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 a book that has this much hype I expected it to have a lot more impact upon completion. Perhaps I just didn’t understand it and the impact’s subtlety was lost on me. I will say re-reading the last line again increased the impact, but I honestly thought the denouement would be much more dramatic and or conclusive rather than sort of wishy-washy-ing its way to a finale.
Don’t get me wrong, this was not a bad book, it was incredibly well written and the number of lines that made me laugh out loud or that I had to re-read because of how beautiful written they were far outnumbered the issues I had with the book. What got me though is how little action there was in the book. It felt almost like a set of actions stuck on repeat. and that just didn’t do it for me. Thankfully the writing was so great that it pushed the story forward, but I’m still not sure about most of the hype for the book.
However, as with Missing Manuscript, James’ has a distinct ability to write as and embody Jane Austen. Many Austen fan-fiction novelists are able to mimic Austen, but I don’t feel are able to get into her psyche as well as James’ has shown she is capable over the last two novels. James takes snippets of fact and builds amazingly detailed stories around them and as a reader I couldn’t help but appreciate her ability to spin a believable story around the most basic and minimal facts.
What a fun novel! I am so glad I stumbled across this novel and I cannot wait to read more of Syrie James’ works. I can’t remember where I first read about it or why I thought I had to read it, but I checked it out of the library last month and have waited patiently to read it as I trekked through Les Misérables I once again, however, tricked myself into not knowing ANYTHING about the book and did not realize that James wrote a novel in a novel so that was pleasantly unexpected.
I think what I enjoyed most about this novel was the contrast between the missing manuscript The Stanhopes and the modern story of those who find the manuscript. The two novels were intertwined enough to make it interesting, but not so much to make it confusing (I’m looking at you Ms. Atwood! [Even though I still love you and The Blind Assassin was phenomenal]).