Solsbury Hill by Susan M. Wyler
Publisher: Riverhead Trade
Publishing Date: April 1
Genre: romance, adult fiction
When a surprise call from a dying aunt brings twenty-something New Yorker Eleanor Abbott to the Yorkshire moors, and the family estate she is about to inherit, she finds a world beyond anything she might have expected. Having left behind an American fiance, here Eleanor meets Meadowscarp MacLeod—a young man who challenges and changes her. Here too she encounters the presence of Bronte herself and discovers a family legacy they may share.
With winds powerful enough to carve stone and bend trees, the moors are another world where time and space work differently. Remanants of the past are just around a craggy, windswept corner. For Eleanor, this means ancestors and a devastating romantic history that bears on her own life, on the history of the novel Wuthering Heights, and on the destinies of all who live in its shadow.
Eleanor Abbott arrives at a family estate in northern England after discovering her childhood friend and long-term boyfriend cheating on her. As her aunt’s friends and family help Eleanor decide on matters regarding the future of the estate, she contemplates Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, the man she left behind in New York, and the man she meets on the moors.
I had such high expectations for this novel — I can hardly write a summary for it because I’m so deeply disappointed.
My expectations were high because of the Wuthering Heights comparison. Marketed as a retelling, a romance as strong as Heathcliff and Catherine’s, and other such similarities is false advertising. The romance is shallow — if existent at all — and it’s certainly not a retelling. A retelling would be Margot Livesey’s The Flight of Gemma Hardy — new setting, new character names, but essentially the same core for motives or personalities. Forewarning, this is not a retelling, and the comparisons are…barely there.
The writing and the plot was not what I expected either. I thought descriptions and dialogue and plot would be fully developed, well-written, enticing, imaginative, lush. It fell completely flat. It was like reading a teenager’s fanfiction, or a preteen’s attempt at writing smut. And maybe this is because I’m not a romance reader — the very first couple pages contain explicit yet poorly written sex scenes, and then for the rest of the novel the characters are one-dimensional, lacking in personality, and forceful in poor dialogue.
Maybe I’m harsh because I see the Brontës as untouchable. Maybe this just wasn’t my book. Either way, I was disappointed.
Thank you, Edelweiss, for providing this book from Riverhead Trade for review.