Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Classic Double Challenge: Wuthering Heights and Catherine

From Goodreads:
Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine's father. After Mr Earnshaw's death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine's brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.

My Rating: ****

This is a reread for me and much as my English major half would like to give this five stars, the rest of me can't get past the fact that Wuthering Heights is a miserable book, all about miserable people who are determined to make others miserable too. That said, I can never read this without getting completely engrossed in the story. It is incredibly readable and sucks me in. I don't know why, because there's so much tragedy and so much of it happens because either Catherine or Heathcliff use and abuse each other or everyone around them. Still, I think I keep going for the little bursts of happiness and the few sane people (Nelly, for instance). And it does end on a note of hope and happiness for the next generation of people living at Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange. I also love the wild setting and the gothic bits. Such a fan of the ghostly scenes. :D

Recommended reading (at least once in your life) if you like classics and if you like a study in human nature. Which makes it sound boring, but I promise there's nothing boring about this fiery, passionate, and tragic story.

From 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.

My Rating: ****

I really enjoyed reading this and I think April Lindner did a great job of translating Wuthering Heights to the modern world. I loved watching for all the little nods to the original but I also loved that this story was NOT the original. In fact, I don't think it quite captures the same feeling of the original, which I'm okay with. I find Wuthering Heights a bit depressing and the characters completely unlikeable. Catherine, on the other hand, had much more sympathetic characters. I found myself empathizing a lot more with Catherine and Hence's story than I ever did Catherine and Heathcliff's. Catherine is not the horrible, selfish monster her literary counterpart is and Hence is NOT the devilish psychopath Heathcliff is. He maybe comes off a bit gruff and grumpy at first, but as the story moves along he only ever does one truly despicable thing (and it's pretty bad, but it doesn't ruin him as a character). Still, I couldn't help feeling that Catherine and Hence's love story was more of a lust story.

What really kept me speeding through this book was Chelsea. She's intelligent and determined (a little stubborn) and very brave. Chelsea is a great character and I enjoyed her sleuthing (even if I did see the big mystery and reveal at the end coming from the beginning - seriously there's obviously only one character in the whole book capable of homicide and it's made pretty clear from the start who that is. It drove me crazy that nobody thought to check out Quentin before. Guy hoards guns and is plainly mentally unstable - has a history of violence and death threats - and nobody looks for Catherine there? I'm not buying it.) Anyway, I really liked how the story was told about both generations and, once again, I loved that the story of the second generation is nothing like what it is in Wuthering Heights.

Also, the setting was fun for me, especially because I am a musician and played in bands throughout high school. The rock/punk music history was interesting and of course New York is always a great setting.

Content: There is some sexual content, though nothing explicit. There's also an attempted rape scene, which is also not very detailed. Surprisingly no drug use or drinking, considering all the rock musicians and very little profanity.


Bonnie Parks said...

Actually the part about classics and learning about human nature is what sucks me in, not what's boring. But that's me. That's what I'm into. Wuthering Heights has been on my list for a while. Thanks for sharing!

melissa @ 1lbr said...

I considered reading Wuthering Heights again as part of the challenge, but I don't know if I can handle all the horrible and depressing stuff right now :) Which is why I enjoyed Catherine more than the original. Great comparison, though!