Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Heathcliff was a homeless boy living in Liverpool before he was adopted by the master of Wuthering Heights, Mr Earnshaw, when he was seven. Mr Earnshaw had two children, Catherine, who was six, and Hindley, who was fourteen. Catherine and Heathcliff made firm friends and were rarely seen apart, but Hindley disliked Heathcliff and was cruel to him. Mr Earnshaw began to love Heathcliff more than his own son, and Hindley is sent away to college. Three years later Mr Earnshaw dies, and Hindley returns as master of the house, with his Wife, Frances, determined to seek revenge on Heathcliff. Catherine and Heathcliff still keep, their close relationship, however, but when they make a trip to Thrushcross Grange to tease the snobbish children, Isabella and Edgar Linton, who live there, Catherine is bitten by a dog and is forced to stay there for five weeks to recuperate, during which time Mrs Linton makes Catherine into a proper young lady. When Catherine returns, she has become infatuated with Edgar, even though she loves Heathcliff, and her wish for a rise in social status forces her to marry Edgar Linton, making Heathcliff run away from Wuthering Heights. Meanwhile Frances has passed away after giving birth to a baby boy, Hareton, and this sends Hindley into alcoholism and gambling. When Heathcliff returns he is a wealthy man, and vows to have his revenge on all who have wronged him, and when Hindley dies he inherits the manor. He also marries Isabella Linton in order to inherit the Grange, and treats her very cruelly. Catherine gives birth to a daughter, Cathy, and dies, making Heathcliff distraught, and shortly after Isabella flees to London to give birth to Heathcliff’s son, whom she names Linton. Cathy grows up at the Grange, with no knowledge of the Manor, until she stables upon it one day, finds Hareton and plays with him. Isabella then dies, and sickly, weak, Linton comes to live with Heathcliff, and he and Cathy begin a romance, but is it really love? Or just part of Heathcliff’s plan for revenge?

I must sadly say that I did not particularly enjoy this book. I really did not. I found it very confusing and complicated, which may just be because I am not one for long, dragging romances, but I thought that ultimately, it was quite boring. I thought that all the dying after giving birth made it quite predictable, and, for me, it just ticked all the wrong boxes. I know that it was written a long time ago, and it was meant to be complicated and romantic, but I just did not like it. Sorry.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Pip is a young boy living with his sister, the mean Mrs Joe, and her husband, the kindly blacksmith Joe Gargery, in the marshlands of Kent. His sister has never liked him, and is always reminding him of how she “raised him by hand”, and how grateful he should be about this.  Pip is sitting by his parents’  gravestones one night when an escaped convict grabs him and commands him to bring him food and a file for his leg irons. Pip obeys, but the convict is captured anyway. Soon afterwards Pip is taken by his pompous Uncle Pumblechook, to play at Satis House, owned by the mad Miss Haversham who has been driven  crazy after being left at the altar on her wedding day. She stays in her wedding dress all the time and even keeps all the clocks stopped at the time she heard of her lover’s betrayal; twenty minutes to nine. During his visit, he meets the beautiful Estella, who treats him coldly, but nevertheless he falls instantly in love with her. Pip dreams of becoming a wealthy gentleman so he may marry her, and even hopes Miss Haversham will help him do that, but his dreams are crushed when she apprentices him to  Joe Gargery, the blacksmith. Pip works unhappily, until one day a lawyer named Jaggers appears to tell Pip some brilliant news; he has been given a large fortune by an anonymous benefactor and is to leave for London to begin his education immediately. Pip guesses it must be Miss Haversham, and in London, he befriends a young gentleman named Herbert Pocket, and spends his days being tutored by Herbert’s father, Matthew, until one night the escaped convict, Abel Magwitch, breaks into Pip’s room to tell him something life changing… What did he say? Why has he come back? And will Pip and Estela ever be together? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

At first, when I picked up this book, I thought it would be very dull and hard to understand, but by the time I had got into it I actually really enjoyed it! It is definitely a longer read, and some of the language is obviously hard to understand as it is an old book, but something I had really not anticipated was how exciting or how much of a story this book has. I really liked how all the loose ends were tied up in the final few chapters, apart from one or two, and all the twists there were as you learned more abut the characters and their acquaintances. I would probably recommend it to ages 12+, as it is quite difficult, but it is still a good story so by all means try it or read an abridged version if you are younger (or older). I think this was a great book, and although it was hard to understand at times it had a great storyline, and was exciting, scary, and even funny!
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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

In a derelict hotel in Occupied France, World War II, a girl sits with an iron rod bound to her back, bargaining with her interrogator. Her codename is Verity, and is a British spy, flown into France by her best friend,and has been captured by the Nazis, She is being held in the Chateaux de Bordeaux, where she strikes a bargain with her questioners, to confess everything about the British war effort, in return for her clothes. This book is what she wrote, how she came to be there, and what happened afterwards. It begins with her talking about her friend Maddie with her motorcycle in her hometown of Cheshire, and her time as a Women’s Auxiliary Air Force volunteer, where she made friends with Queenie, a German-speaking wireless operator after an incident involving a crash-landing German pilot. Maddie then goes on to become an Air Transport Auxiliary Pilot, and through an unseen course of events Maddie ends up flying Verity into France, where they are shot down and Verity has to make a parachute jump before Maddie crash-lands.

This book does not sound like it has a lot to it, but there are so many twists after what I have described, most of them completely unexpected. I like how the story starts off with the reader knowing very little, and slowly progresses until you can see the whole picture, and the changes of perspectives throughout the book. I also liked how things were revealed without Verity’s intentions, as others characters in the story point out things you hadn’t previously noticed, and, maybe it was just me, but how you warmed to the character as you read further, because at the beginning I quite disliked Verity for making such a cowardly bargain, but as I read more and learned more about her I liked her more and more. It’s the kind of book that slowly reels you in, and by the end you are so attached to the characters that the ending brings you into floods of tears and you wish you could jump into the book and change what happened. One thing I found slightly confusing was all the different names there were for the main character, which made it quite hard to keep up, but that was a very minor thing and all in all I thought the book was very funny, moving and ultimately, rather sad.

You can buy Code Name Verity from amazon here, or Elizabeth Wein’s other book, Rose Under Fire, here, which I will be reading as soon as possible!