Wuthering Heights tears off, roughly enough, the tinsel from passion. We have Heathcliff, harsh, pitiless, wolfish, without a spark of kindness for the woman whose passion yet fills his whole life, with less than kindness for his fellow-men; a human wild beast, uncommon but not unnatural, of whom there are many around us muzzled by society, and who show their fangs only in troubled times. The woman, too, equally dead to pity, but without downright malevolence, is bright and biting as a clear day in winter. The passion of these human tigers for each other is pure love, or rather sheer love. Without the shadow of remorse for the share he had in her fate, he lives through many years with his heart moaning for his love; he hears her in the wailing winds, he sees her in the midnight mists; when he dies, worn out by his heated brain, the hope that smiles on his brow is to have his place in the church-yard corner where she lies; brighter than heaven to him, to lie by the side of the dead woman. — American Review, March 1850
Emily Brontë (30 July 1818 – 19 December 1848) is best known for her only novel, Wuthering Heights, now considered a classic of English literature. Emily was the third eldest of the four surviving Brontë siblings, between the youngest Anne and her brother Branwell. She wrote under the pen name Ellis Bell.
American Whig Review, 1848 — Nothing like it has ever been written before; it is to be hoped that in respect of its faults, for the sake of good manners, nothing will be hereafter. Let it stand by itself, a coarse, original, powerful book,— one that does not give us true characters, but horridly striking and effective ones. It will live a short and brilliant life, and then die and be forgotten. Now if the rank of a work of fiction is to depend solely on its naked imaginative power, then this is one of the greatest novels in the language.
Holden’s Dollar Magazine, 1848 – Jane Eyre was written to illustrate the evils of an uncongenial marriage, Wuthering Heights to illustrate the evils of keeping two souls asunder, whose affinities rendered a union essential to the happiness of each. Such frightful, horrible, and heart-crushing, yet perfectly natural experiences as the two books relate, could never have been given with such appalling energy, but by one who had felt the evils which are so forcibly described.
Atlas, January 1848 — Wuthering Heights is a strange, inartistic story. There are evidences in every chapter of a sort of rugged power—an unconscious strength—which the possessor seems never to think of turning to the best advantage. The general effect is inexpressibly painful. We know nothing in the whole range of our fictitious literature which presents such shocking pictures of the worst forms of humanity. Jane Eyre is a book which affects the reader to tears; it touches the most hidden sources of emotion. Wuthering Heights casts a gloom over the mind not easily to be dispelled.
The Eclectic Review, 1851 — The scenery is laid in the North, the bleak, moorish, wild, character of which is admirably preserved. Emily Brontë was evidently attached to her native hills. She was at home amongst them; and there is, therefore, a vividness and graphic power in her sketches which present them actually before us. So far we prefer no complaint, but the case is different with the dramatis personae. Such a company we never saw grouped before; and we hope never to meet with its like again. Heathcliff is a perfect monster, more demon than human. Hindley Earnshaw is a besotted fool, for whom we scarce feel pity; while his son Hareton is at once ignorant and brutish, until, as by the wand of an enchanter, he takes polish in the last scene of the tale, and retires a docile and apt scholar.
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.