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Love Dogs Eileen West

That great dog novel: Wuthering Heights

The New Oxford Dictionary of English definition:  contentment  (noun)  a state of happiness and satisfaction.

My definition:  contentment  (favourite noun)  rainy night in September, roaring fire, four dogs at my feet, two on my knee and a good book.

Or in other words, 17th September,  2011 from around 8 p.m.


Due to an overlap I had three sleepover guests last night to keep me company by the fireside:  Dana, a beautiful, gentle lurcher, Bronach, a cheeky little border terrier and Roxy, a blue roan Cocker spaniel.  Along with my three girls it was a full house but a remarkably peaceful and content one.  This might have had something to do with the fact that we were out for a three hour walk in the morning and another two hour one in the afternoon through fields, woods and farm tracks.  What’s not to be content about?
At one point Bronach was fast asleep on my lap and Dana was standing in front of me with her head on my chest … seemingly also asleep – standing up. I sent their mum a message asking if this was “normal”?  “Absolutely!” came back the reply.

Musical lap ensued for most of the evening with various combinations of dogs vying for position on the couch with me and my reading positions becoming ever more bizarre.
I’ve had to forsake ‘Walking Wisdom’ for my book club’s choice for this month.  We try to intersperse contemporary with classic fiction but not exclusively and try to experiment with genre.  September is a classic fiction month and we’re all scaling ‘Wuthering Heights’.  Penguin classic from Amazon

Quite naturally, as a writer and dog lover the symbolism of dogs in this sprawling novel leaps out at me from the very beginning.

It was as a result of a dog bite which led to Catherine recuperating at the Grange and in effect ending her relationship with Heathcliff; the dogs are all related just as the Earnshaws and Lintons are; the pack of dogs which greet Lockwood at the beginning of the book certainly reflect their master’s personality and poor Fanny’s shocking treatment is a taste of what will befall Isabella at the hands of Heathcliff.

Typical.  Wuthering Heights is a masterpiece of revenge and ruin – not at all a love story – and I see it as a book about dogs!  What can I tell you?

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