Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Review: Catherine by April Lindner

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.

Catherine is a retelling of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, and it is absolutely breathtaking. I loved every aspect of it – the mystery, the action, and the romance. April Lindner is a master, and trust me, you do not want to miss this one!

I want to start off by saying that I have NOT read Wuthering Heights. That being said, I won’t be able to make any comparisons. I also had no idea how the book was going to end, so I was pretty heartbroken when I finished it! I dove straight into Catherine, not knowing what to expect, and I was very pleasantly surprised! I loved the twenty-year-apart dual POV. Reading Catherine’s and her daughter Chelsea’s stories simultaneously requires more concentration than usual, since you have to be careful not to mix them up. However, I got into it really quickly, and I realized it’s almost impossible to mix them up, considering how different their lives are. Catherine’s story was obviously more interesting to me, but I felt I understood Chelsea better.

One other thing that made this book completely awesome is the music background. Catherine’s father is the owner of a nightclub called The Underground, and several punk music acts perform there on a regular basis. I’m a huge punk fan, so it was great to see the incorporation of that in Catherine. Even though I didn’t recognize most of the older punk band names, it was great to see inside the lives of musicians and read about their concerts. I think I enjoyed reading about them as much as Catherine loved watching them!

Catherine is one of the two protagonists in this novel. She’s probably my favourite character, for many reasons. She’s extremely smart, for one, since she’s aiming for all the Ivy League colleges. She’s also really tough and strong-willed. She seems like the kind of person you can’t help but gravitate towards when you come across her. However, she seemed really enigmatic in the novel, and I couldn’t quite figure her out. She was elusive, and sometimes I wondered if she was even real at all. Of course, since her story is in the past, I guess that makes sense. Catherine is also a very sweet person, and I loved her friendship with Jackie as well as her relationship with Hence.

I have so many mixed feelings for Hence! The version of him that Chelsea met at the beginning was rude, impatient, and very aloof. On the other hand, the Hence that Catherine first met twenty years ago was adorable. He was sweet and quiet at first, but Catherine reached out to him and discovered his pain. Hence was a budding musician who was homeless at the time, and Catherine kindly took him into The Underground, convincing her dad to offer Hence a job and a place to live. Whenever the narration switched back to Chelsea, I would see a mean and gruff Hence, and I just couldn’t associate him with the Hence that Catherine knew! Of course something big must have happened to change him like that, and we find that out later in the novel. I absolutely hated Hence after a certain point in the novel, but I think he redeemed himself by the end.

Chelsea is Catherine’s daughter, and she’s a lot like her in some ways. She’s strong-willed and stubborn, just like Catherine. She leaves her home and her dad, and follows an unknown address to an unfamiliar city so she can find out what happened to her mom. Chelsea, I felt, was easier to relate to. Her story is in the present, so there are cases of dramatic irony where we know a lot of things that she doesn’t. I liked that she didn’t put up with Hence’s crap even though he scared the hell out of her! I liked Chelsea’s impulsiveness and her passion too. She did whatever she could to find out about her mom, no matter how dangerous. Moreover, she helped Hence gain closure, and that was really sweet. So was her developing relationship with Cooper!

Cooper is a guy that works at The Underground, also a musician like Hence. In a way he reminded me a lot of Hence when he just started working at The Underground. And Hence was like Catherine’s dad to him. Cooper and Hence have a very close relationship, and I liked how loyal Cooper was to Hence. Cooper and Chelsea started out as… well, acquaintances I guess. They became friends soon after, and by the end they were a couple. I liked how their relationship developed over the course of the novel, unlike Catherine’s and Hence’s. For them, there was an awkward hug in one scene and then they were making out in the next. I wish there was a transition stage, where they realize they’re in love with each other.

The characters in this book are all flawed in their own way, some more so than others. I really liked that, because none of them seemed fake to me. Flaws are what make a character seem real. I connected with most of the characters in Catherine. Well, all except Quentin, Catherine’s brother. I didn’t see much of ‘Good Quentin’, but a lot of ‘Bad Quentin’. And that made me dislike him a lot. I also felt really sorry for Catherine, because I could tell how much she missed how her brother used to be. I also wish I knew what made Quentin that way, because it can’t have been just jealousy of Hence.

Even if you’ve read Wuthering Heights and didn’t like it much, I recommend this book. Just the climax of Catherine makes it worth reading! I was on the edge of my seat and my eyes were glued to the page. I had to forcibly stop myself from reading ahead, because there was just so much suspense in that scene! In the end, everything boiled down to that moment, and that moment alone. It was deliciously intense!

Catherine is definitely one of my top 2012 reads, and it makes me want to pick up Wuthering Heights right now! I also can’t wait to read Jane, Lindner's debut novel. It’s a retelling of Jane Eyre, and though I haven’t read that classic either, I’m pretty sure I’m going to like it just because it was written by Lindner. 
Catherine left me heartbroken by the end. Even though it isn’t your usual happily-ever-after ending, some aspect of it was positive. It all depends on how you look at it. And oh my god, the last page. It gave me chills, it really did! I absolutely love Lindner’s writing – it’s magical. If you see Catherine in a nearby bookstore, drop everything and snatch it up! You won’t regret it.

*Thank you to April Lindner for providing an ARC for review*

Rating: 5/5 

1 comment:

  1. I read Jane by April Lindner because Jane Eyre is one of my top five favorite books of all time. I really enjoyed it and thought it was a fun retelling of the classic.

    I definitely want to check out Catherine, though I haven't read Wuthering Heights. Glad you said it was a great read :)

    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews


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