Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review: Catherine by April Lindner

Book: Catherine by April Lindner
Release Date: 2 Jan 2013
Publisher: Poppy
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
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.
Buy It: Hardcover or Kindle eBook


Review: Catherine is a modern day retelling of Wuthering Heights. It has been 15+ years since I read Wuthering Heights so I read a complete summary of it. I remembered it being convoluted and depressing though; lots of people not marrying who they wanted to and living with the consequences. I don't believe I liked it when I originally read it. I'm a happily ever after sort of gal but I do have a fondness for classics so I was willing to give Lindner's retelling a shot. My review and rating aren't entirely fair to Lindner since, as a retelling, she's got a framework to work from. I can't fault her for sticking to unfortunate moments because they're important to Wuthering Heights but it doesn't change the fact that I disliked them again in her version. This would be the same case for anything. For example I could read the most beautiful and brilliant retelling of Old Yeller and I'd still want to tear the book apart and scream when it ended badly.

Knowing things didn't end well for Hence and Catherine before I began reading their chapters was one thing but actually suffering through them... it was miserable for me. Because of how the book was written (alternating points of view between Chelsea and Catherine), you know how bitter Hence is and that Catherine is missing and presumed dead from the get go. It was impossible for me to enjoy the blossoming friendship/relationship from Catherine's point of view knowing for sure what the outcome was. It would have been awkward but I wish that Catherine had been told more along the lines of the original, where the first part of the book is all one time period and then part two is jumped to the next.

“You should cut him a little slack. He may not be the easiest person in the world, but he’s earned the right to be a little moody.”
A little moody? For a moment or two, I couldn’t speak. “Why?”
“He’s a genius, for one thing. Riptide was one of the most important bands of the whole post-post-punk New York music scene. No—one of the most important bands in the history of rock music.” The passion in his voice startled me.


Chelsea's side of the story was difficult to read as well but for very different reasons. Every chapter was the same thing over and over for a large portion of the novel. Hence is so angry, don't upset him. Chelsea uses the internet to find answers. Cooper says he'll help but does a whole lot of nothing and somehow manages to take up several pages. It was frustrating to read.

Perhaps reading Wuthering Heights before reading Catherine would have made the book much better because I really liked the scene with Chelsea and the ghost which is one of the few specific scenes I remember from the original. Had I not directly remembered this scene from Wuthering Heights... I don't think I would have enjoyed it because of how out of place a ghost was in the modern story. This made me wonder how many of the other scenes that I judged harshly were actually direct adaptions from the book. It could be Brontë (and my memory) that I was most disappointed in.

This has to be a dream, I told myself. It can’t be real. But knowing that didn’t make me feel any less petrified. She wanted something—the girl at the window. Somehow I knew it was a she. The face drew back so that I could see her large desperate eyes, her untamed hair, and her moving lips, enunciating three syllables I couldn’t make out at first. But she repeated them over and over until I got it and said them along with her: Let. Me. In.


I don't like depressing, unhappy books. Color me confused when I found myself enjoying Catherine when things went horribly wrong near the end. I don't consider it spoilery since you know from the beginning that Catherine and Hence don't work out but as soon as Catherine and Hence started fighting and modern day Hence started losing it at Chelsea, I liked the book. I couldn't stomach the previous parts of the book because I knew nothing would come of it but I didn't expect to find myself enjoying the destructive aftermath of both situations.

Rating: 2 Bites (Just okay)


What did you think of Catherine? Link me your review or leave your thoughts in a comment!
Are there any retellings you've loved yet found the original to be unbearable?
Any retellings that you really want? I'm always looking for Robin Hood ones. I'm also hoping for more dystopian/science fiction takes on fairytales (ex Cinder from Cinderella).

72 comments:

  1. oh man.. I know what you mean. This is why I am always wary of retellings.. if it isn't of a story I like, then I steer clear from it.

    great and honest review,
    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

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    Replies
    1. I'm hooked on retellings after falling in love with Cinder, hopefully the next one I read will be better. Wish I had listened to my gut for Catherine. I definitely will next time!

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