 40+ items, many of them very short or they wouldn't fit into 430 pages. One of the best possible buys.
8. Onewold's Classics edition. A fine paperback edition with flaps, very good paper and printing quality and (I rather surmise than know for sure) signature-sewn. The text looks like 1847 in paragraphing but it takes in too
many of 1850 "improvements" and is wrong at some places: it's short of a disaster, but rather non-reliable (in spite of the well-meant efforts by the almost anonymous editing panel who perpetrated it). Annotation is good and comprehensive enough, but the contextual material is rather scanty and run-of-the-mill non-commital.
9. Barnes&Noble's Tatiana Holway edition (hardcover). To say it promptly the only fault with this lovely edition (but, as stated above in wordsworth Classics edition, a really big fault) is its accurate and reliable 1850 Haworth Edition text. Other than this, it looks as a popularly oriented edition, but with quality marks. The Introduction by Daphne Merkin is good enough, the annotation by Holway is really excellent. Supplementary material is very scanty: the "Charlotte's prefatory materials" of 1850 (prefixed to the text, which is a pity), and some comments about film and TV adaptations as well as some chosen excerpts of reviews. Material production is outstanding: nice hardcover with dust jacket, good paper and printing quality, the only good available edition in a becoming format (Clarendon Edition is very hard to come by nowadays: say one to three years to pin it down). Don't forget the Franklin Mint editions of the sixties and seventies if you are interested in a very beautiful book with a reliable 1847 text and illustrations by Alan Reingold (and nothing else).
385 of 442 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2000
You know all those 'classic' novels you read in high school? How many of them do you actually remember? Well, if Jane Eyre was one of those long-forgotten books, pick up a copy. To read it as an adult is a joy: it's a sweeping, disturbing, intense, thrilling, very romantic gothic love story, written in the voice of a very intense, almost claustrophobically self-aware young heroine. Jane is no Ophelia - she's a complicated, remarkable character, and a very strong female character in a genre that usually draws women as beautiful victims at best.
There's something for everyone in this book: Windswept castles, difficult and neurotic family members, dark secrets about tragic former lovers, good triumphing over evil, all that good juicy stuff that makes a great romantic story. What elevates Jane Eyre is Bronte's remarkable style & skill and her sharp and complex characterizations.
Trust me on this: If you don't remember it from your teens, you should give it a try now. Here is one novel that more than lives up to it's 'classic' status.
520 of 602 people found the following review helpful
Published in 1847, WUTHERING HEIGHTS was not well received by the reading public, many of whom condemned it as sordid, vulgar, and unnatural--and author Emily Bronte went to her grave in 1848 believing that her only novel was a failure. It was not until 1850, when WUTHERING HEIGHTS received a second printing with an introduction by Emily's sister Charlotte, that it attracted a wide readership. And from that point the reputation of the book has never looked back. Today it is widely recognized as one of the great novels of English literature.
Even so, WUTHERING HEIGHTS continues to divide readers. It is not a pretty love story; rather, it is swirling tale of largely unlikeable people caught up in obsessive love that turns to dark madness. It is cruel, violent, dark and brooding, and many people find it extremely unpleasant. And yet--it possesses a grandeur of language and design, a sense of tremendous pity and great loss that sets it apart from virtually every other novel written.
The novel is told in the form of an extended flashback. After a visit to his strange landlord, a newcomer to the area desires to know the history of the family--which he receives from Nelly Deans, a servant who introduces us to the Earnshaw family who once resided in the house known as Wuthering Heights. It was once a cheerful place, but Old Earnshaw adopted a "Gipsy" child who he named Heathcliff. And Catherine, daughter of the house, found in him the perfect companion: wild, rude, and as proud and cruel as she. But although Catherine loves him, even recognizes him as her soulmate, she cannot lower herself to marry so far below her social station. She instead marries another, and in so doing sets in motion an obsession that will destroy them all.
WUTHERING HEIGHTS is a bit difficult to "get into;" the opening chapters are so dark in their portrait of the end result of this obsessive love that they are somewhat off-putting. But they feed into the flow of the work in a remarkable way, setting the stage for one of the most remarkable structures in all of literature, a story that circles upon itself in a series of repetitions as it plays out across two generations. Catherine and Heathcliff are equally remarkable, both vicious and cruel, and yet never able to shed their impossible love no matter how brutally one may wound the other.
As the novel coils further into alcoholism, seduction, and one of the most elaborately imagined plans of revenge it gathers into a ghostly tone: Heathcliff, driven to madness by a woman who is not there but who seems reflected in every part of his world--dragging her corpse from the grave, hearing her calling to him from the moors, escalating his brutality not for the sake of brutality but so that her memory will never fade, so that she may never leave his mind until death itself. Yes, this is madness, insanity, and there is no peace this side of the grave or even beyond.
It is a stunning novel, frightening, inexorable, unsettling, filled with unbridled passion that makes one cringe. Even if you do not like it, you should read it at least once--and those who do like it will return to it again and again.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
115 of 130 people found the following review helpful
There is a thin line between love and hate, and once Heathcliff crosses it, we see a grand, passionate and absorbingly interesting man turn into a fearsome thug. Thwarted in his love for his childhood soulmate, Catherine Earnshaw, Heathcliff turns his devastation outward, becoming a hateful -- and hated -- person all across the bleak moors that surround his Yorkshire village.
Heathcliff courts and marries the sister of the man whom Catherine chose over Heathcliff, only to torture her emotionally as a way of getting even with her brother. Meanwhile, Catherine slowly wastes away pining for Heathcliff, for although she once rejected him, she eventually realizes that she has made an irredeemable error and can never be happy. Heathcliff sums up the tragedy of their lives in a single question near the end of the novel when he asks, "Why did you betray your heart, Cathy?"
Sound depressing? It's not. Wuthering Heights is a grand and glorious novel that dramatically illustrates the power of love, for good and ill. But more importantly, it teaches us that the only path to happiness is to be true to one's heart, rather than one's head. Had Catherine honored her bond with Heathcliff and refused to bow to the social mores of her day, not only would the two of them been much happier, but all of the many people whose lives they stumbled into would have been much better off.
Another reviewer said that those of us who love this novel probably have a strong identification with one of the characters, and for me that is quite true. That's the reason for reading a classic like Wuthering Heights, because when it speaks to you in the clear and true way that Bronte does, you know that you are not alone, and that some things transcend time and place.
Think about it -- a prim, Victorian preacher's daughter living on the moors of England before there was electricity can reach across 150 years of time and speak to the heart of a wired American in the 21st century. Pretty amazing, and highly recommended.
241 of 278 people found the following review helpful
I first read "Jane Eyre" in eighth grade and have read it every few years since. It is one of my favorite novels, and so much more than a gothic romance to me, although that's how I probably would have defined it at age 13. I have always been struck, haunted in a way, by the characters - Jane and Mr. Rochester. They take on new depth every time I meet them...and their's is a love story for the ages.
Charlotte Bronte's first published novel, and her most noted work, is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story. Jane is plain, poor, alone and unprotected, but due to her fierce independence and strong will she grows and is able to defy society's expectations of her. This is definitely feminist literature, published in 1847, way before the beginning of any feminist movement. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the novel has had such a wide following since it first came on the market. It is also one of the first gothic romances published and defines the genre.
Jane Eyre, who is our narrator, was born into a poor family. Her parents died when she was a small child and the little girl was sent to live with her Uncle and Aunt Reed at Gateshead. Jane's Uncle truly cared for her and showed his affection openly, but Mrs. Reed seemed to hate the orphan, and neglected her while she pampered and spoiled her own children. This unfair treatment emphasized Jane's status as an unwanted outsider. She was often punished harshly. On one occasion her nasty cousin Jack picked a fight with her. Jane tried to defend herself and was locked in the terrifying "Red Room" as a result. Jane's Uncle Reed had died in this room a little while before, and Mrs. Reed knew how frightened she was of the chamber. Since Jane is the narrator, the reader is given a first-hand impression of the child's feelings, her heightened emotional state at being imprisoned. Indeed, she seems almost like an hysterical child, filled with terror and rage. She repeatedly calls her condition in life "unjust" and is filled with bitterness. Looking into the mirror Jane sees a distorted image of herself. She views her reflection and sees a "strange little figure," or "tiny phantom." Jane has not learned yet to subordinate her passions to her reason. Her passions still erupt unchecked. Her isolation in the Red Room is a presentiment of her later isolation from almost every society and community. This powerful, beautifully written scene never fails to move me.
Mrs. Reed decided to send Jane away to the Lowood School, a poor institution run by Mr. Brocklehurst, who believed that suffering made grand people. All the children there were neglected, except to receive harsh punishment when any mistake was made. At Lowood, Jane met Helen Burns, a young woman a little older than Jane, who guided her with vision, light and love for the rest of her life. Jane's need for love was so great. It really becomes obvious in this first friendship. Helen later died from fever, in Jane's arms. Her illness and death could have been avoided if more attention had been paid to the youths. Jane stayed at Lowood for ten years, eight as a student and two as a teacher. Tired and depressed by her surroundings, Jane applied for the position of governess and found employment at Thornfield. The mansion is owned by a gentleman named Edward Fairfax Rochester. Her job there was to teach his ward, an adorable little French girl, Adele. Over a long period the moody, inscrutable Rochester confides in Jane and she in him. The two form an unlikely friendship and eventually fall in love. Again, Jane's need for love comes to the fore, as does her passionate nature. She blooms. A dark, gothic figure, Rochester also has a heart filled with the hope of true love and future happiness with Jane. Ironically, he has brought all his misery, past and future, on himself.
All is not as it seems at Thornfield. There is a strange, ominous woman servant, Grace Poole, who lives and works in an attic room. She keeps to herself and is rarely seen. From the first, however, Jane has sensed bizarre happenings at night, when everyone is asleep .There are wild cries along with violent attempts on Rochester's life by a seemingly unknown person. Jane wonders why no one investigates Mrs. Poole. Then a strange man visits Thornfield and mysteriously disappears with Mr. Rochester. Late that night Jane is asked to sit with the man while the lord of the house seeks a doctor's help. The man has been seriously wounded and is weak from loss of blood. He leaves by coach, in a sorry state, first thing in the morning. Jane's questions are not answered directly. This visit will have dire consequences on all involved. An explosive secret revealed will destroy all the joyful plans that Jane and Rochester have made. Jane, once more will face poverty and isolation.
Charlotte Bronte's heroine Jane Eyre, may not have been graced with beauty or money, but she had a spirit of fire and was filled with integrity and a sense of independence - character traits that never waned in spite of all the oppression she encountered in life. Ms. Bronte brings to the fore in "Jane Eyre" such issues as: the relations between men and women in the mid-19 century, women's equality, the treatment of children and of women, religious faith and hypocrisy (and the difference between the two), the realization of selfhood, and the nature of love and passion. This is a powerhouse of a novel filled with romance, mystery and passions. It is at once startlingly fresh and a portrait of the times. Ms. Bronte will make your heart beat faster, your pulse race and your eyes fill with tears. The Best!!
118 of 135 people found the following review helpful
"Wuthering Heights," Emily Bronte's only published novel, is a saga of two Yorkshire families who live in the remote Pennine Hills of England's North Country. To me the book has always epitomized the best of gothic fiction. The narrative is filled with intensity of feeling, especially Heathcliff's passionate love for his Cathy and hers for him - a love which endures beyond the grave. More than would be lovers, however, the two are soul mates and have been since their childhood. Cathy once told Nelly, her servant and friend: "My greatest thought in living is Heathcliff. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be... Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure... but as my own being."
Yet, the novel is more than a love story. "Wuthering Heights" is about hatred, cruelty, delusion, frustrated yearning, obsession, deep despair and vengeance. At times its very darkness is depressing and painful. Yet love and faithfulness, which endure beyond death, bring hope and much needed light to this tale; as does a second love story, born from the seeds of the first. The author also addresses the issues of social class here. Both Linton and Earnshaw families are considered gentry. However, the Linton's are a more educated, cultured group and appear to be of a higher class than those who reside at Wuthering Heights. Some of Catherine's most crucial decisions involve moving up in society.
The story is told in a series of narratives, none of which are entirely reliable. During the winter of 1801, a gentleman named Mr. Lockwood rents a manor house called Thrushcross Grange in Yorkshire. He has a natural curiosity, and in time visits his neighbor and wealthy landlord, Heathcliff, a grim, forbidding man who lives at Wuthering Heights, a few miles from the Grange. Lockwood also makes the acquaintance of Heathcliff's housekeeper Ellen Dean, called Nelly, and asks her to tell him about her employer and the history of those who reside at Wuthering Heights. He documents her narrative in his journal, and his written recollections make up the main portion of the novel. Much of Nellie's tale consists of memories from years before, her observations of life with the Earnshaw family, her recollections of the Lintons, and her own conclusions, which are subjective. Lockwood, gets his information second hand, from Nellie's perspective. He continually interprets, and misinterprets the relationships and actions of the characters who play such major roles here. So, it is up to the reader to make sense of it all - which is what the author intended.
As a young girl Nelly worked as a servant at Wuthering Heights for Mr. Earnshaw, the owner, his wife, and their two children, Hindley, and Catherine. Earnshaw returned from a business trip to Liverpool with a gypsy-like urchin, a dark-haired, handsome orphan boy. He had taken quite a fancy to the lad, a quiet, stoic child, and names him Heathcliff, after a son who died. Earnshaw decides to raise him with his own children. Catherine befriends Heathcliff almost instantly. They share a love of nature, and an emotional intensity unknown to most people. They are able to communicate with each other easily, even as young children, and both possess tremendously creative imaginations. The two roam the moorland wilderness, where they're most at home, like wild creatures of nature, and become inseparable friends. Hindley detests Heathcliff from the first. He is jealous and goads the boy constantly. Eventually, after the death of his wife, Mr. Earnshaw begins to show preference for Heathcliff over his own son, which exacerbates the hostility. Finally, Hindley is sent away to school and Heathcliff is kept at home, at Earnshaw's side.
Hindley comes into his inheritance some years later, at age twenty, when his father dies. Cathy is eleven years-old, and Heathcliff about twelve, when the heir returns to Wuthering Heights, and seeks vicious revenge for having his rights usurped by a wretched boy from the slums with no means of his own. Obviously Heathcliff cannot defend himself and is totally dependent on Hindley. He is forced to work as a laborer in the fields, and is treated harshly, as less worthy than an animal. He and Cathy maintain their closeness. They still wander the wild North country and she shares her studies with him. One night they pay a clandestine visit to Thrushcross Grange, home of the Linton family. Cultured, spoiled and very well behaved, young Edgar and Isabella live there. When a dog savagely bites Cathy, it is discovered that she and Heathcliff have been hiding in the brush spying. The girl is seriously injured and is forced to stay at the Grange for several weeks to recover. During her time with the Linton family, Mrs. Linton becomes intent on turning wild, mischievous Cathy into a young lady. She encourages her to become a young woman with manners and actions appropriate to her social standing in society, rather than the wild, headstrong creature she is while roaming the moors with Heathcliff. By the time Catherine returns home, in elegant new clothes, she has become infatuated with Edgar Linton. Needless to say, her relationship with Heathcliff deteriorates significantly, as he feels he is losing the only person he ever loved.
Edgar pursues Catherine relentlessly, and eventually, the young woman's desire for social advancement, and an inexplicable fey, self destructive quality about her, prompt her to accept his proposal. However, she really does not love her fiance. She may care for him, but her feelings are much less than what her passionate nature requires. On the other hand genteel women of this period were supposed to have neither "passionate" nor intense feelings. "'Here and here!' replied Catherine, striking one hand on her forehead and the other on her breast: 'in which ever place the soul lives. In my soul and in my heart, I'm convinced I'm wrong!'" Thus Catherine acknowledges to Nelly that her marriage to Edgar cannot be one of love. Although she knows that Heathcliff is her true love, however, she cannot marry him because he has been so debased by Hindley. "It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightening, or frost from fire". Her powerful connection to Heathcliff is always present, no matter how annoyed she becomes with him. Heathcliff leaves Wuthering Heights a bitter man. He knows that if he had come from a better social class, or had wealth, Cathy would have married him. When he finally returns, years later, a self-possessed, successful, wealthy man, he is obsessed with revenge, and is more adept at exacting it than Hindley ever was.
Nelly continues her increasingly complex tale, (which I won't spoil for you), of three generations: of births, marriages, deaths, traumas, complications, a second more hopeful love story and redemption. The most recurring theme is the great love and friendship, the everlasting connection, between Cathy and her Heathcliff, whose difficult nature is almost impossible to understand and to accept - unless, of course, one thinks about his unknown origins and early childhood as a homeless waif in Liverpool. One can only imagine the horrors he experienced wandering the streets of the rough port town, with neither protection nor kindness. What cruelty and meanness of spirit did he learn there? His terrible, inhuman treatment at Hindley's hands certainly played a part in Heathcliff's lust for revenge and lack of mercy, as did Catherine's decision to marry Linton, which must have been devastating for him. Heathcliff remains a dark, brooding, cruel man throughout his adult years and never reforms. He is an anti-hero, at least in my eyes, as he also possesses good qualities, along with a terrible sadness, an emptiness and longing which he shows to Cathy alone.
Emily Bronte's extraordinary prose is filled with powerful imagery. Miss Brontë spent most of her short life at home, in Thornton, Yorkshire, where she was happiest. She loved the surrounding moors - the wide, wild expanses, unsuitable for cultivation, and full of danger. There are bogs and wetlands on the moors, which can go virtually unseen, and where one can drown. It is also a place of great beauty. The author spent much time walking there with her dogs and was terribly unhappy when she was away. The similarities between the author's natural environment and that of the area around Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange are obvious. Ms Bronte drew inspiration from the regional Yorkshire architecture also, as well as her own personal experiences and her amazing imagination, a gift Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell Bronte shared - with each other and with us. I have read a few Bronte biographies and always felt that the character of Catherine Earnshaw, certainly her intensity and love of nature, was based on Emily Bronte.
Keep a box of tissues handy throughout your reading of "Wuthering Heights." I wonder if this is the first tearjerker?
59 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2007
I will agree that this performance is given with sensitivity to the voice of Jane Eyre and of Charlotte Bronte, but alas it's an abridged version. The above listing does not give any indication of this, consequently I was very disappointed when it arrived. I personally have no use for abridged books. When I pick up a book (print or audio) I want to experience the entire book. Abridged books always leave me feeling cheated, wondering what did I miss?
47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2002
The fact that this novel was written when Emily Bronte was only 28 years old, two years before her death, makes one wonder what she would have been capable of had she lived longer and continued writing. I must admit, this was one of those books that I appreciate for its literary merit more than enjoy for its pure reading pleasure. But if the true test of a novel is how visceral of a reaction the reader has to its characters, then this is certainly a fine novel. Each of Bronte's characters is exquisitely developed in his or her own way. And each evokes powerful emotional responses from the reader - mostly negative reactions of anger, frustration, disgust, etc. - but reactions, nonetheless. A well-written character, remember, does not have to be a character that you admire or love; pathetic, self-centered, cruel characters can be the product of exceptional writing, as long as they evoke genuine feelings of revulsion from the reader.
And this novel is full of characters that will earn little admiration from readers. Indeed, the only character that was really "likeable" was the temporary tenant of the Wuthering Heights estate, to whom the story is recounted by Ellen, the servant. Ellen gives her account of the events that she witnessed as the domestic employee of Catherine, a self-centered, melodramatic eccentric who falls in love with Heathcliff, the gypsy who under somewhat mysterious circumstances is brought by her father to live in their home. Despite her love, Catherine marries Edgar, causing Heathcliff to devote the remainder of his years to exacting revenge for her betrayal. What follows is a dark, brutal, sometimes frightening tale of a pathological love affair and its tragic consequences.
Bronte certainly did not view the world through rose-colored glasses, if Wuthering Heights is any indication of her personal world view. It can be a difficult read at times, only because the few redeemable qualities of the main characters are so powerfully overshadowed by their flaws, their cruel intentions, and the bleak outlook that Bronte portrays. It certainly deserves its place, however, among the classics of English literature, and its characters, despite their shortcomings (or perhaps because of them), will live long in the readers mind after the final page.
42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2004
Is there anybody out there who hasn't heard of Heathcliff, the dark villian/hero of this high pitched and utterly committed work of madness? Oh, I love it. It was difficult for me at first. I'm a writer, but not a natural reader. But once I was into this book, once I stopped asking questions of the narrative and just entered the shadowy world of Catherine and her doomed household, I was quite literally spellbound. Bronte died believing this book was a failure. What a dreadful irony that this quiet, disciplined woman who lived out her life in a cold parsons' house with her brilliant sisters, her drunken brother and her eccentric father (The man memorized Paradise Lost: imagine. And outlived all his children!) never even had an inkling that this outpouring of her heart and soul would become a classic, overshadowing even her sister's highly successful Jane Eyre. Both Bronte sisters had the capacity to create archetypes -- to imprint upon the culture seminal patterns that endure to the present time. One last point: the father was Irish. Madness and genius in the blood, indeed. Enjoy it. I read it over every year or so, sometimes twice in a row. I study it; I watch all the film versions. I just love it, the way it works, its strange cruelty and enchantment.