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5 Books like Wuthering Heights: Dark & Passionate

Jo Ward itcherOne of the ultimate Gothic novels, ‘Wuthering Heights’ is full of love and passion, but of a dark and dangerous nature. This passion is woven through a wild landscape which is as unforgettable as the story itself. Finding books that even come close was never going to be easy but I hope I’ve succeeded. Here are my five books like ‘Wuthering Heights’: ‘An Equal Music’, ‘The Memory of Love’, ‘The Age of Innocence’, ‘Dark Quartet’ and ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’. ~ Jo Ward

Wild Landscape, Wilder Emotions

‘Wuthering Heights’ is about love, passionate, intense, but ultimately destructive. There are elements of the supernatural and the all-pervading bleakness of the moors on which it is set. There are a number of obvious choices when you are thinking of similar books – ‘Jane Eyre’ jumps out – but it’s always going to be hard to match the sheer intensity of this novel. I hope I’ve managed it.


Books Similar to ‘Wuthering Heights’…

‘An Equal Music’ (Vikram Seth, 1999)

Image Source: NQ Books

I’ve been waiting for a chance to recommend this since the first piece I wrote for itcher. It’s my absolute all-time favourite book. Ok, it’s set in cities and not on the moors, but as a story of love that pulls you in I think it can more than hold its own in a list of books similar to ‘Wuthering Heights’.

Michael is a violinist who loved (loves) Julia. But he left her ten years ago. And then he sees her on the top deck of a double-decker bus. Now she is so close he must find her. But when he does, she withdraws. Why?

Music runs through this in the same way the landscape does in ‘Wuthering Heights’, and the passion is just as tangible.

Similarity Match: 80%
A modern setting, city-bound, with music instead of moors, this would seem to be miles away from ‘Wuthering Heights’, but the love story is just as intense. And there’s brooding. Lots of brooding!

‘Rebecca’ (Daphne Du Maurier, 1938)

Image Source: Houseput

I confess. Hands up and you got me. This is turning into ‘my all-time favourite books’. Or maybe it’s that I am drawn to a certain type of literature. Whatever, the fact is that if you haven’t read this, you need to get yourself to a bookshop immediately and remedy this deficiency.

A naive and gawky ingénue meets a dashing gentleman, falls in love and is whisked off to a mysterious mansion complete with an unpleasant servant. So far, so boring. But when confessions reveal the past full of twisted love and hatred, it turns into a much more complex and captivating read.

The Cornish landscape is the non-speaking character in this novel, and the sea is as central as the moors are to ‘Wuthering Heights’.

Similarity Match: 70%
Love that is deep and wild turns to hatred, equally as deep and wild. However, in this story, these passions are in the past –what you see are the consequences.

‘The Age of Innocence’ (Edith Wharton, 1920)

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This is a slightly odd choice for a book like ‘Wuthering Heights’, I admit. Ostensibly a society novel, with more in common with ‘Pride and Prejudice’ than Bronte’s masterpiece, it is, however, full of the intensity that makes ‘Wuthering Heights’ so compelling.

Set in New York in the 1870s, Newland Archer is set to marry May Welland. And then the enigmatic Countess Ellen Olenska turns up. May is conventional, Ellen anything but. Archer is in love, deeply and wildly, but not with the woman he is about to marry.

The intensity evoked puts this book is on a level with ‘Wuthering Heights’, although I’m not going to tell you whether it’s destined to end in destruction or not – read it and find out!

Similarity Match: 60%
There’s no landscape here, unless you count the landscape of high society, but there is plenty of intense passion.


If You Like ‘Wuthering Heights’, You Will Like…

Heathcliff and Cathy are some of the most famous doomed lovers in literature. But what if love affairs aren’t your thing? How do you still steep yourself in the atmosphere of the novel without getting sucked into affairs of the heart? I think I’ve found the answer…

‘Dark Quartet’ (Lynne Reid Banks, 1976)

Image Source: Amazon

Emily Bronte set her most famous story on the moors where she herself grew up. So a story of her life is going to have the same sort of feel to it as ‘Wuthering Heights’.

This is a biography of the Bronte children written as a novel, rather than a dry list of facts. Lynne Reid Banks has done a brilliant job of evoking the landscape that the family grew up in, and which had such a dramatic impact on the work of Emily especially.

If you want to really climb inside the head of the creator of ‘Wuthering Heights’, this is a good place to do it!

A biography crossed with a novel, but ideal to see where the creator of ‘Wuthering Heights’ drew her inspiration.

‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’ (Ann Radcliffe, 1794)

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If you are going to talk about a gothic novel you really need to mention Ann Radcliffe somewhere. One of the earlier examples, probably best known from the reference in ‘Northanger Abbey’, it’s worth a read.

Emily St Aubert is orphaned and sent to live with an unpleasant and vindictive aunt. This aunt is on the verge of finally allowing Emily to marry when she herself marries. The new husband whisks both Emily and her aunt to his mysterious castle in Italy. Will Emily survive?

It’s not perfect, it’s wordy and often rambling, but for a classic example of this genre, look no further.

It’s a Gothic novel with wild landscapes, passions and dark brooding atmosphere, but in terms of plot it is miles away from Heathcliff and Cathy.


Dark Times

‘Wuthering Heights’ is unique. There’s no other book that I know of that combines the intensity of emotion with a nod to the supernatural and a love of (and fear of) such an untamed landscape. I hope in the above books I’ve found at least one that you think deserves to be included on the same list as Emily Bronte’s masterpiece.

What would you have put on it instead? Tell us in the comments.

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