Posted by: Megan | October 27, 2014

Thoughts from the Christophers

Hey everyone! I promise that Petals coverage will begin again shortly, but first, here’s a look at some of the preview material for the new Dollanganger book being released tomorrow. That’s right! No one asked for this, but here it is: Christopher’s Diary: Secrets of Foxworth (hereafter SoF)  is coming at us shortly (my copy is on its way!). Oh brother.

Now, there are two pieces of preview material that I’ll be discussing here. One is the excerpt from the book that’s up on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Christophers-Diary-Secrets-Foxworth-Dollanganger/dp/1476790582) and the other is the “Unsent letter” from Christopher Sr. to Corrine that I got when I preordered SoF. I’m starting with the excerpt since it’s shorter, and because I’ve got FEELINGS about this letter.

 

I don’t want to get TOO far into the excerpt since it’s just that, and there isn’t enough context for me to get but so snarky, but I just…huh. I’m wary about sequels like this as it is. I think there’s interesting information to be gleaned from “the other side of the story” narratives–I even read that Twilight one, guys–but overall I don’t have a lot of use for them. I am biased, I admit it. I have issues with much of what Cathy does but ultimately I like her. I like her cockamamie plans and her melodrama; I have less interest in what Christopher has to say. (This was also my exact reaction to that Gone with the Wind sequel about Rhett) I’ve been working on a piece about Chris for a while, I guess I’ll have to see what SoF brings to my understanding of the character. I just can’t help but feel that it’s going to turn into a sort of Cathy bashfest. Like I said, I don’t want to over-read yet, there’s barely any of the actual diary in the released excerpt.

The new book is from the POV of Kristin Masterwood, who is (through her mother) a distant cousin of Malcolm Foxworth’s, and thusly related to the Four Cs. The book takes place years after the events of Seeds of Yesterday, and the events of the first series have apparently become local legend. People know that there were four Foxworth children locked in the attic, and that one of them died (poor Cory is now a sad local ghost story). The exact circumstances behind the children’s imprisonment isn’t known, nor does anyone seem to know that Chris and Cathy lived in the rebuilt Foxworth Hall with their son Bart later on. Kristin has to deal with jokes at her expense related to the supposed madness of the Foxworth family, exacerbated by her physical resemblance to the family (of COURSE). God forbid a Foxworth is a brunette. She’s fascinated with the story and while accompanying her father on a trip to the remains of Foxworth Hall, they find a metal box containing Chris’ diary. How convenient. The excerpt ends with Kristin realizing what she’s found, so we get very little of Chris’ voice. What we do get…doesn’t thrill me. I DO wish the excerpt differentiated between Kristin’s POV and Chris’ a little better, hopefully the book itself will have better formatting. I had to go back a couple times just to realize who was talking. The diary is apparently more of a memoir like Cathy’s, written after the fact, so I wonder what events will get covered. Do you think it’ll be a straight rehash, with all of the big moments or will there be mainly new stuff (that, somehow, Cathy never knew about despite being trapped in one room)? What insight can we get from someone who was never far from the action in the first book and really far away from it in the second?

I’m not super enthusiastic about the whole Kristin/Foxworth connection. It’s just so obvious. Of course she can’t just be an unrelated outsider, she has to be a distant cousin. And blonde and blue-eyed. Hell, her name starts with a K but it’s still alliterative! It’s all a little much. The bit that I’ve read so far, I’m not dying to spend more time with Kristin, but I guess I am in this now, so here we go.

 

And now…the letter. Oh god you guys. This letter. You think finding the diary is super convenient? This letter. We learn from the addendum that it was passed along by the most convoluted game of telephone since Coolio’s “Too Hot”.  Chris Sr. wrote this letter shortly before he died, and it was found amongst his papers in their foreclosed house. (Wow, Corrine really didn’t concern herself with stuff, did she?) So…not in a safe. Not under a floorboard. Like, probably on his desk, between the gas bill and a reimbursement form from work. So the bank clerk who finds the letter is soooo shocked by what it says that he leaves it in a bag, that’s left in a warehouse owned by the bank that’s filled with stuff from other foreclosed houses. You still with me? Okay. Four years later, one Steven Clarkson does an inventory of said warehouse and finds the letter and is ALSO sooooo shocked by it, so much so that he brings it home to his mother-in-law (Tamatha Williams) to read. Nice. Tamatha (presumably also sooooo shocked) brings the letter to her friend Bernice Wheeler because Bernice used to be the neighbor of a family named Dollanganger. (These people need hobbies) Bernice is, you guessed it!, sooooo shocked, and is the FIRST PERSON to suggest that maybe they should just destroy the letter, but she and Tamatha decide that maybe the Dollanganger kids will need to read it someday, so they pop it into Bernice’s safe deposit box. How does that help them read it??? What?

So then one day, Bernice dies. (I have NOT EVEN GOTTEN TO THE LETTER YET) Her sister, Christina Brooks, (will these names mean anything? Doubtful) finds the letter in the safe deposit box and reads it and, instead of being sooooo shocked, sends the letter to a friend (Tad Jenkins) who works at the Charlottesville paper. DAMN CHRISTINA. THAT’S SOMEONE’S PERSONAL BUSINESS. Tad delivers the letter to “our source, who must at this time remain nameless”.

 

WHAT

WHAT

 

OH COME ON.

We’re told that we’ll get the source’s name in a “subsequent publication”. I tell y’all now, and I tell it true: If we get Surprise! Not dead! Cory! in a later book you will hear my screams from wherever you are. And yes, I know some of you are on other continents. You’ll hear it.

There is another theory though, one that Flowers in the Attic 2.0 puts forth in her discussion of the letter, and I think that’s probably the likely one. (fingers crossed) More on that in a moment.

 

This. Letter. Guys. Firstly, this family doesn’t shy away from flowery language that’s for darn sure.

 

I have begun and stopped writing this letter many times. We live in a dangerous world, as you know all too well with the loss of your brothers and I always fear that someday I might lose you or you might lose me. If something happened to me tomorrow, for example, there would be so many, many things I would wish I had said.”

 Calm down dude, calm. down. But I guess he has some reason to be a tad emotional about all of this, given the big reveal.

 Let me throw out the biggest gem right away:

 Chris Sr. knew he was Corrine’s brother.

Once more time.

 Chris Sr. knew he was Corrine’s brother.

 I am not your half-uncle, my love. I am, in fact, your half-brother and not your half-uncle. Your father impregnated my mother. Actually, he forced himself upon her when she was living in your house. I stumbled upon a letter my mother had written to Olivia, a letter in which my mother was thanking her for bringing you up as she would her own daughter. Yes, my dearest, you and I had the same mother.”

 What is with this family and these letters? I don’t necessarily expect a lot from poor Alicia, but dang girl. Now, we don’t get an exact time for when he learns this information, but it’s at least before the birth of the kids because he TELLS HER HOW AFRAID HE WAS EACH TIME SINCE THERE MIGHT BE SOMETHING WRONG. Dude. DUDE. What???

 You never saw the abject terror and fear in my eyes every time one of our children was born. I knew what Olivia and your father meant when they talked about our children being born with horns and hooves and who knows what. I anticipated something terrible like two-headed babies, and then the doctor looking at us and wondering who and what we really were to each other.”

 Sooo…what you’re telling us is….you felt like you had a solid reason to be fearful for the health and well-being of your children (and wife!), yet you kept your mouth shut because the doctors might look at you funny?! CHRISTOPHER. I know, he’s also concerned about the effect that this knowledge would have on Corrine, but it really comes across as “I was afraid you would leave me and also that people would judge us”.

 In fact

 “Perhaps, I didn’t tell you because I was so afraid you would leave me.”

 Chris has got a lot of, shall we say, interesting interpretations of character, though.

 Olivia always knew all this. She knew what your father had done, but she had a way of willing the truth out of this world. Perhaps she did what she did to keep the peace and make all our lives possible after such a sin had been committed, a sin that could have doomed us all.”

 I’m gonna go with “probably not”.

 “Your father was your father and as any father who loved his daughter well, he lavished so much attention on you. However, every time he set eyes on you, especially in Olivia’s presence, he must have felt pangs of guilt. I think he was always trying to make it up to Olivia, thinking that every time she looked at you, she saw the child her husband had created with his sister-in-law.”

 Yeah, also no. Oh, and Alicia was Malcolm’s STEPMOTHER not his sister-in-law. Come on, Christopher, draw a family tree, dude.

 The rest of the letter is a lot of apologies and the talk about guilt and sin that we’ve come to expect from these folks. Oh and some stuff about the kids that just sticks in my craw:

 “Does this make everything worse for us, and more important, for our children? I don’t know. When I look at Cathy, at how beautiful she is, how intelligent Christopher Jr. is and how like precious jewels our twins are, I feel confident that we have somehow escaped the curse of incestuous love. Perhaps our love for each other was and has been too strong for it to matter. Is that a romantic idealism? Maybe.”

 Thank god Cathy is pretty, I mean good LORD can you imagine the world for a girl who isn’t?? The twins are…non-entities and OH THANK HEAVENS OUR SON IS SMART. Boys SHOULD be smart, you know, they have to do all the work!

 “You knew how much I had wanted to be a doctor and how pleased I am that Christopher not only has the intelligence to become one but sees it as his true destiny, his purpose in life. I will live my dream through my son. I was willing to make that sacrifice for you and I’m willing to keep making it.

You must promise me, however, especially if you’re reading this letter after I have been taken away from you and our children, that you will do everything you possibly can to see that Christopher lives his dream, his and my dream. I know it would be an unfair burden placed on your shoulders for I have not yet become the provider I dreamed I would be, but you surely will feel the same need to make this happen and somehow find the way.”

 Um.

 I will live my dream through my son.”

 That’s not–

 “his dream, his and my dream.”

 Maybe don’t–

 “I was willing to make that sacrifice for you and I’m willing to keep making it.”

 Ooof, pal, get down of the cross, we need the wood.

 “We both feel that our Cathy will do something wonderful with her fascination with dance. She is so graceful, even now, so young. It’s easy to see she has inherited your beauty, your lithe, angelic movements. She must be encouraged, but more important, supported. Artists, musicians, anyone in entertainment have a special temperament, just like we can see Cathy has. Nurture it and like a candle that flickers to drive away the darkness in our lives, keep her flame burning.”

 “Cathy is so pretty and graceful but also a big old drama queen, we should probably just give in to that”. (I love Cathy but…yeah)

 There are a couple of tidbits that may (in the case of the first) or may not (the second) mean anything in the long run. The first is actually the confession that starts the letter, I guess Chris wanted to start off small.

 “Sometimes, however, love can be a very selfish thing. I wonder often if I didn’t take advantage of you. I know you will never say I did, but you were so young, and, although I never told you and indeed pretended the otherwise, I was not a virgin when I returned home from college and we first made love in your grandmother’s Swan room. I pretended to be because I thought it made you more comfortable, although it was clear that neither of us could keep away from the other much longer.”

 Now, we know from Corrine’s side of the story that she was setting her cap for Chris for a while, but without my books immediately to hand I don’t want to try to figure out who made what move first. The point of this quote was the comment about not being a virgin, which has to mean something later, right? Like I mentioned above, Flowers in the Attic 2.0’s theory is that said sexual encounter led to a child, who will turn out to be the ~*secret brother*~ of upcoming book fame, rather than a grown-up Cory/descendent of Cory. This is my going theory too.  I don’t want any secret brothers of any stripe, frankly, but I would MUCH rather have Chris Sr’s College Lovechild than Amnesiac Cory in an Orphanage any day.

 And for the second little something

 “John Amos was always preaching to us, telling us things like the sins of the father will rest on the heads of his children. I saw the way he looked at you whenever he said something like that. At first I had no idea why and then, when I knew, I understood. He always knew the truth. He was a hateful man. It was more him than anyone who turned Olivia and Malcolm against us.”

 John Amos is just the weirdest character of all. He’s banging maids in FitA, LET’S NOT EVEN DISCUSS ITBT RIGHT NOW,  he’s basically what Joel became in SoY, preaching into Olivia’s ear in GoS…and now I guess he’s the villain of the whole series? He’s definitely pouring poison into Olivia’s ear in GoS, that’s true, but I don’t think he engineered her entire personality all on his own. Ugh, I don’t like even talking about John Amos yet, let’s deal with him when we have to.

 “I will put this letter in an envelope now, but I will not write your name on the outside until I find the courage.

Something I might never find.”

 Obviously (see above paper trail)

 Oh man. I don’t think I like this letter, you guys. I’ve never thought a lot about Chris Sr. He lived, he died, he’s set up as a good man who loved his family. And that’s fine, for the most part. He’s a little too revered, maybe, but I don’t think that’s uncommon for people who have lost a loved one, especially children who lose a parent. Now all of this…I can’t get over the fact that he just stood by through three pregnancies and what, crossed his fingers? What was he going to do if something WAS wrong? What if something was wrong that had nothing to do with his and Corrine’s relationship? Would he just assume the worst and lose it? Was he going to hide the baby? Pretend it died? Cover–

 

Oh god you guys you don’t think.

 

MOVING ON. I WILL NOT THINK ABOUT THIS RIGHT NOW.

The letter’s existence seems to hinge on the virginity revelation, and possibly the John Amos stuff, and I don’t know if that’s worth it? It was a fun feature to promote a book release, I will say that.


This has become a ramble, so I’m going to close it up. Please discuss in the comments! Did you like the letter? Did you think it was necessary? Do we all agree to form a We Hate John Amos club?  And what are we thinking about SoF? So much is happening!! 

Posted by: Megan | July 23, 2014

How’s Boarding School, Carrie?

Hey first of all, sorry for the delay y’all, life and stuff happened (nothing bad, just stuff, y’know? The computer died. Then my laptop decided that it didn’t really want to help out. Then I was sick. Blah blah blah) but I am back!

 

La di da

La di da

WHAT. AbsoLUTely not.

Shoo.

 

MOVING ALONG. This installment is going to be all downer, I’m afraid, since we’re at the part of the story that Cathy gives over to Carrie, regarding What Happens At Boarding School. I would continue from there, but it almost immediately moves to Cathy And Paul Move Beyond Inappropriate and that seemed weird to condense into one recap.

So Carrie, poor sad traumatized lonely needy will-never-really-be-okay Carrie, has been sent off to boarding school. Now, I will admit that I’m not sure that Carrie staying home would’ve been ideal either. Chris is also away at school, Cathy has school and ballet, Paul has his medical practice, so it’s not like there’s an abundance of caregivers for her; but I reserve the right to think pretty harshly of Paul for it since it reeks to me of “And now Cathy is mine! ALL MINE whaahahahhahahahahaa”

 

Yeah, I don’t like Paul.

 

Cathy leads us in, reminding us that this is Chris and Carrie’s story too (could’ve surprised me, Cathy) and so she’s going to share what happened as she thinks it has a lot to do with what Carrie thought of herself in the future. Cathy pieced the story together from her sister and the headmistress. Man, don’t you wish we could be getting CARRIE’S story instead of Chris’s, if we have to get another book at all? Or at least a chapter or something?

Carrie attends Miss Emily Dean Calhoun’s School for Properly Bred Young Ladies (ew) but comes home on the weekends. Cathy and Chris notice that she’s becoming more and more introverted again but she won’t anything negative about the teachers or her classmates. All she’ll say is that she isn’t unhappy and that she likes the carpet at school because “it’s colored like grass”. OH MY GOD CARRIE. My heart. Paul brings Chris and Carrie home every weekend but nothing seems to make her smile. Carrie no longer confides in her older sister, focusing her wordless attention on Paul—who is focused on Cathy. That reminds me of the scene in the movie where she asks if Chris thinks she’s pretty–she just wants ONE of the men in her life to pay attention to her instead of Cathy. It would be hard enough being the little kid in that household of busy adults, but when your older sister is gorgeous and talented and the epicenter of everyone else’s life? No wonder Carrie both hates and loves going away to school. I can’t help but think that some little part of her wants to get away from Cathy.

THAT JUST BROKE MY HEART AGAIN.

 

Cathy assures us that the school is beautiful and that she would have loved to have gone there. Thanks? (I’m not thinking very highly of Catherine today) The girls are allowed to decorate their side of their rooms as they want (as long as it’s suitably feminine!!!!! Ai yi yi) so Carrie’s, naturally, is purple and red. I missed Carrie’s colors in the movie, purple is my favorite color too, so I think I was always a little jealous of Carrie’s room. Carrie’s roommate is the “next smallest girl” in the school, a redheaded bully named Sissy Towers. They assign rooms by size? Carrie’s nine now, and the uniform for her grade is a yellow dress and white pinafore. Carrie hates yellow. In her mind, yellow represents everything that they were denied in the attic–sunshine and happiness and fresh air–Cory died wanting these yellow things and Carrie can’t stand it. Sissy, naturally, loves yellow. Her side of the room is all yellow. I can no longer tell if yellow is spelled correctly.

Sissy is also a nasty piece of work who calls Carrie a dwarf and a freak and literally climbs on her desk to make carnival barker announcements about Carrie’s size until all of the girls on their floor come to stare at her. Sissy is a monster. She demands that Carrie take her clothes off (!!!) so that everyone can gawk at her; when Carrie just curls into a ball and won’t react, Sissy continues to harass her. Only one girl, Lacy St. John, stands up for Carrie, and for her decency she gets punched in the nose by Sissy. God damn, this child. Carrie sees this and lets loose with one of her patented Carrie-Screams. This FINALLY alerts the headmistress, who gets upstairs at long last (along with the rest of the teachers) and discovers a full-on brawl happening in Carrie and Sissy’s room. All the while, Carrie screams. The fight is broken up and Sissy blames it on Carrie–saying she can’t stand to have a roommate so “unnaturally small”. Miss Dewhurst isn’t having it and tells Sissy she’ll now be rooming on the first floor next to Miss Dewhurst’s office. All of the other girls have their weekend leave cancelled and receive demerits. The room finally clear, Miss Dewhurst goes over to talk to Carrie, who has stopped screaming but is still having a terrible flashback (seeing Lacy’s blood made her remember the day that Chris fed them his blood) and when Miss Dewhurst demands to know what happened, Carrie can’t respond. The charmingly sensitive Miss Dewhurst warns Carrie that until she speaks up she won’t be getting weekend visits either. unfortunately, Miss Dewhurst is a tall, grey-haired lady, so the sight of her looming over Carrie sends Carrie into a screaming fit, yelling “I hate you!!” at Miss Dewhurst until she leaves the room and the nurse sedates Carrie. Cathy receives a call later telling them that Carrie has lost her privileges for the weekend.

Cathy insists to Paul at dinner that night that it’s a really, really bad idea to leave Carrie at the school all weekend. Paul’s like “Calm down, if she broke rules she has to be punished” and CHRIS AGREES WITH HIM SINCE HAHA CARRIE CAN BE KIND OF A BRAT AM I RIGHT. Cathy, reasonably, is super pissed at them and can’t shake the feeling all weekend that something is terribly wrong and that Carrie is scared and alone and needs her.

Back at school, poor Carrie, now sans roommate, is alone for the first time in her life and only has her porcelain dolls from the attic for company. The other students have turned against her because of what happened, so she’s all alone, talking to her dolls. She thinks (she tells Cathy later) that maybe Corrine is up in Heaven with Cory and Chris Sr. and she hates Cathy and Chris and Paul for making her go away to school when she just wants to be home with them. YEAH WHAT A GREAT IDEA THIS WAS. She can hear the students in the halls whispering as she walks by, so she decides to be brave like Cathy, Chris, & Paul want. One night, she looks for the dolls where she always carefully puts them away and finds sticks that have been put in their places. She tells Cathy that she cried then, since God would never answer her prayers and make her taller since He had turned to her dolls to sticks.

 

I….

 

I need a moment.

 

Carrie refuses to tell Cathy anything that happens after that, but Cathy learns the whole story from Lacy. The girls who were denied weekend privileges come into Carrie’s room that night, in their nightgowns and carrying candles, chanting about how they have to protect themselves from her “unnatural smallness” and basically trying to scare her. OH and they all put pillowcase hoods on over their faces. These kids. One of them (obviously Sissy) tells Carrie that if she can survive their initiation, then she can join their secret club and join in all their fun. Carrie is…not interested and just wants them to go away. I agree! Sissy says that Carrie has to sacrifice her most precious possessions (the dolls) in order to join up sans initiation; when Carrie tries to explain that the dolls are gone, she’s told that she has to go through their “ritual” or die. OH WELL IN THAT CASE. Carrie agrees then, so the girls blindfold and gag her, then leave her on the roof. I mean, JFC. What sadistic little monsters. Now, obviously they’d have no idea that Carrie is horribly afraid of being out on a roof, but COME ON. That’s disgusting. It starts to rain, Carrie screams to herself for help, wondering why her family abandoned her and nobody wants her. Through the storm Carrie can hear Cory singing to her (she later tells Cathy) and she’s led by his voice to a trapdoor. She manages to open it and get inside, but she falls quite a ways and breaks her leg.

The next morning, Cathy, Chris, and Paul are sitting down to brunch when the phone rings and they’re all super annoyed because brunch. Cathy answers and it’s Miss Dewhurst, who, in the most round about way possible, tells her that Carrie wasn’t in church that morning and no one can find her. The other girls clearly know something, but none of them will talk. Um, make them? You’re their authority figure? Cathy is just a LITTLE peeved by this and Miss Dewhurst is all “No one’s seen her since last night, if she’d tried to walk home she’d be there? So we don’t know?” ACT LIKE YOU GIVE A SHIT A LITTLE GIRL IS MISSING. So the three of them take off to the school and Chris tries to comfort Cathy by reminding her how afraid of the dark Carrie is, so she wouldn’t have run away in the middle of the night, she’s probably just punishing someone with her BRATTY DRAMATICS. Why is Chris being such an ass about this? I’m honestly at a loss. I know he and Paul think that Cathy is overprotective but your LITTLE SISTER IS MISSING. At the school they meet with Miss Dewhurst, who is mostly annoyed because nothing like this has ever happened before AND it’s totally all Carrie’s fault since this all started with that fight.

WTF.

Paul wants to know why he wasn’t notified immediately but Cathy interrupts to ask to see Carrie’s room. They go up and some of the other students follow them and blatantly whisper about how much Chris and Cathy look like Carrie, except how they’re not “freakishly small”. Chris calls them out for those remarks and threatens to torture them until they talk. FINALLY CHRIS IS ON BOARD HERE*. Cathy goes through Carrie’s stuff (she finds the sticks, although she doesn’t understand what’s going on there) and tells Paul that Carrie has to still be on school grounds because all of her clothes are accounted for. Miss Dewhurst is still shrieking about how they’ve looked EVERYWHERE but Cathy ignores her and catches a shifty look on Sissy’s face. She looks closer and realizes that Sissy won’t meet her eyes and keeps messing with something in her pocket. Cathy demands to know what it is and, finally forced by Miss Dewhurst, Sissy reveals that she has the dolls. Sissy keeps insisting that they’re hers and won’t answer any questions about Carrie, so it’s here that Lacy speaks up and Cathy demands to be taken up to the attic to look. Miss Dewhurst AGAIN is like “But I did that!” and Cathy just insists, knowing that Carrie can just go inside her head and block out the world. They go up and Cathy calls to her sister, begging her not to keep silent, apologizing for sending her away and promising that they’ve come to take her home for good. Cathy gets Paul to call all of that out too, and Cathy finally hears a little whimper, leading them to Carrie. The poor thing is still gagged and blindfolded, and is wedged amongst some precarious stacks of crates. Cathy calls out to Carrie to lay on her stomach and keep still, and Cathy is able to crawl forward and get her, with Paul pulling them out just as the crates fall down.

Cathy blames all og this on Corrine, naturally, angrily clipping the society columns about their mother’s adventures that summer (she’s on the French Rivera) while they’re at home as Carrie recuperates. Cathy shows Chris the clipping about the Rivera, but doesn’t tell him that she’s subscribed to the Virginia paper. She tells him it was from the Greenglenna paper and Chris tells her that he’s trying to forget, unlike her. They have it good now, with Paul, and Carrie’s leg will get better, and they can go to New England (a trip they had to postpone) another time. Cathy’s dubious about that, as “Nothing ever was offered twice” (ooooh boy, Catherine, oooooh boy, issues) and she asks him if Carrie’s leg will really be all right or if it’ll heal shorter than the other one. Chris is forced to admit that if Carrie grew like normal children there’d be that risk, but since she doesn’t it probably won’t matter. Cathy’s like hey, remember WHY SHE’S LIKE THAT? BECAUSE OUR MOM LOCKED US IN AN ATTIC and tells him to go away.

She’s spending all of her pocket-money on these society pages and pictures and while she hates the sight of Corrine, she finds herself admiring Bart more and more. Uh oh. When she sees a picture of Bart toasting Corrine on their second anniversary, she writes Corrine a note congratulating her and reminding her of that summer she was married and her kids starved in an attic. She signs it

Not yours anymore,

The doctor doll,

The ballerina doll,

The praying-to-grow-taller doll,

and The dead doll“.

 

Drama.

Drama.

 

 

Tell me about it. Cathy mails the letter, regretting it almost immediately since she knows that Chris would hate it. That night she looks out on the veranda and finds Chris standing in the rain. These kids. He sees her and goes to her room, where she starts to cry in his arms. She asks him if he still loves Corrine. When he hesitates, she kinda flips out, yelling that he DOES still love her, even after what she did to them and to Cory and Carrie. She wants to know how he can still love her when he knows he should hate Corrine like Cathy does. He stays quiet and Cathy realizes that, if Chris were to stop loving Corrine, he would have to stop loving Cathy too, since he sees their mother whenever he looks at Cathy. Oh brother. Cathy thinks that her brother is just like their father, weak for beautiful women, and she bitterly argues with herself that it’s just a superficial resemblance, she’s NOT like Corrine, she’s strong and would’ve done a thousand things before locking her children away. Cathy is pulled from her vengeful thoughts by the realization that Chris is kissing her. She pulls away and yells at him to leave, since he only loves her because seh looks like Corrine, not for herself, and that sometimes she hates her face. Chris leaves, but not before telling Cathy that he was trying to comfort her and not to make everything ugly.

As anti-Chris as I can be sometimes, I have to admit that dealing with Cathy must be exhausting.

Carrie’s leg heals and she starts attending a local school, but she fares no better on the friend front. Cathy tells her not to care what the other students think, but she knows that Carrie does. Every night she hears Carrie praying that she’ll find her real mother someday, and to grow taller. She compares herself to Cathy, and despite having a beautiful face and hair, Carrie is still made fun of for her stature and the size of her head. Cathy prays too that something can be done for Carrie, and her anger for Corrine just keeps building.

Soon, it’s been a year and a half since the kids came to live with Paul. Cathy had imagined that once they were free of Foxworth Hall that everything would be perfect, but it isn’t. She spends most of her time in dance class, and Chris gets a summer job, leaving poor Carrie to play at home alone with her dolls. Cathy continues collecting the society clippings and spends hours researching Bart’s family history. One afternoon as she shops in Greenglenna, she sees Corrine and Bart walking ahead of her. She follows them for a long time, but never dares to say anything, though she’s dreamed about this moment. She eavesdrops on their conversation and (naturally) spends some time checking out Bart. When Cathy goes home that afternoon she’s furious with herself for doing nothing and throws a paperweight at her mirror, breaking it. Classic Cathy. She calls for a workman to come fix the mirror and chides herself for now having to use some of the money she’s saving for Paul’s birthday on it. She promises herself that she’ll get her revenge one day, and it’ll be worse than a broken mirror.

Coming up: I think we all know what Cathy gives Paul for his birthday. Ewwwwww. Also! The family goes on a creepy visit and Cathy makes some questionable professional decisions. See you then!

I MISSED Y’ALL.

 

*Obviously I do not advocate torturing children. I’m just glad he finally seemed to care.

Posted by: Megan | May 28, 2014

Petals on the Wind: A Lifetime Movie Extravaganza

Remember last time how upset I was that I didn’t get to write about blood drinking? Well, this time I get to write about angry handjobs, so I think it all works out.

Yeah. That’s what I said. We’ll get there.

Petals on the Wind! I had pretty high expectations for this one, Petals is probably my second-favorite Andrews book (after My Sweet Audrina, of course) and while I wish some things had stuck closer to the source material, for a two-hour distillation of a 400+ page book, it does a pretty good job. Whole chunks of story have been eliminated (bye bye Creepy Paul!) and new ones have been written in (I guess we needed a redhead?); we jump ten years ahead and then cram everything else into one year; and the series’ two big mysteries are blown wide open, but all in all, it’s a good damn time. Usual warnings apply: There are some, but not a ton, of spoilers for the end of Petals on the Wind (the book) and for the series as a whole; there are SO MANY screencaps because there were so many to be had.

 

Let’s do this!

Let’s do this!

Read More…

Posted by: Megan | May 23, 2014

It’s the Dark Backstory Hour

Cathy’s date with Julian is on a Saturday, one of the weekends that Chris and Carrie are home. Cathy’s disappointed that Paul doesn’t put up a fuss when she tells him about her date, which I think is about 1/4 good old Cathy manipulation (See Paul? I DON’T need you!) and 3/4 hope that he’ll say no because she’s nervous about the date and she could use his objection as an out. She wears a low-cut dress that she knows is too old for her, but she wants to seem sophisticated.

Little moments like that are great because they remind us that, despite her anger and her circumstances and her thirst for revenge, Cathy is a 15-year old girl who is perpetually in over her head. She’s attracted to men sexually but it’s scary because of her inexperience and her fear of sin and, in my opinion, because of what happened between her and Chris in the attic, for which she blames herself (and also Corrine). She wants love and romance but worries that getting close to a man will make her soft and weak like she perceives Corrine to be. She knows that Paul is attracted to her, and she likes the powerful way that makes her feel, but she also cares about him and thinks that sex is the number one way to make him care back. It’s all very…15. Cathy’s 15-year old adventures are on such a different level from those of Ruby or Dawn, who have adult antagonists but spend the bulk of their perspective teen years dealing with other teenagers; I think that’s a big difference between VCA and the Ghostwriter. Cathy and Heaven have to deal with adults, they have to be young girls maneuvering in a grown-up world, their enemies are not mainly their peers.

Ooops, tangent, sorry.

Julian shows up all besuited and slicked up, shaking Paul’s hand and being nice to Carrie. Chris, naturally, stands out glaring disapprovingly, but for once I think it’s mainly that he doesn’t like Julian and not just that he’s jealous (though I’m sure there’s plenty of that too).

Julian and Cathy go to a fancy French restaurant and he orders for them, all very smooth, and he tells her about New York. He confesses that he’s not actually a lead dancer like he’s been telling her, he’s second string in the corps. But! He’s sure that if Cathy moved to NYC with him and became his dance partner, then they’d be an amazing team and would make it big. Dude, she’s 15. Julian goes on in this vein for a bit, and Cathy is sorely tempted by the idea, but she can’t conceive of not seeing her family. Also, she’s 15. So they drink wine (15!) and dance and Cathy’s having a fine old time until they’re on the way home and Julian pulls off into a lovers’ lane and starts coming on too strong. He gets pissy that’s she’s acting “childish” (15) and is leading him on when he came all! the! way! from New York to see her (shut up Julian) and he starts the car to leave. Cathy, who is pretty dazzled by Julian all things considered (I know, I know, 15) distracts him from leaving by asking why he uses a different last name from his parents. Since Julian is clearly Julian’s favorite subject, he explains that he’s been training as a dancer his entire life, never able to play sports (also Georges wouldn’t let Julian call him Father, which is cold) and that Georges only sees him as an extension of his own talent and not as a son. So, to get back at his father, Julian took a stage name so that Georges would get none of the credit (he also refuses to dance if Georges so much as mentions that he has a son). I think this explains a lot about Cathy’s shifting feelings towards him, since she knows from shitty parents. Julian is the thirteenth in a line of male dancers who married ballerinas, but he’s been in NYC for two years and still isn’t a star. He also, and this is his big secret, hurt his back working on his car when he was younger, and he’s been dancing through the pain ever since. That’s a big part of why he wants Cathy to come and be his dance partner, she doesn’t hurt his back during lifts.

 

Oh, and that two years thing? He moved to NYC when he was 18. Yeah. He’s 20, just BTdubs.

 

Just in case you forgot that Cathy is 15.

 

You're harping on this.

You’re harping on this.

How do you get in here?

Julian asks Cathy again to come to New York with him, promising that he’d take care (and not advantage!) of her. Cathy points out that she doesn’t want to leave her family and Julian tells her that she has to grow up (SHE IS Swamp Thing: DON’T) and learn to be her own person, saying (definitely from his own experience) that you can’t ever be your own person as long as you stay home.

Chris is waiting up on the veranda when she gets back and tells her that he doesn’t like Julian. According to her dance classmates, Julian has staked a claim on Cathy and no one else will ask her out, also Julian is from NEW YORK CITY where the men move fast and Cathy is only 15!! (thanks Chris!) Cathy wants to know about any girls that Chris is seeing, but he claims to be too busy with his schoolwork. She asks about that, which distracts him for a couple minutes but he soon admits that he’s always thinking about her and lives for when he gets to be with her and Carrie. Cathy’s like we talked about this, you have got to get over me, but she can tell from the look in his eyes that it will never be that easy. This just reemphasizes to Cathy that she has to find someone else too, so that Chris can see that it’s finally over. She thinks about Julian, always trying to be better than his father, and sympathizes with him, as she is always trying to be better than her mother.

Now, obviously Julian is not a fantastic person, and I’m not a fan of their relationship, but man oh man, imagine if she’d told him just enough to share that she’s also on a vengeance kick? I think he’d have been into that. They could’ve badmouthed their parents together, that would’ve really motivated their dancing.

I’m just sayin’.

Now, do I think Cathy has feelings for Julian? I do, to an extent, just maybe not right now. She says before their next date that it “might as well be him” since they have the same goals in life (as far as dancing goes, anyway) and she definitely thinks he’s easy on the eyes. I think a large part of their relationship is built on escape–Cathy escaping her stuff with Chris and Paul, Julian escaping from his father’s shadow, and on what a fantastic dancing pair they are. I think right now (since I don’t want to leap way ahead and there’s a lot to cover) Cathy is intrigued by Julian, and frightened of what he represents.

They go on another date and Julian gets handsy again, leading Cathy to fend him off with her purse. Charming, Julian. Oh and he calls her a tease, because he’s decided to really try my patience. AND THEN HE TWISTS HER ARM SO HARD SHE THINKS HE’LL BREAK IT AND THEN SAYS HE’S IN LOVE WITH HER. J.F.C. Forget what I said about understandable anything. Julian is a scumbag.

And what upsets Cathy the most? That he says he doesn’t need her since lots of girls will put out, and she’s sad that no one needs her but Chris and Carrie, and the way Chris needs her is wrong. This poor messed up little girl. That night she can’t sleep, brain all filled with revenge and whatnot, so she goes to check on Paul, only to find that his bed’s not slept in. She panics, imagining a car accident, and runs downstairs to find him smoking a cigarette in the dark. Oooookay, Paul. He asks if something’s wrong and she really doesn’t even know where to start with that. We find out that, thanks to the papers she’s been getting, Cathy’s learned that Corinne will be making her winter home in Greenglenna, so is fixing up Bart’s family home. Angry, Cathy lights into Paul about not coming home and how she sat up for him and worried and he’s like “Um, I’m a doctor? I have stuff to do?” Cathy’s upset that she can’t depend on anyone but Chris and then freaks out that she’s behaving selfishly like Corinne. She apologizes to Paul and he suggests she ease up on the dancing since it’s obviously making her over tired. UGH. Cathy can’t let up, because she has to be the best.

They talk some more and Paul tells Cathy that she calls out for her momma in her sleep, which stuns her. Paul wants to know why she needs revenge so badly (ummmm Paul have you heard the backstory?) and Cathy says he doesn’t know what it means to really hate someone. Paul pulls a “Oh DON’T I” and we get the Story of Paul’s Marriage. And it’s terrible so I will be as succinct as possible with it.

Paul and his wife Julia were childhood sweethearts and never had other relationships, something Paul now sees as a mistake. They got married when she was 19 and Paul 20. Julia was terrified on their wedding night (they’d only ever kissed and held hands, and Paul admits Julia thought he was a virgin too, though he wasn’t. Nice, Paul.) For the next few nights she was too afraid to sleep with Paul, and after a time, he raped her. For the next years of their marriage, though he tried to help her enjoy sex, she couldn’t and he admits that he’d force her from time to time. Eventually Julia found out she was pregnant and after the birth of their son Scotty she told Paul that she’d done her duty and he was never to touch her again. Paul would later find out from her mother that Julia had been abused by a relative as a child. Paul had an affair with a coworker who told Julia after Paul ended it, and Julia blew up about him humiliating her and promised to make him pay. On Scotty’s third birthday she took him on a walk to the store, ostensibly to buy more candy for his party, and when Paul went looking for them hours later he found that Julia had taken Scotty to the river and drowned him and then herself. Paul managed to revive Julia somewhat, but she didn’t make it. (UNTRUE BTW) So, he tells Cathy, he knows about guilt and hatred and wanting revenge. I…somehow feel the worst for Scotty in all of this, Paul.

Cathy is horrified and wonders about women like her mother (who killed for money) and Julia (who killed for revenge) and wonders if she’ll have to do the same. Then she tells Paul to forget about Julia and marry her and have more kids! She asks him to tell her what a bride needs to know on her wedding night. Catherine. Cath. Er. Ine. INAPPROPRIATE. Come on Cathy, I’m on your side but you’ve gotta show some restraint over here. That’s fairly heartless stuff. Although, in the name of fairness, Paul doesn’t really dwell much either. Guilt? Anger? Whatever! They kiss for a while and Paul carries Cathy to her room. She’s excited and scared and eventually spoils the mood a bit by asking if, maybe, she and her siblings really are the devil’s spawn? Just a little? Paul’s opinion is that Chris the Elder and Corinne were young and didn’t consider the consequences of their feelings for each other. Our Lady of Drama takes that as agreement that the D sibs are evil and Paul shuts that down, telling her not to twist what he says to suit her revenge. Oh, that’s her lifestyle, kinda. Just learn to live with it. Paul leaves and Cathy decides that, having tried twice and been rejected twice, she’s free to do what she has to do and not worry about what Paul thinks. I..guess?

Oh! And we find out why it’s so important the kids escape the attic with at least one piece of luggage: Corinne the mastermind had her children’s birth certificates sewn into the lining of a suitcase, so Cathy has that pretty vital evidence alllll to herself. That’s fantastic, Corinne, just really great.

Hey! Cathy’s 16 now! And she’s super gorgeous, guys, buses and cars slow down so the drivers can stare at her even. (Somewhere Ruby glowers “But has she cured anyone’s blindness???”) They’re having a party and Chris and Carrie come home for it. Cathy almost tells Chris about Corrine moving to Greenglenna but holds off so that he can’t try to stop her plans. Chris and Cathy have a moment before they leave for her birthday dinner and she worries that he’s become cynical like her, but he pulls it together. They head downstairs and yay! it’s a surprise party. Everyone is having a great time and Cathy wishes as she blows out her candles that she will always succeed at what she tries to do and that she will gain on Corrine, every day. Julian is acting like an ass, talking dirty to Cathy all night, so she dances with some of the guests and tries to ignore him. This proves harder to do when he and Chris end up having a fight about Cathy going to New York. Chris has some sensible arguments like Cathy needs to finish high school and Cathy is underage, while Julian’s rebuttals are things like you don’t even know how to dance! Nice, Julian. Burn? Chris asks Cathy directly if she feels ready to go to New York and she admits that she doesn’t. Julian storms out with a “May all your birthdays be hell on earth!” and that successfully kills the party. When Cathy goes up to bed Chris confronts her and wants to know what the deal is with her and Julian. Cathy tells him to mind his own and that no one, especially no man, is going to tell her what to do and get in the way of her goals. Chris immediately assumes that means she’ll sleep with any man she has to and Cathy’s like maybe I WILL. Oh you kids. Go to bed. They calm down and Cathy apologizes and Chris asks her to wait at least another year before making any rash decisions like moving to NYC with Julian. Cathy worries again that she’s becoming more and more like Corinne, but she fights it.

She finds a clipping in a newspaper that has some news about Corrine and Bart and brings it home to show Chris, lying that it’s from a Virginia paper (she’s still trying to hide the fact that Corrine will be local). Chris wonders why Corrine’s always going to Europe and dreamily asks Cathy if she remembers the summer Corrine went on her honeymoon. Cathy, much as we all do, is like “the summer we almost starved to death and you fed your blood to our little siblings?” I think she remembers, Chris. We ALL remember.

 

Well, this was a lot of unpleasantness, huh? And it’s not over. Coming up! A sad Carrie chapter, Cathy writes some dramatic letters, and OMG Corrine sighting!

But before that…PETALS ON THE WIND THE MOVIE YOU GUYS!! It’s this Monday! I will probably be commenting in real time on Twitter and also taking notes, and FINGERS CROSSED, I’ll have a recap up shortly thereafter. I have to take screencaps and stuff, so that’s time-consuming. I still wish they’d shown it on Saturday or Sunday so I’d have the next day off, but I’m so excited!!

See you then!

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2014

Finally, Some Dancing!

Part II. Cathy’s so dramatic, all these “Parts” and “Books”, it’s the most flowery memoir ever.

 

Flowery?

Flowery?

Go away.

 

So guys, when you were reading the first recap, were you like, “Wow Megan, but I wish there was more ballet?” I bet you were! Worry no longer! Because here comes so much ballet.

We start at Christmas, where the kids are actually getting presents that they want for a change. Paul has gotten the family tickets to see the Rosencoff School of Ballet perform The Nutcracker. He’s heard that it’s a great company and ballet school (what, you’re not on that board of trustees too?) and asks what level dancer Cathy is. Chris pipes up to say that she’s advanced, which, if she taught herself to dance en pointe then I agree. The ballet is amazing and Cathy is dazzled, particularly by a certain lead dancer named Julian Marquet.

BACK IT UP CATHY. ABORT. ABORT.

HERE IS A MOVIE VISION OF YOUR FUTURE

 

I can't say with certainty that this is an accident, Cathy.  RUN.

I can’t say with certainty that this is an accident, Cathy. RUN.

 

Paul takes everyone backstage at intermission and introduces them to the heads of the company, Madame and Georges. They’re disappointed to learn that Chris isn’t a dancer too and, naturally, utterly dismiss poor Carrie. She asks Cathy about her dancing history, excited to learn that she started at 4 and is now 16 (assuming that she’s had professional training the whole time), but is prepared to dismiss her when she learns that no one’s ever told Cathy if she’s excellent or mediocre. See, in Madame’s world, if no one’s ever told you that you’re excellent, then there’s only one other option. The couple is going to leave when Chris stands up for his sister again and tells Madame that while he might not be an expert on ballet, he knows how Cathy’s dancing makes him feel, and he knows that she’s better than any dancer on that stage. It’s sweet, really. I’m serious! It works too, because Madame tells Cathy that her audition is the next day at 1pm sharp–they’ll supply all of the equipment, but she better not be late. Julian, it turns out, has been listening the whole time, and tells Cathy that she’s lucky–people can wait for years to even get an audition for Madame and Georges.

Cathy is a wee bit overwhelmed by this turn of events (and understandably so) and cries to Chris that she’s out of practice and is going to fail. Chris brushes that aside and tells her that she’s going to be wonderful, then goes to bed. Cathy tries to go to bed too, but she has nightmares of her mother and ends up waking up and going back downstairs to lie underneath the Christmas tree and look up at the lights. It’s a thing she and Chris used to do as kids, so she’s not surprised to find he’s there too. She joins him and he ends up kissing her neck. YOU GUYS WERE DOING SO WELL. Cathy asks him not to do it again, and Chris tells her that he loves her and always will, and that there won’t ever be anyone else for him. She asks why he has to go away and be a doctor and starts to cry. Chris is like, it is literally my one ambition, you KNOW that, but he holds her as she cries and asks, pretty poetically (and accurately) how he can ever find somebody else when Cathy is a part of him, when “you’ve been bred into my bones!”. They start making out and things are about to go to the next level when Cathy protests that it’s sinful and they have to stop. Chris is all for sinning then and Cathy begs him not to leave her, that she’ll go along with it if he stays with her, since she does crazy things without him. Chris points out that she would never give up dancing, so why is she asking him to give up the one thing he has to do?

And you know what? He’s right. Now, I don’t think it’s any big secret that I’m not a Christopher fan, generally. I do, however, think he’s a good big brother to the twins, and likely a good doctor, and he’s definitely usually the sensible one (except where Corinne is concerned) and he’s right here–Cathy wants him to give up his dreams to stay with her, and he knows that she wouldn’t give up her dreams (be they dancing or revenge) for him. Cathy’s story is largely a series of people saying “Stop that!”
or “Think about this!” and Cathy saying no. She’s the Daenerys Targaryen of Clairmont.

Speaking of Targaryens, Chris and Cathy continue to make out until he wants to take it to his room. Cathy protests that A. she’s his sister and B. his room is too close to Paul’s, so Chris decides that they’ll go to her room since Carrie can sleep through anything.

………………………..

Moving on, they almost have sex until Cathy pushes Chris off of her, thinking that she can’t let it happen again. They end up on the floor, where Chris discovers that Cathy has been stealing Paul’s food and silverware and is keeping a box of same under her bed, just in case. Chris immediately understands–she’s hoarding in case they get punished and locked up again, and he points out (again, not entirely incorrectly) that he gets it and is likely the only one who ever really will. He still wants to sleep with Cathy, just one more time, but she makes him leave and says again that as long as he’s going to leave, then the answer is no. Catherine, that is some manipulative bullshit and you know it. She realizes it, thank god, and cries in Chris’ arms, not understanding why she’s acting the way that she is, since she can’t ask Chris to give up his dreams for her. More realizations, Cathy! They’re good for you.

The next day is Cathy’s audition, the scene of maybe the second most debated plot point in the series. Madame (who Cathy can call Madame Marisha if she gets in and never speak to again if she does not) rolls her eyes at Cathy’s choice of music (Sleeping Beauty) and gets her some pointe shoes. When she’s called out for her turn, Cathy is about to panic until she catches Chris’ eyes, which calms her down. She avoids looking at Paul, since she worries that if she disappoints him today he won’t care about her anymore. Julian comes up and wishes Cathy good luck and they have some mild flirting before her music starts and she begins dancing. As soon as she starts she’s transported back to the attic, paper flowers and all, and she’s pleasantly surprised when she realizes that Julian has joined her. She’s beginning to leap into his arms when she suddenly gets a terrible pain and realizes that she’s bleeding everywhere. She passes out as she hears Carrie screaming and wakes up in the hospital with Christopher. Chris tells her that she had to have a D & C because her missed periods had clotted and broken free. They exchange some loaded glances and he assures her that’s all it was. Cathy, our sweet dramatic soul, wonders why life is always so cruel to her and Chris tells her to look around at all of the flowers she’s been sent. One of the bouquets is from Madame, who signs it Madame Marisha, meaning Cathy is in! There’s also flowers from Julian, along with a note that he’ll be seeing her soon. (RUN) Chris and Cathy hug but quickly break it up when Paul comes in, frowning at them. Uh oh.

SPOILERS AHEAD: There’s a persistent question about what exactly happened to Cathy at her audition. Chris tells her that it was her periods, and Cathy believes him for years until she hears from Amanda (Paul’s sister) that she in fact miscarried a deformed fetus. Cathy confronts Paul with this, which leads to the confirmation of his suspicions regarding her relationship with Chris, but also his reassurances that she didn’t have a miscarriage. I tend to believe that, honestly. There are so many health issues that these poor kids have, even if there’s not a lot of medical basis for what happened*, it doesn’t seem like the MOST far-fetched thing? I do think that while Chris would lie to her to spare her feelings at that particular moment, Paul would’ve told her the truth later on. So that’s my take on this FitA mystery. Jury’s still out on poor Cory though.

The school year starts up again that January and Cathy is put in the tenth grade, Chris in a college prep school, and Carrie in boarding school. (Still a bad idea) Carrie is understandably upset by this news and so is Cathy, especially since Chris is leaving the day after her sister. I still think it seems really cruel to split Carrie off from them. Cathy tries to convince Carrie that she’s going to have so much fun with all of her new friends and roommates, but she doesn’t really believe it herself. Paul gets her some sweet red luggage though, that helps. Cathy also gives her the porcelain dolls from the attic doll house, which causes Carrie to ask where Corrine is. Awkward. They drop Carrie off at school and then Chris and Cathy have to say goodbye to each other. Chris promises that he’ll love her forever and will throw himself into his studies so as not to obsess about her all the time. Cathy tells him that they have to lock their love away and not repeat their parents’ sins. Chris warns her not to throw herself into anything (like say Paul’s bed) just to try to escape what they feel. This is solid advice, Chris, I must say. Ain’t gonna work though. Cathy assures her brother that she doesn’t think about Paul that way and vice versa and they say goodbye. Cathy and Paul leave and head back to their first night in the house all alone.

Uh oh.
Cathy can’t sleep that night, so she goes downstairs to get some warm milk and finds Paul sitting in the living room. She goes in and touches his face (though she can’t really understand why) and he snaps at her about wandering around the house at night in her nightgown and touching people. He calls her a witch, being a naive girl one minute and a seductive woman the next. Bite me Paul, you’re the goddamned adult in this situation. Go to bed. Tell her to go away. Send HER to boarding school. Don’t blame your shit on the 16-year old who just got free from an attic. He wants to know what’s going on between her and Chris. She starts to tell him about the bond that they developed during the time in the attic and then Paul PULLS HER ON HIS LAP to finish her story. I’m going to set him on fire. Paul gets that, absent of other people, she and Chris loved each other, but he wants to know if it’s sisterly or motherly or what. Cathy’s had about enough, so she launches into him about all the things he’s doing for her, with the implication that he’s going to want payment eventually. And what payment, you might ask? Well Cathy will tell you. And by “tell you”, I mean she’ll rip open her peignoir to show off her nightgown and yell at him about giving her creepy presents. And Paul laughs, because he is a creep. Some inappropriate stuff takes place and he realizes what he’s doing and stops and starts blaming himself, and Cathy forgives him (all while blaming herself  because oh my god this poor child has had to internalize so much guilt) and she tells him that she loves him and he can use her if he needs to.

CATHERINE.

Oh this whole relationship is so screwed up. Cathy is so eager for love and affection and to break away from Chris and she so honestly thinks that she owes this to Paul and it’s tragic so I’m going to rush. BASICALLY Paul comes to his senses a bit and says that she’s a child and he’s an adult and if he tries to touch her again she should hit him over the head with something. He also notes that he doesn’t have the best reputation in town, so people are already talking about him and Cathy. He tells her that she lives in fairyland and not reality and to wait for a man that she really loves. Cathy runs back to her room and wonders if Paul is really the sort of man she wants at all.

(NO)

Cathy starts going to school where she can tell that she’s different from the other students and she worries about her brother and sister at their schools, blaming Corinne more and more everyday. Julian keeps coming back to Clairmont (he lives in New York) and she learns that Madame and Georges are his parents. Cathy doesn’t think too highly of Julian, considering his trips home to be ego-based so he can dance for all of the impressed students, and he asks her rude questions about personal stuff. Cathy spends most of her free time with Paul, getting up early to eat breakfast with him, going to the movies, and feeling proud that she has him bewitched like Corinne would. Well this is ominous. Julian comes to visit again and makes it clear he’s there to see Cathy, which wins her over a bit. They go driving and he tries to get her to come to New York and join his dance company (and, it’s heavily implied, be his lover) but Cathy isn’t here for that, pointing out that they don’t even know each other. Julian agrees to tell her all about himself if she’ll go out with him that night and she agrees, wondering if Chris would approve of Julian at all. No. No, he would not, and that’s the correct way to be.
Coming up! Julian’s a creep. Paul’s a creep. Paul confesses his dark gross secrets. Cathy has a birthday party.

I am chopping the book up into smaller sections so that I can write faster, which means that I won’t be done by the time the movie (!!!) airs, so it’ll be like last time, spoilers galore! I will say it now: Recap next Friday, and you can yell at me on Facebook about it. ;)

See y’all next time!

 

 

*I haven’t really researched this though, please tell me if there is!

 

 

Posted by: Megan | April 19, 2014

The Bus-Seat Children

Here we are at long last–it’s Petals on the Wind, y’all!

Our story picks up almost immediately after Cathy, Chris, and Carrie escaped from the attic and hopped a bus to Florida. It’s November of 1960, Cathy tells us, so somewhere out there I like to think a certain Miss Ruby Landry is just starting her own wacky adventures. Even though they’re free the kids can’t quite relax, they’re too scared and uncertain, and poor little Carrie just curls up on Cathy’s lap and gets sicker and sicker. Chris keeps trying to reassure Cathy that everything is going to work out but she’s too focused on getting her revenge one day. There’s that Catherine single-mindedness we all love! Just as they pass into South Carolina Carrie throws up all over herself. Oh cripes, Carrie. Cathy has some napkins in her bag so she cleans her sister up, then hands her to Chris so that Cathy can clean up the floor. When she’s done she tries to stuff the napkins into the seat crevice (nice, guys) since the window won’t open, but the bus driver sees her and yells at them. She ends up sticking them into one of her bags (ew) but Carrie is getting worse and Chris thinks she’s going into shock. One of the other passengers starts to bitch about the smell and it’s clear that the bus driver doesn’t know what to do. They still have a few hours to Sarasota and Cathy doesn’t want to lose the money that they paid for the tickets. Which…is fair, but also slightly cold? While they’re trying to figure out a plan, one of the other passengers, an older woman, gets up and comes back to check on Carrie. The woman (Henny) can’t speak, though she can hear, and she gives Cathy some rags to help with the clean up and writes them a note telling them that Carrie needs a doctor and, coincidentally! her “doctor-son”, who is an awesome doctor, will take care of her.

Can you feel it? That creeping feeling of creep? It’s Dr. Paul. He’s coming.

While this is going on some of the other riders are yelling at the bus driver to get Carrie off the bus and to a hospital, but he’s worried about going off of his route because he needs his job. Henny goes up to the front with a note threatening that Carrie’s family will sue him and the bus company if he doesn’t take Carrie to the doctor. He gives in eventually and is directed to the city of Clairmont and into a neighborhood of big fancy houses. The trio isn’t convinced that Henny’s led them to the right place, but she seems pretty positive so they get off of the bus and collect their things. They walk up to one fancy house in particular and see a man sleeping in a chair on the porch. Henny goes up to him and tries to wake him up, motioning to the kids as she does so. Cathy notices a “For Patients Only” sign on a set of doors and guesses that he’s a doctor who has offices in his house (way to go, Cathy) and she and Chris whisper back and forth about who gets to wake him up. Cathy gets the honor.

How different could things have been if Chris had decided to be the one who woke Paul up? Instead of him imprinting on Cathy like a creepy little duck maybe he just would’ve wanted to be BFFs with his new foster son? I’m just sayin’, is all.

So Paul wakes up and gives the trio a once-over (focusing waaaaay too much on Cathy) but leaps to doctorly attention when he sees the state Carrie’s in.

You're skipping something.

You’re skipping something.

Aw man. Okay, wait, he’s right, I am. So Paul doesn’t just give Cathy a once-over, he flat out checks her out. Face then legs then chest then face again then hair. It’s gross. THEN when Chris busts into the moment and demands to know if he’s the doctor, Paul snaps out of it and starts examining Carrie. So gross, this guy.

Chris explains that Carrie’s been unconscious for a few minutes and that Henny (who Paul notes is his housekeeper and cook) brought them to Paul’s house. Paul leads them to his offices and tells them to undress Carrie in one of the examination rooms. He gives her a quick physical then leaves her to sleep while he talks to her siblings. Cathy decides that the best immediate course of action is to take off the three outer layers of extra clothes she’s wearing until she’s down to one nice dress. Smooth. Paul is…shall we say, taken aback and asks if she always wears that many clothes or only on Sundays. “Only on the Sundays I run away” is her response, noting that they only have two suitcases and need the room for things that they could pawn. Cripes Cathy.

Paul naturally assumes that they’re running away for the usual kid reasons, like they were denied some treat or other, but all Chris will say is that it’s a long story (you THINK) and that Carrie’s the important thing now. Agreeing, Paul tells them that Carrie is very sick and if it wasn’t a Sunday he would already have her in the hospital for testing. I’m…99% sure that hospitals admit emergency patients on Sundays, even in 1960. It’s just this thing I think I know. He suggests that they call their parents. Chris tells him that they’re orphans but that they have money. Paul’s like yeah, you’ll need it because Carrie will likely need to be the hospital for several weeks in order to ascertain what’s wrong. C&C are rightfully terrified and Paul gets all snarky and asks if they’re still orphans. Oh bite me, Paul. Chris gives Cathy a “Don’t say a word” look and tells Paul that yeah, they’re still orphans, so just tell them about Carrie! Paul wants to ask them a few questions first, like what their last name is. Chris introduces them as Dollangangers and defensively says that while Carrie may be small for her age, she’s eight years old. Paul’s had enough of this though and lays it out: Carrie is really sick and if they want her to get help then they have to be honest with him. Chris and Cathy are too scared to tell him their back story though, so he gives in and asks innocuous questions about how frequently Carrie’s thrown up and what her last meal was. (breakfast of hotdogs with everything, chocolate milkshakes, and french fries, living large) Chris is vague about how long Carrie’s been sick and Cathy’s getting more angry by the second, realizing that Chris will still protect Corrine no matter what. Paul starts laying out a few truths about how sick they all look yet they’re wearing super expensive clothes and jewelry and he notices how angry Cathy is and turns the questioning to her. It’s the right move because Cathy lets it all go. Cathy gives a fairly good recounting of the trio’s adventures and tells Paul about the arsenic-covered donuts. She insists that he can’t’ call the police because then they’ll all be separated and they tell Paul about the plan to go to Florida and work in the circus. Paul does NOT laugh in their face but instead offers to let them live with him while they’re undergoing medical treatment. Mmmm HMMMMM He makes his voice get more Southern and Cathy buys it entirely, until, that is, he mentions that while Chris can earn his keep by working in the garden, Cathy can help Henny cook. Cathy gets pissed OFF and bursts out that she’s going to be a prima ballerina, not some man’s cook and baby-maker, and Paul’s like ooookay so you’re going to be a ballerina and Chris is going to be a doctor and you’re going to accomplish this by moving to Florida? Cathy and Chris are won over by this logic and the Dollangangers move in with this strange man they literally just met.

So about Paul. Now, obviously, there are DARK SECRETS about Paul that are going to be revealed over the course of the book and I don’t want to get TOO spoiler-y, but can we all agree that he’s starting off rough? He ogles a fifteen-year old girl and then invites her to live with him. I will grant that his desire to help them is genuine and he does develop legitimate fatherly feelings towards Chris and Carrie, but his entire relationship with Cathy is just inappropriate from the get. Plus, he’s always trying to give her “motherly” chores regarding Carrie, like telling an unhappy Carrie (when they go shopping and can’t find purple and red clothes for little girls) that Cathy will sew her some. Say what? I am perfectly willing, however, to acknowledge that my opinion of Dr. Paul is almost entirely predicated on what I know about him, so I’ll swallow that for now and move this along.

PS HE IS SO NOT A WIDOWER

Ahem.

They move in and Paul gives Cathy and Carrie a room to share with twin beds and the first night the older Cs have a hard time parting, since, to be fair, it’s the first time they’ve slept in separate rooms in almost four years. Chris is worried that Paul will suspect something but Cathy assures him (albeit maybe a little weakly) that there’s nothing to suspect because it’s over. Carrie can’t sleep alone in the twin bed, so Paul and Chris have to push the beds together to make one large bed before she can sleep. As time passes though, Cathy tells us, the space between the beds gets bigger and bigger. Aww Carrie. However, that first night, Cathy wakes up at midnight and goes down the hall to Chris’s room and gets into bed with him, asking him just to let her lie there for a minute or two until she feels better. Naturally they start making out. You guys. Chris, of course, blames Cathy for coming to his room in the first place (“What do you think I’m made of? Steel?” UGH) and she goes back and cries in her own bed. Oh boy. Dr. Paul buys Cathy some ballet art for her walls and gets Carrie a red vase with some plastic violets in it (let’s all assume that looked better in person than it sounds) and tells them that they can decorate however they want and that they can get the room repainted in the spring. Cathy is awkward about this, since they’re not planning to be there come spring, they’re planning on being healthier and getting out of there, but when she voices this Dr. Paul gives her a guilt trip and Carrie glares at her so boy oh boy this family has a lot going on.

Paul takes Carrie to the hospital and she makes up stories about the tests and whatnot to her siblings, who have to remind her that while they never lie to each other, they don’t tell outsiders about their life in the attic. Carrie admits that she told Paul about Cory, and he subsequently questions Chris and Cathy about Cory’s illness and death. He tells them he gave the hospital a cover story (about how the three took arsenic by accident, so they must think these kids are brilliant) and he tells the pair that while Carrie is going to be fine, she probably shouldn’t join the circus and he has to examine the two of them as well. What we get from the examination scene are the following two pieces of information:

1. Cathy notes that, in his professional capacity, Paul’s eyes don’t “follow her around”. Gross

2. Cathy hasn’t had her period in over two months, though she assures him that she’s never been regular. (This is important later, I promise)

The kids get more used to being at Paul’s house, putting on weight from Henny’s cooking, and Chris dealing with Paul taking his place as head of the household (ew, but also understandable). Moving along, it’s now Chris’s 18th birthday and Paul throws him a nice party that makes he and Cathy feel ever more guilty since they still plan to leave. Chris and Cathy sit together after the party and Cathy can tell that Chris doesn’t want to leave, namely because he won’t be able to become a doctor otherwise, but Chris has caught onto the whole “Paul stares at Cathy all the time” thing and is pretty much against that. Cathy finds it secretly “fascinating” that men Paul’s age are into younger women (YOU ARE FIFTEEN YEARS OLD STOP IT) and is like “Oh but doctors have tons of nurses around to bang, so he won’t bother with me”. That is…so faulty. and weird. Now, I get that with her brain trained on revenge, Cathy is likely to find things like “Oh I could control men like my mother does” interesting, but it’s just uncomfortable how naive she is versus how calculating she wants to be. Chris decides that they should test Paul: tell him that they’re leaving and see what he does to stop them and that way determine if he really wants them to stay there or if he’s just helping them because he thinks he should. They decide to do this the following evening as they’re sitting on the porch with Paul after dinner. Cathy asks Paul if Henny knitted the sweater he’s wearing and he explains that, no, the sweater was a birthday gift from his sister, Amanda, who mailed it to him from across town. She didn’t give it to him in person because she hasn’t spoken to him in 13 years, not since his wife and son died in an accident. RED. FLAG. KIDS.

Chris starts to tell Paul that while they’re grateful and will pay him back, but Paul cuts him off and says that he’s seen this coming and has been afraid every morning that they would be gone. He’s looked into becoming their legal guardian, which would involve proof that their father is dead AND the consent of their mother. This is not good news for them. However, he’s careful to note when he sees how upset Cathy is, the court will notify Corrine and give her three weeks to come to a hearing. If she doesn’t come, then Paul will get custody. Cathy’s all then you will definitely get custody because she’s not going to come, but will you really want that? Paul has a nice speech about how lonely he’s been since his family died and how maybe it was fate that Henny was on that bus, and while this wins Cathy over for the most part, Chris points out that Paul would probably have a hard time getting married again with three random kids attached to him. Paul doesn’t want to get married again (BIGAMY BEING A FELONY AND ALL SPOILER ALERT) and he mentions that his wife’s name was Julia and his son’s Scotty. Cathy asks if they died in a car accident like her dad and Paul says it was an accident, but not in a car. MMM HMMMMMMMMM. Paul points out how hard life will be for them if they leave and they think on it, but the decision is made by Carrie, who after all, is a little kid who doesn’t really care about education and dance classes but just wants to stay with this guy who has actually cared about her. And that’s totally fair. Of course, Paul ruins this lovely moment for the readers by assuring Carrie that he’s always wanted a little girl with blonde hair and blue eyes AND LOOKS AT CATHY OVER CARRIE’S HEAD.

Okay, that's pretty bad.

Okay, that’s pretty bad.

I told you.

Next we get what would be a great montage if the Petals movie wasn’t going to skip all of this not that I care or anything, of Paul taking the kids shopping at Christmas. Paul and Cathy take Carrie to get clothes while Chris goes to the men’s department, but he comes running back when Carrie lets out one of her signature screams. See, the girls’ department doesn’t have clothes in her favorite colors of purple and red, just in pastels, and she begs Cathy not to make her wear baby dresses. Paul tries some weak “Oh but I like pastels on little girls, you can wear those brighter colors when you’re older” but Carrie ain’t buyin’ it and is about to let another scream go when another customer suggests that Carrie could have her clothing custom-made. This is when Paul volunteers Cathy, like, dude, you’re a big rich doctor. Hire that shit out. Come on. Cathy is pretty appalled at that and so, hilariously, is Carrie, who notes that “Cathy don’t know how to make good clothes”. Chris points out that Carrie’s being unfair, as Cathy can do anything she sets her mind to, and Cathy keeps quiet as Paul buys a sewing machine (but no fabric or thread or patterns or buttons) and makes a crack about how Cathy can sew her own clothes too. Why is everyone suddenly giving Cathy such a hard time? Chris continues the trend when she buys makeup and high heels and I admire her restraint for not smacking either of those tools.

At home, Cathy puts on one of her new dresses for dinner and thinks about how much more these new clothes mean than the ones they used to get at Foxworth Hall. Those past clothes were always fancy and expensive, but were just symbols of Corrine’s guilt. This line of thought moves to thinking about Cory, and how Corrine’s greed killed him, and then suddenly Cathy remembers that Bart Winslow is from South Carolina. She runs downstairs to look at an atlas and learns that Bart’s hometown of Greenglenna is Clairmont’s sister city. Fate indeed. Cathy realizes that Corrine will likely be in Greenglenna at some point in the future and that, with Cathy’s new allowance, she can afford to get a subscription of the paper that covers the society doings near Foxworth Hall, giving her access to Corrine’s comings and goings. I really wish she’d set up one of those obsession walls that people always have on TV. You know?

Does this make Paul the Yellow King?

Does this make Paul the Yellow King?

Am I trying to figure out how to make one in MS Paint? Yes, yes I may be.

As the weeks till the hearing move on, Paul is tutoring Chris so that he can enter a special pre-med program and Paul decides to send Carrie to a private school where he’s on the board of trustees, so that they can be sure she’ll be taken care of and not harassed for being small and different.

Wait…Paul. You’re sending the little girl with attachment issues and trust issues and screaming issues to a private boarding school away from the only family she has, the family from whom she couldn’t bear to sleep in a separate bed? And you’re on the board of trustees for a girls’ boarding school? What, just because?

Paul is the Yellow King.

Surprising absolutely no one, Corrine doesn’t show at the hearing and Paul is granted custody. That night, Cathy cries into her pillow, having held back in the courtroom, crying for the days when Chris the Elder was alive and they were all so happy and loved. She cries for Cory, which makes her stop, hardened by thoughts of revenge. She decides that this year she’ll send Corrine a Christmas card and sign it “The three alive Dresden dolls you didn’t want, plus the dead one you carried away and never brought back”. Maybe streamline that one a bit, Cathy, just maybe a little? She gets up and goes out to the veranda, where she finds Chris. They hug and he tells her that he kept hoping that their mother would show up at the hearing with a “reasonable explanation”. Christopher. What??? Cathy speaks for us all with a “A reasonable excuse for murder? How could she dream up one clever enough? She’s not that smart.” HA. Then they make out again. YOU GUYS. Chris tries to get Cathy to come to his room and she tells him that they can’t make their parents’ mistakes and that they have to learn to love other people. Cathy realizes, though, that Chris can’t let himself love anyone else and that it’s up to her to end this, even if it hurts him. YES. Exactly this, good work, Cathy! Although she after she goes to bed that night she can hear him calling her (oh good they’re telepathic now) and goes back to his room where she gets in bed with him again. And once again she runs off after Chris insists that there will only ever be the two of them for each other, now and forever. Cathy wonders why she went to Chris’s room at all (and so do we) and tries to reassure herself that she’s not evil like Olivia always said. She’s not!

And on that pleasant note, so ends Part I. Coming up in Part II: Dancing! More dancing! Paul starts to wonder if maybe Chris and Cathy have a slightly weird relationship! Madame Marisha! And, because we needed more creeps: JULIAN.

See you then!

 

Oh, and just as a periodic reminder:

If you’d like, please like the blog’s page on Facebook! Over there I post more info about the Lifetime movies, other internet gems I find, and try to have fun conversations about these ridiculous books we all love.

https://www.facebook.com/InTheAtticVCA

I can also be found on Twitter at @Vera_Adare, where I live-tweet the movies and make too many comments about Reign. (It’s multi-faceted!)

True Detective picture from http://www.esquire.com/blogs/culture/true-detective-best-moments

 

 

Posted by: Megan | March 7, 2014

Petals on the Wind–Cover Post

You guys.

You guys.

You. Guys.

Look at it. Just…look at it.

Apologies for the quality, I made it bigger and therefore worse. But you had to see.

Did I resize this too big? CAN it be too big?

This is my favorite V.C. Andrews stepback picture. I mean, it has to be. It’s incredible. Like most of the Dollanganger stepbacks, it’s pretty straightforward, cast-wise: Carrie, Cathy, Christopher, with Olivia (!) in front. Like the later Landry stepbacks, it shows an actual scene from the novel, albeit an altered one, given who is there. SPOILER ALERT: It’s only Cathy who faces Olivia in this state, Chris isn’t there and Carrie is dead by then, but I think it works thematically, since this is the revenge book. And those are some folks out for revenge. Look at their faces! Look at their eyes. George Sanders should be building a brick wall in his mind just looking at them.

So, person by person, starting with poor little Carrie. Interestingly, I’d always wondered why the artist had drawn Carrie so young on this cover, even though she’s no longer with us by the time this scene happens she’d been an adult when she died. It wasn’t until recently (sometimes my mind gets caught up in other things, y’all, like embroidery or pizza or True Detective) that I realized that, sadly, Carrie probably looked like this AS an adult, though maybe a bit too short. She’s described as really short (though she wears like five-inch heels all the time to make up for it, get it Carrie), but I do think that this depiction would be a touch too far. I mean, Cathy’s probably what, like 5’5? Ballerinas are short, right? So if that’s the case, Carrie would be…hella short. (Look, Swamp Thing does the math and he’s not here right now) I think Cathy mentions Carrie’s actual height once or twice, I’ll make sure to get the right stats out to y’all then. The point is: I think maybe Carrie is a little too short on the cover here, unless she’s meant to still be more or less a child/teen. Her head does seem big (that’s so mean but it’s a LITERAL CHARACTER DETAIL), but her face is almost elven, which I enjoy. Makes her seem mischievous, in the best fairy “I’m gonna steal your babies for fun!” kind of way. She’s wearing full satin, which I can only approve of. I hope it’s a jumpsuit.

Moving on to our heroine, Cathy is wearing a pink satin ballet get-up, which seems only right. I wish this was all she ever wore, like Miss Havisham in a tutu, but unfortunately it’s not. I can only dream. Like Carrie, she’s got some great vengeance eyes, but her frown is getting to me, it just doesn’t seem to work? Carrie seems so malevolent but Cathy just looks…grumpy? Disapproving? Carrie’s like this little sprite all “LET’S SET HER HAIR ON FIRE! FOR LAUGHS!” whilst Cathy just doesn’t like that hair bow. I don’t know, I feel like she should look colder, maybe, since they’re giving the fire to Carrie.

EDIT: I’ve since compared/contrasted this image (which I found online) to my paperback’s cover and Cathy doesn’t look quite as frowny on my copy’s cover. So maybe that’s just a scan issue. Coldness achieved!

She’s holding a switch, which is important for this scene in the book, and her hair is pretty great, so while she’s not the worst part of this cover for me, I just wish her frown didn’t look so haughty. Plus, pink satin? Really? I don’t know, it just seems weird. It’s not like she has some aversion to pink that the artist ignored (don’t you hate when that happens? Like, a character has a whole thing about blue and then they draw ‘em in a blue coat or something?), she wears a pink dress to her birthday party and I’m sure there are numerous pink costumes, I just feel like white is more associated with her? At least in my mind? Maybe I’m just projecting my fondness for “Nights in White Satin”? Carrie’s favorite colors are already ignored here, but the color palette doesn’t work for them. Again though: not my favorite Cathy, but not the worst part.

The Worst Part: Christopher “Powder Blue Turtleneck” Dollanganger. Oh wait, I mean Christopher “Powder Blue All The Way Down” Dollanganger. For the love of… You know the one time a powder blue ensemble has worked?

james_bond_sean_connery_dr_no Or possibly

This is on Chris' Amazon wish list.

This is on Chris’ Amazon wish list.

Actually, that’s my head canon now. Chris is just really, really into Dr. No.

James Bond aside, Chris is just kinda here on this cover. He’s touchy-feely with Cathy, natch, and he’s sort of gazing at Olivia in a “Oh huh. Look at that.” way and his hair is ridiculous. So I think we can all agree that Chris is fairly meh right now.

Which leaves us with! Olivia. Oh man. Ohhhhhh man. This cover pulls no punches when it comes to Olivia, that’s for sure. (None of them do, not even the cover of her own prequel, which is truly cold. Even Lillian Cutler got to look pretty on the cover of her prequel) Olivia is a non-entity for most of this book. Cathy’s focus is on Corrine and the Grandmother is an afterthought, someone who will have to suffer once her daughter’s been exposed, which underlines how very much the main villain Corrine really is, despite Olivia seemingly calling the shots in FitA. By the scene in the novel shown here, Olivia’s had several (?) strokes and can no longer walk or speak. I won’t go too into the scene itself, since there’s a LOT going on in it, but this depiction of Olivia is pretty straight on: sickly, alone, with her remaining hair in a topknot with a bow. I’m not entirely sure where they’re supposed to be, since those don’t look like bed curtains and the effect is rather that of Olivia on a bed by a window, with the 3 Ds just popping up between her and the window, but whatever, it’s dramatic.

I am 100% not okay with how Olivia is staring! right! at! us! You didn’t notice that till I mentioned it, did you? Now you can’t stop.

She’s still looking.

ANYWAY. Yikes.

Coming up! A Greyhound bus ride from hell, the introduction of Creepy Paul, and probably also the introduction of Creepy Julian (I forget how far he comes into it)! Why so many creeps, is the question.

She’s still looking.

Posted by: Megan | February 16, 2014

We’re All Old as the Mountains Now

Here it is, y’all. The end of Flowers in the Attic. This is gonna be…something.

It’s spring now, and Chris has gotten sick (uh oh). He’s too sick to go out robbin’ bedrooms with his sister, so he tells Cathy that she needs to go by herself. She doesn’t want to leave him alone, which causes him to yell at her that she can’t depend on him all the time and that she needs to do things on her own. That’s what their mom thought, that she’d always have a man to help her, and look where that’s gotten them? Damn Chris, that’s some harsh stuff. True though, I must admit. He calms down when he sees that he scared Cathy, and assures her that he’s fine, but they really do need that money. We find out that they’ve been sick so often that Cathy is afraid that one of them is going to die. FORESHADOWING. They exchange I love yous and Cathy leaves.

She heads to their mother’s room, as Corrine told the kids that afternoon that she and Bart were going to a party. Always the #1 Mom, Corrine, and Cathy plans to take some jewelry this time around. When she gets to the room, however, she finds that Bart is in fact still there, seated facing the doorway. Cathy freezes (and makes sure to tell us that she’s wearing a shortie nightgown, thanks Cathy) and slowly realizes that Bart is asleep. He’s also wearing a pink ruffled tuxedo shirt with black lining on the ruffles, which is some Lazenby-Bond-level glam right there, good on ya Bart. Cathy takes the time to look him over and notes that he’s much younger than Corrine, which she thinks is terrible of her mother. Okay, wait. Corrine is what…36? 37? by now? She’s 33 when they get there and Olivia whips her. So what can Bart be, if he’s also a successful lawyer? 30? 28? Calm down, Cathy. This is like when Pearl was so impressed by Ruby’s good looks sticking around once she’d hit 35. So Cathy checks Bart out and decides she’d like to kiss him, especially given that he has a rocking mustache and she wants to know what it’s like to kiss someone who isn’t related to her. Oh boy. No really, she says that. I guess that’s fair enough, given her age as well as her circumstances, but oh boy all the same. So she kisses him and has an internal battle about whether or not to wake him up and tell him the truth. She decides against it, concluding that no one would choose four unwanted children over lots and lots of money and this part is really sad. She should have woken him up. I think Bart, though party to an incredibly questionable sex scene in a later book, is not shown to be a bad guy and I think he would have believed them. I don’t think his love for Corrine would have overpowered his reaction to learning what she’d done. Poor Cathy though, that’s not a decision I’d want to make on my own.

Cathy runs back and tells Chris that she didn’t find any money (she doesn’t tell him about Bart) and he teases her for being a bad thief. More time passes and it’s summer, coming up on their third year in the attic, and Chris has managed to steal more money, though they’re not getting much closer to their goal of $500. Cory is getting sicker and sicker and the kids have retreated more and more into numerous little rituals and beliefs that they’ve invented to keep them “safe”. In this case, C&C made white the safest color, leading the twins to refuse to sleep on anything but white sheets and to fear their mother because she wears black dresses. Oh boy. These kids. Cathy wonders why they can never get a pleasant breeze in the attic, why the wind only makes it through when it’s cold and awful. And then we skip to September.

We’ve arrived at the rape scene so let me sketch this out as briefly as I can: Cathy is in the attic when Chris returns from a thieving expedition and tells her that he was in their mother’s room looking at the “Needlework” book when Corrine and Bart came back unexpectedly and he had to hide. Bart is telling Corrine about his theory that the maids are stealing from them, as he’s been losing cash and his wallet is never in the same place twice. Corrine doesn’t get why five dollars here and there matters, but Bart is like um I WORK for my money, so I care. Corrine, who has become stronger-willed in her second marriage, tells Bart that there’s no way she can move out yet and when her husband suggests that they skip whatever event they’re headed to and stay in, she brings up the “last time” when he went upstairs “for a moment” and ended up falling asleep. Bart notes that he’d skip out and fall asleep more often if it meant that he could have a wonderful dream about a beautiful young blonde girl kissing him. Corrine has heard about enough regarding this dream (and really, Bart, why would you keep telling your wife about it??) and they leave still bickering.

Cathy hears all of this later, as during it all she’s up in the attic wishing she had her old music box back. Chris comes in and confronts her about kissing Bart and ruining everything–now they won’t leave money out any more, and then he slaps her, and tells her that she’s his, and then he rapes her. We’ve had some good conversation in the comments about this scene and its repercussions and so I don’t want to rehash it all a million times, but in my opinion and so the opinion of this blog, it’s not a consensual scene. Cathy says that she tried to fight him off, that he was stronger, and that she “wanted what he wanted” since she loved him so much, and that’s not the same thing as wanting something because you want it. He flat out calls it in the next scene–he apologizes for raping her, and Cathy, yes, does say that he didn’t, but it’s in a “I could have fought you off if I wanted to” way and she blames herself for kissing Bart and wearing short skirts, and that’s such a deep pool of victim-blaming and self-blaming and oh man. Let’s just go on, can we?

They have $396.44 and Chris decides that the next time he goes to steal things he’s going to go on a big sweep and take everything he can find. They’re both really worried about the twins so it’s time to get out of there and take them to a doctor. They make joking plans about going to Sarasota and joining the circus and the twins are very against that plan since they’re afraid their siblings would fall. Chris tells them that he and Cathy are an unbeatable team and Cathy remembers him telling her that he’ll never love anyone else. Awkward. It’s October now and Corrine has just left for the night, barely even looking at her children, and C&C are planning the big heist for that evening when Cory gets sick. He’s throwing up nonstop and he’s feverish and achy. Carrie, oh my god, asks politely if she can sleep in the same bed as her twin, promising that they won’t do anything evil, CRIPES CARRIE, MY HEART. Chris and Cathy try to figure out what could have caused this and they basically list everything BUT the donuts, which, come on guys. Olivia comes in with their food and while she doesn’t acknowledge it when they tell her that Cory needs a doctor, she returns shortly with Corrine. And then they go off into a corner and whisper together for a while, which is Cathy’s last straw. She screams at them to do something and Cathy does everyone’s favorite lines: “Have you forgotten you are his mother? If you haven’t, then, damn it, act like his mother!” Corrine shoots back with “You! Always it’s you!” and slaps Cathy. Who promptly slaps her back. BEST SCENE. This is the constant, the one in each adaptation, it’s just too good. Olivia is loving this, of course, and Chris pulls Cathy back, telling her that this isn’t helping Cory. Cathy lets Corrine have it then, damning her to hell if she doesn’t help Cory, swearing her revenge, telling that one day Bart and Malcolm and everyone will know exactly what she is and what she did. Corrine can only glare at her but Olivia speaks up at last, telling Corrine that Cathy’s right and that they need to take Cory for help.

Sadly, as we know, it’s too late, and Corrine returns the next day to tell them that Cory died of pneumonia and has already been buried, causing years of speculation and ghostly searches for my blog. The Great Cory Burial Debate will continue in Petals, don’t you worry. Corrine immediately peaces out, leaving her remaining children to grieve together. As the days pass, Carrie also starts to get worse and worse and C&C know that they need to get out of there. Chris has a new worry now, that they’ve spent so long in the attic that they’re now vulnerable to common germs and infections, but Cathy’s not hearing that–she’s not dying in that attic, so if it’s germs in the outside world, so be it. She wants them to go steal everything and leave tonight, but Chris wants to wait until they know that Corrine and Bart are out. And he doesn’t know if that’ll be soon since how can Corrine go party if she’s in mourning. Oh CHRISTOPHER. Come the fuck on, guy. Cathy does get one beam of happiness in all of this: she has a lovely dream one night where Chris the Elder appears and carries a healthy Cory off to Heaven (the place, not the Casteel) and that’s nice. She tells us that she got peace from that dream for a long time and lord knows the girl needs it.

November 10th! That’s the last day in the attic, Cathy tells us, as “God would not deliver us, we would deliver ourselves”. Okay, that’s pretty bad-ass. SPOILER ALERT: it is not actually their last day. Chris is preparing to go down to Corrine’s room, she having come by earlier and told them that she and Bart are going out. After Chris leaves, Cathy and Carrie try to sleep and wait for him to get back, but hours and hours go by without him returning. Cathy starts envisioning every nightmare scenario: Bart caught him, Olivia caught him, he’s been arrested, he’s been beaten, and when he finally returns after dawn with nothing in his pillowcases, she flips out, assuming that he couldn’t go through with robbing his precious Momma after all! Lifelessly, Chris tells her that all of the jewelry was gone and he starts to cry. She holds him for a while and gets him to tell her everything.

So Chris got to Corrine’s room to find that it was stripped: clothes, jewelry, pictures, books, everything was gone. They’d left, really left, not just to a party but for good. Chris went a little nutty, ripping the room up to try to find something, anything that Corrine could have left behind, but it was all gone, every trinket and ring and paperweight. Cathy tried to get him to take just one little thing so many times and he wouldn’t because he’d still believed in Corrine and now look. Cathy reassures him a little and gets him to go on. He finally looked in the last place, the bottom nightstand drawer, and there he finds Chris the Elder’s picture, his and Corrine’s marriage license, and Corrine’s wedding and engagement rings. Chris thinks that Corrine knew who was stealing from her and left that stuff on purpose, Cathy just thinks that Corrine no longer cares since she has Bart. Really, Cathy? You think the lesser cruelty? I’m with Chris: Corrine totally knew. Cathy knows that there’s more that Chris isn’t telling her, so he continues. Desperate now that he can’t steal from Corrine, Chris decides what the hell and decides to steal from Olivia. After all, she has all the jewelry that they saw her wearing at the Christmas party, as well as the brooches she’s always wearing (brooches for life, by the way) so he headed down the hall to the Grandmother’s room. Cathy immediately thinks that he saw Olivia naked which he and I are both like “Uh no Cathy, god”, but he DID see Olivia sans wig. She was awake, reading the Bible in bed, so he couldn’t steal from her, but he did hear her pray for forgiveness, noting in her prayer that she’s always done what she thought best. There’s a whole mess to unpack in THAT statement, Olivia.

Moving along, Chris headed down to the library, thanking his sister for her persistent questioning of Corrine, since that’s how he even knew the way. He sees the gaps in the shelves where Corrine had taken books up to them (and never took them back? Great cover up, Corrine) and sees six telephones on the Grandfather’s desk, all disconnected. Uh oh. Cathy is on edge, since she wants to hear all the details but she KNOWS that something awful is coming. And how. Chris went through the desk, finding all of the drawers unlocked and empty. Uh oh. He could see Malcolm’s room across the library and geared himself up to face him finally. Chris had a whole monologue prepared and everything but! when he went into the room it too was completely stripped. The hospital bed mattress was doubled up, the wheelchair was in a corner, and there was nothing on any surfaces, no hair brushes or anything. The whole room felt like it hadn’t been used in ages. Uh oh. Chris, thanks to Corrine’s stories, was able to locate the wall safe back in the library and went to try to crack it (thanks to television!) but was interrupted by footsteps. (Cathy, meanwhile: “The grandfather–why wasn’t he on the bed?” Uh, Cathy…) Chris hid behind a sofa but thought his time was up when he realized he’d left his flashlight in Malcolm’s room. The footsteps turned out to belong to a maid (Livvy) and good old John Amos the butler. Livvy is sure she heard something but John isn’t convinced so they glance around once and leave. Just as Chris was about to escape, however, they came back into the library and sit down right on the sofa Chris is hiding under.

Chris decides to try to take a nap through this but it’s a good thing he didn’t, he tells Cathy, since the pair has the most convenient conversation this side of an episode of Downton Abbey. Livvy insists that she did hear something and John reminds her that this very morning she was on about mice in the attic again, even though “that old bitch” has been taking tons of arsenic up there in picnic baskets to kill those mice. UH OH. Cathy is still not following, by the way. Livvy agrees that Olivia is the worst and that she’s seen Olivia in Malcolm’s old room just smiling oddly at his empty bed, seemingly gloating that he’s dead, and that she has all that money now. John points out that while Olivia has the money from her own family and is doing just fine, it’s Corrine that got all of the Foxworth millions from her father. Livvy notes that Malcolm did treat Corrine pretty badly before he died, but now she has all that money and her young hot husband, so she’s doing okay. John’s like well you’ve got me, don’t you? and then they totally fuck on the sofa poor Chris is hiding under. What the what. This is so damn random, AND really out of character for the John Amos that we meet in Garden of Shadows, I feel. (A lack of continuity? In a prequel? Why never, Megan, never.) Cathy is surprised that Livvy was actually into it and didn’t protest or anything (oh that’s healthy) and Chris describes it all a little over much, and then apparently JA and Livvy smoked some cigarettes and then did it again, which just blows Cathy’s mind.

Cathy is still not sure why exactly Chris is so upset and he’s like have you been listening to me. Well sure, Cathy says, jewels were gone, Momma and Bart skipped out, Grandmother wears a wig, we won’t have enough money in the outside but we’ll still be out, what am I missing here? Chris finally has to spell it out for her that Malcolm is dead and has been dead for almost a year.

UH OH

UH OH

For serious, dude. Cathy’s first reaction is happiness, they’re free now! Momma would inherit the money and they’d be free! But then reality sets in and she realizes that Corrine never told them, that she’d kept them up there anyway. Chris, making sure that Carrie (still asleep) can’t hear, reiterates what Cathy just figured out, that Corrine lied to them, that even after her father’s will was read nine months before she still left them up there. That Cory would be alive if they’d gotten out nine months ago. Cathy starts to cry but Chris tells her to hold it in since there’s still worse stuff to come. Good lord these kids. Cathy can’t hear anything worse, not yet, so Chris agrees that it can wait and promises her that they’re going to get out and get better and live amazing lives. Buoyed by this, Cathy thanks Chris for the breather and tells him to tell her the rest of it. She thinks that there’s nothing that he can say that will shock her any more than what he’s already said, but she is very wrong. The reason that Olivia gave the maids for not going into their room on those Fridays was because there were mice in the attic using the stairs to get down into the rest of the house. Olivia would subsequently leave picnic baskets of arsenic-laced food for the mice. Chris points out that arsenic is white and that if it was mixed with powdered sugar you’d never even taste it. Cathy doesn’t get why Olivia wouldn’t just poison them all at once and have done with it, Chris reminds her of some movie they’d watched where a woman slowly poisoned rich old men with arsenic because the symptoms were so hard to pin down and can look like food poisoning or PNEUMONIA. Cathy THEN comprehends that Cory died of arsenic poisoning. CATHERINE LEIGH DOLLANGANGER. You are disappointing me! Get with the program here!

Don't look at me like that, young lady.

Don’t look at me like that, young lady.

Chris is like well obviously Momma was lying about the pneumonia. And who knows if she ever even took Cory to the hospital? If she did they can’t have noticed anything suspicious or she’d be in jail. Cathy can’t believe that Corrine would just let Olivia poison them, so Chris determines that what they have to do is test a bit of remaining donut on Mickey. Cathy doesn’t want to since Mickey trusts them but Chris convinces her, reminding her that they’re dead if they don’t figure this out. So they do and yep, poor Mickey dies shortly thereafter. Chris thinks they should take Mickey and two of the donuts with them as evidence and Cathy agrees but can tell that Chris is STILL holding something back. Just get on with it, Christopher! You don’t have time for this! Chris can’t bear to tell her now, he wants to wait until they’re gone, and Cathy agrees so that they can all get some rest.

They lay around watching soap operas and Cathy notes that, much like themselves, people on soap operas never really go outside. They just sit around drinking martinis and just when they think that they’re going to be happy, the next big bad thing happens. Unbeknownst to the kids, Olivia has popped in and she tells Cathy that she’s exactly right about the real world: nothing ever works out the way you think it will. Then she leaves. Well okay, Olivia. I think she’s bored. After she leaves, Chris tries to comfort Cathy by telling that Olivia’s wrong, and just because nothing worked out for her, it doesn’t mean that it won’t for them. They shouldn’t leave trying to find perfection, but should settle for some small bit of happiness and therefore not be disappointed. Slap that one on a greeting card, Chris. Cathy isn’t hearing that, though, nope, she wants it all. She vows to herself that she’s in control of her life now, not God, not Chris, and she’s going to have everything she ever wanted and take what she wants when she wants it. Sounds like the perfect mindset for a bananas revenge epic, doesn’t it? Cathy thinks back on what a naive little kid she was when they arrived at Foxworth Hall and that now she’s “older than the mountains outside”. I like it. Let’s go with this.

Full of this new determination, Cathy gives Carrie a bath and forces her to drink some milk. She dresses her and they sit to wait until they’re going to make their escape. Cathy notes what belongings they’re taking with them: her and Chris’s fancy watches, the banjo and guitar, Corrine’s rings, Chris’s camera…she’s snapped out of this by the fear that if Olivia could sneak in and overhear Cathy’s comments from before, what’s to say that she hadn’t done that in the past and knows all about their escape plans? She asks Chris (though she almost doesn’t, afraid he’ll hesitate again) and he tells her that nothing’s stopping them this time. Still worried, Cathy goes up to the attic, caught up in nostalgia as she looks around at the flowers and swings, then she takes a piece of chalk and writes on the schoolroom’s blackboard:

“We lived in the attic,

Christopher, Cory, Carrie, and me,

Now there are only three.”

She signs her name and puts the date, then Chris calls up that it’s time to go. They use their wooden key and head out, planning to use any means necessary to get past John Amos and Olivia, if need be. Chris has the suitcases and Cathy has Carrie, who she notes only weighs a little more than she did that night they first arrived. The money is pinned inside their coats. They make it outside without any trouble and Cathy sets Carrie down so she can walk. Carrie, heartbreakingly, wants to know if they’re going to meet Cory, when Cathy reminds her that Cory is off in a beautiful garden, Carrie says that Cory won’t like it if she’s not there. Cathy pulls Carrie along, but not before Carrie looks back at the house and tells her sister that they need to hurry, since Cory is praying that they get away before Olivia sends someone to catch them. Thanks possible ghost-Cory? They make it to the train depot just in the nick of time and onto a train. As the train passes Foxworth Hall up on its hill, Cathy and Chris look up to see the far-off figure of Olivia as she stands in the window of their bedroom. Cathy wonders why she was up there so early and though Chris shrugs it off, Cathy wishes she could know Olivia’s thoughts as she searched the room and found no one there.

They arrive in Charlottesville and have a two-hour wait for the next bus to Sarasota. So as to keep on the move in case John Amos comes after them, they store the suitcases and instruments in a locker and walk around the city a bit. Cathy is heartened to find that people don’t stare at them the way she was afraid they would. They stop on a corner and Chris takes out the bag with Mickey and the donuts in it. Chris notes that if they go to the police then Cathy and Carrie won’t have to run since they’ll go into foster care, though he’s not sure what will happen to him. Cathy asks him to finally tell her his last bit of bad news and it turns out that Malcolm’s will had a codicil that he’d added in the days before he died, stating that if it was ever discovered that Corrine and Chris the Elder had any children, Corrine would lose the money and have to return everything purchased with said money. Not just that, but the same applied if Corrine had any children from her second marriage as well. Good god damn, Malcolm. Cathy realizes that this means it was Corrine, not Olivia who was poisoning them. Chris can’t be sure, but he heard Olivia praying and he doesn’t think that she’d do it herself. Oh, she’d carry the poison up to them and warn them not to eat it under the guise of “sugar is bad!” but she wouldn’t poison them herself. Cathy points out that Corrine was on her honeymoon when the donuts started coming, but Chris counters that nine months ago, when the will was read, Corrine was back. And only Corrine is affected by the will, Olivia has her own money.

Cathy wants to discuss a lot more, but with Carrie clinging to her she decides to wait. Chris hands Cathy the bag and tells her that it’s up to her. Time for some time in the mind of Cathy Dollanganger. Cathy wants revenge. She wants it more than anything, she wants to see Olivia and Corrine convicted of their crimes and locked away forever, she wants to see Corrine suffer the loss of her freedom and her money and Bart. She wonders if she should just let God deal with it all and thinks it’s unfair of Chris to put this on her shoulders. She wonders if it’s because he knows he’ll still forgive Corrine anything, that he’ll blame it on Malcolm and Olivia and forgive Corrine. Cathy wonders if there would ever be enough money in the world to make her kill her own children. She remembers how it was when Chris the Elder was alive, how happy they all were, how much Corrine loved them and she thinks that Malcolm and Olivia probably did know all the right ways to kill Corrine’s feelings. Cathy thinks about her mother, how Corrine once had four perfect children who thought that she was perfect too and now she had none and even if she never wanted Cathy back, she’d want Chris and Carrie and her future grandchildren and she’d have nothing. They can move forward from this and make their lives and when they see Corrine again they can ignore her. Decided now, Cathy throws the bag away. Chris tells her to say goodbye to the past (not gonna happen) and Cathy feels free enough to forget all about her revenge (DEFINITELY not gonna happen)  and they laugh and hug and promise Carrie that they’re going to see flowers soon.

The epilogue is short and Cathy is relieved to have told her story. Their lives were never easy, she tells us, (OH BOY NO) but she and Chris learned that they were survivors, even if it was different for poor Carrie, and “how we managed to survive–that’s another story.”

AND OH BOY IS IT. Thank y’all so much for sticking with me through this. We made it! Onward and upwards, I say, onto my absolute favorite Dollanganger book (and possibly my favorite V.C. Andrews book) the infinite wonder that is Petals on the Wind. Coming up: Creepy Dr. Paul! Ballet ballet ballet! Everyone tells Cathy to calm it down and she does! not! listen! Julian! More Bart and his mustache! The Great Cory Burial Debate returns! The other big mystery of the Dollangangers arrives! Dramatic dress recreations! All of this and more!

See y’all then!

Posted by: Megan | January 21, 2014

Flowers in the Attic: A Lifetime Movie Experience

Here. We. Go.

Here. We. Go.

There are too few opportunities in life to say, “I can’t believe they left out the blood-drinking!”.

Other than that, though, the Lifetime movie version of FitA was a pretty good time. They left in plenty of little moments that the ’80s version left out, and it was era-appropriate, and AND Christopher wasn’t the worst! (Although, having read the excerpt from Chris’s Diary on the Lifetime site, I can assure you that in the literary world he still is) So I took a bunch of notes and screen caps and I’m going to try to turn them into a cohesive recap for y’all right now.

I’m even using a cut because this is so very long

Posted by: Megan | January 19, 2014

Everybody’s SCREAMING

We return to our favorite kids just as Cory’s screaming bloody murder because why not? It’s Cory’s turn to scream (NOTE: I originally wrote “Cory’s urn to scream” which…TOO SOON) and Carrie immediately starts screaming too while Cathy tears up the stairs to him with their other siblings in tow. These kids are exhausting. Turns out that Cory is losing his mind because there’s a mouse caught in a mouse trap and he wants Cathy to save because he wants it as a pet. The mouse is trying to chew off its foot, Cory is weeping about how Chris and Cathy kill all the mice and all of his chances for love, and Carrie starts hitting Cathy and shrieking about how the older Cs don’t let Cory have ANYTHING EVER YOU’RE SO MEAN AND AWFUL I KNOW YOU GOT BEATEN IN OUR STEAD AND GAVE US ALL THAT FOOD AND BLOOD BUT CORY WANTS THIS DAMN MOUSE YOU HARPY

Okay, okay, I get that the twins are little kids, and as such won’t have the best grasp of the greater concepts of sacrifice and whatnot, but damn twins, that’s some overreacting. Chris silences everyone with a manly roar (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) and picks up the mouse to try and help it. Much brattiness later (the mouse is still after Chris takes it out of the trap so Carrie hits him, Cory announces that he’s naming the mouse Mickey (what no C) and Chris points out that it might be a girl mouse and Cory is not having that) the mouse lives. I know you’re all super relieved. While this episode of “All Creatures Great and Small” is going on, the Grandmother walks in to bring them their rations. Oooops. A ton of rules are being broken: everyone’s in their PJs, the room’s trashed, Chris is helping Carrie get dressed in the other room, it’s a forbidden mess and everyone freezes. Chris chooses to ignore Olivia entirely and just unpacks the pic-a-nic basket like it’s no thing, while Olivia, rather than freak out on them, just watches. This doesn’t sit well with Cathy, who is rightfully suspicious of any change in Olivia’s behavior. Chris goes up to the attic to find a birdcage for Mickey and it’s only when he returns with it that Olivia speaks, asking what’s up with the mouse. Cathy informs her that Cory has a pet now and Olivia doesn’t even argue, just makes some comment about how a mouse suits them (…okay?) and leaves. It’s like she doesn’t care what they do anymore! It’s like she thinks they’re on their way out or something?

DONUT SPOILER.

Eventually Cory tames Mickey and they’re BFFs and I guess Mickey didn’t know those two mice that the kids almost ate that time, and having Mickey around even starts to give Cory the slightest bit of independence from Carrie, so it’s all turning out okay! Well we all know that can’t last.

OH MY GOD. The very next chapter begins with Cathy telling us that she and Chris never talk about that night they made out, but that they’re both growing and changing all the more and this one time she totally caught Chris measuring his dick. CHRISTOPHER DOLLANGANGER. CHILDREN LIVE WITH YOU. THEY LIVE WITH YOU IN THE SAME ROOM. THEY ARE NEVER MORE THAN 20 FEET AWAY FROM YOU. LOCK SOME GODDAMN DOORS BEFORE YOU MEASURE YOUR FRAKKING DICK. I want to die. I really do. PLUS he tells Cathy that he’s measuring his penis because he once saw their dad’s and felt inadequate.

I can’t. I CANNOT. Guys. YOU GUYS. Why. No one in this family has boundaries. No one. Look, I don’t know what boys go through with this sort of thing, I freely acknowledge that. But how long has Chris the Elder been dead? Three years, maybe? And when did this comparison happen? Chris has been going around with this penis envy for years and years and feels the need STILL to try and measure up? There is so much to unpack there. He can’t just want to be tall like his dad or something? It has to be penis size? Is he using a ruler? Burn that ruler.

ANY. WAY. This all leads to Cathy realizing how much the twins have failed to grow and she and Chris try to sneak them out onto the rooftop for some sun while the twins are napping. This does not go well. More screaming. When they’re all back indoors Cathy manages to measure the twins’ heights (PLEASE GOD BE USING A DIFFERENT MEASURING TAPE) and to her horror, they’ve only grown two inches in the years since they’ve been there. Now everyone’s in a bad mood, the twins for the whole rooftop thing, Chris and Cathy because the twins are obviously not okay and they all wander downstairs to watch soap operas and eat lukewarm soup.

And then Corrine walks in.

And not just walks in, of course, swans in all Vera Adare, with more exclamation points than me and a fox-fur coat, trilling about how much she MISSED them and how she DREAMED about them and all the PRESENTS she’s brought them and aren’t they so happy to see her?? She even makes extra sure to note that she had to be so so careful buying their presents since it’s so suspicious for her to be buying kids’ presents, right? Right?? Chris is the one who stands up first and tells her that of course they missed her, but she shouldn’t have been gone so long, no matter what was going on with her. Since he’s not fawning over her every word, Corrine immediately knows something’s up and asks if anything went wrong while she was gone. UMMMMM. Chris has had enough of this for ONCE, so he lets her have it. Of course stuff went wrong. They all live in one room! He and Cathy aren’t little kids anymore to be placated with presents! Look how tiny the twins are! On and on until Corrine’s like “But you haven’t stopped loving me, right??” and Chris admits that no, he hasn’t, but come on! He doesn’t want out tomorrow or next month or next year: they all want out TODAY, money or not. Corrine’s reaction is, naturally, to glare at Cathy since everything is a weird competition with these people, and to tell Chris to be quiet since he’s obviously not himself. Cathy starts up then, telling her mother to really look at all of them and see how sick they are. Corrine isn’t here for reality, though, so she lets loose a bit herself, telling them that she’s trying her BEST and giving them EVERYTHING and her dad is literally about to die any SECOND and can’t they all just think about how nice all that money would be??

Cathy wants to give her some more hell and tell her about what Olivia did to them, but Chris glares at her (god damn it) and she stops. Corrine starts crying and laying on the “Ohhh you awful kids” and Chris and Cathy give in and try to console and and hug her, but she pushes them away and tells them all ice queen to open their presents and THEN tell her that she doesn’t love them. Oh shut UP, Corrine. She bought Chris some encyclopedias and while Cathy’s first thought is how much money that cost that they could have been saving to escape, it’s clear that Chris is won over. Corrine doesn’t tell Cathy what her gifts are, nor does she stay to watch them open the stuff up, she marches out with some crap about how she’ll come back when they’re nice to her. She never even touches the twins. Those poor babies immediately come to Cathy, worried that they’re weird and unlovable and to calm them down Cathy pretends to be happy and excited over their presents. They open everything up and at first it’s great: books and puzzles and games and maple-sugar candy, but as things settle down Cathy starts to see the truth of it all. The books are all ones they’ve read already. Chris needs to shave and Cathy needs a bra and there’s nothing like that in there. None of the clothes for the older Cs fit. Cathy loves maple-sugar candy, but she can’t bring herself to eat any. And that’s when Chris starts to make fun of her.

Yeah. He mocks her for being a grump and denying herself the candy, telling her that no matter how upset she gets, they’ll be here till Malcolm dies anyway, and she won’t have had any candy. Eat shit, Christopher. When Cathy tries on all her new dresses and finds that they don’t fit, Chris laughs at her and tells her that she should get a bra and a girdle. SET HIM ON FIRE. Cathy loses it then and screams at him about how sometimes she hates Corrine (only sometimes?) and that she thinks they’d be better off DEAD and then she runs off into the attic and dances some angry ballet. Whatever works, I guess. When the music ends she considers throwing herself out of the window and then they’d all be SORRY, but then she reconsiders that maybe they wouldn’t be, so she scraps that plan. She lays out on the roof for a while (in a tutu, no less) and eventually Chris comes out and lays down with her and tells her to never talk that way again. He has doubts too, he tells her, but they have to keep it together. And that’s when the big realization hits, folks:

“And that’s when it came over me in a cataclysmic flood—I loved Chris, and he was my brother.”

Yup. There it is. She is majorly, totally, butt-crazy in love with Chris*. She wisely doesn’t bring this up, just tells him that maybe it’s time they take a little initiative about their situation. Ten days go by before Corrine comes back and when she does C&C are appropriately apologetic, having realized that they have to keep sweet if they have any real chance of getting out of there. Corrine naturally sweeps it all away once she has her way again and wants them to guess what her super awesome sparkly news is. Malcolm’s dead? Nope. Malcolm’s in the hospital? Nope. And don’t talk like that because Corrine sort of likes him again now. WHAT. Corrine you are bananas crazy. Cathy’s like just tell us then we don’t care. So she tells them and guess what it is! She got married. She married that guy with the sweet ‘stache from the Christmas party (Bart) and omg he’s so AMAZING and we went to EUROPE and I’m sure you’ll all love him and he’ll love you too!

He'll love at least one of them, all right.

He’ll love at least one of them, all right.

HA!

Corrine seems to realize that they’re less than thrilled and she hastens to explain that she still loves their dad, but she was lonely and stuff. Cathy fakes some congrats, which encourages Corrine to tell them all about how Bart never wanted to get married and Malcolm was going to forbid it anyway, but he likes Bart and it all worked out and blah blah blah. Cathy points out that while most of the gifts Corrine brought them were from Europe, the candy was from Vermont, so is Bart from Vermont? Corrine laughs at that (oh that hilarious Vermont?) and says no, but one of his sisters lives there and they visited her, and that he has two other sisters living in the South. In fact, Bart’s from the South, he’s from some little town in South Carolina. Even though she makes sure to mention that he sounds like a Yankee. Whatever, Corrine. She attempts to talk to the twins about their presents, but they don’t know her any more and barely speak. Cathy asks if Bart knows about them. Well obviously not, though she’s totally going to tell him when her father dies, really! Cathy does not think so.

UGH now for the stupidest scene. So Chris and Cathy are in the attic reading some 19th-century romance novel together and it has some symbolic unhappy ending, which Cathy hates. She also hates how idealistic and mushy the characters were and that Chris assumes that a woman wrote it because men think women only write romantic garbage. Chris gets all don’t ask me about how men act! I am alone with my feelings! How do I become a man? And who cares. Then they check each other out a bit and then Cathy decides that what Chris needs to feel like a man is…a haircut! Kay. And so she gives him a haircut (THRILLING) and it’s a Prince Valiant bowl cut, for the love of god. After she’s done Chris starts teasing her about cutting off all of HER hair and starts chasing her around with scissors (SMART LIKE A DOCTOR) and surprise! they trip and fall and he cuts her with them. Luckily it’s not a puncture, and Chris cleans it up and bandages it. Okay good. So now go downstairs, you two. Chris feels guilty and starts to cry, so Cathy holds his face to her chest. Go. Downstairs. They decide to lay on the attic floor in some sunbeams instead. Argh. Some inappropriate touching happens, but when Cathy starts babbling about the book they read and sex and stuff Chris comes to his senses and tells her that brothers don’t think of their sisters as girls, pretty or not. YES GOOD. They go downstairs, thank god.

FINALLY these children decide they need an escape plan that doesn’t involve the roof. What they need is a copy of their room key, and they determine that stealing Corrine’s will be easiest since she doesn’t like pockets on her clothes and leaves the key all over. Corrine is coming by two or three times a month now, still basically ignoring the twins and bringing everyone clothes that don’t fit. When Cathy mentions that they’ve all been getting sick lately, headaches and stomach cramps, she tells them to keep the food in the attic where it’ll stay cold and suck it up. She tells them about cruises and shopping trips to New York City because she is the worst character in fiction and while Cathy keeps her babbling along Chris steals her key and makes a mold of it in a bar of soap. YES. Forward momentum! He later makes a wooden replica of the key and there is much rejoicing. Though they don’t leave immediately because Chris knows that they’re going to need money to get anywhere, so what they need to do is start stealing it from their mother since she’s terrible with money. He starts sneaking into the swan room and finding all manner of tens and twenties all over the place because Corrine is just terrible. It’s taking a toll on what faith in Corrine he has left though, since sneaking into her room means seeing all of the expensive clothing and jewelry she has. Chris tells Cathy to come with him the next time and she realizes that she can since the twins sleep all the time now and won’t wake up and freak out that the older kids are gone. That’s so sad. So sneak down to Corrine’s room they do.

Naturally once they’re there Cathy can’t help but go through Corrine’s closets and she realizes how much Chris kept back from his descriptions after the Christmas party. Cathy decides to have a little fun with the whole experience and puts on some of Corrine’s stockings and a bra and a fancy black dress, then she goes to town with makeup and perfume. She comes out to show Chris, making a real reveal of it and he tells her she looks like a prostitute. Fun times. Cathy’s like “whatever” and goes to take it all off and we find out she’s wearing seventeen bracelets, twenty-six rings, a tiara, three necklaces, and giant dangling diamond earrings. What kind of prostitutes has Chris seen? She puts everything back, though she does steal a plain bra for herself. Throughout all of this, Chris has been looking for money, and figuring that he’s done this enough to not need help, Cathy turns her attention to the bedside table drawers. It’s all night cream and paperback books at first, then she finds a big hardcover called How to Create Your Own Needlework Designs. Cathy is interested in this so she flips it open and welp, it’s a sex book. Full-page pictures, nice instructive text, the whole deal. Cathy just pages through it in shock until Chris comes up to see what her deal is and then he has to flip through it page by page too. What a bonding moment. Eventually they realize they need to get out of there, so they put the book away and sneak their way back to their room, where they get ready for bed in an awkward silence and eventually manage to go to sleep.

Well that was wordy, huh? Coming up: The END we have reached the END! That just brings me closer to Petals, which I love so dear. But before then a whole lot of sad unfortunate stuff happens, because this book has one hell of a conclusion.

The new movie is on TV tonight! I’m hoping that it’s available online shortly thereafter so that I can make screencaps and have a recap up with a quickness, so fingers crossed that Lifetime has my back in this. Why wouldn’t they, right? So look for that and the final FitA recap here soon!

*oh my god I’m so sorry Cher 

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