I planned to talk about how I wish I could say it is the romance that draws me obsessively to this novel, and in a way it is, but ultimately I know it is something much darker than that. For me this novel’s draw is its darkness, it’s the depth and light absorbing pit of Heathcliff’s devotion to his plans, no matter who they harm or what they require, throughout the years to achieve his ends. I can only imagine what this reveals about my personality and my own decisions in life.
As much as I am drawn to Pride and Prejudice (and Jane Austen in general) for its whimsy and lightness, I can’t help but appreciate and truly resonate with the depths of despair and the tortuousness all three Brontë sisters write about. And I don’t know why, it’s not like I’ve had a tragic love story. I mean sure I’ve had my fair share of unrequited love stories (more often than not), but I know that I’ll get over them and eventually find someone who loves me for me and I love them for them and we just click, but for some reason these darker novels resound with me on a deeper level. It’s as if they touch a part of me that I know is there but am too afraid to even consider bringing to the surface out of fear or terror of what I might actually feel if I let myself.
Unlike Dickens, I could read Wilkie Collins ALL DAY. There are those of you out there that will find this shocking, but it’s the truth. This is the first novel I’ve read by Collins and I am VERY glad I added it to my Classics Club list! In addition it counted as a bonus book for my Tea & Books reading challenge coming in at just over 750 pages (according to Goodreads).
If you’ve followed this blog for a while you are aware, and often horrified, of my intense dislike of Dickens’ works (or at least the few I read). It’s not even that I don’t like his stories, characters or style, it’s that I don’t like the lengths of his ‘novels.’ As Dickens works were serialized I think he dragged out too many things and didn’t make them as action packed or as concise as they could’ve been. Whereas Dickens really could have used an editor, Collins took advantage of the serialization (IN DICKENS’ MAGAZINE!) and created an amazing work of fiction.
For August the hosts of The Classics Club have another member question: “Do you read forwards/notes that precede many Classics? Does it help you or hurt you in your enjoyment/understanding of the work?”
As I’m sure you’re aware, if you’ve already answered this question, I do read the forwards and notes for Classics. In the past I did not read them, mostly because they only provided an unwanted delay before I could get to the story, but as part of The Classics Club I decided to make an effort to read the texts in a bit more educational way rather than just for the great stories that they are.
It will not be a surprise to those of you who have followed this blog for sometime that I was able to maneuver a second read of Jane Austen into my calendar this year. It just happened to be the same I read back in January. If you really want a laugh, go read my fan-boy love letter to Austen for that response here. I’ve tried to rein it in a bit for this response, but let’s face it that’s not really going to happen.
As I said back in January, very little can be added to the conversation that hasn’t been said. But EVERY single re-read brings something different to light. For instance this time the one scene that particularly stood out to me was when Lydia and her friends made a young male character dress in drag. I mean really? Weren’t they all prim and proper back then? It just made me laugh at the whimsical way in which Austen described it and everyone partook of the action.
If Les Misérables is one thing, it is too damn long. I’m sure there are people who will disagree with me and I partially disagree with myself, but 1,729 pages is just outrageous. My advice to you if you want to read this novel, unless you are seriously interested or enthralled by French history, is to read an abridged version.
Don’t get me wrong, the story is amazingly, heartrendingly beautiful, but there was a lot of history that, yes, adds to the story, but is a long hard slough to get through. I’m talking upwards of 900 pages is just history and setting and had very little consequence on the story other than to set the scene. By time I got to volume five of the book it was a struggle to get through. I mean there were fascinating facts like how much sewer there is below Paris, but I did not need to know who put it there and who mapped and cleaned it!