Friday, March 22, 2013

Abide with Me by Sabin Willet — 384 pgs

Roy Murphy has just returned from a hellish tour in Afghanistan to a hometown that gave up on him long ago. Roy was the town’s miscreant, always finding himself in the pit of trouble. When, years ago, he was caught with a gun trying to kill a man, Roy was written off for good by the others in the town. Everyone except Emma Herrick. Emma is the town sweetheart: beautiful, smart and ambitious. It’s the fire in Roy that pulls Emma towards him like a moth, despite the fact that her parents are furious over her choice of Roy. Just when their love starts to flower, Roy makes the decision to go off to war, and Emma leaves him behind for good—or so she thinks. On the eve of her engagement party, Roy, just discharged from the service, comes calling for the woman he never forgot. While Emma remains unmoved on the surface, inside her the fire still burns. When Roy discovers that Emma’s childhood home is up for auction, he buys it and agrees to let her mother, who is suffering from dementia, live there for a time. Roy doesn’t know what he wants or needs, and neither does Emma. As they fight over the past and the future, Emma’s new husband hangs back, awaiting the news that she will leave him. But on a night like no other, a desperate accident takes place and the consequences and scars are many. It will be a night that changes Emma and Roy’s lives forever. A compelling retake on Wuthering Heights, Sabin Willet brings forbidden romance into desperate play with shocking violence that trembles with fury from the great house on the hill.

Wuthering Heights is the book that readers love to hate. It’s a very complicated and detailed look at the deconstruction of two people who are just not good for each other and the havoc that they wreak on each other’s lives. It was a book that I couldn’t put down, and for that reason, I chose to review Abide with Me, which held many of the same hallmarks of the original yet was still very versatile and new. It was a book that was rich in its darkness and very impressive in its plot revolutions. Roy Murphy is the modern day Heathcliff. He’s dark, edgy, and he loves from a deep part of himself that chooses never to share with the people around him. His love is brooding and bruising.

Emma has never stopped being the good girl. Her folly with Roy was just that, and now she has moved on to remove the tarnish from her family’s name with a high power career and a husband who is calm, steady and neutral. Emma hides her love for Roy so deeply inside herself that even she has been unaware of it for so long. But the night that he shows up at the engagement party, things begin to unravel for her. She tries to avoid him, to hate him, and to remove any impact from her life that he may have. But in her heart, she knows she can’t avoid him forever, and takes herself far from him to remove temptation. Roy is like a cancer that grows and grows inside her, feeding off old memories and new improvements. He is the seed in her that is hidden under the frost, waiting to bloom.

Like Wuthering Heights, this book is a tragedy, but not in the traditional ways one might think. There are new worries: financial solvency, PTSD, and the cruel way that Roy deals with the people in his life, even, sometimes, Emma. But there is light here too. Roy’s love for his commander, who becomes a father figure to him and teaches him to delight in the knowledge that he was so void of before. His undying passion for a woman who he knows he should not have, and the woman that comes between them like a splinter of rebuke. It’s a well built tale, and one that modern readers can relate to.

I thought this book was extremely well crafted and that it took a very sharp deviation from the original story of Wuthering Heights, but it remained, in essence, a transfixing book that was not only resplendent in love but in suffering as well. If you haven’t read Wuthering Heights, this makes no difference. One book can be enjoyed without the other, but if you do read both, you will see the modern day equivalent of a masterpiece of literature.


This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.

19 comments:

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

You are right that Wuthering Heights is a very polarizing book. I remember reading it when I was about eleven-years-old and loving it, but I wonder how I would feel about it now? This one sounds interesting as well, but I think I would like to read Wuthering Heights again because I love looking at the similarities. Fantastic insight into this book, it's piqued my interest!

nomadreader said...

This one sounds really interesting! I haven't read Wuthering Heights (it's on my list to get to soon) so I'll likely hold off until I've read it, but I'm quite intrigued.

Ti said...

A retake on WH? Hmmm, interesting. Can't say I loved WH but it was fun to read with a group, which is what I did.

Aarti said...

While you wrote a great review of this one, I think I will probably give it a miss - I really don't like Wuthering Heights!

Athira said...

I haven't read Wuthering Heights but it's on my wishlist. This one sounds so I'll look for it.

Suko said...

Excellent review, as always. Abide with Me sounds very complex and contemporary. I would definitely read this as it does sound like a compelling remake of Wuthering Heights.

Mystica said...

WH was for me a heavy book! if this is something like that I'd give it a miss. Strangely enough this same title is a book by Elizabeth Strout

Buried In Print said...

Even when I don't especially enjoy a particular classic, I enjoy unravelling the parallels in a retelling, particularly with one that sounds as different from the original as this one. Thanks for reviewing it and putting it on our reading radar!

Lisa said...

Oh darn you, Heather. I've read Wuthering Heights twice and just hated Heathcliff and Cathy so much I could not appreciate the book. But now that I've read your thoughts about it, I'm think I need to give it yet one more chance. And I'm definitely adding this one to my wish list.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Haven't read WH in years and years and wasn't in love with it then, but I do like the sound of this one.

Beth F said...

I've been on the fence with this. I am in the hate WH club -- I like complex, I can handle dark; I just didn't care for WH.

Charlie (The Worm Hole) said...

This sounds absolutely brilliant. I love Wuthering Heights as a book, but the story is so awful - Willet's version sounds easier to take and I like the sound of the changes that have been made. Wonderful review, Zibilee!

Amy said...

Oh this sounds interesting, I hadn't heard of it before.

Brooke said...

A Wuthering Heights re-telling? Why hadn't I heard of this - sounds marvelous!

Stacy at The Novel Life said...

I'm with Brooke ~ I haven't heard of this one before either and I LOVED Wuthering Heights! Now I'm going to have to read both to see the similarities :-D

Jenny said...

When you first said Wuthering Heights retake I wasn't sure I'd like it but your review for it is compelling so I will have to keep it in mind!

geosireads said...

I like books that are well composed and crafted and i can see why this is for me. thanks.

Darlene said...

This does sound intriguing but I've never been a huge fan of WH so not sure I'd pick it up.

Elizabeth said...

I just finished this a few days ago - I was less excited by the WH re-boot, but loved the author's take on a war story. I'll be interested to see what he writes next.

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