I'm beyond inpressed by Bronte's ability to create such complex characters in Cathy and Heathcliffe as a twenty-something-year-old with little exposure to the outside world. Just brilliant.
So, why four stars? While the writing is impeccable, I have complaints about the story. It's really two stories and I wish Bronte had written them as such. I guess sequels weren't as popular in her day as they are now. A publisher nowadays may have even squeaked three books out of this.
I wish the book had ended around the time of Cathy's death.I felt like the story reached a crescendo, which the second part of the story just couldn't match. While I liked neither Heathcliffe nor Cathy, it was impossible not to be affected by the sheer power of their feelings for one another. What made them so attached is what made it impossible for them to have any kind of healthy relationship. They were mirror images. The same flaws, same weaknesses, same mulishness, same selfishness. I definitely believed in their intense relationship and Heathcliffe's pain at Cathy's death was very moving to this reader, who didn't even like him. Why not end the story here with the reader still caught up Heathcliffe and Cathy's troubled relationship?
The part of the story that focuses on the next generation, while interesting, added nothing to the story for me. Sure, it's often nice to have everything wrapped up in a pretty bow, in this instance, I saw this as a detraction, a lessening of the import of the Heathcliffe/Cathy story.
I also would have preferred it had Heathcliffe gone out of his mind with grief soon after Cathy's death. His life was over, yet he somehow manages to survive another 16 years. Again, I felt like this was a lapse in the momentum of the story. When Heathcliffe finally loses his mind, I had already moved on. While Hareton and Catherine's relationship did not have the same passion as Heathcliffe and Cathy's, it was a nice little story.
So here we have two 5-star stories with 5-star writing that somehow adds up to a 4-star rating.
(I listened to the audio version narrated by Janet McTeer and David Timson. I briefly listened to another audio version narrated solely by Carolyn Seymour. I found it distracting to have a woman narrating a man's role. It took me out of the story.)