Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Time Travel Tuesday: Caitlin (A Love Trilogy)
So when my BFF and first spotted boxed sets of Caitlin: A Love Trilogy in a local bookstore, we were psyched. Just from the cover blurb, we could tell that these books had everything we were looking for. Created by Francine Pascal? Check. Written by someone other than Francine Pascal? Check. Bitchy boy-magnet main character to idolize? And then some.
Of course, there was one thing standing in the way of my Love Trilogy dreams. Ironically, that one thing was the word 'love'. Because while my mother was gradually resigning herself to my SVH obsession, she still had her standards. And any book with the word 'love' in the title was, in her opinion, 'too old' for me and therefore a book she would not pay for. Luckily, in a rare display of generosity, my BFF bought me the box set for Christmas, and so I spent a merry two days over the festive season that year immersed in what I thought was the best trilogy EVER.
Here's the deal, as my pre-teen self saw it: fifteen year old Caitlin Ryan is beautiful and rich and always gets what she wants. She rocks. She's like Jessica Wakefield from Sweet Valley High, except that she doesn't have a goody-two-shoes identical twin cramping her style. And it's all sooooo romantic.
Here's the deal, as I see it now: fifteen year old Caitlin Ryan is beautiful and rich and always gets what she wants. Especially boys. In fact, she has the male population of her exclusive boarding school basically drooling over her. But is she happy? Uh, no. Because she's lonely. She's at boarding school because her parents are dead (kinda) and her wealthy grandmother doesn't want her around. And, according to the cover blurb, she's also haunted by a secret need... for love. A need that only handsome new student Jed Michaels can fulfil. And... ewww.
Frankly, I don't know how I ever read this book without wanting to barf. Even the cover blurb should have had alarm bells ringing, with all that darn neediness everywhere. Because while the cover promises a book about an unforgettable, headstrong heroine just like Jessica Wakefield, Loving is all about Caitlin discovering that what handsome eighties cowboy types like Jed really want... is a girl with no discernible personality. I think I speak for us all when I say: facepalm.
Admittedly, Caitlin does Something Bad in Loving. We know it's bad, because it warrants no less than six exclamation marks in three paragraphs of text. And admittedly, she lets her rival for Jed's affections take the blame for the Bad Thing, and that's a little bit naughty of her. Well, very naughty. And despite the fact that she feels so guilty she can hardly function, she doesn't own up, so the girl she blamed has a nervous breakdown.
But you know what's worse? The way Handsome Jed likes guilt-ridden, fragile Caitlin way more than he ever liked the confident, headstrong version, and the way Caitlin is so darn grateful to him for it. So while I'm pretty sure we're meant to judge BadCaitlin and think her personality overhaul is a Good Thing, I just can't be a part of that.
Verdict: Loving is a book of its time. The time was the eighties.