Interview on Anna Sewell’s “Black Beauty”, with special guest

We here at Barton Hollow have been given the opportunity to sharpen the literary skill of one of our friends who is in 6th grade; and so today we share the stage with a special guest, Nathan, who enlightens us to his thoughts on Anna Sewell’s masterpiece “Black Beauty”:


Q. (Nicole): In what time was this book set?
A. (Nathan): The book black beauty is set in England, during the Victorian era.
Q. Who is the main character?
A. The main character in this book is Black Beauty, a powerful stallion.
Q. How do we find out that he is a horse?
A. We find out he is a horse when he says,”My mother was a powerful horse, often used by the master”
Q. describe his personality to me.
A. His personality is a young bright spirit, with energy to spare!
Q.What sort of families does he find himself with?
A. He finds himself with good, bad, and cruel families! But good for the most part.
Q. What time of his life does he remember with the greatest fondness? Why?
A. He remembers his time in Birtwick Park the fondest, because all of his good friends lived there at this time.
Q. What time of his life did he least enjoy? Why?
A. He enjoyed his time at the Flour Factory least. Because it was at this time he was treated  so badly, that he fainted in the middle of the road.
Q. What was his attitude towards those who didn’t treat him well?
A. He did not develop a bad attitude towards the bad owners, he just did what he was told, and did it to the best of his ability.
Q. What do you think this book tells us about the author’s beliefs on animals? How does she think they should be treated? Does she love animals?
A. I believe that Anna Sewell was an animal lover, and respected animals greatly. I also believe that she thought that animals should be treated fairly, just as you and me.

Review on the “Abram’s Daughter’s series”, by Beverly Lewis

In 2002, Beverly Lewis published the first installment of her excellent “Abram’s Daughters” series. The four books that followed track the lives of an Old Order Amish family in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The story begins in the year 1942, and resolves in 1969. The Ebersol family has four daughters, all of whom we see mature from their youth. The books average  in at 350 pages. They are steadily paced, and solidly written. Though the author deals with intense family drama, it is handled with exceptional good taste, resulting in a book that can be read with the family. We will refrain from spoiling the story, but we happily report a satisfactory (if unexpected) ending. Five stars.

We also enjoyed Beverly Lewis’ “Annie’s People” series.

Part Two, Interview on Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights was written in the first quarter of the 19th Century by Emily Bronte. It has long been hailed as one of the first in the genre of Gothic Romance. The following interview was conducted on January 8, 2013, between historical literature enthusiasts MadaLin Peeler and Nicole Kirkman. These are opinions, not facts. Please feel free to continue discussion and ask any questions in the comment section.

Q. So now we have two love stories blooming, correct?

Well, sort of! I’m not sure I would call Heathcliff and Isobella a blooming love story, and I’m not sure that Catherine and Edgar ever were one, but for all intents and purposes I’ll say, “Yes, we do.”

Catherine (who has now been married for about two years) sees Heathcliff and Isobella embrace one day outside her parlor window, and though she attempts to convince Isobella to avoid Heathcliff, her protests fall on ears deaf with pride. This is perhaps the only selfless thing Catherine has ever done. Was she beginning to see the error in her ways? We never find out. The family tensions culminate into an explosive argument, the end result being Catherine locking herself in her room, refusing food long enough to become quite ill. A doctor is called, and upon discovering that Catherine is pregnant, demands that she stay cloistered away, avoiding all things that may possibly vex her. She never returns to full mental or physical health in the few months left in her life.

It is during which time Heathcliff and Isabella elope.

Q. So has Heathcliff transferred his affections, finally?? Is he in a healthy relationship???

No, no He is very much not in a healthy relationship. He states on several occasions that he outright hates Isobella. It would seem that he married her to anger Catherine and Edgar.

Q. It seems that the Linton siblings have some easily clouded judgement.

I agree completely. Though everyone has the ability to rationalize behaviour, they seem to have a particular weakness for that.

Isobella’s motives are virtually unknown, though the best we can assume is that she fancied her own judgement to be superior to Catherine’s. (Catherine does in fact, have a good reputation for selfishness.) But Isobella quickly learns that she was lying to herself: upon returning to Wuthering Heights, confides to Ellen Dean that Heathcliff cannot truly be a man, that no human has it in them to be so cruel to as he has been to her.

Q. So Catherine is pregnant and ill, and Heathcliff and Isobella have eloped.

Yes, though they leave without hearing of the apparent cause of Catherine’s illness.

Catherine just after the birth of their daughter, whom Edgar names after her mother. (to avoid confusion, we shall from henceforth follow suite with the book and refer to the mother as Catherine, and the daughter as Cathy.) Cruel as this may seem, I think Catherine’s death was probably for the best. Catherine was not what we might call a role model, and I can only wonder what sort of parent she might have been.

Q. Describe the circumstances of her death.

After all, Catherine’s death comes but a day after a clandestine visit from Heathcliff. “Clandestine” in that it was brought about by Heathcliff threatening Ellen Dean with her life to gain entrance to the estate, and that he did so in direct transgression to Edgar’s forbidding their contact. Catherine comes alive as she has not been in months, restored by Heathcliff’s presence. Her husband Edgar Linton storms in, furious at both of them who he aptly sees as traitors. Catherine is so upset by the thought of Heathcliff leaving her for good that she faints, and grows deathly ill. Ellen Dean later reports to Heathcliff (who has for over fifteen hours kept his promise to Catherine that he will go no further than her window than the nearby grove of trees) that she never regained consciousness enough to know one person from another, and slipped away silently (and with a small smile on her lips) after delivering a scrawny baby girl.

Q. Sounds pretty depressing.

Oh, let me make it worse for you.

Hindley’s death comes but six months after the death of his sister , Catherine. The day after Catherine’s funeral Isabella, (who has been disowned by her brother Edgar Linton), flees from Heathcliff who has usurped Wuthering Heights. Isabella is a character who is extremely stubborn and she likes to do what she wants no matter the cost. Isabella takes up residence at an undisclosed location “in the south,” and later goes on to give birth to Heathcliff’s son who is very sickly.

Q. Well, thanks for that.

It gets better, I promise!

Q. Yeah, yeah, sure. So where did Mr. Lockwood get off to, in all of this?

Nowhere! This whole saga has been narrated by Ellen Dean to Mr. Lockwood, sick in bed at Thrushcross Grange. But after the deaths of … well, pretty much everyone Catherine and Hindley the book skips ahead approximately 12 years. So Ellen is nearly done with her story, (Mr. Lockwood has not quite recovered from his cold.)  From this point on, she tells him of what happened just a few years previous, up to present day:

Q. So is the second less psycho?


Cathy (Catherine and Edgar Linton’s daughter) is twelve years old, and lives a sheltered life at Thrushcross Grange with her father. She knows nothing of the preceding drama.

Hareton Earnshaw, Hindley Earnshaw’s son has lived at Wuthering Heights, working as a servant, and being raised (not really) by Heathcliff, who has gotten all the crazier for the years gone by.

Isobella left Heathcliff only a few months after they married, and raised their son without him, living in the southern part of the country for the remainder of her life (which, as you might guess, was not long.) This leads me to the next portion of the story:

Q. Tell me there are no more deaths. 

Ok. There are no more deaths.

Edgar Linton gets word that his sister has died, and he goes to retrieve her son Linton (whose was named after her maiden name, thus, “Linton Heathcliff”). His plan is to raise Linton as his own; though I’m sure that Edgar would have been sensible enough to let the lad keep the surname he was born with. I mean, “Linton Linton”? Few people are cruel enough for that.

Q. What does little Cathy think of this?

She is thrilled! She has been told that he is a young gentleman, just her age. As Cathy has lived incredibly cloistered at the Grange, and she has never had a friend her own age, it all seems like a dream come true….

Q. But Heathcliff..

But Heathcliff hears of these developments through the grapevine, and

As I mentioned, Edgar hears that his sister is dead and goes to retrieve his nephew Linton with the intentions of adopting him, while he is gone, Cathy meets her cousin Hareton on the Moors and finally learns of Wuthering heights, that Cathy is very shocked at this revelation partly due to the fact that Hareton was treated mainly as a servant and was even mistaken as a servant quite often. Edgar returns to the Grange with a weak and sickly Linton upon hearing of this Heathcliff demands that Linton be brought to Wuthering Heights, and he is taken to live with his father Heathcliff.

Q. So does little Linton survive at the hand of his boorish father?

Surprisingly, yes. It is a wonder Linton did not suffer extreme
 Three years after Cathy first learns of Wuthering Heights she and Nelly (Ellen Dean), are on the Moors when they happen upon meeting Heathcliff and he incites them to Wuthering Heights and Nelly, who has even been threatened by him still goes to Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff wants Linton and Cathy to marry so he could have both Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights, during this visit Linton and Cathy develop a secret friendship…







A awesomely short review Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”
Pride and Prejudice was published by romance novelist Jane Austen in the year 1813.

Nearly two centuries later, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was released by Seth Grahame-Smith.

He has been praised as having taken a dead story and injected life into it once more. Though how he has done so by filling it with undead creatures is a mystery to us.

We here at Barton Hollow are rallying for a film adaptation to be made, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Mr. Darcy, and Tom Hiddleston as Mr. Bingley. (Whosoever is cast as the Bennet sisters is of no consequence to us, so long as Mr. Cumberbatch and Mr. Hiddleston grace the screen.)

We give it five stars.

Q. (Nicole) Describe to me what it is that Mr. Grahame-Smith has done to this well-beloved classic.

A. (MadaLin) He has infected it with a awesome flavor of 21st century sci-fi! Most notably Zombies. He has written in incidents with Zombies (called, thoughtout the book, Unmentionables, much to our good humour) and has also done the unthinkable in adding to Mr. Darcy’s list qualifacations for the perfect woman.

Q. No! In what way?

Mr. Darcy now thinks less of an accomplished piano-forte player and more of a knife-wielder! Since this “grevious plague” has infected England, former luxuries and marks of high society are now seen as tomfoolery.

Q. But of course, Elizabeth Bennet still passes his test.

Of course. The major pinnacles of the story line are unchanged, but they all bear the aroma of undead.

Q. Do you feel Jane Austen would approve of this re-making?

A. I think a lot of people feel that Jane Austen is rolling over in her grave (hah hah hah), but personally I think she was rather quirky enough to enjoy it.

Q. Do you think her “quirkiness” was well received by pre-victorian society?

A. Perhaps not in her own time, there were many throughout history who disapproved of her works, (I.E. the Bronte Sisters, and surprisingly Winston Churchill) but for every one mark of disdain there is an incalculable multitude who adore them.

Q. Pride and Prejudice is always widely spoken of, but tell me what the plot actually is about.

On the surface, it is about a rather spastic mother of five daughters who (understandably) wishes to see them marry well. However, this desire often overtakes what small sprinkling of common sense she operates under.

Q. Describe each daughter to me.

Jane, the eldest, is extremely sweet and loving.

Elizabeth is slightly sassy-smart.

Mary, quiet, contemplative, and a bit of a know-it-all.

Catherine (Kitty), who is a follower acting mainly under the instruction of

Lydia, the youngest. She is rather self-absorbed.

Q. Tell me about the marriages in the book.

The first to marry is the youngest, Lydia. Against her parent’s wishes, she at sixteen elopes with Mr. George Wickham.

Next, Catherine Deburg attempts to keep Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy apart, owing to Elizabeth’s poverty.

The eldest sister, Jane, marries Mr. Bingley.

Elizabeth marries Mr. Darcy, and they live happily ever after, with both love an money, as do all of Miss Austen’s characters.

Favorite Quotes-

“My sore throats are always worse than anyone’s…” – Lydia

“Any savage can dance!” – Mr. Darcy

Part 1, Interview on Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights was written in the first quarter of the 19th Century by Emily Bronte. It has long been hailed as one of the first in the genre of Gothic Romance. The following interview was conducted on January 8, 2013, between historical literature enthusiasts MadaLin Peeler and Nicole Kirkman. These are opinions, not facts. Please feel free to continue discussion and ask any questions in the comment section.

> Q (MadaLin): What first inspired you to read the book, “Wuthering Heights”?

> A (Nicole): When I first saw Wuthering Heights (the film in which Tom Hardy plays Heathcliff)  in 2011, I was instantly mesmerized by this tragically gothic romance. So much so that I went out and purchased the book! I enjoyed it even more than the film. It has since become my favorite work from this era. (For those curious, the book to come in second is “Frankenstein”, by Mary Shelley.)

Q: What character(s) do you most identify with or enjoy? Which characters would you like to see more of in movies?

> A: In reading this book I was drawn to steadfast, level-headed narrator Ellen Dean. She is the nursemaid to HeathCliff and Catherine during their childhood at Wuthering Heights, and goes with Cathy to the Grange [ThrushCross Grange, the neighboring estate] upon Cathy’s marriage to the master Edgar Linton. She serves Cathy until her death, whereupon she is nursemaid to Catherine’s namesake daughter. I enjoyed her character because she was so steadfast, in spite of the chaos around her. She in fact is the one who (in the book) is telling this tragic tale to Mr. Lockwood, a character that always seems to be missing from film adaptations! This baffles me: even though he is obviously a literary tool, he is a good one. By cutting him out, the audience also misses his terrifying dream in which the ghost of Catherine attempts to invade Wuthering Heights by way of Lockwood’s bedroom window. It is a fabulous foreshadow, I think, it gives a great picture of the torture in which we will be immersed.

The character whom I most enjoyed was Hindley. He was so erratic! But more on him later, I’m sure.

Q. Tell me about the famous love triangle.

A. Where to begin! Love maelstrom, more like. Well, in the most basic sense, Heathcliff is the adopted son of the Earnshaw family. Catherine the biological daughter in the house, Hindley is the biological son. Upon reaching adulthood, Heathcliff, Catherine, and neighbor Edgar Linton form the love triangle that is the major plot of the book. Heathcliff and Catherine had an incredibly close relationship in childhood (partners in crime is really not too strong an expression), but as they matured, it grows into something of a doomed love. It was, in my opinion, built between two people who were too passionate (?) ever to live a normal life. They were doomed to combust. It was perhaps a personification of the Beatles’ song, “You Really Got a hold on me”! Only perhaps a little less apathetic, and a little more overdramatic.

Q. Before we get in over our heads talking about these characters, tell me about Hindley, why you enjoyed him so much, and why his part in the story is so significant.

Of course! As I previously stated, Hindley is Catherine’s older brother. When Heathcliff and Catherine are perhaps preteens, Hindley leaves the estate to get a higher education. As Hindley’s hatred of adopted brother Heathcliff has never been very well masked, everyone is rather glad to have him gone. Upon the death of their father about five years later, Hindley returns to arrange the funeral and take ownership of the estate. Unbeknownst to the family, he has married, and arrives with his rather ditzy wife in tow. He seems to honestly love her; the fact that she makes no attempt to “mother” his younger siblings (in fact she treats them rather badly) doesn’t vex him any. Heathcliff and Catherine are hardly bothered, they find sufficient solace in each other. It is, perhaps, his own fault that Catherine and Heathcliff turned out as such emotionally unstable adults.

Why I enjoyed him? I suppose that’s my inner Moffat asserting itself. (*laughs*) You feel so much sympathy for him. He had plenty of oppurtinites to turn himself around, and you keep expecting him to, though it never happens. In a morbid way, I enjoyed watching his character develop. He is so unashamedly selfish. Doesn’t even care for himself. He is completely depraved. No redeeming qualities. He doesn’t even draw our pity as a victim of circumstances, like Heathcliff. He is what happens when people no longer mind sin.

As for his significance to the story, I have to go back to my narrative: After the death of his father, He lives at Wuthering Heights with his new wife, letting his younger siblings have the run of the place. His wife (whose name I cannot recall to save my life) gives birth to a son (whom they dub Hareton Earnshaw), and never regains her health. She contracts a respiratory disease, and in a truly heart-wrenching scene she dies in Hindley’s arms. (This was perhaps inspired by Bronte’s own family traumas; she had a mother and two sisters who died of tuberculosis before succumbing to it herself). This is the last time we see Hindley express concern for anyone. Afterward he becomes a listless, paranoid individual who ruins his health, reputation and fortune with drinking and gambling. In defiance of all odds, his son Hareton grows up with a strong will and a strong back, and with an intelligent (though highly uncultivated) mind.

Q. The million dollar question: who does Catherine marry?

So there comes a point (I will refrain from detailing every scene leading up to this point) where Catherine becomes engaged to Edgar. Personally, I think to be very unwise in his choices; he was no stranger to Catherine’s selfish outbursts when they were children, even. And there was no reason given him to believe she had changed. But for reasons we cannot completely know, he loved her with impressive devotion.

Q. Were Edgar’s feeling honest, do you think?

He loved her, absolutely. But I cannot think they were well suited. He loved her enough to justify her behavior in gross proportions, but not enough to tell her the truth about the effects of her own selfishness. If he had… maybe she would have vowed never to speak to him again. But maybe she would have curbed her habits. We will never know!

Q. Heathcliff being a volatile character, to say the least, what was his reaction to her accepting the engagement?

Volatile! that’s a fitting word. Shortly after learning about the engagement, he takes it into his mind to leave without a word of warning. NO, this isn’t one of those heart-warming situations where the snubbed guy decides to leave the picture with grace. No, indeed, though the scene is not recorded, I can almost assure you he left with angry tears in his eyes!

Q. What could have possibly motivated him to leave the girl he loved so much?

I have a few theories about his motivations: One is one is for a slightly good-hearted reasons. He was fed up with life, angry at everyone, and needed to leave to keep from clawing someone’s eyes out. Placing Catherine’s happiness above his own, he leaves.

But the other more-likely theory (“and my favorite”, MadaLin chimes in) is that in leaving, Heathcliff hopes to secure a fortune and good name (though what ironically deceitful means he will use to do so we are never told) and return to Catherine’s waiting arms.

But the fact that he was gone for such a long time (much longer than impatient Catherine would have waited, even for him) suggests that in his mind their relationship had been severed to the point that he no longer wanted it to manifest in marriage, though he would never be able to mentally leave her behind.

Q. He’s gone for quite a long time, yes? And there is a new subplot that begins to brew.

Oh, yes, three years, I believe. And we most definitely see a bit of a subplot. I have never been able to decide if it really is a true subplot, as the developments have such far-reaching effects. If you thought there was whip-lash inducing drama present before, you haven’t seen the least of it.

Three years after having heard of Edgar Linton and Catherine becoming engaged, Heathcliff returns to Wuthering Heights. Of course, he finds that Catherine no longer resides there, having naturally taken up residence at The Grange upon marrying Edgar. He puts in to action his plan to slowly buy over Wuthering Heights from Hindley. In effect, he is stealing it from young Hareton, who is the rightful successor, and “the last of the good old Earnshaw blood”, in the words of servant Joseph.

Absence has made Heathcliff more brazen than ever, and he sees nothing wrong with inviting himself over to Thrushcross Grange for tea. The reactions among those at the Grange are painfully easy to guess: Catherine is overjoyed, Edgar is jealous and embarrassed by Catherine’s lack of good sense, but Edgar’s younger sister Isobella is the one who throws a wild card.

For reasons no one but herself can ascertain, she falls fast and hard for the brooding, melancholy Heathcliff.

Q. It seems you think Catherine didn’t love Edgar?

Incredibly difficult question. I think that Catherine liked Edgar. She found Edgar pleasant, but it was Heathcliff that she needed to survive.  The following is one of my favorite scenes, so I shall let Catherine, in her own words put it more eloquently:

“If all else perished, and [Heathcliff] remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and [Heathcliff] were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger. My love for [Edgar] Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being…I’ve no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven and if …Heathcliff had not been brought so low [financially] I shouldn’t have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now so he shall never know how I love him; and that not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same and Linton’s is as different as a moon beam from lightning or frost from fire.”