how morally corrupt is your 19th century love interest on a scale of “aloof rich guy who doesn’t know how to express his feelings” to “has a secret wife in the attic” and “tries to dig up your grave so he can embrace your dead body”
a dark billowing coat, the smell of orange blossoms on a summers night, lace trimming on a nightgown, shuttered windows, a rotting wooden bench concealed beneath a willow tree, a hidden staircase lit by candlelight
Wuthering Heights: The food is as unappealing as the host’s personality. You find yourself fleeing the estate and taking refuge in the surrounding moorlands before the second course is served.
Great Expectations: The host wears a mildewed wedding dress as she cuts what looks to be a thirty-year-old piece of vanilla cake. You sit quietly and try to fake a smile.
Northanger Abbey: You think your host is the type of person who might have murdered his wife and hid her body in a dusty old dresser. As you take a bite of the pot roast it doesn’t even occur to you that he might just be a dick.
Jane Eyre: The fare is far better than the stale bread and bitter tea provided at your boarding school, but that’s little comfort when the host’s wife keeps setting the table linens on fire.
Dracula: You know that you are sipping on a fine Cabernet, but what is he drinking?
Pride and Prejudice: Over dessert, one of your guests confesses that he has fallen in love with you in spite of your family’s terrible table manners. You stab your pudding with your spoon and tell him he’s the last man you could ever be prevailed upon to marry.
My favourite thing is when people read classic romances for the first time and realise how different they are to the way popular culture represents them. Mr. Darcy isn’t some handsome, perfect hunk. He’s a socially awkward loser who writes embarrassingly long, eloquent letters to the girl he likes because he can’t speak two words to her face without colossally fucking up. Mr. Rochester is a creepy bigamous liar who keeps women in his attic. Heathcliff’s a terrifying fucking psychopath who abuses kids. JULIET WAS THIRTEEN.