Thursday, 26 September 2013

Catherine by April Lindner

by April Lindner

Summary: A forbidden romance. A modern mystery. Wuthering Heights as you’ve never seen it before.

Catherine is tired of struggling musicians befriending her just so they can get a gig at her Dad’s famous Manhattan club, The Underground. Then she meets mysterious Hence, an unbelievably passionate and talented musician on the brink of success. As their relationship grows, both are swept away in a fiery romance. But when their love is tested by a cruel whim of fate, will pride keep them apart?

Chelsea has always believed that her mom died of a sudden illness, until she finds a letter her dad has kept from her for years—a letter from her mom, Catherine, who didn’t die: She disappeared. Driven by unanswered questions, Chelsea sets out to look for her—starting with the return address on the letter: The Underground.

Told in two voices, twenty years apart, Catherine interweaves a timeless forbidden romance with a compelling modern mystery.
I loved April's first retelling, Jane (Jane Eyre retelling), but this one didn't work quite as well for me. In the end, I still liked it and enjoyed reading it but there was just something about it that didn't click.

For the majority of the book, it was kind of disappointing, and I'm not sure if that was because of the book itself or because there's certain things about Wuthering Heights that just don't work as well when you try to modernise it. The last quarter of the book improved though, I enjoyed reading the last handful of chapters a lot more than the rest of the book.

The romance in the book, the original they had grown up together and were more isolated from other people, in this one they literally only know each other for a couple of months so their relationship lacked that foundation that the WH one has. Because they didn't know each other nearly as long in this one, it became very high school romance-y.

This version of the characters didn't work as well (also, the fact that Heathcliff was named "Hence" in this never stopped being utterly ridiculous--why not just call him Heath? *shrug*).  Catherine was kind of bland, she had no spark...she was just a pretty generic character. Older Hence matched up to older Heathcliff better than the younger version did to young Heathcliff--young Hence wasn't bad, he was just lacking in spark too and I feel like I've read characters just like him loads of times (while Heathcliff is a bit more unusual).

Basically, instead of being this epic, destructive, tragic story of love and obsession, it just came across like typical teen infatuation that ended badly and that made it more frustrating to read (especially seeing the older version of Hence--I was never sure whether to feel sorry for his character or think him a weird, creepy, stalker dude who brought his misery on himself. He is so ridiculously rude to Chelsea even though Catherine was her mother, while he just had a relationship with her for a couple of months when they were teenagers until he screwed it all least in Wuthering Heights his attitude is a bit more understandable because he had years with Catherine).

There were things that worked better in the original because of the time period it was set in, things that just seemed petty in this (the way Hence reacts to misunderstanding an overheard conversation in this one was awful and made me really dislike his character and it just made it a whole lot harder to believe he genuinely loved Catherine). In the original, it was understandable that Catherine had a choice to make but in this one it didn't have to be choosing one thing and losing the other, it was Hence that made it that way.

As for Chelsea's chapters...Chelsea was kind of bland too. Her chapters and her mothers chapters were so similar, they didn't really have their own distinct voices (to the point where I forgot to read the title of a chapter and got confused wondering why Hence would be mopping the floors of the club he owns, only to realise it was Catherine's chapter I was reading, not Chelsea's, so he didn't own it yet).

Cooper was lovely, I really liked him. His relationship with Chelsea was a bit on the rushed side though, but it was also one of the better parts of the book, especially nearer the end.

This review is seeming pretty negative, but I really did like the book (especially nearer the end).

I guess I'm reviewing it as a retelling and not as if it were a brand new story--I really don't know how to judge it without the comparisons. I guess that's a negative of modernising a classic. I'm still not sure if I liked this because it's an adaption of Wuthering Heights or if I like it in spite of that (because it did kind of fall short of being a good retelling of it, losing nearly all of the things that make Wuthering Heights what it is).

I'd rate it 3 stars out of 5.


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