May isÂ aÂ month ofÂ public holidays, providing not one but two breaks, nicely spaced;Â what larks. In theory, as it’sÂ late spring, we should plan to be outside, gardening or enjoying a brisk walk; however, in Britain there is every chance that the beautiful weather willÂ melt away at the hint of time off.
That being the case, you would be well advised to stock up on your reading and lay in extra tea bags and cup-a-soup to make the most of your well-deserved rest. Naturally, we have a few new things in the bookshop thatÂ might help the time to pass more pleasantly.
If you are in the frame of mind for fiction, consider the novelÂ Nelly Dean. This is Wuthering Heights retold from the perspective of the servants’ hall (think Jo Bakerâs Longbourn,Â a similar take on Pride and Prejudice). Those blasted moors and whistling winds could mesh nicely with the bank holiday climatic conditions â or provide a glorious counterpoint if it is fabulously sunny and you can spend the long weekend on the lounger in the garden.
Alison Case is a professor in Victorian Studies in Massachusetts so her period detail is spot on. Bronteâs classic was tragedy and melodrama, passion and thwarted desire;Â imagine if you had all that and had to get up at 06:00 to black lead the grate, and couldnât wander pensively over the moors lest you lost your place and starved to death. It is always good to know how the other half lived, something the Earnshaws might have thought about as they raged and suffered and then rang for tea.
As always with these things, it will be better if you have read Wuthering Heights or at least watchedÂ a movie version.Â But even if you don’t know the story already, you will still enjoy Nelly Dean. And if you are a fast reader with a limited social life (I speak from personal experience) then make one of the May breaks a Wuthering Weekend and polish off both. Continue reading »