Well. Here we are then.
Based off of a suggestion on the Facebook page, I’ve decided to do Hidden Jewel as ONE MASSIVE RECAP because so very little of merit happens (so much filler) and because I don’t really like this book. Have you gotten that impression?
So, yeah. Pearl. Pearl Andreas, our heroine, is about to graduate from high school. She’s valedictorian, natch, and has been haunted by a recurring nightmare for many years. It’s a dream/memory about Paul, so of course it haunts her. She knows some parts of her past, like that Paul and her mother were siblings who got married for mysterious reasons and that there was a custody battle for her after Paul died, but not much else.
Oh and she keeps talking about how YOUNG her mother looks, which….Ruby’s all of 36. BITE ME.
So when we start this story Pearl’s waking up on her graduation day, being spied on by her 12-year old brothers, Pierre and Jean. Oh this family. So the twins look exactly alike even though Pierre is the brains and Jean is the brawn. They’re 12, but at time they’re written like they’re 7 or 8. I mean, at one point Pearl says she has butterflies in her stomach, and Jean’s all “OH GROSS HOW DID YOU GET CATERPILLARS IN THERE” and Pierre has to explain that it’s just an expression. They also sleep in Uncle Jean’s room, which I thought Ruby was keeping like a shrine, but I guess it’s good that she got over that notion.
SO Pearl has this boyfriend named Claude who is super hot and wants to have sex with her, but she gets all med school about it whenever they make out and starts thinking about blood flow to her extremities and hormones and things like that, which, surprisingly Claude is not into. Claude’s convinced himself that he and Pearl are going to consummate their relationship that very evening, once Pearl can get out of the graduation party that Beau and Ruby are throwing for her. Pearl is still not sure about all this, even though her best friend Catherine (GET SOME NEW NAMES) is allll about getting Pearl laid. So turns out that the boys were spying on Pearl because they hid her mortarboard and wanted to see if she’d noticed, everyone gets WAY too bent out of shape over it, and then right before the ceremony Claude’s sidepiece Diane dunks Pearl’s speech in the toilet because Pearl gave everyone a talking to about the dangers of secondhand smoke.
I HATE PEARL.
But of course Pearl has her speech memorized and it’s amazing and inspiring and then it’s off to her party, which is peopled by Beau and Ruby’s friends and colleagues and where Ruby will be unveiling a portrait that she did of Pearl. Claude and some of his friends arrive tipsy, which of course sets Pearl off on a tangent. The portrait is revealed and it’s..it’s… lemme just transcribe.
“Mommy hadn’t just painted a portrait of me in my graduation outfit. Behind me she had painted another portrait, this one with me dressed as a doctor, a stethoscope around my neck.”
I mean…can you imagine? At 17/18? In front of all of your friends? Maybe I’m a terrible person, but I would have died. Claude’s all “Nice painting, now can we go to this other party where we can do it?” but Pearl puts him off and he hovers around with Diane, getting angrier and angrier. Jeanne (who is the only member of the Tate family who speaks to Ruby) gives Pearl a gift–a locket with a picture of Paul holding baby Pearl, looking just like he does in Pearl’s dream. Nice? Jeanne leaves and Ruby comes over to see the present, and takes the time to note how handsome Paul was. NO RUBY. Pearl finally tells her mom that she’s heading out, but when she tries to get Claude to just stick around and hang out at the house, he finally flips and dumps her. Catherine ditches Pearl too, and she goes outside to sit alone in the dark and be all sad and whatnot. Ruby comes out and is all “I feel your sadness, daughter” and come ON you guys. Anyone we get a “Drugs are bad and party poopers are awesome!” talk and then everyone goes to bed. Well I know I feel better.
Pearl has a summer job as a candy striper and absolutely nothing happens with this whole section that has any future bearing on the plot except that Pearl makes almost-friends with a co-worker, almost gets raped by a young doctor (but they handwave that away pretty quick), and everyone gives her crap for wanting to be a female doctor. ARGH. Oh! And we learn that Ruby gave Pearl her dime on a string, but didn’t she leave that on Gisselle at the hospital in the last book? Did she…go get it back?! Did she take it off of her in the funeral parlor? What am I forgetting, here?
OKAY FINALLY SOME PLOT. They’re having a big shindig for the opening of Ruby’s new gallery show, and during the party a woman sends a message to Ruby, telling her that Nina Jackson is on her deathbed and is asking for Ruby. Ruby wants to leave immediately, but Beau, who has become a real asshole in the intervening years, is all “But all these people! The pictures! The MAYOR is here!” and even Pearl asks if Nina’s really going to drop dead any minute and they convince Ruby to stay. Finally, Ruby and Pearl head out. We get a nice scene where the cab driver doesn’t want to wait for them because it’s such a terrible neighborhood, but they get to Nina’s house aaaaand
She’s dead. She had something to tell Ruby, something important that she learned from the great beyond, but Ruby didn’t come and she couldn’t wait. Ooops. Hope that was a great party. Ruby does not take this well and goes a little gaga, wandering the halls at night and ignoring her family until Beau decides that the best cure is a family trip to the Dumas ranch where Ruby’s stepmother and sister both died/received fatal illnesses. Good call Beau.
Oh boy, here we go. So they get to the chateau and everyone starts to unwind, and then Jean gets bitten by a snake and dies (for real) and then Pierre goes into a coma state because he blames himself (for real) and then Ruby REALLY loses her shit and starts preforming voodoo rituals in the dead of night in graveyards with black cats (for real) and Beau starts drinking and THIS FAMILY OH MY GOD. Ruby thinks it’s all her fault because she and Paul had that Confederate roleplay sex that time and then one day Pearl comes home from work and Ruby’s just gone. No one knows where she went or if she’s coming back. BUT WAIT!!!! Pearl, while looking for her mom, checks the studio and finds Ruby’s latest painting and IT IS THE BEST. It’s Paul’s body floating in the SWAMPS, only *Jean’s* soul is leaving Paul’s body and there’s a tiny Ruby-face in the background and and AND PAUL’S BODY LOOKS LIKE A SNAKE. LIKE A SNAKE.
This is my opus, readers, I really think. I—wait. DAMN IT SWAMP THING!
ANYHOW. Ruby’s run off and a few days later Beau and Pearl get a letter from her that says that she’s learned of some voodoo rituals she can do to try and make things right, but she has to leave to do them and hopefully she’ll see them again some day. Beau, who has also apparently grown extremely intolerant of Ruby’s beliefs, gets riled up and finally calls the police. While they’re looking for Ruby, Beau and Pearl decide to head to the BAYOU and see if Ruby’s out there. They check the shack, and find footprints and a picture of Jean with wax dripped on it, proving that Ruby was there and is filming a ’90s Meat Loaf music video. They head over to Cypress Woods, which has been allowed to sink into decline with all of its contents intact, where they then run into two of the men who run the nearby oil rigs and one of them, Jack, is all young and hot AND personally runs the rig that belongs to Pearl. That’s a meet cute if I ever saw one! Beau calls the hospital in New Orleans and learns that Pierre’s taken a turn for the worst, so they have to head back.
Once there, they learn that Pierre’s kidneys are failing and everyone’s like “If only his mother were here!” because life is a fairy tale and love cures everything (although yes, it can’t be good for his mental state that he thinks his mother blames him for Jean’s death). That night Pearl can’t find her dad and eventually finds him up in Ruby’s studio, dead drunk and lying naked on the settee where he and Ruby did the deed all those years ago. GET NEW FURNITURE. Pearl’s understandably weirded out, especially when Beau starts telling “Ruby” to draw him and Pearl finally just leaves him there. The next day Pearl gets a call from Oil Rig Jack, who tells her that he thinks he saw someone walking through Cypress Woods the night before and maybe it’s Ruby. Pearl tells him she’ll head right down, but Beau’s dead drunk again so she has to go alone. She gets lost on the way, so she stops at a house to get directions to Cypress Woods and while she doesn’t get the comments that the folks make, we the readers do, and it’s clear that they know Buster Trahaw and can’t wait to tell him that Ruby’s daughter’s in town. Pearl gets her directions and gets to the house, where she and Jack don’t find Ruby, but do find a cat’s leg bone that she left behind (Oh Ruby) and have some nice science vs the paranormal conversation. Oh you kids. Pearl wants to sleep in the house in case Ruby comes back, so Jack agrees to stay with her and they make out a little after Pearl has one of her nightmares and Jack gives her a comforting cuddle. And she likes it! She doesn’t overanalyze it! Our little Pearl. The next morning, Pearl calls home and learns from the butler that Beau fell down the stairs drunk the night before and broke his leg, so Pearl decides to stick around Houma and goes to visit Jeanne. Unfortunately, that also means she has to see Gladys Tate, who is visiting Jeanne (lucky thing) and she’s just as nasty as ever. Though Jeanne promises to let Pearl stay with her once Gladys leaves, Gladys is jubilant at the Andreas’ tragedies and declares them all to be Ruby’s fault. Oh you’re no innocent flower, lady. We’ll get to you later.
Pearl checks out the shack again and finds that someone has completely trashed what was left of it (damn, Buster) and while she’s inside she hears mud being thrown at the back of the shack and goes outside just in time to see someone leaving in a pirogue. Unlike her mother, who probably would have waded into the SWAMPS yelling “BUT WHY ARE YOU SO MEAN!” Pearl wisely decides to head out and get some lunch and call her dad. *begrudging approval of Pearl*
What, just like how you knew to sneak into my painting? Shoo.
Beau’s not much better than he was and neither is Pierre (Pearl also calls the hospital) so she heads back to Cypress Woods for the night, making it just as a giant storm breaks. Luckily for her, Jack is there, having come to check on Pearl. Awww. Jack’s okay. I mean, he picked the dullest lady to ever have a book based around her, but that’s not his fault. Jack goes and gets them some food and they have dinner and they totally hook up. You go Pearl! Jack has to head to work the next morning and Pearl is getting ready to go out and call New Orleans when she hears someone in Cypress Woods. She goes out hoping to see Jack or Ruby, but! instead! it’s Buster Trahaw.
Let’s just power through this. Buster tells Pearl that he’s an old friend of Ruby’s and that she’s very sick and with him at his house, so with a quick “I’m off with Buster Trahaw! TTYL!” note to Jack, Pearl goes with him. They head into the SWAMPS in Buster’s pirogue and head to (Grandpere Jack’s old shack) Buster’s and SURPRISE PEARL Ruby is not actually there. Buster tells Pearl that she belongs to him since he paid for a Landry and all and makes Pearl take her clothes off and dresses her in a sack dress (he even takes her graverobbed dime-on-a-string) and chains her to a spike embedded in the shack floor. She passes out and when she wakes up he’s left her a note that he’s gone for whiskey and food and expects her to clean up while he’s gone. Pearl tries to get out, but the shack is in the middle of nowhere and there’s a cottonmouth on the deck and I think maybe this is when the Rescuers come into the equation.
She cleans up and waits for Buster to get back, and when he does he pretty quickly passes out and she holds a knife to his throat until he gives her the key (he wakes up) to the padlock and then she chains HIM up, takes the pirogue and starts to get the hell out of there. Buster is pretty pissed off, however, so he manages to pull the spike out of the floor and try to come after her, but once he’s in the water the chain gets tangled on something and then alligators eat him.
Seriously. That’s what happens.
Pearl gets herself back to shore and finds Jack and the police and calls home (Beau’s asleep) and then she and Jack have dinner and go to bed. Pearl wakes up in the night and sees a light in Cypress Woods (she and Jack are in the riggers’ trailer) and they go to investigate. It’s Ruby! And she’s filthy! She’s also in a daze, rambling about Paul and all he went through and WHY are we all still being tormented by the specter of Paul Tate?? and she slept on Grandmere Catherine’s grave and Grandmere told her that she needs to paint the “face of Paul that is in her heart” on a canvas and HELLO you already did the best painting of Paul ever. But I guess it wasn’t enough, so Ruby paints another picture of Paul and then she burns it at Paul’s tomb and then she’s cured.
Pearl and Ruby go back to New Orleans and go see Pierre, but he’s worse than ever. That night at the house, Ruby decides that she has to go to Jean’s grave that night and everyone is afraid that she’s lost it again, but she goes and burns a candle there at midnight and begs Jean to let his brother go and then SURPRISE Pierre starts getting better. That Ruby, she cures everything. Jack comes to visit Pearl and is all abashed by her wealth, but she gives him some sass and they’re all good. They all go visit Pierre, who is already speaking in whole sentences and eating and wanting to visit the SWAMPS again and everything. Jack has to go back to work and he and Pearl have, well, what’s actually a rather mature parting for one of these books. They acknowledge their feelings for each other, but also that they come from very different backgrounds and that they each have responsibilities in their respective homes, so they’re just going to focus on the good stuff and take it bit by bit. What, no “I will die without you!”, no “Nothing else matters!”? Huh. Look at you kids.
Pierre gets better little by little until he can go to Jean’s grave, and he starts to become more outgoing and happy; Pearl starts college, where Jack visits her, though he’s slightly uncomfortable on the campus still; Jeanne tells the family that Gladys is dead and that she’s planning to restore Cypress Woods; Pearl spends more time in the BAYOU and starts to appreciate it more; Jack restores Grandmere’s shack and Pearl and Ruby visit it often. And the book ends with Pearl and Jack sitting on the shack’s porch, being all schmoopy and looking at another one of those damn marsh hawks. And that is THE END.
Okay! Remind me to never do anything like this ever again oh my BRAIN. I was planning on recapping the Flowers in the Attic movie since it’s currently on Netflix Instant, but our ongoing computer troubles are putting the brakes on that. I can borrow this laptop for typing up this recap, but not so much for watching the movie, screencapping, and all of that. I still plan on doing that, don’t worry! It just won’t be next. What WILL be next is the conclusion/beginning of the Landry series, Tarnished Gold. Finally, all of our unanswered questions about…yeah, no. What we will have is some quality Gladys lunacy, plenty of lame-ass young Pierre Dumas, and my adamant refusal to spell it “Gabriel”.
See you then!