It is true that I never read this classic in high school (I think we were the Jane Eyre class instead). I will never stop wondering how I would have felt about it if I had read it then as opposed to now.
(Note: I am not reading any commentary on the novel before writing this. On the other hand, that is something I will definitely do before book club.)
It is clearly a clever person's writing. Not even because of its structure, which is a story within a story (within a story, in parts). But for its time, and not forgetting that it was written more than 30 years after Pride and Prejudice, the writing style is exactly what I expected: verbose, formal, passionate. What it is that I was NOT expecting was the gothic horror play that pervades it.
Really. I knew nothing about this book, and had never watched any adaptation on film or TV. I thought it would be dreamy, that the characters would be unforgivable or misguided or awful to each other (but of course, oh so formally) and then everyone would be redeemed through a series of experiences and events that unfold as the story continues. Not even remotely the case here! I am more than eager to find out what history knows of Emily Brontë's life, because it must have been a desperately troubled, and perhaps abusive, one. How else would she be able to drag such hatred of humankind from her characters?
Yes, yes, there's a love story. But it is so deeply hidden for most of the book that it sank into the mire for me, and I forgot it. And ended up having to focus on horrible, nasty, no-good people. Blech. I appreciate the writing, but I am not enamored of the tale.