Sunday, January 31, 2016

Wuthering Heights Revisited: Nelly Dean by Alison Case

NetGalley sometimes lists books not available but with a button to tell them "I Wish it Were." I clicked on that button for Nelly Dean: A Return to Wuthering Heights by Alison Case and a few days later was surprised to find my wish had been granted--I was given the ebook to read!

I immediately opened the book up and started reading. Just for a taste, since I had two other books I was reading already, plus my book club books. But I didn't stop reading it. I was hooked.

In Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, Mr. Lockwood tells the story of  Cathy Earnshaw and Heathcliff as told him by housekeeper Nelly Dean. In Case's novel,  years have passed and Nelly Dean decides to reveal all her secrets to Mr. Lockwood in the form of a long letter. Nelly tells of her relationship to Hinton Earnshaw and his son Hareton, her binding ties to the troubled and violent family, and the unexpected revelation that was the root cause of all her sorrows.

I enjoyed the novel as it stands on its own, and for another view of the classic Bronte story. Readers do not have to be experts on Wuthering Heights to enjoy this book.  I would have liked Case to have offered a little more than references to important scenes Lockwood already knew, to make it richer for those who don't know Emily's book. There are some sections that could be trimmed to advantage, especially concerning breastfeeding. The Big Reveal stretches credulity. Then, probability isn't a feature of the original novel.

I have gone back to reread Emily Bronte's novel once again after reading Nelly Dean.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte was published in 1847. Emily's book was anti-Victorian in every way! I first read it in my 20s, when I found it quite romantic and sexy. Twenty years later and found it Gothic and improbable. In 2012 I read all the Bronte sisters works while reading a biography on the family, my post found here.

I thank the publisher and NetGalley for the free ebook in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Nelly Dean
by Alison Case
Pegasus Books
Publication February 8, 2016
$25.95 hard cover
ISBN: 9781605989617

"A gripping tale of familial turmoil and thwarted passion...Alison Case has created a world so real, so grounded in visceral detail, that no prior knowledge of the Bronte classic is required. However, I suspect her debut Nelly Dean will entice many (including this reviewer) to reread the original, with fresh and knowing eyes." Irish Independence.