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!


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Shannon says:

    Paul…omg, Paul, you are the worst. Except for Julian, he is also the worst.

    Can’t wait to live tweet the movie with you!

    1. Megan says:

      I know I really did harp on it, but OH MY GOD DUDES SHE IS 15. BACK. OFF.

      1. Ramie says:


      2. Megan says:

        I KNOOOW!! I’m so excited!!

  2. RachelK says:

    “If we get Surprise! Not dead! Cory! in a later book you will hear my screams from wherever you are”
    I think I heard you screaming a while back. . .
    You haven’t updated in ages! Anyway. I came back to reread your Ruby recaps because everyone wants me to read Ruby or be able to discuss it, and I would way rather read your recaps than the books. I love the plots of the books, but not the actual books! So I’d rather read a good writer like you explain them than read the originals. Thank you for your dedicated service.

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