When I finished reading Wuthering Heights on Saturday, I said, “That’s how it ends?” My husband laughed hysterically and said, “Didn’t I warn you about that book?” On Sunday my best friend defended the book with, “She was writing life. That’s how life is. The bad guys don’t always get punished. Look at Dick Cheney!”
Look, if I wanted reality, I’d look out of my window or watch Bravo TV. But I didn’t. I wanted a novel. Fiction. I wanted a satisfying read. And having Heathcliff pleasantly drift off to everlasting bliss after wreaking havoc his whole life and making everyone miserable, was not my idea of a satisfying end. Had he been murdered, or trampled by a horse, or even better… had one of the other characters in the book been able to foil him, I would have been satisfied. But I realized I would have been most satisfied if I had never read Wuthering Heights at all.
Someone (was it Donald Maas?) said that a good ending makes up for a mediocre book. And it’s true. As the reader, I kept wanting something satisfying to happen, and when it didn’t my reaction was indignant. I’m not saying you can’t write a novel that’s so true to life that the hero’s really a villain, and there’s never any retribution for your characters’ worst behavior. But that’s not a book I want to read.
I need a book where the hero’s a hero, the villain is dastardly, and the good guys find triumph at the end due to their own effort. And Wuthering Heights was exactly the opposite. Plus, the worst ending ever.