Book 278: Solsbury Hill – Susan Wyler

Wyler, Susan - Solsbury HillThis book ended better than it started, but wasn’t at all what I wanted. I hate having to write that, but it’s the truth! Even as I’m writing this I realize I’ll probably drop it from a three star to a two star rating on Goodreads when I post this, but I’m not sure – it’s probably a two-and-a-half star book. I was honestly relieved to see this was Wyler’s first novel as she shows a lot of potential and clearly I thought the story was an excellent creation, just the writing (or editing) needed a lot of work.

The idea behind this book was fascinating and perfect, but the execution just wasn’t there. I almost wish Wyler sold the story to another author to write it better, but she didn’t and we have this novel. I sort of think of this as a crossing between Becoming Jane Eyre/Becoming Jane and Austenland in a weird sort of mash-up where historical fact quickly turns to fiction and modern-day collides with it.

Aside from the major editing needed, there was too much description and it often felt really clunky and overworked in some spaces, it was a story that excited me. There is not a lot of Brontë fan-fiction that I am aware of, but this could be from my own blissful ignorance. Keep in mind I have never seen a film adaptation of Wuthering Heights because it’s one of my favorite novels and I’m not sure I want to see it changed or interpreted by someone else.The idea of a modern retelling of Wuthering Heights, on the other hand sounded like an AWESOME idea, but it fell short.

There were great ideas and Wyler shows a lot of promise, especially with lines that harken back to the original feelings of Wuthering Heights like

“A great love requires sturdiness of self.” (130)

And the phantasmagorical of the original story Wyler recreates excellently in ways that I often wasn’t sure, like the protagonist, Eleanor, whether characters were real or imagined. She had a great insight into the Yorkshire moors compared to New York City and it just made me laugh at the practicality of the ghosts and the business of the city,

“Eleanor closed her eyes and imagined if there were ghosts in Manhattan, they were discreet. Amid faithfully recurring Papaya Dogs and pretzel vendors, skyscrapers and siren screams, a ghost would be lost in the shuffle like everyone else and no one would know if nightmares haunted some girl’s evening in New York City. If ghosts were there, they would hole up in apartments at the top of stairs and come down only to put out fires set in trash cans on the street.” (205)

If there was a major plot/story problem it was, I felt, Eleanor’s dependence/co-dependence on men. Wyler slowly has Eleanor evolve in a way that you think wow she’s not only already a successful designer and business woman, but she will become a strong independent woman on top of this, which I guess you could say she does. But, ultimately it comes down to the idea she’s stronger because she’s with a man and that man and her love are ultimate.

I won’t say much more as I feel like I’m bordering on spoilers, but if you’re at all interested in the Brontë’s or reinterpretations of classics I would say check it out, just be forewarned the first 50-100 pages were a little rough.

Recommendation: It’s books like these that make me happy I don’t institute a 50 page rule. If I hadn’t pushed through the first 60-70 pages I wouldn’t have gotten to the latter half of the book which was excellent compared to the first half. I wouldn’t have experienced Wyler’s improvement (or her editors) and the even more interesting twists at the end, even though I’d predicted at least one of them. Overall, I’d say give it a try but if you’re not sold by around page 100-120 then give it up!

Opening Line: “The phone rang off the hook, she read.”

Closing Line: “As if pleased, the hare dropped onto his forepaws and scurried down a hole into the quiet earth” (Whited out.)


4 thoughts on “Book 278: Solsbury Hill – Susan Wyler”

  1. I thought about picking this up because I do love retellings of classics, but I haven’t read Wuthering Heights and after hearing about the dog scene, I don’t think I want to!


    1. That is a sad scene but I’ve read many worse and compared to what else happens in the novel you honestly don’t have time to think about it. But I get it.


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