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Nelly Dean: A Return to Wuthering Heights

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  752 ratings  ·  173 reviews
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
Hardcover, 474 pages
Published February 8th 2016 by Pegasus Books (first published August 13th 2015)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  752 ratings  ·  173 reviews

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Sep 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Over the years, there have been many re-imaginings, sequels or prequels, based on classic novels and some are more successful than others. I loved Longbourn by Jo Baker, which looked at “Pride and Prejudice” from the point of view of a servant in the Bennet’s house and, likewise, this novel takes “Wuthering Heights” and re-tells the story from the pen of Nelly Dean. The book begins with Nelly Dean opening a letter to Mr Lockwood, in which she gradually uncovers the history of her life and of the ...more
Katie Lumsden
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
Maybe 4.5. A really brilliant and thoroughly enjoyable read. It retells Wuthering Heights, starting from one central premise, which Emily Bronte certainly implies in the book: that Nelly Dean feels towards Hindley nearly as Heathcliff feels towards Cathy. One of the best retellings I have read. Case clearly knows and loves Wuthering Heights, and her interpretations of his gaps and hints are just fascinating.
MaryannC. Book Freak
I decided I needed to add more to this review than I originally did because I thought it deserved more than a quick comment. I will still say that yes, I Loved it! This was a back story to the Classic, Wuthering Heights based on servant Nelly Dean's life. I rooted for Nelly because she was a loyal, long-suffering servant who put her dreams and disappointments aside to serve the mostly selfish Earnshaw family and usually got nothing in return. Despite her hardships and let downs she always prevai ...more
Girl with her Head in a Book
I promised myself that I wouldn’t let this one suck me in, but when I spotted a copy in the library as I was dashing in to renew my books, I found myself drawn like a moth to a flame – or more correctly, like a literary masochist to a book about which she has low expectations. And believe me, my expectations were low. Since the publication of Longbourn, it seems as though every fictional servant from literature is being hauled out from below stairs and forced to sing their song. While Jo Baker m ...more
Emily May
Nov 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Just... quite dull.

Critics are saying this is a realistic addition to the Bronte tale because of Case's style - slow, detailed, old-fashioned - and I quite agree. And yet, I don't think it actually adds much at all. The author has broadened the story to contain even more details, especially about Hindley and Nelly, but it feels unneeded and unexciting. It doesn't go to all the new places I'd hoped for.
Sally Boocock
May 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cant rate this book high enough. As Wuthering Heights is my all time favourite book it had a lot to live up too but it passed with flying colours. Beautifully written and heart rending . This is how I will think of Nelly Dean on rereading Wuthering Heights.It places a new perspective on all the characters and makes you understand the way they behaved.Wonderful. Any one who loves Wuthering Heights should definitely read this book.
Iza Brekilien
3.5 - rounded down to 3 for Goodreads...

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.
Aug 09, 2016 marked it as unfinished
I read the first 6 chapters, but wasn't finding it interesting. I don't feel it would stand alone successfully as a novel, and is only of interest to me because of its connections with Wuthering Heights.

The only prequel/sequel by a different author from the main book, that I have found successful is Wide Sargasso Sea.
Mar 13, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's well written and reads like a 19th century novel and the author's detailed historical knowledge comes through. But I found it a bit of a slog and it could be pretty dry at times. It's worth reading to give you a bit of sympathy for Hindley who is easy to hate in Wuthering Heights and does a good job of making you look at the novel from a different perspective.
But it doesn't have the wild nature or passion of Wuthering Heights so was easy to put down, had to force myself to get through it.
Maya Panika
Oct 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A re-telling of the events of Wuthering Heights from the point of view of the family servant, Nelly Dean. Nelly also tells the story in Wuthering Heights, but as the story comes from Lockwood’s sighting of Cathy’s ghost, the original focuses on Cathy and her strange and terrible relationship with Heathcliff. In Nelly Dean, the focus is square and plainly on Nelly herself, and told by means of a letter to Mr Lockwood, which works nicely in its context (which I can’t tell for fear of spoiling). By ...more
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In her first novel, Alison Case has drawn on her teachings of Wuthering Heights to create a story to sits alongside that classic, making Nelly Dean, the housekeeper, her first person narrator and the principal character of her story throughout. I admit I am wary of the rewriting, reinterpreting or whatever the approach may be towards a new book based, in whichever fashion, upon a true, beloved classic. I love Wuthering Heights, the Brontës, Haworth and everything to do with them so I was at once ...more
Jan 14, 2017 rated it liked it
I started reading this book back in November and the fact that I’ve only just finished it but have read over a dozen other books in the meantime, tells you I didn’t find it as compelling as I hoped or the author deserves given the obvious craft put into it. The book expands on the narration by Nelly Dean, the housekeeper at Wuthering Heights, in Emily Bronte’s original book and introduces imagined back stories for some of the characters, notably Hindley, Hareton and Nelly . However, although it ...more
Suzette Kunz
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it
The author does a great job here of taking the character of Nelly Dean from the original and capturing her voice and tone perfectly. I think the plot she imagines here is so plausible that is makes for an interesting companion to the original novel. It was kind of a slow read for me, but enjoyable.
Claire Reads Books
Mar 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
What a messss 😂😭
Kathleen Flynn
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bronte-businesss
Slow start but a lovely ending. Without giving any plot points away, I will say I liked how it picked up and elaborated on certain subtexts of Wuthering Heights.
Amanda Coak
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nelly Dean by Alison Case

Billed as a return to Wuthering Heights, Nelly Dean is the story of WH from the point of view of the servant who partially narrated the story. In it, Nelly has written her story down addressed to Mr Lockwood without sending it.

I think the most important thing about this is whether it adds to the story of WH, and out of the #backstairs books I’ve read, I think this one adds the most to the story. Nelly is a fully imagined character who sheds a great deal of light on Mr E
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When you love a classic as much as you do Wuthering Heights, it’s hard to not want MORE when it’s offered! Like a moth to the flame, Nelly Dean caught my attention and I couldn’t look away even knowing very well that it could completely alter the way I enjoyed the original, brilliant novel by Emily Brontë.
My husband bought this for me for Christmas with his fingers tightly crossed 🤞🏻🤞🏻.
Someone very wise told me “the best writers are those who know best what NOT to write”. And this is the perfec
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Tedious is the best word to describe this book. It was too long, and too full of unnecessary detail. And the "twist" at the end was ridiculous. ...more
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very moving take on the original.
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Totally plausible and totally absorbing read. Fits in so well as a companion to Wuthering Heights - brilliantly seamless.
Lynn Williams
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.5 of 5 stars
If you want the short and sweet version of this review then I will start by saying that I loved this book. I read a number of the classics during my younger years and most of them hold a fond place in my heart. The Bronte sisters are no exception to this although my favourite book from the Bronte’s is Charlotte’s Jane Eyre. That being said Wuthering Heights is a great story and so I was very excited to pick up a copy of Nelly Dean and see wha
Felicity Terry
Nov 15, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Let me begin by stating that whilst I am of course familiar with the story I have never actually read the book, Wuthering Heights, of which this is an re-imagining, an 'off-spring' or a companion read if you will, in which the author tells the story from the point of view of the maid, Nelly Dean.

So, can it be appreciated by someone who has never read Wuthering Heights?

Well, whilst I certainly didn't feel like my understanding or enjoyment of the story was in any way impaired by my not having rea
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, brontë-reads
Second Read | April 2019
I reread this for an essay I'm doing on retellings. I didn't enjoy it as much as the first time round, but I'm not sure if that's because I'm not really in a reading mood lately or because it was my first time listening to an audiobook (yes, I just lost my audiobook virginity, get me x). I still love what Case has done with the original story though, and how brilliantly she managed to fill in all the gaps with a new, authentic story. I would definitely recommend it, espec
Sandra Hutchison
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-from-books
I have to make a confession: I don't like Wuthering Heights. It strikes me as overwrought and melodramatic and I never found Cathy the least bit sympathetic. I'm more of a Cold Comfort Farm type of person. But I've read WH two or three times anyway, and at least once Professor Charles Kay Smith at UMass led me to fully appreciate the narrative structure, the ingenious way in which it is told by Nelly Dean. With this book, Alison Case has done a fascinating job of playing off that unique structur ...more
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a companion volume to Wuthering Heights and tells us more about the background to the story of Heathcliff and the family he is so abruptly introduced to.
Alison Case tells us about the difficult and disturbing life of Nelly Dean, the housekeeper in Wuthering Heights and through her eyes we explore the childhoods of the family and gain more of an understanding of why Hindley became so depraved and unlike able, why Heathcliff and Cathy became so attached and come to a better understanding
Nov 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author was a professor of mine, and I still see her around town. (In fact, I'm pretty sure I read Wuthering Heights in one of her classes.) So I've been excited to read this. It starts off a little slowly, but at some point (maybe a third of the way in?) I thought it picked up steam and I was fairly well hooked. There were a few parts that I didn't quite buy into (the breast-feeding storyline, mostly), but overall, this was good. My foggy recollections of the original didn't hold me back too ...more
Jun 12, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all - I hated Wuthering Heights, I'm sorry, I tried, it's my Gran's favourite but it just didn't resonate with me - perhaps because I gave my heart to Mr Rochester at age 12. So it was with a fair bit of trepidation that I opened this book to review for a friend. But I'm happy to say it was wonderful. That mainly has to do with the authors fantastic job of imagining Nelly's character, life and passions. Alison Case is very skilful in weaving Bronte's original storyline with what feels l ...more
Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Tragic as only a novel of the Romantic era (or a novel based on such) can be, and yet incredibly hopeful and imaginative, all brought to life with vivid detail of the time and place. Alison Case brilliantly fills the holes in Nelly Dean's own story, as well as the tale told in WUTHERING HEIGHTS.

(It was also a pleasure to follow the drama of Nelly's life so closely, and to have her more honest take on the events she recounted for Mr. Lockwood, especially since she was probably the most sympathet
Jun 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this once I got over the fact it wasn't trying to be Wuthering Heights. Nor was it trying to retell Heathcliff and Cathy's story. It's focus was on Nelly, and Hindley, and Hareton and adding to the richly drawn story I know and love. It hit the right note in terms of tone in atomsphere, language and all the other magical elements that make EB's work a classic. Wisely, Wuthering Heights is forever its starting point, its centre point, its central reference, its beginning, middle ...more
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Alison Case is a Professor at Williams College in Massachusetts and her academic background has focused on Victorian Studies, Narrative Theory, and Gender Studies. Her first book, Plotting Women: Gender and Narration in the 18th and 19th-Century British Novel, is well-known and well respected. With these interests, it’s not a surprise that Case’s first novel focuses on a well-known literary chara ...more

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