The Romance genre in literature is not one I am naturally attracted to as a reader. My heart is not a stony place, but I frequently feel that stereotypes and abuses are displayed on that canvas too easily. It may be this simple fact that I was attracted to the main character of Catalina Kiss. She busts my stereotype of the genre. Gwen Ross doesn't easily succumb to the rituals of her social status or gender. She is college educated, almost on her own, ready to write her unique story even with the weight of her mother and men in general threatening to make her waiver.
In this book Ms. Ewens has managed to create a character that I want to root for and know. Gwen's not running from something or even to something, she seems to be trying to use her smarts and ambition to discover her heart. Her reconciliation of leading herself and letting go to become herself makes the character exciting and real. Place this challenge against the backdrop of unexpected love and it made me eager to learn if she would succumb to a traditional role or rewrite how to be in love.
I am a 15-year married mother of two living a very satisfying life, but to be reminded of love and its bonds and torments in such a balanced way in a setting that is inspiring, yet out of reach makes me fall in love with the story, Ms. Ewens' writing and quite possibly the genre itself. I'm now searching for female characters who seek love and desire in a way that resembles my own--without whips, repression, lies, deception and harm.
I appreciate that Ms. Ewens doesn't bury the reader in imagery and social mores of the late 1920s. The setting is used just enough to help understand Gwen's strength and her ability to fly--birds are a common symbol throughout the book. I think Catalina Kiss is a great first book by an author who capably creates a world her reader can vacation to. I'm eager to learn where Gwen goes and how she will wrestle with her life. Any help that I can get navigating my own reality (even if it's fictional), as long as it's relatable and accessible, is welcome. I recommend this book.