A pleasure today to join the book birthday blitz for Heathcliff by Sue Barnard: first published for kindle in July 2018 by Crooked Cat Books, this one’s also available in paperback. My thanks to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to join. The e-copy I read was my own, purchased via Amazon before the blitz was arranged – this was a book that had already caught my eye, having always been intrigued by Heathcliff’s untold story, and I’m delighted to have finally had the opportunity to read it.
Sue has been my guest here on Being Anne once before – with an excellent post on playing with time and an extract from Never on Saturday (you’ll find the post here) – but I’ve never before read one of her books, and that’s an omission I’m glad of the opportunity to rectify.
“It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now…”
Cathy’s immortal words from Wuthering Heights change Heathcliff’s life. At just seventeen years of age, heartbroken and penniless, he runs away to face an unknown future.
Three years later, he returns – much improved in manners, appearance and prosperity.
But what happened during those years? How could he have made his fortune, from nothing? Who might his parents have been? And what fate turned him into literature’s most famous anti-hero?
For almost two centuries, these questions have remained unanswered.
It’s a very long time since I last read Wuthering Heights, so I did dig out my dog-eared copy to take another look at both the writing style and that pivotal scene where Cathy’s shocking statement triggered the young Heathcliff’s disappearance. The author has done an excellent job of this totally plausible account of his missing years – true to the original with its overlaps at the beginning and end, and a superb recreation of Emily Bronte’s prose.
But while some knowledge of the context might add to your enjoyment as a reader – and your appreciation of what this book achieves – it’s by no means a pre-requisite. The historical setting is wonderfully created, the world which Heathcliff finds himself part of exceptionally vivid and real. It would be wrong of me to reveal the story, but it does have the ring of truth about it, well-researched and providing some explanation of the way his character is shaped by his experience. The characters – some new, some drawn from the original – are three-dimensional and strongly drawn, adding depth and colour to the story, as does the vivid detail of its settings.
The story is told from different perspectives, and the narrative sometimes circles an event viewing it from all angles: there’s no confusion in that, as the speaker is always clearly identified, but I will admit I found it a little dizzying at first. But then I stopped noticing, and just enjoyed the excellent story-telling and the author’s remarkable powers of invention.
Although this is a companion piece, it’s entirely readable on its own merits – a very clever piece of work, and I very much enjoyed it.
With thanks to Sue (and Rachel), I’m delighted to offer the chance to win a signed copy of Heathcliff (UK only). Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
Terms and Conditions UK entries welcome. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the author
Sue Barnard is a British novelist, editor and award-winning poet whose family background is far stranger than any work of fiction. She would write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.
Sue was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. She speaks French like a Belgian, German like a schoolgirl, and Italian and Portuguese like an Englishwoman abroad.
Her mind is so warped that she has appeared on BBC TV’s Only Connect quiz show, and she has also compiled questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” The label has stuck.
Sue’s first novel, The Ghostly Father (a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet), was officially released on St Valentine’s Day 2014. Since then she has produced five more novels: Nice Girls Don’t (2014), The Unkindest Cut of All (2015), Never on Saturday (2017), Heathcliff (2018), and Finding Nina (2019).
Sue now lives in Cheshire, UK, with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.