Even so, if I’d known before I began it, I probably would never have read it, and that would have been a shame. It would have been my loss – but I’ve read enough self-conscious and unconvincing rewrites of classics to ensure that they’re never something I’m eager to pick up. However, I’m glad I did download this to my e-reader and click it open, because it’s excellent – as are the other books I’ve read by Catherine Czerkawska: A Quiet Afternoon in the Museum of Torture and The Curiosity Cabinet.
The farmer has a granddaughter, Kirsty, on whom he dotes. She’s an only child, lonely at the farm, and strikes up a friendship with Finn which persists through the years, as he returns again and again to the harvest. By the time sex enters the scene, they have forged a close emotional bond that even years of separation cannot loosen; and, as an adult, Kirsty retains an understanding of Finn which others, kept at a distance by his silence, never reach.
Couldn't have put it down.
For one, I found both Finn and Kirsty far more engaging characters than Heathcliffe and Cathy. Kirsty is a bright and loveable child when we first meet her: the sheltered, adored darling of her mother and grandfather. She can’t understand Finn’s withdrawn and touchy nature and merrily, touchingly, tries to draw him out. She’s read the ‘Chalet School’ books and, hearing that Finn attends ‘a boarding school’ in Ireland, questions him about dorm feasts. In reality Finn is a near-prisoner in an ‘industrial school’ for the children of ‘unfit mothers’, staffed by monks. Things go on in dormitories at night, but not midnight feasts.
Because we know more of Finn’s background than we do of Heathcliffe’s, we understand him more. We can see why he is withdrawn, wary and silent. Nor does he simply vanish before returning a rich man – we know exactly where he’s been, what he’s been doing and how he got that money. We also understand why he hasn’t changed.
Though I know many Heathcliffe fans won’t agree with me, I’ve often felt that Heathcliffe should be clipped round the ear with a rolled newspaper and told to lose the Byronic pose – whereas with Finn, I knew exactly what he was struggling with and how hard it was.