Posted by: Megan | August 5, 2013

Chapters like Hours

I’m sorry, but was it not just April? JFC.

The chapter that starts this next section (I section off the books in highly optimistic chunks when I reread them) is called “Minutes Like Hours” and the text bears that out, that’s for damn sure. So the kids are bored. They wake up and eat their cold gross eggs, they play board games or read chapters of the Bible (they’re supposed to memorize verses and get quizzed by Olivia, but of course they memorize whole chapters to sass at her because they’re sassy), they clean their room, they take a lot of baths. Rinse and repeat. In the evenings Corrine comes by with presents and to evade the nagging of her older children. Well, of Cathy, anyway. They play up in the attic and listen to records and the twins throw some tantrums and we learn about everyone’s underwear and OH MY GOD it’s like we’re there. Oh, and apparently all non-citrus fruit causes Carrie to have tummy troubles and it’s Cathy who has to hand wash all of the aforementioned underwear when this happens, unless she can run Carrie to the bathroom in time, and while this happens Chris LAUGHS. He LAUGHS. So that’s one of the reasons why Cathy is a touch on edge when Corrine shows up all windswept and “Oh I’ve been saaaaaaaaaaailing”. Cathy is understandable angry with their mother (this will be a running theme. I should just copy/paste that phrase) and Chris is just the worst thing and just loooooves their mom’s outfit and doesn’t she look greaaaaaaat and ugh Christopher. No. Well, turns out that Corrine wasn’t entirely honest with her oldest kids–there was a note from the Grandfather on the bottom of Olivia’s letter, and it said simply that the ONLY good thing about Corrine and Chris-the-Elder’s marriage was that it didn’t produce any “Devil’s issue”. Oooops. Corrine was just SO SURE that once her dad saw how peachy her kids were that he’d be totally fine with the whole thing, but that’s seeming less and less likely what with the whole Devil thing. They’re there ’till he dies, in short. Unless she can convince him! Because maybe she still can!

Sure thing, Corrine. Sure thing.

So now the older kids know that they’re going to be there a while so the effort to make the attic a super fancy funland begin in earnest. Dress up! They scrub everything! They get plants! Corrine can’t hang out even though she wants to because people get suspicious (I’m so sure)! Corrine brings them craft supplies and the kids make flowers and mushrooms and other colorful decorations for the attic, including Carrie’s red and purple worm and Cory’s big orange snail. Aw, the cuties. Cathy quizzes Corrine about everything she’s ostensibly learning in her secretarial classes, but their mom is not super forthcoming about that. Hmmmmmm I wonder why that could be? God Corrine, why are you so awful? More days go by. The kids prefer to stay up in the attic since Olivia never spies on them up there, because, we learn from Corrine, Olivia used to be locked in a closet by her parents as a punishment, leaving her with claustrophobia. Yikes. The grandmother seems to be softening sometimes, even giving them some chrysanthemums for their “garden”, but these moments are short-lived.

Cathy has a little breakdown one day since she, rather rightfully, thinks that her life is passing her by, but Chris convinces her to work for the day that they get out of the attic and gets their mom to buy Cathy some ballet costumes and music so that she can keep practicing. Okay, that’s pretty nice. Oh and this song gets quoted, so let’s share this moment with Cathy.

 

Well okay.

SO. More time goes by! They change the attic decorations to fall, they sunbathe naked on some old mattresses (wait what), and Chris and Cathy have some awkward conversation about the differences between boys and girls. Uh oh. The first big DRAMA occurs around now–during a game of hide and seek Cory hides inside and old trunk and gets trapped. Luckily they find him in time, but it’s a close, close call.

FORESHADOWING

FORESHADOWING

Oh not cool, dude. Wow.

So now it’s Thanksgiving. Corrine brings them some decorations and promises to bring them up some of the feast the next day. (The turkey won’t be ready when the grandmother brings up their basket) The next day Cathy decorates and sets their table and they wait. And wait. So…did Olivia not bring them anything? Because it’s getting later and later and there’s no sign of Corrine and they’re talking about how they’re starving–oh here’s Corrine. Turns out that her dad decided at the last minute to eat at the table with the guests, so Corrine wasn’t able to just put another tray together when she prepped her dad’s. But she brought them food WITHOUT PUMPKIN PIE and now she has to dash. WTF Corrine. No pumpkin pie?? Yes, I KNOW that John Amos already had it sliced and he would’ve gotten suspicious if four pieces disappeared but it is THANKSGIVING and your children live IN AN ATTIC.

GIVE THEM SOME PUMPKIN PIE.

Whew. I’m sorry, y’all, I just…had to get that out.

Of course the twins hate all the food and eat PB&Js. UGH. I wish it was Thanksgiving.

And then the twins get sick. Really sick. Temperature of 103.5 sick. Corrine is all worried for once and wants to take them to the doctor, but Olivia says no. Corrine acquiesces and the older two have to nurse the twins back to health. IT TAKES 19 DAYS. OMG. Corrine’s solution for future sickness is vitamins, so yeah that’ll help. Cathy points out that Corrine can use some of her time away from the house to buy the twins fresh fruit and Corrine naturally acts like Cathy is just making the WORST demands and Chris leaps into defense of Corrine and IT IS EXHAUSTING. Along we go to Christmas and Corrine brings them all lots of gifts and candy. The kids have even decided to make a gift for Olivia–an embroidered picture of a garden–and it goes over about as well as you’d expect. After Olivia rejects it, Cathy loses it (rightly so) and trashes the piece. Corrine comes back then and gives them more presents AND tells them what might be good news: Her dad is going to write her back into his will, and he’s leaving her everything. AND NOT JUST THAT but something else too: the Foxworths are throwing a big party that evening, to reintroduce Corrine to society, and after much pleading Corrine agrees to let Cathy and Chris hide upstairs where they can watch the party.

Corrine comes to get them in her party dress, and it is a dress that we will see again, my friends. It’s green chiffon and velvet with lots of sparkle and fluttering panels and Cathy is just overwhelmed and hopes to someday look like her mother. FORESHADOWING. The pair hides inside a big table where they can see out of a screened back and watch all of the fancy people as they dance and mill about. They notice that Corrine seems to dance with one man the most, and that from time to time they leave the main room together. Scandal! Olivia is there, in a RED dress (wooooo hoooo) and, at long last, they catch a glimpse of their grandfather. They overhear a bickering couple talk about their mother and Bart Winslow and once they’re back in the room, Cathy and Chris wonder if Corrine is in love with said Bart. Chris, being brilliant, decides that he wants to sneak around and explore a little more, so he gets a suit and wig from the attic and gets ready to leave. He and Cathy have another weird moment–she’s all “princess-like” in a new nightgown and he’s dazzled by her, and then he heads out. Cathy goes to bed and remembers their father, wishing him a Merry Christmas.

All right! Okay, back in the saddle. Coming up: OBVIOUSLY Chris’s little adventure doesn’t end well, Corrine gives Cathy “the talk”, and omfg THE SWAN BED. See you then!

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Responses

  1. Hahahaha this is bringing back so many memories. THE SWAN BED.

  2. Corrine is legit the worst.

  3. I was just reading this book, I’m actually rereading Petals on the Wind. Remember how all of us were speculating wether Cathy had a miscarriage? Well read page 204!!!!

  4. If Corrinne is bad then you condemn Catherine as well since she is none the better remember she plans to lock jory and Bart in the attic and buys a hamper !!! Furthermore, when she miscarries, she only has only been with Chris up to then, we all know that, but here is a thought dor you to ponder through, why does Paul keep those conjoined twin babies ? What use is to him or is it of more use to the guy who wants to know “why attic mice die young” ?

  5. Wait, that’s Dance Ballerina Dance? Wow, I did not see that coming. I always assumed it was slow and dainty. Similar to the music in the actual movie. I know the movie is terrible, but that was what I got from it. When I first read FITA I assumed Cory was going to die in that chapter of the Hide and seek game, so later that really floored me.

    Speaking of the first time reading, when I read about their nude sunbathing my reaction was the same, what?! EWWWWW!

    Can’t wait for another post.

    • Yeah, I was taken aback too, haha! I’m wondering if there’s a slow version that I couldn’t find?

      Thanks for reading!

  6. Just to comment further, the beauty of this book is that you have all the clues that gives insight into understanding the other characters in the book, I can go into Corrinne story,All the salient evidence is there, you just have to put two and two together. Let me give you a better example. When Corinne mentions that her father convinced her children were so evil, she wasn’t wrong. Remember she initially loved her children.

    Corrinne finds out that she actually “married” her half brother not her half uncle which was a bigger sin (Malcolm tells her). That’s the detail that made her want to kill her own children. Throughout the series it is hinted that Corrinne and Christopher Snr were brother and sister and the true extent is revealed in of this is confirmed in “The Garden of Shadows”.

    Corrinne was seeing signs of her children suffering hidden inflictions for her sin of marrying brother. The twins didn’t grow, and her two older children were becoming sexually attracted to one another. She actually knows this and tries “not to see “. She tries to take away her fears by buying Cathy small girl’s clothes. She tries to save her children by killing them rather than living with that realisation similar to Oedipus’s mother/wife killing their children when she learns of her sin.
    ” Joel can tell us more about our mother when she was young, and what life was like for all of them, and perhaps when we know the details, we will be able to understand how she could betray us, and why the grandfather wanted us dead. There has to be an awful truth hidden back in the past to warp Malcolm’s brain so he could override our mother’s natural instincts to keep her own children alive.”

    The reason why this revelation of Corrinne and Christopher Snr is hinted rather that explicitly stated in the book, is that it is a clever subterfuge by Andrews to highlight Catherine our prime narrator’s inability to comprehend her mother’s actions or to find “forgiveness” as demonstrated by the following

    “Appealingly Chris gazed into my eyes, making his heart and soul vulnerable for my scorn to injure. “I’d like to hear about our mother’s youth, Cathy, so I can understand what made her the way she turned out to be. She wounded us so deeply I feel neither one of us

    will ever recover until we do understand. I have forgiven her, but I can’t forget. I want to understand so I can help you to forgive her . . .”

    “Will that help?” I asked sarcastically. “It’s too late for understanding or forgiving our mother, and, to be honest, I don’t want to find understanding—for if I do, I might have to forgive her.”

  7. I don’t remember Corrine ever finding out they were half-brother and sister, was it in this book or another one?

    • I don’t remember if maybe Olivia tells her in Garden of Shadows? I’ll have to check.

    • I don’t remember that either. Olivia never told corrinne the truth.

      • Okay good, I remember right, then. Ew. This damn family.


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