Friday, March 29, 2013

Review: Catherine by April Lindner

Catherine by April Lindner
Release Date: January 2, 2013 
Publisher: Little, Brown 
Source: Publisher for Review via NetGalley 
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.
Wuthering Heights and I have a strong relationship: one of pure dislike. While I can see it’s merits as a classic novel, it is a novel that I strongly disliked reading for both pleasure (yes, I read classics because I want to) and for school. I was rather scared about beginning Catherine because of my pre-existing feelings with the book Catherine is a re-telling of. Fortunately, Catherine wasn’t the worst book I’ve read and I actually enjoyed it.

The plot was one I was familiar with, again, because I have read Withering Heights before. I personally wasn’t sure how this book would be re-told with much younger characters but interestingly enough, Catherine herself is a young girl and a grown woman by the time we come to Chelsea, her daughter. I’ll admit: many of the bands mentioned in Catherine are real bands that I had not heard of until I did some research. A music lover, I very much appreciated how much music played a part in this re-telling. I think this aspect of the plot helped April Lindner made this re-telling a little different and much more unique.

Told though the point of views of Catherine and Chelsea, I was surprised at how different Catherine’s and Chelsea’s voices were but being a mother/daughter duo, I could also see the resemblance between their voices. I liked both Catherine and Chelsea surprisingly. Both females (since Catherine goes from being a young girl to a woman, I can’t simply refer to her as “girl”) changed and grew throughout this book. Catherine’s blind devotion and “love” for Hence, much like Wuthering Heights, was on I didn’t approve of. Catherine was a strong willed girl and I wished that she had not fallen into Hence’s “love.” As soon as Hence enters the picture, Catherine loses all of her spunk and independence. She even considers not going to Harvard University because of Hence. Chelsea only wanted to know what her mother was like since she was so young when Catherine left her. While I do wish she had not run off, I only felt sympathy for her. But there wasn’t much else to the character of Chelsea, which was a big disappointment.

Hence, Connor and Quentin were characters I wasn’t sure I would love or loathe. Surprisingly, I liked Hence much more than Heathcliff but only by a little bit. Very much like Heathcliff, Hence was more obsessed with Catherine, in my opinion, and didn’t really love her as much as he said. Had he really loved her, Hence would have been willing to allow Catherine to follow her dreams. I also felt like that whole cheating aspect, though minor (and comparable to his character) was a draw back. Hence cheated on Catherine so that she wouldn’t leave for Harvard University and that made me mad. If Hence truly loved Catherine, he would allow her to go to this amazing school! I didn’t get to know Connor enough to like his relationship with Chelsea but he wasn’t the worst character. Quentin, on the other hand, was a character I loathed and if I remember correctly, his counterpart wasn’t the best either.

Going into this book, I wasn’t familiar with April Lindner’s writing style but I found that I actually liked it a lot. While there isn’t much different (well, there is) between the way people spoke in the 1980’s and today, I felt like the minor differences helped set the mood. Some how April Linder was able to differentiate between Catherine and Chelsea’s voice and I appreciated that a lot. In that way, she allowed for both girls to have some development.

But as you can see, this book has 3 stars. If I liked this much about this book then why did it only receive 3 stars? For one, and this may be way to nit picky, but what kind of a name is Hence? I get that Heathcliff I not technically a name but Heathcliff is much more of a name than Hence. Yet the biggest issue was the lack of literal growth Catherine and Hence go through. In Wuthering Heights, Catherine and Heathcliff are raised on the rugged moors and spend much of their childhood together, Catherine and Hence only spend months together as teenagers while Hence lives in Catherine’s dad’s nightclub. In my honest opinion, I do not think that such a strong “love” can be made between two people in a matter of months.

Overall, an okay re-telling of Wuthering Heights that I felt could have been better. While I would recommend this to many people, those who have read Wuthering Heights and love it very much might not like Catherine all that much. While I disliked Wuthering Heights and I read Catherine was as much of an open mind as possible, I couldn’t help but compare the two as it is a retelling. While this was a fast paced read and not the worst re-telling I have read, I honestly cannot give it more than 3 stars.
Cover Comments: 
First thoughts: Hm. I wonder how this matches the story? 
Comments: Simple and elegant, I like this cover a lot. While it seems to mostly represent Chelsea, I love the foggy New York City in the background!