Friday, November 25, 2016

Reading Challenge Update #4

Books 7 and 8 of my classic reading challenge are complete!

Wuthering Heights was a book that I finished and felt very . . . strange about. I'd say it was the most surprising of all my books in the fact that I didn't expect such a story to grip me. I gave it 4 stars and it really does deserve every one of them. It's a story I'll never read again because it's not one of those things I wish to revisit. That sounds worse than it is, but the truth is there's so many books out there I haven't read that I rarely ever reread anything, no matter how much I liked it.

Wuthering Heights isn't a book I'd choose to reread even if I was in the mood because it wasn't one of my favorite books ever, but also because it was so depressing. Truly Emily Bronte was a skilled author and the fact that she could write a book where every character was detestable and still manage to grip the reader is amazing.

This is a book about people. Lots of people. At least that's how I see it. People who make bad choices and then those choices effect other people and in turn those people become horrible human beings and pass on more darkness. There's this feeling of watching a car pileup where the car after car rear-ends the person in front of them when reading Wuthering Heights. It's an extremely well-written book with such a variety of characters who each stand out as individuals to such a degree as to seem real.

The people within the pages of Wuthering Heights elicited a good deal of emotion from me. I shed a few tears, I despaired, I avoided reading it before bed or late at night as the amount of depression it exuded was so intense I knew it'd disturb my sleep. More than that, I've never before faced such a desire to reach through the pages and kill so many fake people. It's true! I hated most everyone in this book and wished them horrid deaths of which I would've carried out myself if I could've leapt through the pages.

And here's where the spoilers come in as I rant(I'm sorry, but this book messed with my emotions and now I'm going to take it out in writing).

Mr. Earnshaw is the first character of the story within the story. He wasn't the world's greatest dad and had some flaws, though he wasn't a horrible person. Despite not being able to adequately raise his two kids, he goes out and "adopts" a kid he picks up on the road without consulting his wife or children on their feelings. This leads to some tension in the house. The boy, Heathcliff, becomes friends with the daughter, Catherine(who we'll call Cathy to avoid confusion later). But the Earnshaw's other child, Hindley, never gets along with Heathcliff. Earnshaw brings this kid into his house and causes havoc, dooming his family to suffering long after he's gone. He then plays favorites with Heathcliff and listens to Joseph(who sadly lived through the duration of the book) about how evil his children are.

This just causes more strife between the three youngsters that sets up the rest of the book. Earnshaw dies and Hindley becomes man of the house. I couldn't quite forgive Earnshaw for his poor parenting, but that turned out to be the least of my character quibbles.

Joseph, as referenced earlier, was the crotchety old manservant who's dialogue was nigh on unreadable. I could only make out about half of what he said with great difficulty. It was enough. Joseph drove me bonkers. He was a ranting loony bird who wanted nothing more than to tattle and cause trouble. He was a nasty, gossiping old man that probably was mentally unwell.

Now man of the house, Hindley might've turned out to be a tolerable person if he hadn't lost his wife and had to deal with Heathcliff, but as it were he turned into quite the villain. Hindley made life miserable for Cathy and Heathcliff. He was a mean man who became worse with drink, which he was often drunk. His treatment of Hareton is what made me lose all sympathy for him. How anyone could be so nasty to their child . . .

I HATED Heathcliff and Cathy. They deserved each other. They were selfish, vicious, poisonous people. Neither one cared for anyone or anything but themselves. Even their love was selfish. They said they loved each other, but they didn't treat each other like they did. Cathy's worst crime was involving the poor Lintons. The parents died from whatever disease she had. The son married her and ended up in a terrible marriage. The daughter got caught up in the whole mess and married Heathcliff who abused her terribly. Her son then got dragged into it and he(his name being Linton) turned out to be a horrible person as well. Spineless little worm who had just as nasty a disposition as his father(Heathcliff).

The only person I felt bad for was Hareton. Poor Hareton. Caught up in the middle and used by Heathcliff to the point where he didn't even realize it. Nelly, the storyteller, at times seemed decent yet she lacked the backbone and the resolution to do good when good needed done most. The person who she tells the story to, Lockwood, is a shallow man who just wants entertainment and briefly entertains the idea of marrying Cathy and Edgar Linton's daughter(Catherine, hence the wanting to avoid confusion), but then moves on despite knowing the terrible history to leave everyone to their fates and only returns to hear the rest of the story by chance.

Isabella not letting Hindley kill Heathcliff upset me. WHY!!!?? Her reason was stupid and I think of how much suffering could've been avoided if she'd just shut her mouth.

I think that was a good part of the problem. People kept having these stupid weak moments of sympathy and those moments screwed themselves and other people over later or just enabled the monsters in this book to keep going.

Little Catherine wasn't as wicked as her mother, but she was exceedingly dumb and didn't listen to common sense. No one deserves to get tricked into a house, locked in, and forced to marry anyone(and beaten), but I couldn't help yelling that if she'd just used her brain or listened to Nelly or her father none of it would've happened.

So WHY the four stars? Because it takes a powerful good writer to pull that much emotion from a reader. Because the story drew me down, down into the quagmire of misery and I never once fought to escape. I couldn't look away, couldn't stop reading. No matter that the ending couldn't be good(and really, it did end up being only tolerably brighter than imagined), no matter how I hated the characters, I had to keep going. I know they're fictional characters, but I wish all sorts of evil on Heathcliff and Cathy's heads(even though they're also fictionally dead).

I held off on giving this five stars because of two reasons. One, I'll never read this again. I couldn't put myself through that trauma. And two, it was too long. By the time I hit about 70% I was emotionally spent and felt like I'd been ran through the wringer for days without rest. There's only so much a person[I] can take of that kind of emotional abuse through writing before it gets to be too much. I powered through the last 30% because I needed to finish and move on to brighter things.
I also felt that this book did a great job of showcasing the various forms abuse can take and how it negatively impacts so many people. Emotional manipulation, physical abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse, deception, etc. It's so hard to notice those things when you're stuck, but I hope people read this and by seeing it happen to someone else, maybe they'll be able to identify abuse in their life if it's happening and take steps to remove themselves before they end up like any number of these characters.

A powerful book and I'm glad I read it.

  Book number 8 was Dracula, which I'm sorry fans, but I hated. I not only gave it 1 star but it became the first book of my challenge that I did not finish. I didn't write a review for this(outside of this post) as I like to either finish a certain percentage of a book or have a solidly good reason beyond "wasn't holding my interest" or in this case "I don't like horror and this was horror and I knew that."

This was the last book I chose for my challenge and I only chose it because of the number of people who'd recommended it to me when I was taking suggestions. I am not a horror reader, at all. I hate horror stories, movies, books, etc. I fully accept that it was silly for me to choose a horror novel, even an old one when people had less disgusting ideas. (I'm sure modern horror books are way worse)

I honestly tried to suffer through this, and it wasn't "scary" but I don't take nasty elements well and I tried to ignore the first few references to vampire snacks since they were fairly detail-less, but when children were brought into the picture and a mother stood outside begging . . . I won't go on, but I'll say that it made me ill. I put the book down at that point and realized that I'm not in the camp of "read something that disturbs you just because" camp. I've very sensitive when it comes to children being hurt, abused, killed, etc. and I can honestly take very, very, very little of that in my fiction and seeing even a title of a news article on such a subject will make me tear up. Mommy hormones, I swear.

Anyway. I can't say much on this one that'll be a good review for those who enjoy the horror genre or where this falls in storytelling terms. I didn't enjoy it and I'll choose more wisely in the future.

My last post for books 9 and 10 will be coming soon! Eek, the end of the year is almost here and though I've finished all my books for both of my challenges, I'm very behind on my blog posts.


  1. I agree with you on Wuthering Heights. It's well written, and incredible if you consider how sheltered Emily Bronte was, but it's a pretty miserable book. I had to study it at school and it didn't endear me to it any further.

    Sorry you didn't enjoy Dracula. At least you know when to quit when somethings not for you!

    1. It really is amazingly written and the talent is just wow. But it is soooo miserable and depressing and frustrating that I can't imagine tackling it again.

  2. I still haven't reading Wuthering Heights; probably never will (or at least it'll be a DNF, from what you've said about it)

    I apologize, as I think I was one of the people pushing Dracula! It's been years since I've read it, and although I didn't love the book, it's a very good example of its genre--which is definitely not your kind of genre. I'm glad you stopped rather than pushing on. :)

    1. It's an intense book! Incredible the way it's written, but it is strange hating everyone and having this depressing air over it all. I'd say it's one of those books that's definitely not for everyone.

      Ah, I think EVERYONE who pitched me a list had Dracula on it. Not just you! No harm in me trying, and now I know for sure that horror is not my thing.

  3. I enjoyed your write up of Wuthering Heights, makes me want to read it that much more. Wuthering Heights has been on my to-read list for years, only because Bernard Hermann chose it as the subject for his one and only opera (which I've never seen and doubt is ever produced anymore).
    Too bad you didn't enjoy Dracula. I quite liked it, but I love horror. At least you gave it a go.