Demon Copperhead and Wuthering Heights

 Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

This is a contemporary re-telling of Charles Dickens' David Copperfield, with many parallels to the original but told with so much swearing and salacious language that it got tiring. I have a reasonably high tolerance for vulgarity, probably higher than it should be, but this one is a bit much. I've always found good writers able to get their point across without resorting to detailed descriptions of sex and constant cursing. Barbara Kingsolver is an excellent writer, and as a member of my book club put it, “She’s better than this.” I’ve heard the argument that such language makes the story realistic, and maybe it does, though I’m sure people in Dickens’ time swore like sailors and he made David Copperfield painfully realistic without it.   

Demon’s story is heart-wrenching for sure, and a tragic picture of what kids in the foster system can endure. The story is great, I just got tired of the cursing and sex talk. Call me old-fashioned – I’ll take it as a compliment – but I don’t like my reading this gritty. Life is more than gritty enough as it is.


Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I read this years ago and remembered it for its good writing and dark tone. Lately it’s become quite popular again – or maybe it always has been and I just haven’t been paying attention – and I’m hearing people say what a beautiful story of romance it is, it’s their favourite book, they read it every year, etc. My memory of it was so completely different I thought I’d better read it again.

 I am completely baffled. Where is the romance, the beauty? Catherine and Heathcliff are in love, yes, but it’s more of a selfish obsession than anything. They are both awful people who do awful things to everyone but each other. His cruelty and abuse of others would land him in prison today. 

There are a few romantic (when taken out of context) quotes, but only a few, and everything in between is great writing of a horrible story. How anyone can see it as a beautiful love story or want to read it every year is beyond me. But, then, many things are beyond me, and isn't it our differences that make people, and life, and reading so interesting?

 "In literature as in love it is astonishing what is chosen by others." 
  Andre Maurois


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