A modern retelling of Wuthering Heights? BRING. IT. ON.
The guy she wants…
Growing up on the coast of Maine with a revolving door of foster siblings, Caitlyn Michaud spent one intense and passionate year falling in love with her foster brother, Heath. Then he left without a word. The betrayal devastated Caitlyn and made her vow to forget the compelling bad boy. But forgetting his sensual touch and their deep all-consuming friendship is easier said than done.
Isn’t the guy she needs…
Determined to move on, in college Caitlyn has risen above her small town impoverished roots and has joined a sorority, reinvented her appearance, and landed the right boyfriend. Pre-law major and frat president, Ethan, is thoughtful and always laughing, and he makes her feel happy, calm. He also gives her the social acceptance she craves.
But the perfect world she tried so hard to attain is ripped apart when Heath appears one night out of nowhere. Caitlyn remembers all the reasons why she loves him, even if they don’t make sense to anyone but her. Out of the military, Heath is as brooding and intense as ever, and he is determined not only to win her back, but to exact revenge on everyone who kept him from her…
And when one love allows her to breathe, but the other feels as essential to her life as air, how does she choose between them?
The first time the blurb for this one crossed my path–a sign-up opportunity for a book blitz–I saw that the hero and heroine were named Heath and Cat and thought cool, a Wuthering Heights remake. Then I came across it a second time–a review opportunity–and knew it was meant to be. I had to read this book.
I’m so glad I did.
If ever there were a story from classic literature that was just screaming for a modern-day New Adult retelling, surely Wuthering Heights is it. It’s always been one of those stories I’ve loved to hate. Catherine and Heathcliff’s love–so overwhelming, so intense, so ultimately destructive to not only themselves but to everyone around them–was always the one redeeming thing about two such selfish and self-absobed characters. WH was always one of those (very few, fortunately–they’re emotionally exhausting to read) books that I loved while really not liking the main characters at all. (Gone with the Wind‘s Scarlett O’Hara is the other biggie in this category.) The drama of the original, the angst, the all-encompassing be-all end-all nature of their relationship–really, this storyline is tailor-made for today’s New Adult genre.
Then to find out Ms. McCarthy moved the setting from the moors of Yorkshire to the coast of Maine, my favorite vacation destination? Icing on the cake. I began to be afriad that it was too perfect, that the novel would end up falling flat. Fortunately my fears were unfounded.
Ms. McCarthy did a fantastic job of adapting the original to a modern time and genre, keeping the essence of the story but making it ultimately more palatable to today’s reader. It was a constant pleasure to keep discovering all the ways she took Emily Brontë‘s characters and plot and made them more current. In the original, we never do find out where Heathcliff went for three years. Here, Heath joined the army and spent his time in Afghanistan. If anything these days could change a person quickly, making him or her seem older, more serious, and even haunted, it would be active duty in a war zone–excellent choice.
In WH Heathcliff left in the first place because he knew that Catherine was going to marry Linton and overheard (the first half of) a conversation where she said that it would degrade her to marry him though she admitted “he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” In You Make Me, Heath leaves much earlier, before Cat gets a taste of “the good life” in college (ie stays at the Linton’s more “normal” home) because his relationship with the younger Cat has been discovered (or perhaps just suspected) and a restraining order has been filed against him with Cat’s “signature” on it but without her actual knowledge. The truth doesn’t come to light until quite some time after he returns–for much of the novel Cat had no idea why Heath left so suddenly and disappeaed so completely. The reasons McCarthy gives here make perfect sense for our modern times, and the fact that she’s finally moving on after four years of pining after a guy who took her virginity and then left mysteriously and disappeared completely makes the modern Cat a lot more relateable than Catherine Earnshaw, who knew Heathcliff was her other half but saw no problem with marrying someone else.
In a nutshell–the essence of Brontë‘s characters and story are here, but all the parts that made my teenage heart cringe (and let’s not do the math to figure out how long ago that was, okay? Thanks so much) were made much more palatable here. Ultimately, these were characters that I could actually like because they (thankfully) don’t exactly take the same path as their predecessors. My English major heart could rejoice over seeing how McCarthy took the orginal and tweaked it, while at the same time being ever so grateful that she ultimately made it a new story.
So…would I have liked this book as much on its own merit, without my love of the original? Probably not, I’ll admit. It is more than a little over the top at times, even for a New Adult book. As a remake of a classic tale, though, it is outstanding–I loved seeing what she did with the story and how she was able to hold on to the passion and drama of the original while giving the angst a more modern–and believeable–feel. Heath is brooding and even stalkerish, but he’s not the out-and-out borderline psychopath that Heathcliff returns as. Cat goes to college to remake herself–as so many do–leaving the impovrished wild child from the island behind her. She doesn’t, however, decide she has to marry a rich guy to become a “great lady” despite her intense, all-consuming feelings for someone else. Most of the more cringe-worthy plot elements of the original are either altered or softened here–but you can still make the connection.
A definite win-win.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A-
I recieved a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
As I wrote this, You Make Me was still free on iTunes and Amazon. If you’ve read the original story, I definitely recommend picking it up at that price. (Is it still a “price” if it’s free? I don’t know–I didn’t teach math. 😉 ) If you haven’t, I’d say it’s still worth it. (FREE!) I will warn you, though–Goodreads reviews go up and down for this one–people either seem to love it or they hate it. Interestingly enough, though, no one else on the first page seemed to notice (or at least they didn’t mention it) that it was a WH remake. I’ll admit, this made the English major in me cry–just a little.**