Tag Archives: sequel

Catherine, Her Book – John Wheatcroft

I really think you should read “Wuthering Heights” before you give this book a try. It will make a lot more sense if you do.

“Sometimes I lay in the loft of the barn. Sometimes I lay in the dimple of the shade. Sometimes I lay in the fairy cave under Penistone Crags. Sometimes I lay, gasping for breath, under the black water of the pool at the bottom of the gorge. I was always alone, wanting Heathcliff.”

“Often I burned and shivered together, fire within, wind without.”

This is one of the books I bought a couple of months ago at a library sale. I’ve been working my way through the pile, saving this one like a fine morsel to be tasted and enjoyed later. When that time came I devoured it in a few days, pacing myself even though I wanted to rush through the story like the storm on a summer night. The old fashioned writing style (which I love and crave every now and then) called for a slowing down of my reading, something I was reluctant to do.

At a little under 200 pages, the book tells about a segment from Catherine Earnshaw’s life after she marries Edgar Linton and moves to Thrushcross Grange. She’s not a happy bride, even if Edgar appears to be the perfect husband. She longs for Heathcliff and the days they spent together. A love like theirs, burning with an unquenchable fire, cannot allow one to live a domestic life, apart from the other. In an attempt to find something to fill her days with and banish the demons that torment her, Catherine starts transcribing her old diary, pages and pages of scribbling jotted down in the margins of old books. It’s her story, detailing her relationship with Heathcliff , and the bond they developed over the years.

Who was Nelly, the trusted servant at the Wuthering Heights, and why is Mr Earnshaw so fond of her and Heathcliff while barely acknowledging his daughter Catherine and son Hindley? And why does he allow Joseph, who’s little more than a servant, to constantly preach about the wrath of God while verbally abusing the young children at every opportunity?

Catherine, who has an astute sense of observation, stumbles upon and sometimes only guesses at the mysteries surrounding the Earnshaw family – the tomb on the family estate, a tiny physical resemblance, an accidental witnessing of a lovers’ meeting. Wheatcroft skillfully fills in some of the gaps that bring more closure to the story in “Wuthering Heights”. The biggest mystery, however, concerning Heathcliff’s birth and parentage, is at best suspected but never confirmed. Heathcliff himself remains a secluded character, viewed mostly through Catherine’s eyes. Their relationship is tumultuous, passionate and dramatic. Sexuality plays a significant role and some passages are quite graphic. While not as intricate in action as “Wuthering Heights”, the story provides plenty of drama and anguish.

Not one to give up on a book because of bad reviews, I didn’t even check for the Goodreads rating first. When I did, I was surprised to see the book didn’t get much love. But that’s ok, it got plenty from me. I thought Wheatcroft managed to write a sequel that answers plenty of questions while at the same time leaving some things shrouded in mystery. Where did Heathcliff go during the 3 years he was away from Wuthering Height? Who were his parents? How did he become rich? And why, in the name of love, didn’t he just declare his feelings for Catherine and marry her? Actually I may know the answer to that last question if Catherine’s suspicions prove right. But that’s quite a big “if” and I’m not entirely convinced. Like in “Wuthering Heights”, there are patterns to this narrative as well. It was enough to partially satisfy my craving for answers but not quite enough to lay it all in the open. If you’re a fan of “Wuthering Height”s and would like to revisit your favorite characters, give this book a try.

*

I was curious to find out more about the author. John Wheatcroft (I love this perfect old fashioned name) was born 92 years ago today. What a coincidence that I finished writing this review on his birthday! I would have liked to write to him and tell him how much I enjoyed his book but I was late by a few months. He died in March this year. He was an American writer and teacher who served in World War II. “Catherine, Her Book”, was published in 1983 but Wheatcroft’s work has started appearing in print since 1967 – “Prodigal Son” – and the most recent, “The Portrait of a Lover”, in 2011.

My rating 5/5 stars
Read in July 2017

Posted in The Book on The Nightstand | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

On creativity and the gift that keeps on giving

Last year I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s a beautiful inspirational book about creativity – how to make time for it in our busy lives and how the act of creation can be so beneficial to us as human beings. I loved the book, it spoke to me on so many levels and it made me think of ways in which I can bring more creativity into my daily routine and get rid of that “I don’t have time” mantra that threatens to take over my life. I think this thought was lurking at the back of my mind the minute I saw the package and it sprung up the minute I saw the wrapping paper.

The package was a Christmas present from my blogging friend, Vishy. It traveled all the way from India and came to me just as I was beginning to think that maybe it got lost somewhere in the deep dark recesses of a storage room, there to die a lonely death. I’m so glad it didn’t. Thank you so much, Vishy!

G1

Inside was this bubble wrapped package with a card. Oh, the suspense!

 

And inside the package, a book I have been looking forward to reading for years – The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts, which is the sequel to Shantaram, a book I read and loved five years ago. The sequel only came out in October last year. That’s a long time between books…I can’t wait to see if this is as good as the first one.

S

As soon as I saw the beautiful wrapping paper I knew it was perfect for my next notebook cover. Luckily, given the size of the book, a large section of the paper was in good shape so I even had enough for a bookmark. The timing was perfect, as the notebook I usually carry with me has only a few pages left, so this new one is ready to take its place in my little backpack. I always carry a notebook and a pen with me – I find it so much more comfortable jotting things down on paper rather than fiddling around with my phone.

It took me a few days to finish it, working an hour or two a day when I had time. It’s a lot easier to glue paper in the dry, cold weather we’ve been having here, as opposed to the stifling humidity of Bangkok. I’m definitely going to miss this when I get back there. The little string bookmark I used came from a jar of jam. It was wrapped around the lid as a decorative item. The colors – red, yellow and blue, symbolize the Romanian flag. So now not only do I have a new book (and chunky, too at nearly 900 pages!) but also this notebook and a lovely paper bookmark. I can’t wait to use them both.

 

Posted in Handmade | Tagged , , , , , , | 22 Comments