It is so appropriate to color hope yellow, like that sun we seldom saw. And as I begin to copy from the old memorandum journals that I kept for so long, a title comes as if inspired. Open the Window and Stand in the Sunshine. Yet, I hesitate to name our story that. [But since it was so inspiring you found a way of working it in anyway, I see.] For I think of us more as flowers in the attic. Paper flowers. [Wow. I wonder if this character ended up as a third-rate folk singer.] Born so brightly colored, and fading duller through all those long, grim, dreary, nightmarish [Did your thesaurus run out of adjectives there?] days when we were held prisoners of hope, and kept captives by greed. [If I ever talk about myself in a way even remotely similar to that, please shoot me.] But, we were never to color even one of our paper blossoms yellow.
This would be much more bearable if a bunch of us could take turns doing dramatic readings.
Still page 3: OH MY GOD SHE JUST COMPARED HERSELF TO CHAS. DICKENS. Oh, but he "was a genius born to write" while every word she writes is "put down with tears, with bitter blood, with sour gall, well mixed with shame and guilt".
p6: It seems like she has a bit of an Electra complex. But as the chapter is entitled "Goodbye, Daddy", I doubt it will have much of an impact on the plot. You'll be happy to know that he's a flaxen blond.
p7: Ooooo, foreshadowing. They never felt comfortable in their mother's pastel living room.
p8: Well, the mother is knocked up (as there are four kids eventually, that isn't particularly surprising) and the dialogue is shockingly bad (also not surprising).
p9: "Momma, your lunch is moving around, or else you have gas." EWWWW.
p10: "Cathy, it hurts when you don't run into my arms and give me kisses." Criminy. I'm looking forward to the Goodbye, Daddy part of this chapter.
p11: Their babysitter was "always saying" that the parents look "more like brother and sister than husband and wife".
p14: Wait, it's four years later. How did that happen? It's Daddy's thirty-sixth birthday and the presents are piled high. I predict a tragedy in the very near future.
p17: JACKPOT. There was an accident on Greenfield Highway. And here's a fantastic example of the fantabulous dialogue -- this is where the cop tells Momma Dollanganger that her husband is dead:
"According to the accounts, which we've recorded, there was a motorist driving a blue Ford weaving in and out of the lefthand lane, apparently drunk, and he crashed head-on into your husband's car. But it seems your husband must have seen the accident coming, for he swerved to avoid a head-on collision, but a piece of machinery had fallen from another car, or truck, and this kept him from completing his correct defensive driving maneuver, which would have saved his life. But as it was, your husband's much heavier car turned over several times, and still he might have survived, but an oncoming truck, unable to stop, crashed into his car, and again the Cadillac spun over . . . and then . . . it caught on fire."
Hand to God. I didn't make that up. The cop is either a very poorly constructed robot or the most insensitive human being ever. I wish Drake Hogestyn would read this book to me. Go back and read that passage, but imagine it in his voice. It's AWESOME. Anyway, as my co-worker said after I did a dramatic reading of it, "NO ONE USES 'FOR' LIKE THAT IN CONVERSATION. EVER."
p18: Ha ha ha ha ha. Now the cop is saying that he was killed instantly. Instantly, like, right when the original collision happened, before the car flipped over and over and got whacked by a truck and caught on fire, or after? Because the cop said over and over again that the husband might have made it if not for the rest of the accident. So which is it, bub?
p23: Cathy is apparently like her father's mother.
p24: "Cory and Carrie were fraternal rather than identical twins..." Really? For true? Gosh, the different sexes didn't tip me off or anything.
p27-28: Ah. Momma is a Big Spender. Thus, everything is going to be repossessed. And so they're going to live with her parents. And now Cathy's brother is "reassuring" her. So it begins. Oh, goody. Momma's attempting to cheer up the kids about the move this way: "You are not going to believe what I have to tell you--for my parents are rich! Not middle-class rich, or upper-class-rich, but very, very rich! Filthy, unbelievably, sinfully rich!" Does the mother die? I hope so.
p29: Nice. She's making four kids cram everything they want in two suitcases, because she needs the other two for her own stuff. She is AWESOME. (<--- That is obviously sarcasm.) Also, Cathy just said "Oh, golly-lolly!" I kid you not. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?? Also, Momma is telling them all this while pacing to and fro wearing "a filmy black negligee". WHAT??
p30: And now Momma tells the kids (why she'd tell her kids this I don't know) that she was disinherited but that her siblings are all dead so she's hoping to worm her way back into her father's affections.
p32: Oh, poor Momma (who is still wearing her filmy black negligee, btw): "I am a pretty, useless ornament who always believed she'd have a man to take care of her. I can't do anything." Pardon me while I shed a tear for V.C. Andrews' disregard of the old Show Don't Tell rule.
Still p32: "From what my mother wrote on a separate sheet of paper which my father didn't read, your grandfather cannot possibly live more than two or three months longer at the most." How did this get published? Did V.C. Andrews have something on someone at Simon & Schuster? I know that they're incredibly popular, but HOW did they know that they'd be incredibly popular?
p36: Thank goodness. A new chapter: The Road to Riches.
p39: Momma has been acting progressively sketchier, traveling under an assumed name, having the train drop them off in the middle of nowhere, only taking two of the suitcases and having the other two sent on to Charlottesville where they'll be picked up in the morning. And her father doesn't know that she has children. And they're walking a million miles to the house so that no one will know that the children exist. Or something. Rad.
p40: UH OH: "The she mumbled something faint into the fur collar of her jacket that just barely reached my keen ears: "Lord knows, they'd better walk outside while they can.""
p41: Christopher is BRILLIANT.
p42: Oh, please don't let Cathy start writing poetry: "It seemed to me like an inverted bowl of navy-blue velvet, sparkled all over with crystallized snowflakes instead of stars--or were they the tears of ice that I was going to cry in the future?" Crystallized snowflakes. I... I see. Someone might want to talk to her about structure of snowflakes in general. I'm sure that Christopher has read a book about it.
p43: Enter the grandmother.
p44: "...even her bosom looked like twin hills of concrete."
p45: Ah. Okay, so Daddy was Momma's half-uncle? That's a bizarre relation. How can you be someone's half-uncle? Oh, I guess if he was the grandfather's half-brother? And the grandmother is suspicious that Cathy and Christopher are going to get it on. Well...
p46: And now they get the real rules: They're going to be locked in the room. No one can know that the kids exist until after the grandfather dies. In case you're wondering, he's 66. Also, if you're concerned that the kids are going to Get It On, why would you lock them up together?
p49: I've discovered that if I read really, really fast, the awfulness of the prose doesn't sink in quite so much.
p52: New chapter: The Grandmother's House.
p53: Just in case anyone's forgotten, Christopher is BRILLIANT. Apparently now he's an art expert, too. He wants to be a doctor AND an artist.
p55-56: The grandmother will bring them food once a day and she dropped off a list of rules. She hasn't specified what will happen to the kids if they are bad. Oh, and they can play in the attic at certain times of the day. Goody.
p58: Carrie is a beast of a child.
p59-60: Fantastic -- on the list of rules, #4 is "you will never speak to me unless I speak to you first". And #6 requires that they are never idle, and if they don't have anything to study, they are to read the Bible, and if they can't read, they are to stare at the Bible and absorb it through osmosis. Or something. And if they break the rules, they'll be whipped. Well, she says she'll "peel the skin from their backs", but I assume she means they'll be whipped. This book is sick. No wonder we were so obsessed with it in middle school. Anyway, the rules go on and on and she's clearly stuck on the idea that these kids are sex-crazed lunatics.
p65: New Chapter: The Attic.
p67: Exploring the attic, Christopher reveals that he is also a GENIUS IN NATURAL SCIENCE.
p69: Well, thank you, V.C. Andrews, for the lecture on corsets.
p70: Oh, the old schoolroom. This is the room I was remembering. I think.
p71: Wait, how old is Cathy supposed to be? Twelve? Fourteen? Because she sounds like she's in her eighties.
p72: Oh, she's twelve. Ask and ye shall receive, I guess.
p74: Christopher is also a carpenter. And he's nimble.
p77: And they're breaking the grandmother's rules willy-nilly. This can't be good. This family is very into being naked.
p78: Carrie is still a brat.
p82: I give her points for making it feel claustrophobic. Well, maybe one point.
p83: But she just lost the point due to Christopher's annoyingness:
"Wow, what a fantastic idea, Cathy! Terrific! Exactly what we'll do if a fire starts--which it won't. And boy, it sure is good to know you're not going to be a cry-baby after all. When you think ahead and plan for unexpected contingencies it shows you're growing up, and I like that."
p84: New chapter: The Wrath of God. Oh, they're so totally dead meat. A whole bunch of rules broken and the grandmother knows. I rather think that Momma got punished earlier in the day.
p86: And the twins have gone bananas. But you know that the grandmother is going to win. And it'll be ugly.
p87: She swung Carrie around by her hair and slapped Cory, but I expected worse. She does seem like the type who can bide her time, though. I'd like to see a cage match between her and the Trunchbull.
p88: Ah. She threatened to whip them until they bleed. That shut 'em up.
p91: Yep. The grandmother whipped the crap out of Momma. You'd think at this point that the kids -- led by the perfect and almighty Christopher -- would start, I dunno, making plans to escape. I mean, obviously their mother isn't going to be at all helpful.
p92: "We will dole out food, drink, and shelter, but never kindness, sympathy or love." Why in the world did she bother taking them in? Because she's a big sadist? (Possibly.) Because otherwise there wouldn't be a story and V.C. Andrews wasn't at all concerned with realism or logic? (Very probably.)
p94: New chapter: Momma's Story. Oh, good. I'm sure I'm about to be treated to more of Momma's outstanding monologues. I'm bracing myself. "...his restless torment was expressed by his shoe diligently following the intricate scrollwork of the Oriental rug." Well, thank you, V.C. Andrews, for letting me know. It's so nice to not have to do anything silly like try to understand the characters on my own.
p95-108: "...though it cringes my soul..." Erm. I don't think you're supposed to use 'cringe' like that. Blah blah blah, grandparents are "fanatically religious" but hypocrites blah blah Momma and her brothers weren't allowed to do anything, even go swimming because bathing suits are evil blah blah enter her beautiful half-uncle who was only three years older than her and who had a Tragic History blah blah "his golden hair was haloed by an aura of silver light" and it was love at first sight I wonder if Twilight fans would like V.C. Andrews blah blah this is the most accident-prone family on the planet blah blah Cathy is a complete moron: "Fairy tales can come true!" yes, dear, as long as you don't mind marrying your half-uncle blah blah they were worried that the kids would be "deformed or mentally retarded" but they "tempted fate four times--and won!" blah blah I feel like there's a seriously icky sexual charge between Momma and Christopher but, hey, who wants to let Electra have all the fun blah blah and now she's planning to enroll in business school, get a job and get them all out somehow I don't see that working out blah blah oh, nice, apparently business school is only a month long.
p109: Christopher is a little too into giving orders. And talking like an ass: "If I were less sleepy, I would pour out ten volumes of thoughts, but as it is, I'm too tired to answer."
p112: New chapter: Minutes Like Hours.
p114: The kids have discovered the joy of memorizing Bible quotes to enrage their grandmother.
p115: It's been two weeks and Momma has been eating well and buying loads of stuff and using her father's car. No word yet on business school.
p118: Oh, good. They're imitating the grandmother again. She's going to catch them one of these days.
p121: Nice. Now Momma's really started gallivanting and avoiding the kids.
p123-126: Zzzzz. This is starting to get a tad repetitive: Cathy gets mad at Momma for being a selfish spineless greedy idiot, Christopher defends Momma, Momma makes some excuses and promises that soon her father will die and everything will be good, the kids simmer down for a while until Cathy gets mad again.
p127: New chapter: To Make a Garden Grow. Oh, I remember this -- it's where they clean the attic and make paper flowers and whatnot.
p128: You'll be happy to know that my cousin just IMed me and tried to convince me to stop the madness and put the book down. And yet I continue.
p129: I now officially DESPISE Christopher. He's such a... a... just, yecch.
p132: So Momma's still telling the kids that she's in secretarial school. Somehow I don't really believe her. And she's supposedly saving money, but she's got a million new clothes and tons of new jewelry.
p136: Christopher the know-it-all. He's the WORST! Oh, wow. It seems that Cathy and I actually agree about something.
p138: I really wish the older kids would start correcting Carrie's grammar. I'm surprised the typesetter didn't put all of her 'r's in backwards. It's that bad. Oooo, she brought back the hope is yellow bit. Fantabulous. It has now been seven weeks.
p140: Carrie continues to love showing off her "lace ruffled panties". Hope the grandmother doesn't find out.
p141: Okay, V.C. Andrews. Just because kids are young doesn't mean that they're stupid. The twins are five, they've been in the attic for just under two months. I doubt that they really want to know where the grass and trees went. Seriously.
p143-4: That was odd. The grandmother chewed Cathy out for waiting on Chris, and then brought them a potted chrysanthemum. There's probably a camera in the pot or something.
p147: Aren't they going to get rickets from the lack of sun?
p148-9: Uh oh. Cathy's got her leotards. And she's dancing. And Christopher's watching her with a weird look on his face. And now she's teaching him to waltz.
p151: "My Sir Christopher, the knight gallant." Yecch.
p153: They're now sunbathing nude in the attic in an effort to not get rickets. Good thing the grandmother is claustrophobic and can't go up the attic stairs.
p158: Remember that episode of Punky Brewster where they were playing hide-and-seek and Cherie almost suffocated because she hid in the old fridge? Yeah, that just happened to Cory, except he was in a trunk. And he almost froze, too, because the attic is so very cold.
p160: They're continuing to use 'for' in conversation in the worst, most unlikely ways.
[Work interlude: I just discovered that the best thing about reading this book is complaining about it to my co-worker. We've been shrieking, "EWWWwwww!" a whole lot. The conversation went something like this:
Me: So now Cathy's doing ballet up in the attic because Christopher put a barre up for her, and...
Co-worker: They have a barre? Why don't they just hit their grandmother with it and escape?
Me: Because they're total weenies. They'd never survive an actual kid's book. Anyway, so now he's looking at her all weird.
Co-worker: Gross. And they've been up there, like, two months?
Me: That's what the book says. Although the weather must be strange there because they got there in high summer and now they're running around the attic in snowsuits.
Co-worker: But it's only taken him two months to start eyeing his sister?? Come on. He totally had to have been considering it before.
Me: I think there's something going on with him and Momma -- since he looks so much like his dead father and all -- so my guess is that when he finally realizes that Momma Doesn't Love Him, he'll turn to his sister for comfort.
Co-worker: Sounds reasonable. *snort*
Me: Oh, you would have loved the scene where Cathy was sitting in the rocking chair with the twins in her lap and Christopher was all, "Oh, Cathy, can all of you sit in my lap? And she was like, "Sure, Christopher, this isn't remotely sketchy at all, FOR we're being denied love by all of the adults in our life so obviously we must find it where we can."
Both of us: Eeeewwwww!]
p161: New chapter: Holidays. Timeline alert: it isn't even Thanksgiving yet.
p162: Cory and Carrie are described as frail now. Not sure if that's because they're young or because they're weakened by their incarceration. I'm going to assume weakened because I thought Carrie, at least, was supposed to be pretty tough. "We had now crossed off one hundred days." So almost three and a half months.
p163: Where do they hide all of this stuff when the servants come to clean? They have a rubber rack full of dishes??
p164: Part of Cathy seems to enjoy playing house: in the past two pages, she's called herself a hausfrau and "housewifely".
p165: Momma sneaks their Thanksgiving food to them two hours later than she'd promised. Cathy's take: "Good-golly day! We sure did complicate her life, all right!" I'm starting to daydream about other children's & YA characters in this situation. None of the ones I can think of would have stood for this for so long.
p167: Now Chris is going on and on about the history of Thanksgiving and how people got to North America. I wish Cathy would stab him.
p168: I have so many issues with this that I don't even know where to start: "While Chris was longing for dessert, pumpkin pie, or mincemeat pie, I began to clear away the table. Then, for some reason extraordinaire, Chris began to help! I couldn't believe it. He smiled at me disarmingly, and even kissed my cheeks. And, boy, if good food could do that for a man, I was all for learning gourmet cooking. He even picked up his socks before he came to help me wash and dry the dishes, glasses, and silverware." In a word, revolting.
170-171: The twins are sick.
172: Cathy's started correcting their grammar, thankfully.
174: Momma's solution? Vitamins! She should be shot.
176: And Chris is a moron, regardless of how many facts he memorizes. Glad to see that Cathy knows that Momma is Chris' "goddess". Yick.
177: Oh, god. Now Cathy's singing Cory to sleep -- a song that she wrote herself! I wasn't wrong about the poetry. Or the third-rate folk singer thing:
I feel the breeze when it blows in from the sea,
It lifts my hair, it caresses me,
It never takes my hand,
To show it understands,
It never touches me, ten-der-ly.
MY EYES!! MY BRAIN!!
178: Christmas Eve. It's been five months.
180-186: Christmas. They gorged themselves on candy, made a present for the grandmother and she didn't say a word, wouldn't take it. Cathy had a minor breakdown. Momma gave them a "very valuable" dollhouse that was hers as a child. Even the dolls are priceless. Here's a thought: why not sell the dollhouse on the sly and then live on the money? Oh, right. Too easy. Who wants solutions when you can have unending misery?
189: Supposedly the grandfather is going to change his will back to leave everything to Momma. I don't understand why the grandmother, since she thinks the kids are "devil's spawn", is going along with all of this in the first place. Nothing about this book makes any sense.
p192: New chapter: The Christmas Party. Momma is going to allow Chris and Cathy to sneak out to get a glimpse of the Christmas party. This, of course, would be a good opportunity to escape. But as there's two hundred pages left of this book (*sob*), I doubt very much that that'll happen. Yep. Chris has a thing for Momma. And Cathy is jealous. Yecch on both counts.
p198: Momma has apparently been spending time with a man named Bartholomew Winslow... but somehow I can't imagine that the kids will fit into her plans.
p202: Cathy's all beautiful in her new fancy nightgown and her gleaming blonde hair that cascades down past her waist and Christopher notices -- "just as he had when he'd gazed so long at Momma's swelling bosom above the green velvet bodice". GROSS. And now he's sneaking out to explore the house during the party.
p204-5: New chapter: Christopher's Exploration and Its Repercussions. Christopher hasn't come back yet. Uh oh. Momma knows. And she says, "Just for this, I will never, for any reason, or any special occasion, allow you and Christopher out of this room again!" Um... oookay. Whoa. Christopher just came back and Momma slapped him. Twice. NOW WILL THEY START TRYING TO ESCAPE??
p206: And now she's trying to make up for slapping him: "Kiss, kiss, kiss, finger his hair, stroke his cheek, draw his head against her soft, swelling breasts, and let him drown in the sensuality of being cuddled close to that creamy flesh that must excite a youth of even his tender years." Ew ew ew ew ew. V.C. Andrews uses the word 'cuddle' like Stephenie Meyer uses the word 'chagrin'.
p211-16: The swan bed! Oh, and it should be noted that Christopher is describing his adventure to Cathy while they're lying in each other's arms, her head on his chest and he's playing with her hair. Vomit. Aaaaand vomit some more. So he saw Momma and Bart make out in the hall and OH, CHRISTOPHER YOU'RE SO BRILLIANT and he found a trophy room full of mounted animal heads and OH, CHRISTOPHER THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR RECAPPING THE ENTIRE FAMILY HISTORY FOR US and we get a "good" description of the swan bed and OH, CHRISTOPHER NOW YOU'RE SECRETLY, SENSITIVELY CRYING.
p217: New Chapter: The Long Winter, and Spring, and Summer. All winter, they watch television. Wooo.
p218-9: Apparently watching television taught them how to spell difficult words. I'm not sure how. Unless she's talking about words like "hemorrhoid". I could have done without the description of her new underarm and pubic hair. Her chest is starting to grow, and Christopher keeps staring at it. Grody. And Chris has been having "nocturnal emissions". GROSS.
p220: And I guess no one ever gave Cathy the period talk. I'm sure that Christopher will take care of it when the time comes, since, you know, he's BRILLIANT.
p222: I was wrong -- Momma's there to give Cathy a 'woman-to-woman' talk. Sadly, I can't help but think that Christopher put her up to it. Are they ever going to try to escape? I'm getting mega-bored.
p225-6: Cathy just turned thirteen. And the twins turned six. And for their birthdays, they are treated to the stories of their uncles' deaths. Awesome. Chris and Cathy are finally getting around to teaching the twins to read and write.
p227: Momma only comes once or twice a week now.
p228: Summer again. So it's been a year. Or almost. I'm sure she'll let us know when the anniversary hits.
p230: Yeah, I hadn't even thought of that -- she clearly has a ton of money at her disposal -- why not just secretly send them to boarding school or something? They are spending A LOT of time clinging to each other while lying around on the mattress on the attic.
p231: What'd I tell you? It's been a year.
p233: PART TWO.
p235: New chapter: Growing Up, Growing Wiser. Remember in New Moon, how Bella was so depressed that there were just, like, six pages that represented the six months that had passed? I kind of wish that would happen here. Six pages, twelve pages, whatever, and then something along the lines of "We stabbed Momma and the grandmother with swords we found in the attic, took all of their jewelry, ran away, married people that we weren't even remotely related to and lived happily ever after. The End."
Still p235, after I actually started reading it: OH MY GOD THIS BOOK IS LIKE MAGIC. I ASK FOR SOMETHING AND IT HAPPENS! "Another year passed, much as the first did." V.C. Andrews, I want to turn the page and find a million dollar bill.
p236-8: Cathy has taken to practicing ballet naked in the bedroom by herself so she can admire her womanly body in the mirror. And she just caught Chris watching her. And he didn't stop or get embarrassed or anything! He just looked her up and down and up and down and she started to put her dress on and he told her not to and eeewwww I'm kind of relieved that the grandmother caught them.
p241: Sweet. The grandmother's ultimatum: either Chris cuts off Cathy's hair or none of them get to eat for a week.
p244: In the middle of the night the grandmother sneaks in, drugged Cathy, and poured hot tar on her head. What's the point of a battle of wills if you do something like that on the first night? Sheesh. I bet she doesn't feed them anyway.
p248: Chris the amazing scientist used his chemistry set to make potions to get the tar out of her hair. Now it's platinum and shinier than ever, though a bit thin.
p249: Now they're blockading the door at night and sleeping in a chair together to keep the grandmother from sneaking in again.
p250: But she isn't coming, so now they have no food and have run out of toilet paper and the toilet is overflowing and everything is terrible and the twins are still brats. You'd think that after two years in the attic, they'd be a little more used to hardship and a little less whiny, but no. And now Cathy has "scars on her soul". So do I, Cathy, so do I.
p251: Chris is now feeding the twins his own blood. I don't even have the strength to snark. Ooo, it's been two weeks. God forbid that they, I don't know, attempt to knock the door down or tie the bed sheets together and climb out the window or something. Jesus.
p252: Now Chris is saying that they'll use their sheet-ladder -- which they already apparently have(?) -- tomorrow if no one comes. WHY NOT NOW? I ask you.
p253: Oh, good. Now they're going to eat raw mice to gain the strength to lower the twins down through the window and escape. As the arsenic doughnuts haven't happened yet (one of the few things I remember about this book), I know it's all going to be for naught.
p254: Chris went away to get the salt and pepper (for the mice) and came back with a filled to the brim picnic basket. So who brought it? The grandmother or Momma? Oh. Must be the grandmother, because THERE ARE THE POWDERED DOUGHNUTS!! Don't eat them, kids! No, wait. Strike that. EAT THEM. EAT THE POISONED DOUGHTNUTS! Please, I beg you to put me out of my misery and end this book!!! Pleeeeeaaaase... *sob*.
p255: And Cathy and Chris have realized that they are now the twins' parents. Two years later, they've finally realized that their mom is a dirtbag. Nice. The grandmother smashed all of the mirrors while the kids were eating up in the attic.
p258: Now they're back to playing Monopoly.
p259: So Chris and Cathy are going to sneak out and go swimming. Chris says it will be good for them to practice using the sheet ladder "in case there's a fire". Here's a thought: WHY DON'T YOU ESCAPE? I think we've hit the point where the twins have become Soap Opera Children and they really only figure into the story when it's necessary.
p260: New chapter: A Taste of Heaven.
p261: Chris suggests skinny-dipping. Shocker.
p262: Christopher is also a FUTURE OLYMPIAN SWIMMER. If he wasn't such a perv, I'd suggest that he'd be a good match for Nancy Drew. Because obviously Veronica Mars would kick his ass.
p263: Now she's looking at his junk! And she used the phrase "hillock of his growing maleness"! And also "beginning to swell"! Auuuuuuuuuuugh!
p267: Cathy just suggested that they run away. Somehow I suspect that Chris will shoot her down.
p268: Nope. She almost fell off of the ladder and didn't mention escape again. And he's blaming himself for not remembering that she doesn't have much upper body strength. And now he's saying that they can't go again. Because building up upper body strength isn't a possibility? It's not like they have anything else to do up in the attic other than moon about and have incestuous thoughts about each other.
p271: New chapter: One Rainy Afternoon.
p273: Momma hasn't showed up in two months. I wonder if she re-married and just hightailed it out of there.
p274: Cathy's pushing for escape again and Chris is arguing that if they run away he won't be able to be a doctor. Yes, because it's so possible to go to med school when you live in a locked room. Ass. Oh, good. The grandmother just showed up.
p275: Rad. Christopher just told off the grandmother. Someone's going to get it.
p276: And now she's whipping Chris.
p277-8: And now Cathy's getting it, too, because she screamed. Oh, man. The whip broke and now she's beating her with a brush. But Cathy just keeps yelling insults until the grandmother knocks her out. I'm kind of impressed, despite myself. It's about time for someone to get pissed.
p279: Jebus. Now they're comforting each other. Naked. And kissing. Eeeeewwww. I can't believe I read this sketchiness in fifth grade. You are siblings! SIBLINGS!
p280-2: New chapter: To Find a Friend. So now Cory wants a pet mouse and they're splinting the broken leg of one that got caught in the mousetrap.
p283-4: The grandmother came with food and didn't tell them off for the many rules they were currently breaking. You know she's just biding her time.
p287: New chapter: At Last, Momma.
p288-9: They're trying the force the twins out on the roof because they aren't growing. It isn't going well.
p291: Momma's back.
p292-3: And shockingly, it's Christopher who's telling her off. In, of course, classically terrible V.C. Andrews-style dialogue that I just can't bring myself to transcribe. Know, though, that his words have "the impact of bullets".
p294: "Haven't I done the best I could by you? Where did I go wrong? What do you lack?" Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
p295: Now she's calling them ungrateful. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
p298: Momma's not coming back until the kids treat her "with love and respect again". Something tells me that she doesn't really want to come back.
p301: Oh good lord, I can't stand Christopher. He's so easily manipulated and SO VERY condescending and lordly. And also sexist.
p303: Now, after having a rage-fueled Kevin Bacon-style dance freakout, Cathy is on the roof considering suicide.
p304: Rats. She talked herself out of it.
p308-9: New chapter: Our Mother's Surprise. Note that she went from 'Momma' to 'Our Mother'. Classic character development. Anyway, Momma stayed away from them for ten days. And then came back and gave them her wonderful news: she's married. I TOTALLY CALLED THAT! Didn't I? I've already forgotten. Wait, let me check... YES. I TOTALLY CALLED IT. I wonder how hubbie will feel about his new wife having four secret children. The woman is insane.
p316: This book could have been a good two hundred pages shorter. Also, Christopher is a sexist jerk. But I've already mentioned that.
p318: Cathy's giving him a haircut to make him feel more manly.
p319: Gosh, I'm glad that Christopher gave Cathy such a detailed description of the haircut she just gave him. Why I do declare, I can picture it perfectly! BAH.
p320-3: Christopher Dollanganger, don't you know you shouldn't run with scissors? Oh, but then you can accidentally cut your sister and then have to take her shirt off to bandage her up. And then feel her up ("ever so cautiously") and MORE. Nice plotting, V.C. And also, GROOOOOSS.
p329: Now, finally, due to Cathy's nightmares, Christopher is convinced that they need to run away. Supposedly.
p330-3: Momma's still around, occasionally, and she's still ignoring the twins. But the kids swiped the key from her and pulled ye olde soap trick and now have a wooden copy (because, of course, Christopher is a champion whittler). But now they need money. So the plan is to steal something from the house. Somehow I don't see this going as planned.
p334: Christopher's been stealing money for a while now -- and it was just revealed that they're still receiving powdered sugar doughnuts in their daily basket.
p335: Cathy is finally seeing Momma's room. And if she didn't hate her before, she should now. I don't understand why they don't just steal the jewelry. Then again, how would they sell it? They are not the most resourceful of children -- unless the plotting necessitates it.
p339-41: Super. Now they're entranced by the Kama Sutra or something similar. But it ended up totally freaking them out.
p342: New chapter: My Stepfather. The kids are getting sick more and more often. I WONDER IF IT'S THE DOUGHNUTS?
p343: Oh, NOW she's thinking about stealing jewelry. Finally. Yeesh.
p344-7: Okay, if you were going to sneak around in a house and steal money, would you do it in an extremely short "transparent blue nightie"? Really? And when you found your stepfather dozing in the room, would you stand around staring at him and then KISS HIM before standing around for ages while trying to decide whether or not to wake him up and tell him the truth? No? You would have escaped three hundred pages ago? Hmmm. Yeah, I'm with you.
p348: Age update: Cathy is fifteen, the twins are eight, though their growth is stunted and they've only grown a couple of inches since their imprisonment began.
p350: Things are getting dull again. The twins are asking asinine questions. Poisoned doughnuts, I'm begging you: work faster. Please?
p351-6: Blah blah blah, Christopher, just GET TO THE POINT. Okay, the short version: Momma and Bart came back and Christopher hid in the closet and Momma and Bart argued and Bart wants to move out because someone's been stealing his money but that he'd had a dream while he dozed about a sweet blonde girl who kissed him while he slept and Momma wasn't too happy about that. Oookay. Now Christopher's all pissed that Cathy kissed another guy EVEN THOUGH HE'S HER BROTHER, HELLO and he's yelling that she's his and, yep. There it is. Rape scene. Gross.
p357: Now they're on the roof, crying on each other. So now they're going to be EVEN MORE tortured and shameful and guilt-ridden and annoying. Fab. Oh, good lord, MAKE IT STOP!!
p361: New chapter: Color All Days Blue, But Save One For Black.
p362: Now Christopher is saying he's in lurrve with Cathy for real and that he doesn't want anyone else. Perhaps he's forgotten that they're siblings. They're planning the big haul for tonight. But now Cory's barfing. IS it the poisoned doughnuts? Just in case we weren't aware of how effed up this little family is, Cory now calls Cathy 'Momma'.
p363: If she compares the twins to stunted plants one more time, I'm going to throw this book across the room.
p365: Cory will only eat the doughnuts, and sadly Mr. Brilliant still hasn't figured out what is making him so sick. And no one ever got suspicious about the doughnuts in the first place, even though the grandmother was so dead-set against them having anything cavity-causing.
p366: Now the grandmother and Momma are having a conference about what to do -- because it isn't obvious or anything. Well, I guess it isn't, since it's one of them who's doing the poisoning. It isn't Momma, is it? It's the grandmother. Right? Man, it would be an awesome twist if they were cahoots.
p367: Momma slapped Cathy! Twice! For daring to suggest that Cory needed medical attention and that maybe Momma should think that someone other than herself! And Cathy slapped her back! YES! And then told her that she was going to seek revenge! DOUBLE YES! (I have not been drawn into the soap opera despite the terrible writing. I swear.)
p368: And it was the grandmother who agreed with Cathy, who said that Cory needed to go to a hospital. Though I obviously don't think they'll do anything but dump the kid in a ditch.
p369: Cathy and Carrie are back to sitting in Chris' lap in the rocking chair. Super.
p371: And then there were three.
p372: As you may imagine, I am witnessing much gnashing of teeth, beating of breasts and many oceans of tears cried. (To give her credit, she only used that last cliche.)
p377: New chapter: Escape. OMIGOD THANK THE LORD. Chris has finally gone to steal the jewels.
p380: Damn. All of the jewelry was gone, except Momma's old wedding & engagement rings, which he took. Momma and Bart moved out. Will my escape from this book never come?
p384: Chris discovered that the grandmother wears a wig. Fat lot of good that'll do them.
p386: And he searched the library. Nothing there either.
p388-92: It looks like the grandfather might be dead -- might have been dead for a long time. Luckily, Chris was in the right place at the right time to overhear a conversation between the butler and a lady. Yep, the grandfather has been dead for a year. And then Christopher describes AT LENGTH what the butler and his lady sounded like while they had sex.
p393: If Cathy was any stupider she'd be brain dead.
p396: New chapter: Endings, Beginnings. I have high hopes because this chapter contains the word 'end'. Then again, the last chapter was called Escape, and they still haven't escaped. Goddammit. I wish there was beer in the house. FINALLY. Christopher has figured out the arsenic-covered doughnuts thing.
p398: Thank goodness. I found a beer way at the back of the fridge. Now they're going to test their arsenic theory on the pet mouse. HERE'S A THOUGHT: WHY BOTHER? JUST RUN AWAY NOW. THEN THE BOOK WOULD BE TWELVE PAGES SHORTER AND MY LIFE WOULD BE MY OWN AGAIN. And there we have it. The mouse is dead.
p403: And they're out. But the book just keeps going.
p408: Turns out that the servants ALSO said (because why wouldn't they talk about it while enjoying a quickie in the library) that if it turns out that Momma had children by her half-uncle, that the inheritance would be forfeit. And that if she has children by her second marriage, same deal. So the grandfather is tormenting her from BEYOND THE GRAVE. Serves her right. HA. I was totally right. It was the mother who was poisoning them.
p410: And Cathy decides not to pursue revenge. Rats.
THE END. If nothing else, at least no one who reads this will ever have to put themselves through the misery of reading the entire book.
I read this book for the V.C. Andrews Challenge.