Harry And Catherine: A Love Story

by Frederick Busch

Hardcover, 1990




Knopf (1990), Edition: 1st, 290 pages


Here is that rarest and most satisfying of books: a grown-up love story. Harry and Catherine have been falling in and out of love for many years. She is divorced, determinedly raising two sons, and running a small gallery in upstate New York. He is an ex-newspaperman, a wistful drifter, now assistant to a New York senator. After a long separation, Harry is assigned to find out whether a new shopping mall in Catherine's neighborhood will desecrate an historic black cemetery. Catherine is living with another man, a contractor for the mall who finds both his financial interests and his relationship with Catherine threatened by Harry. With penetrating acuity and generosity of spirit, one of our finest writers brings us what David Bradley calls "a book people will love and be proud of loving.""Unsuppressed emotion, painful honesty . . . all of it in the most lively and supple language anyone is writing today."--Rosellen Brown… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member TimBazzett
Hey, I just reviewed a short story collection by Busch, Too Late American Boyhood Blues, which caused me to realize I'd never reviewed Harry & Catherine here on LT, so here's a review I put on Amazon back in Feb 2009 after rereading H&C.

If you crave traditional, standard sorts of love stories - you
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know what I mean, the Elvis formula flick kinda thing: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back - then this book will simply exasperate you. But if you do crave that formula crap, then you don't deserve Harry & Catherine. I first read this book more than ten years ago, and I remember I thought about it for weeks after I finished it. Catherine Hollander is possibly one of the strongest women I've met in modern fiction. She is also, as I said, exasperating and, at times, none too likeable. But the truth is, Catherine is probably like a lot of women in this age of nearly forced equality. She values her independence to a fault. She needs her "personal space" so much that she seems thorny and unapproachable, or even indifferent, to the men who love her - or try to. Harry, on the other hand, is simply a man in love, a man who keeps on trying, on and off, for literally years to understand how to please this woman. Like most men, he's not terribly complicated. He may even be Everyman. Even at the end of this book, you're not quite sure whether these two will make it, but in Harry & Catherine, Frederick Busch has created some very memorable characters. Even the secondary players are carefully developed into real and very believable characters - the two teenage sons, the jilted lover Carter, the chubby sex-tinged temptress Olivia. There is heartbreak and humor in this story and there is also gritty graphic sex of all sorts, as well as a strange juxtaposition: a parallel theme of the importance and sacredness of family. (It would make a terrific film.) I found that I was just as mystified and charmed by this book in 2009 as I was the first time I read it in the 1990s. I have read several of Busch's other books too - all excellent (GIRLS is my favorite). But here's the oddest thing I felt as I finished reading this book again: I miss Fred Busch. He died three years ago this month (Feb 2006). I never met the guy, but I felt an overwhelming sense of loss as I closed this book last night. Yes, I miss him.
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