Alison CASE : Nelly Dean

Young Nelly Dean has been Hindley’s closest companion for as long as she can remember, living freely at the great house, Wuthering Heights. But when the benevolence of the master brings a wild child into the house, Nelly learns she must follow in her mother’s footsteps, be called "servant" and give herself over completely to the demands of the Earnshaw family.

But Nelly is not the only one who finds her life disrupted by this strange newcomer. As death, illness and passion sweep through the house, Nelly suffers heartache and betrayals at the hands of those she cherishes most, tempting her to leave it all behind. But when a new heir is born, a reign of violence begins that will test even Nelly’s formidable spirit as she finds out what it is to know true sacrifice.
The author's knowledge of Wuthering heights is undeniable. Her love for this novel is undeniable. How she weaves Nelly's story through the gaps of the original story is really well done and believable. The story is enjoyable. There are some parts where my heart went out to Nelly.


The breast feeding part left me perplex. Yes, I know, magic, even placebo magic in a story where everything started with a ghost on the land, it makes sense. I couldn't buy it. Legends, yes, ghosts, why not, but magical breast feeding ? No. It sounds like rational, down to earth Nelly magic : almost boring magic.
Everything falls into place at the end, which means that there are important facts explained just at the end. Yes, I know, twists and turns happen often at the end of novels. This one was so slow paced to me that the ending became too much, too quickly.

I liked the idea of those two characters who get together at the end being just friends. It was original, I liked it, a male-female friendship. Yes, I know, it makes sense that these two should end up together and comfort each other, yet I liked them being just friends.

But mostly, I should have known better before I picked this book. This is Nelly Dean's story, practical, efficient, rational Nelly, so it's only natural that the story should be different from the original Wuthering heights. As Nelly says in one chapter, those characters are falcons, they fly or react to flying in different ways, Nelly is the hen that walks on the floor : she's not like them. I can't say I ever loved those characters, but what attracted me was their madness, their unrationality, their unpracticality, their passion. As I said, my heart went out to Nelly sometimes, the trials she had to go through (her relationship with her mother is wonderfully written) but I never really loved her or admired her, even if she deserves to be loved and admired. She lacks the Brontë fire for me.

You don't have to agree with me, others readers have appreciated it much more than I did, but I liked reading this book, admired the work, yet I didn't feel any passion for it and I won't read it again.


  1. It's interesting what actually causes a spark between an author and reading, isn't it? And that is a subject close to my heart as both a very enthusiastic reader and a writer. But clearly earnest, practical Nelly didn't grab you... I wonder if she was too self-contained, clearly too capable so that there wasn't that bonding moment so necessary to a protagonist.

    1. Yes, it is, I agree completely, and this novel was highly recommended to me. I usually can relate to practical people, but I loved Wuthering heights, a novel that people usually hate because of its crazy tempers, because of the crazy. I found Nelly was capable of passion, yet she recovered so quickly that I doubted her. The Brontës usually evoke moors, harsh weather, passion, fire and a bit of madness, so Nelly clearly isn't for me :)