I read this novel as a teenager and again in my twenties and on both occasions I disliked it intensely. Along with Tess of the d'Urbervilles’s biography of the Brontë family, which I’ve had sitting around for a couple of years. Its 1000 pages remain daunting, but I’ll get to it eventually.
I’ve only read three Brontë novels* and this is my least favourite. [b:Jane Eyre|10210|Jane Eyre|Charlotte Brontë|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327867269s/10210.jpg|2977639] remains at the top of the list, with [b:Villette|31173|Villette|Charlotte Brontë|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1320412741s/31173.jpg|2033945] next in line. My preference for Jane Eyre’s quiet heroine and Villette’s depressed one possibly says more about me than it does about the novels. A rather provocative post by Imogen Russell Williams in The Guardian's book blog section may go some way to explaining my taste in Brontë novels. Clearly I’m with Imogen in being a Librarian rather than a Rock Star.
How to rate this? If I were to rate the novel solely on how I feel about the characters and the plot, then I couldn’t give it more than one or two stars. However, the truly fascinating aspects of the work attract five stars. Three stars is the best I can come up with: a compromise position at the midway point between utter dislike and complete fascination. Chances are I won't be reading this novel again, but I'm glad that I gave it another go.
Thanks to my lovely friend Jemidar for holding my hand and reading along while I listened.
*ETA: A few hours after posting this review, I remembered that I've read a fourth Brontë novel, Anne Brontë's [b:Agnes Grey|298230|Agnes Grey|Anne Brontë|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1237155773s/298230.jpg|2222441]. The fact that I'd forgotten about reading it is an indication of the impact the novel had on me. I think of Agnes Grey as the dull Jane Eyre. Wuthering Heights may be annoying, but it's not dull, so maybe it's not quite at the bottom of my Brontë novel appreciation scale.