Thanks to Virginia, who came to the writer's group a few weeks ago bearing "an extra Bronte -- does anyone need one?", I recently read Wuthering Heights for the first time.
And my immediate reaction, of course, is wuther FUCK? To quote Gwen Stefani, the shit is bananas! B-a-n-a-n-a-s! Have you read this thing? Baroque iron gates are less overwrought! Get me a blacksmith and a smelter, stat! Oy gevalt!
The plot, for those few slugs like myself who have conveniently ignored this book (as well as the movie with Olivier, which I haven't seen but comes much recommended), goes like this: Rich guy has a daughter and son. He brings home a "foundling" child (as in, "I foundling this babyling in the roadling, do you think we should bring it into the houseling?"). Foundling grows up and falls in love with Daughter, also has intense rivalry/hatred thing going with Son.
Daughter loves Foundling, but marries Rich Neighbor, because she's shallow enough to want to be rich and also to not fuck a guy she was raised with since birth, because that's icky. Foundling now hates Rich Neighbor, and still hates Son, and acts like a complete psycho. Still with us? Good. Because we're on page THIRTY. Of THREE HUNDRED SIXTY.
Daughter and Foundling still share a great love, which tears at them passionately, and causes Daughter to suffer some sort of neurological deterioration, where she goes into deleriums because she's just so stressed out about Foundling vs. Rich Husband. She gives birth to Rich Husband's daughter, who we'll call Daughter II: Daughter of Daughter, and then she drops dead post-childbirth.
Rich Husband is distraught, and so's Foundling. Foundling deals with it by fucking Rich Husband's sister, and trapping her in a hateful marriage. Rich Husband, meanwhile, suffers a severe constitutional setback over Daughter's death, and clings to life only for the sake of young Daughter II: Daughter of Daughter.
What are they putting in the water around there? I mean, do they all have chronic fatigue? They're so upset they fucking fall down where they stand and "can hardly be brought 'round from [their] fever[s]"? Jesus, people, I've been dumped before, but I never actually suffered multiple scleroses of the brain over it.
Anyway, so this goes on for another generation or so, with Daughter II getting involved with Son of Foundling, who is also "ailing" and "weak of constitution," because what fun would it be if you weren't swooning and contracting malaria every time someone pissed you off? There's a lot of spite and hate and revenge and forced imprisonment and child abuse -- if that's your thing -- but most of all, there is wuthering. Lots and lots of wuthering. And not enough height.
I know it's supposed to be romantic, but I could not imagine a less romantic book, even one that had slugs and leeches in it. This book could act as a prophylactic against anybody ever wanting to love another person, especially if it's a kind-of family member, and you live in a climate hostile to human life. Seriously. If you're thinking of following your stepsister to Greenland, and she's kind of a drama queen, I'd read this book.