Heathcliff. He’s my least favorite literary figure of all time. He’s rude. He doesn’t really respect women. And he’s grumpy. Some people read Wuthering Heights and think that it was such a great love story. They feel bad for the two lovers who just can’t seem to get things together so they can truly be happy and free. This is crap. Both Catherine and Heathcliff are total jerks and I hate them. I still like the book though, which is strange. I should throw the book down and refuse to read it or something, but it’s just so intriguing. In all honesty, I don’t just like the book, I love it. Sure, I hate the main couple from the book, but the kids and the insanity of the main characters keeps me interested every time.
April Lindner wrote a modern adaptation of Wuthering Heights. It’s called Catherine. I discovered this treasure at Powell’s City of Books in Portland while looking for young adult fiction to read. I’d read Lindner’s Jane, an adaptation of Jane Eyre, a few years ago so I figured I’d give this one a go as well.
Catherine is set in modern day New York in the underground music scene. Hence (Heathcliff) comes to The Underground (the music venue/club) and starts hanging out with Catherine, the club owner’s daughter. The club owner’s real son wants nothing to do with The Underground and so the old man takes Hence under his wings. The kid parts are a bit mixed up; the young Catherine is named Chelsea (It always bothered me that Catherine was narcissistic enough to name a daughter after herself, but then again, should I ever have a daughter, I’m tempted to do the same thing). And the two boys are not really the same as in the original, but I don’t want to get TOO much into the details, you’ll want to have some bits of mystery, right?
Some of my literary minded friends dislike it when authors do this – rewrite original works for the modern generation. I get their point – the original works have lasted so long, we’ve got to teach young people to appreciate true literary greatness. But I also know that kids these days don’t spend a lot of reading. They’re too busy playing video games or texting their friends. So dumbing down classic literature just a smidge may get to them so that they’ll actually want to read the original. And I sure hope they will.
I gave Catherine five stars. Chelsea was a loveable character with a real zest for finding out the truth about her mother. Her search and her fun character really made the book for me. I’d imagine the same is true for many readers as well.