Nelly Dean: A Return to Wuthering Heights by Alison Case

If you want the short and sweet version of this review then I will start by saying that I loved this book.  I read a number of the classics during my younger years and most of them hold a fond place in my heart.  The Bronte sisters are no exception to this although my favourite book from the Bronte’s is Charlotte’s Jane Eyre.  That being said Wuthering Heights is a great story and so I was very excited to pick up a copy of Nelly Dean and see what a new perspective could bring to the story.

Unsurprisingly the story is told by Nelly and whilst a number of the key points from the original novel make an appearance here this is a new and original story that focuses on some of the other characters and perhaps gives more enlightenment to the reader as to their actions and motivations in Wuthering Heights.

Firstly, I will say that I think although this is a great companion novel I don’t think it is necessary to have read WH before picking this up.  Obviously I enjoyed those points in the story where I made the connection to the original book but even without that I think this would make a good read.

I really enjoyed the style of writing and found Nelly to be a captivating narrator.  I’m not going to elaborate on her story here as it would spoil the read for others but hers is definitely a tale full of secrets and family skeletons in cupboards.  It’s a tale of woe in many respects but in spite of this Nelly manages to show that the lives of those at the Heights wasn’t all doom and gloom.  Nelly’s story isn’t the dark and brooding tale of Cathy and Heathcliff but instead looks more into her own upbringing and explores the close friendship that she shared with Hindley.  You can’t help coming away from this feeling a little sad about missed opportunities and wondering about how different people’s lives would be if those around them didn’t keep such secrets within their hearts that eventually lead to bitterness and anger.  But, in spite of a certain sense of remorse the story has a really positive ending and I think Nelly succeeds in demonstrating that there were moments of love and laughter at the heights before things took a turn for the worse.

Nelly is a fascinating character to read about.  I have to admit I was puzzled by her sometimes and wondered why she just didn’t take off.  She certainly seemed to have other options available to her yet she remained loyal to the Earnshaws even after her status changed from childhood friend to servant.  At the end of the day Nelly harboured her own secret desires and whether those may make her a little more unreliable in some respects of the story is perhaps why this holds such fascination.  We see a different side to Hindley, a child who seems to have been wronged in more ways than one and whose only friend seemed to be Nelly.  Nelly and Hindley both shared the same unexplained harshness from their fathers and this seemed to give them a greater understanding and natural affinity towards each other.

In terms of criticisms – I don’t really have anything to be honest.  I think there was maybe a little spell during the first few weeks after Nelly took up the responsibility for looking after Hareton that did become a little bit bogged down in the whole ‘feeding of a newborn baby’ issue but this was only a minor quibble and I have to admit I was fascinated by the resolution.

On the whole I was totally enamoured with this book.  The pages just flew by, I loved the style of writing and I really enjoyed spending time once again upon the moors.  Like I said, this doesn’t have the haunting and darkly brooding atmosphere of WH but it is nonetheless a captivating story of love, loyalty and family secrets.

I received a copy of this courtesy of the publishers through Edelweiss for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.




13 Responses to “Nelly Dean: A Return to Wuthering Heights by Alison Case”

  1. fence

    Sounds like an interesting one.

  2. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    It feels like there has been an upward tick in the trend of these kinds of books recently, the ones that revisit or return to the classics. I’ve never read one myself, but I’m very interested 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I used to be against them to be honest, in fact I was probably a bit judgemental (something about not using another author’s creations) but, Longbourn was so good and I really enjoyed this. It’s a completely different feel to Wuthering Heights and the author really isn’t trying to create that dark brooding feel but she has a wonderful style of writing.
      Lynn 😀

  3. proxyfish

    Sounds like a beautiful read!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really enjoyed it, the author has an amazing writing style and she’s created a great voice in Nelly.
      Lynn 😀

  4. jessicabookworm

    I am sorely tempted by this book as Wuthering Heights is my favourite Bronte novel 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I think you would really enjoy it – and I’d love to know what you think. It’s a completely different style of course being in the voice of Nelly but I found it captivating.
      Lynn 😀

  5. jenclair

    I love the idea of Nelly Dean being in charge of the story!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I thought it was a very good idea and I liked the focus on her and Hindley.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Mount TBR – Feb 2016 – Susan Hated Literature

    […] Alison – Nelly Dean rec’d by Lynns books : “On the whole I was totally enamoured with this book. The pages just flew by, I loved the […]

  7. Hiding in plain sight! Hidden gems… | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Nelly Dean by Alison Case is a wonderment of storytelling and an inspired accompaniment to Emily Bronte’s adored work. It is the story of a woman who is fated to bear the pain of a family she is unable to leave, and unable to save. […]

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