Sunday, January 20, 2013

As natural and necessary as breathing

The Boston Globe presents April Lindner's new book, Catherine:
And that’s probably why we’ll see a fresh crop of new takes on old stories in 2013, starting with April Lindner, who’s turned Emily Brontë’s classic “Wuthering Heights” into the angst-ridden tragedy, “Catherine.” In 2010, Lindner recreated “Jane Eyre” as a story about a young woman who falls for a rock star. Her “Catherine” has a similar vibe, with a punk-era heroine who falls for the brooding Hence, a musician with whom she has an intense (and doomed) romance.
The book is told in two voices and toggles between two decades and the stories of Catherine, then a love-struck high school senior whose father owns a famous New York music club, and Catherine’s daughter, Chelsea, a modern-day 17-year-old living in Marblehead, of all places, who travels to New York to investigate the disappearance of her mother, who has been absent since Chelsea was a very young child.
Catherine” is a quick read, and Lindner astutely allows her setting to be as important as it is in the original. The “Wuthering Heights’’ manor is replaced by a CBGB-esque rock club called The Underground, which becomes the center of the narrative, for better and worse. It’s seedy, dangerous, and loud, but we don’t want to leave.
“The music was jittery, full of jagged edges — not my usual taste, but catchy,” Chelsea tells us on a visit to the club, now owned by Hence. “From the edge of the room I could watch the bassist joke around with the rhythm guitarist, and take in every emotion on the lead singer’s face; I could even catch his eye from time to time. Did my mother get to do this when she was my age? And how had she not missed living above The Underground after she married my dad and moved to suburbia?”
The thing about Lindner’s “Catherine” — and one could also say this about Stephenie Meyer’s third “Twilight” book, which also pays homage to “Wuthering Heights” — is that the novel on which it’s based involves a collection of selfish, impulsive characters who would drive you crazy in real life. YA readers might find themselves wanting to shake Hence, Catherine, and even Catherine’s perceptive daughter Chelsea, but they should remember that Brontë is the puppet-master here.
If anything, Lindner manages to turn the revenge tale into a far more endearing story about the parallel lives of mothers and daughters. Her heroines’ voices are engaging and appropriately similar, reminding readers that mom-types and their friends were young once, too. (Meredith Goldstein)
Joanna Trollope talks about bedtime stories and child readers in the Daily Mail:
I suppose – and I bet I am far from alone – I have always taken reading for granted.
From those early years with a torch under the bedclothes – Tess Of The D’Urbervilles and Jane Eyre all night long when I was about 13 – to right now, when I never go anywhere without something to read, and regard it as being as natural and necessary as breathing. 
The Boston Globe remembers when Sylvia Plath wrote to her mother on October 12, 1962 and she quoted from an article by Elizabeth Jennings in The Listener:
"I am a famous here--mentioned this week in The Listener as one of the half-dozen women who will last--including Marianne Moore and the Brontës!."
Actually the article said:
Memorable English or American poets can be numbered on less than two hands; one thinks of Emily Brontë, Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore, Edith Sitwell's early work, Anne Ridler, Kathkeen Raine, Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, and scarcely anyone else...
The Independent reviews the Leeds performances of Giuseppe Verdi's opera Otello and expresses a curious wish:
Dry and tight of tone for much of the performance, Kelessidi sings Act IV with great feeling. Not for the first time, I wished someone would do for Iago's wife Emilia (Ann Taylor) what Jean Rhys did for Bertha Rochester in The (sic) Wide Sargasso Sea. Bristling with mixed motives and divided loyalties, Taylor goes some way towards giving us more of this pivotal but underwritten character. (Anna Picard)
The Redlands Daily Facts talks again about the Smiley family letters, kept in the Smiley Library Heritage Room:
 Letter from Effie to "sister" on March 4, 1893:
"We are having great excitement now - for the big boiler is on its way up the mountain - a new experience for me. I have just been reading one of Charlotte Brontë's books and have been much in the contrast between the English and French characters." (Donald L. Singer)
The Sunday Times recommends a 'novel retreat in Derbyshire': North Lees Hall.
"It was three storeys high, of proportions not vast, though considerable: a gentleman's manor-house, not a nobleman's seat: battlements round the top gave it a picturesque look." On the downside, there was a madwoman in the attic. This year, you can find out if she's still there. Charlotte Brontë was describing North Lees Hall, model for Mr Rochester's ill-fated house in Jane Eyre, and the 16th-century pile, in a glorious Peak District valley, is just as romantic today, with spiral staircase, immense stone fireplaces, four-posters and an otherworldly air.
The Observer interviews the author Chloe Hooper:
I love gothic fiction – I suppose in my pantheon there's Jane Eyre and Rebecca – and a lot of those stories are about women finding themselves in an intimidating old house.
The Scotsman has a list of the most uplifting books and includes Jane Eyre as number four; Baena Digital (in Spanish) posts about the Brontës; L'Esprit Vagabond (in French) has visited Haworth for a second time; Huequitos de Sol (in Spanish) has discovered James Tully's The Crimes of Charlotte Brontë; Jennafifi and Ma Librarie (in French) post about Jane EyreBiblioteka Koraliny (in Polish) talks about Jane Eyre 2011; What... more books reviews Tina Connolly's IronskinShhh! The Movie's Starting reviews Wuthering Heights 1939.

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