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Friday, January 11, 2013

Catherine by April Lindner

Release Date: Jan. 2, 2013
Publisher: Poppy
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
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.

Confession time: I’ve never actually read Wuthering Heights. Not only that, but I’m not that familiar with the story. I know there’s a girl named Catherine, a boy named Heathcliff, and they’re always wandering the foggy moors.  Oh, and it’s also dead depressing, emphasis on the word dead. However, April Lindner’s modern retelling of Jane Eyre (2010’s Jane) somehow got me to care about a novel I had despised since high school (love the plot, but please Charlotte, get to the point!). I’m happy to state that while I didn’t love Catherine as much as Jane, I found Lindner’s new retelling to be edgy, exciting, and enthralling, and I know I’ll carry this story with me for a long time.

Chelsea Price grew up believing that her mother Catherine had died when she was only three years old. One boring summer day before her senior year, she discovers a letter from Catherine that turns her world upside down—Catherine may still be alive and hiding in New York City. Without hesitation, Chelsea takes off to the letter’s return address: an infamous rock venue in The Bowery called The Underground. Alternating between present day Chelsea and a teenaged Catherine, Chelsea digs deep to solve the mystery of her mother’s whereabouts, finding an entirely new story along the way.

The alternating narrators prevail here. Chelsea starts as so naïve, but she’s strong-willed and stubborn as well. As soon as we hear from Catherine, we find that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Still, their voices, and most definitely their stories, are distinct enough to where you’re never confused. The most compelling aspect, though, is the stark difference between the Hence that Catherine meets in the past versus the snarly, drunken, bitter Hence of the present. As the stories unfold and you get why Hence has become that way, your heart breaks just a little bit more. I’m not a stickler when it comes to retellings about keeping every plot point. To me, it’s far more important that the tone and theme of the original carries through to the retelling.  From what I’ve now learned about Wuthering Heights plus the little I already knew, that’s definitely the case here. Oh, sweeping, all-encompassing, impossible romance. How you tear us all asunder!

Now, you’ve had time to get to know me through my previous reviews, so it shouldn’t surprise you that what I would have liked to see here was a bit more back story. What happened to Hence before we came to The Underground to make him so broken? Why was Quentin so creepily laser-focused on Catherine, and why didn’t that raise any big honkin’ red flags to anyone? These may not have been vitally important, but I think it would have enhanced the characters to know their motivation. Also, occasionally I found the dialogue to be awkward and stilted, more like the way you think people talk as opposed to how they actually talk. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it took me out of the moment.

Catherine succeeded to me because it piqued my interest in the source material, and it could easily do the same for you. Whether you’ve read Wuthering Heights before or not, I think Catherine is an excellent example of a retelling done right.


  1. I read April Lindner's Jane and really enjoyed it! I didn't realize there were more on the way - thanks for featuring this!

  2. I *did* like Wuthering Heights (more than Jane Eyre in fact), and so I've been looking forward to Catherine. I'm glad to know this book piqued your interest in the original book -- which is not as dead depressing as you might think! Some characters are redeemed. Really!!

    Catherine is my next planned read after the one I've got on my Kindle right now ...