Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman
After watching the latest Masterpiece adaptation of Wuthering Heights, I morphed into a Heathcliff addict. Here’s the thing: I would never bother with Heathcliff in real life. He’s one crazy psychopathic mofo. In reality, I’m partial to compassionate, sensitive, introspective gents. I want a John Green narrator, a Markus Zusak protagonist, and Jamie Fraser: good guys with noble hearts.
Heathcliff is a domestic assault trial waiting to happen. He’s a bad dog that should be kept at bay. Bad boys are best fantasized about in fiction, best avoided in life.
Short of actually reading the original W.H., I turned to Here on Earth, a modern day re-working of a literary masterpiece with an adult spin.
Change the Yorkshire moors to the Massachusetts countryside, fast forward one hundred years into the present, and the first quarter of Here on Earth faithfully follows the main themes of W.H. (see obsessive love).
The gist: March Murray returns to hometown to attend her beloved housekeeper’s funeral. Married to a loving, gentle man who she left behind in California, the last thing March wants is brooding soul mate, Hollis, back in her life.
She keeps her distance.
Meanwhile, Hollis waits for March to come to him.
One night, Hollis flashes March some smoldering blue steel across a crowded bar, her knees buckles, and, like fire and powder, when they kiss, consume. (I so rarely get to quote Romeo and Juliet. Let me have my fun).
On to the violent delights. Alright, I’ll admit it: I have a one tract mind. In my readings, I zero in on the sex scenes. In cases where there are no sex scenes, I make do with violence. It’s like “blah blah blah Sex! Blah blah blah Sex! Blah blah blah Violence! Profanity! Blah blah blah The End.” My hormones control my attention span. I wish I could aspire to loftier subjects, shoot the breeze about pseudo-intellectual hoo-haw, but in the end, I’m a visceral reader. Woof.
So March and Hollis engage in some crazy passionate love-making.
In his car.
On the kitchen sink.
In a love shack.
In the foyer.
Obsessive, all-consuming, why-bother-wearing underwear-because-you-won’t-need-them brand of doinking. I like these parts the best.
Then Hollis becomes uber paranoid about March leaving him or double doinking the gardener and he bounces her off the wall a few times. Ever seen Sleeping with the Enemy? Remember how Julia Roberts’ hubby would go all apeshit over the crooked towels? Yeah. It’s like that. March can’t leave the house anymore; she pads around barefoot and somewhere on her ankle is an invisible chain, figuratively speaking.
Things really turn icky when Hollis threatens to spank March’s rebellious teenage daughter and I’m like “Oh, hells no. Heathcliff would never spank Cathy or her daughter! There’s no spanking in Wuthering Heights!”
The shit really hits the fan when Hollis grabs his Winchester and threatens to shoot a stallion to teach the womenfolk a lesson on obedience. Waaa! (Clutches head. It’s too much to handle).
I know I’m spoiling the hell out of this book, but I’ve got issues with the second half. Near the end, March grows a spine, slips on some shoes, and sneaks off to a party. Hollis comes home (from doing the town slut, mind you), finds March missing, and starts sniffing for her scent like a freaking bloodhound after fresh rabbit.
I won’t give the rest away in case you want to read it.
All do not end well. These violent delights have violent ends and all that jazz.
I wish Hollis would do the Heathcliff thing and bang his head against a tree instead of taking out his anger on little girls and little ponies.
Hollis, you are a bad dog. You need a smack on the snout. You are no Heathcliff, well, I take that back, you are Heathcliff…on steroids.