Verdict: Readable, interesting, nothing completely incredible.
My rating: 3,5 out of 5 stars
Genre: Creative Non-Fiction
Published by University of Nebraska Press, March 1st, 2019
“Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!” Thus does Heathcliff beg his dead Cathy in Wuthering Heights. He wants to be haunted–he insists on it. Randon Billings Noble does too. Instead of exorcising the ghosts of her past, she hopes for their cold hands to knock at the window and to linger. Be with Me Always is a collection of essays that explore hauntedness by considering how the ghosts of our pasts cling to us.
In a way, all good essays are about the things that haunt us until we have somehow embraced or understood them. Here, Noble considers the ways she has been haunted–by a near-death experience, the gaze of a nude model, thoughts of widowhood, Anne Boleyn’s violent death, a book she can’t stop reading, a past lover who shadows her thoughts–in essays both pleasant and bitter, traditional and lyrical, and persistently evocative and unforgettable.
I’ll be honest here: I requested this solely because of the cover. I am a huge fan of anatomical hearts on covers and something about this cover and the title just spoke to me. Thankfully, this was absolutely worth reading.
The essays in this collection are for the most part wonderfully constructed. The author uses literature and other works of art to draw comparisons to her own life. This is something I particularly enjoy when it is well done and I thought it worked really well here.
The essay that worked best for me is the title essay – drawing on themes of Wuthering Height, a book I personally really appreciate, Noble carefully presents her own thoughts. I appreciated the way she mixes the personal with the literary to form a cohesive whole.
I have to admit that I did not find this collection spectacular and I am not sure it will particularly stick with me, but I will definitely check out whatever the author does next.
I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and University of Nebraska Press in exchange for an honest review.