To those who knew her during her short lifetime, Emily Bronte was simply the shy, eccentric daughter of Patrick Bronte, a man who was fiercer in his eccentricities than his daughter. Keeping to close family and friends and to nature, the next to youngest Miss Bronte was not much for fashionable society. Her sole novel, Wuthering Heights, is the story of unfulfilled, wild passion against a sea of Victorian sensibility and propriety. She died at the young age of 30, leaving her mark in the world via her novel, which is still beloved and debated 160 years after its initial publishing.
But what if there was more to Emily Bronte? What if the passion between her iconic lovers, Heathcliff and Cathy were an echo of her own life?
In Solsbury Hill: A Novel, by Susan Wyler starts in modern-day New York City. Eleanor Abbott appears to know her path in life. Her career as a fashion designer is starting to take off. Her relationship with Miles, her boyfriend/childhood best friend is nothing but solid. Then, as all good novels start, the protagonist is knocked off that projected path. First Eleanor catches Miles cheating on her. Then she receives a phone call about her Aunt Alice, her late mother’s older sister. Alice is on her deathbed and wants to see her niece one last time before she leave this world.
Leaving the concrete jungle for the wild moors of Yorkshire, Eleanor is swept into a mystery about her family past and how they might be connected to Emily Bronte. Encountering ghosts, a family mystery and her aunt’s adopted son, Eleanor is drawn into the past as she tries to figure out where her heart and her future lies.
I will say it straight out. I loved this book. I loved the mystery, I loved how Ms. Wyler hooked me right away. I also loved that Ms. Wyler kept the undercurrent of the narrative of Wuthering Heights while exploring the idea that the image that modern readers have of Emily Bronte might differ from the reality of her life.
I absolutely recommend it.