Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine's father. After Mr Earnshaw's death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine's brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries.
The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.
The main drama in Bronte's novel happens in a long narrative told by an elderly housekeeper to a convalescing new tenant. This story-within-a-story setup makes it well suited for audio adaptation, as Scales takes the housekeeper's part and relates the past, while West performs as the tenant and describes the present. Scales primarily uses a folksy lower-class accent, but she also makes her voice harsh and threatening when speaking as Heathcliff, the surly man at the novel's heart.
West, as the bewildered tenant, manages to sound both nervous and pretentious, but his part is fairly small, especially with this abridgment, so he mostly serves to provide transitions for the housekeeper's story. The extensive abridgment generally deletes sentences and phrases rather than entire paragraphs or sections. One drawback for the audio format is the difficulty of clarifying the novel's convoluted plot and family tree, since it's harder to search back through long CD tracks than through earlier chapters of the paperback.
While a little of the depth of Bronte's writing is lost in abridgment, the novel's emotional core remains intact and wrenching, and the actors' heartfelt interpretations make it easy to imagine being curled up by a warm fire listening to an absorbing tale.
In June, Penguin Audio remastered and released on CD for the first time nine other Penguin Classics: Crime and Punishment, Dracula, Frankenstein, Great Expectations, Jane Eyre, Moby Dick, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Tale of Two Cities. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Authors
Emily Bront was an English novelist and poet, who, along with her sisters Charlotte and Anne, produced some of the most enduring works of the 19th century. Best known for her only novel, Wuthering Heights, Bront published her works using the pen name Ellis Bell, a practice common for female writers at the time.
Called the Sphynx of Literature, Bront? had no desire for fame and wrote only for her own satisfaction. She died of consumption in 1848 at the age of 30. Collectively, the Bront sisters novels are considered literary standards that continue to influence modern writers.