BOOK REVIEW: I AM HEATHCLIFF

I love Wuthering Heights. It’s a novel that has stayed with me for years. From school, to college, to university last year, it’s a novel that has stuck with me, after the final page. So, when I saw this collection of short stories (curated by Kate Mosse) to celebrate Emily Bronte’s bicentenary, I just knew that I had to grab myself a copy.

Like I said, it’s a novel that I still think about and remember why I loved the novel so much growing up reading about it, writing about it, thinking about it. From the flawed, destructive characters, from the relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff, from the gothic and eerie setting of the moors, to the atmospheric feel and mood of the book, or simply, Emily Bronte’s beautiful and clever writing. This is what the blurb says:

Sixteen stories inspired by Wuthering Heights.

In ‘Terminus’ a young woman hides in an empty Brighton hotel; in ‘Thicker Than Blood’ a man sits in a hot tub stalking his newly-married love on social media; and in ‘A bird half-eaten’ an amateur boxer prepares for a match.

A woman recalls the ‘Heathcliffs I Have Known’ and the physical danger she has borne at their hands; in ‘Anima’ a child and a fox are unified in one startling moment of violence; and in ‘One Letter Different’ two teenagers walk the moors and face up to their respective buried secrets.

Curated by Kate Mosse and commissioned for Emily Brontë’s bicentenary year in 2018, these fresh, modern stories pulse with the raw beauty and pain of love and are as timely as they are illuminating.

This is a collection of sixteen short stories all inspired by the classic Wuthering Heights. The contributors are: Leila Aboulela, Hannah Al-Shaykh, Joanna Cannon, Alison Case, Juno Dawson, Louise Doughty, Sophie Hannah, Anna James, Erin Kelly, Dorothy Koomson, Grace McCleen, Lisa McInerney, Laurie Penny, Nikesh Shukla, Michael Stewart and Louisa Young. Some of the stories are nothing to do with the novel and it’s characters, they just use the idea of something – whether that’s the relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff, the beautiful Moors, or a character that was perhaps hidden in the shadows. Whereas others modernise the novel and it’s characters. In Thicker Than Blood by Erin Kelly, Heathcliff uses social media to keep tracks on his Catherine, which of course, was bloody brilliant. Some stories include the novel in it’s own story which was often lovely to see. These short stories are all different from one another but still equally brilliant and just full of wonderful writing.

If I’m being honest, I’m not a lover of short stories. I just never got them and perhaps I never will, but I think I’m getting the hang of it thanks to this one. These are (mostly) modern, and yet timeless just like Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. My favourites being: Thicker Than Blood by Erin Kelly, One Letter Different by Joanna Cannon, Kit by Juno Dawson, Heathcliffs I Have Known by Louisa Young and Heathcliff Is Not My Name by Michael Stewart (my overall favourite). Those were just a few of my favourite stories but overall, they were all wonderful and had beautiful, evocative, funny, humorous writing throughout. I love this quote from Michael Stewart’s quick-paced and brilliant Heathcliff Is Not My Name:

You are somewhere. You are nowhere. You are here. The night is as black as your shame, as black as your face. You are wandering like a blind man. You don’t know anything any more. Not what’s up. Not what’s down. You don’t know who you are, where you come from, you don’t even know your own name.

I’m not going to spoil the actual stories for you because they are best to be enjoyed for the first time and for you to get lost into the world of the stories, to be transported back to where you first read Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. I think, now after reading this collection of short stories, and thinking about how much I love Wuthering Heights, it’s made me realise how much this novel means to me and why I cared about it all those years and why it’s been the only novel throughout my education that has stuck with me.

This is a brilliant celebration for one of the finest novels by one of the greatest writers ever lived. Thank you Emily Bronte for creating such a brilliant novel that has spoken to generation after generation. Just like Kate Mosse writes in the foreword, this novel changes when we age, it means different to stuff to us all, we see it differently. Oh, to read this novel for the first time…

Have you read I Am Heathcliff? What did you think of this collection of short stories? Did it do Wuthering Heights and Emily Bronte proud? Are you a fan of Wuthering Heights? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks,

Corey.

 

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