Oh my goodness, I have missed V.C. Andrews like a young boy misses the comforting feeling of his Fleshlight after his dad reappropriates it for his own use.
Did the previous sentence make you recoil a bit in grossed-out horror? Good, then you're ready to get back into the swing of things.
Just as an aside, you guys should check out some of the comments left on the last Flowers in the Attic post. They are AMAZING. It turns out, people LOVE Flowers in the Attic? It, like, touched them deep inside, in the tiniest cell in their heart, and they do NOT like people making fun of their favorite book. Wellll . . . buckle up, cheeseheads, cause Incest is Back!
Right. Let's get back on the incest horse!! Hopefully it doesn't buck us off. (That's my Derby Weekend reference; YOU ARE WELCOME.)
First, some housekeeping notes! The rules of the drinking game have remained much the same; however, we have obviously had to make a few additions now that Cathy, Chris and Carrie are out in the wild. Therefore . . .
The Petals On the Wind Drinking Game
Drink once anytime:
• you read the words 'blonde', 'blue-eyed', 'attic' or 'free'
anytime there is mention of Cathy's ambitions to dance or Chris's ambitions to be a doctor
anytime the words "black" or "fat" are used to describe Henrietta Beech
• anytime Henrietta writes something down to communicate with the kids
• during any incidence of incest, until said incest has stopped
• anytime Carrie cries or pitches a fit
• during any scene in which Julian appears, for the length of that scene
• anytime Cathy has sexual relations with any person
Take a shot every time:
• Paul pervs on Cathy
• Paul mentions his dead wife and son
• Cathy talks, or thinks, about being locked in the attic
Just go ahead and finish the entire bottle:
• when Cathy has the miscarriage during her audition and bleeds all over the wood floor
• when Paul tells Cathy to "come" and she doesn't know what he's talking about
• when Julian breaks Cathy's toes
• during the "whipping and tarring" scene
I've also made a few small changes to the format of these reviews. After learning that, apparently, people LEGITIMATELY LOVE V.C. ANDREWS and that I am a drunk hillbilly with no taste (true, true and occassionally true; at least if the contents of myNetflix Streaming list have anything to say about it), I set out to discover what elements of this book would cause people to passionately defend it. So I've replaced the Creepiness award (cause let's be honest; everyone in these books are creepy) with "I Can See Why People Like This Book, Because ______." Look at me! Positivity!
Okay! Let's get it!
Chapter One: Free, at Last!
Number of Drinks Taken: 14
Number of Drinks Chugged: 6
Number of Shots: 3
Chapter Summary: Well, gosh! We finally did it! We finally escaped the attic! We're free! Free, free, free! Let me talk about how free we are! Have I mentioned that we're free? We're like a lady's vagina after she douches with Summer's Eve and walks down the beach! Just free and easy, that's us!
Chris, Carrie and I board a bus that will take us down to Florida so that we can fulfill our goals of being trapeze artists! Because what you want to do after spending four years locked in an attic and lusting after your brother is join the CIRCUS and share a tiny wagon with the Wolf-Faced Boy.
Carrie keeps messing up our plans, as usual, because she gets super sick and starts puking all over the place. The mean ol' bus driver gets mad at us, on account of how Carrie's puke is grossing out the other passengers that are sitting on this un-air-conditioned bus, but then a big, fat lady comes over and offers to help us. Lordy, I've never seen a bigger, fatter lady. And her skin is dark, too! I am so shocked by this! THIS IS DEFINITELY THE WEIRDEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED IN MY LIFE, THIS BLACK LADY'S EXISTENCE.
Henrietta - that's the big, fat lady - writes us notes in her notebook, on account of how she can't talk. Chris and I spend some time discussing how Henrietta can't talk while she's right in front of us, because we are the biggest assholes on this whole planet, bar none.
Henrietta finally scolds the driver into dropping us off at this big white mansion. Henrietta works for this doctor named Paul, and he keeps looking at my breasts! That's not weird at all!
Dr Pervert examines us all and declares that we are very sick with something, but he doesn't know what. He threatens to hospitalize Carrie unless we come clean, so we tell him all about being locked in an attic and how Mama poisened us andour mouse with arsenic. But we don't mention Cory, cause Chris doesn't want our lying, conniving, incestuous murderous mother to look bad. Dr Pervert agrees to let us all stay for free until we get well if I will help out with the cooking and cleaning. Chris, of course, doesn't have to do anything but study.
I Can See Why People Like This Book, Because: Chris, Cathy and Carrie's escape from the mansion of their endless lament so totally emulates the courageous struggle of slaves in the United States as they escaped to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Right? I mean, that's why V.C. Andrews chose to quote the inimitable Dr King at the start of a book in which a girl fucks her way to vengeance, when not sleeping with her creepy brother or creepy legal guardian. Right? Because a rich white asshole who likes money enough to hide her kids away in an attic is totally just as evil as a bunch of rich white assholes who like profit margins enough to kidnap, enslave, beat, torture, breed and kill an entire section of the population for hundreds of years! THANK YOU, V.C. Andrews, for bringing the slaves' plight home to us in the form of some blonde, rich, Aryan douchenozzles who can't keep their dicks in their pants around members of their own family; you've really touched me. Deep, deep inside.
Deep inside, where my nausea center is housed.
Notes from the Margin:
I was fifteen. The year was 1960 . . . I wanted everything, needed everything . . .
The worst thing about this quote is that it's just similar enough to the intro to Dirty Dancing ("It was the summer of 1963, when everyone called me Baby and it never occurred to me to mind") that it causes me PHYSICAL PAIN. You know how Pavlov could make a dog slobber with the ring of a bell? If I get trained to start wincing at Dirty Dancing, one of the greatest movies of all time, I AM GOING TO SUE SOMEONE.
Damn you, Momma! I hope Foxworth Hall burns to the ground! I hope you never sleep a comfortable night in that grand swan bed, never again! I hope your young husband finds a mistress younger and more beautiful than you!
FORESHADOWING! I don't think it works as a narrative device when you spell out EXACTLY what your main character is going to do, V.C. Andrews.
"Put the napkins in the crevice between the seat and the side of the bus," whispered Chris . . .
THAT IS GROSS. Fucking THROW YOUR PUKE NAPKINS AWAY, assholes!
He appeared dazzled, slightly drunk, and much too sleepy to put on his customary professional mask that would keep him from darting his eyes from my face to my breasts, then to my legs before he scanned slighhtly upward.
Oh, OF COURSE. Of course this random stranger is already obsessed with Cathy - a sixteen year old malnourished child - because Cathy has the most magical vagina in all the land! It's the Venus Flytrap of vaginas; it just lures the men in with its intoxicating aroma, or whatever.
My clothes felt damp and miserable, and suddenly I remembered why. Quickly I stood to unzip and remove my filthy outer skirt. I felt quite pleased to see the doctor start in surprise.
Cathy, do you think it's possible to meet ONE guy in a position of authority (rather real authority or pretend authority) who you DON'T want to get it on with? Just one? I mean, I'm not asking for a lot, here; I don't think. I have, let's say, 200 men of my general acquaintance and I'm only trying to sit on the faces of 32 of them. A little discretion, pumpkin. It's all I'm asking.
"No," I snapped. "I can't cook. I'm a dancer. When I'm a famous prima ballerina I'll hire a woman to do the cooking, like you do."
Oh, Christ Jesus, beer me the strength. Listen, Cathy, you pompous asshole: learn how to cook for yourself. I don't care if your version of cooking is "microwaving a Lean Pocket;" learn to cook for your own damn self. And ALSO, uh, I think you need to VASTLY change your understanding of how much money professional dancers make. VASTLY.
Chapter Two: A New Home
Number of Drinks Taken: 9
Number of Drinks Chugged: 4
Number of Shots: 2
Chapter Summary: It was only a few weeks ago that we were nearly dead from powdered donut overdose. But now that we're staying at Dr Pervert's house, we're getting so much better! Why, Carrie only cries part of the time now, and she isn't throwing up nearly so often! And Chris and I are feeling better too, better enough to wrestle sexily!
Carrie and I have moved into a lovely girl's room, with pretty patterned wallpaper and no paintings of demons giving each other blow jobs, or whatever. So that's nice! Especially cause now there isn't any bad artwork to spoil the mood when my brother puts his tongue in my mouth! Which he just keeps doing! For no apparent reason except to make Erin drink more!
Dr Pervert wants us to stay forever and be his family, mostly so we can replace his wife and son, who died several years ago. I can't see anything that will ever go wrong with this scenario! So Chris, Carrie and I all decide to stay, Hooray!
I Can See Why People Like This Book, Because: It shows brokenhearted people how easy it is to love again! Think about it! Poor Dr Pervert lost his wife and child in a tragic car accident* and Cathy dumped her brother after he raped her, but look! Fate has brought them together! And now they can learn to love inappropriately, all over again! You know what they say; if at first you don't succeed, keep fucking inappropriate people whose well-being you are responsible for!
Notes from the Margin:
Then without even knowing how it came about, we were in each other's arms and he was kissing me. Kissing me with such ardent fervor it made me respond when I didn't want to.
Stoooooooooop. PLEASE STOP PLEASE. PLEASE STOP KISSING EACH OTHER. You're putting me off kissing, and kissing is my third favorite activity of all time! Soon I will have nothing left! Are you going to take sleeping and napping away from me too?
She was the first black person I'd known, and though at first I'd felt ill-at-ease with her and a little afraid of her, two weeks of intimacy had taught me much. She was just another human being of another race and color, with the same sensitivities, hopes and fears that we all had.
Wow. I didn't think anything could make me feel grosser than Chris and Cathy making out, but this just did it! But gosh, Cathy, I am super glad I get to hear your thoughts about race! And I'm so glad to learn that this scary Black lady won your approval and basic respect by being, like, a person! How congenial of her! Considering that 98% of the people you already know are either rapists, murderers or child abusers, you'd think that MAYBE some of the people you DON'T know might actually be better than them?
"Chris, he's just lonely. Maybe he only watches me because there isn't anything as interesting to watch as me."
OH MY GOD. Cathy, you are the WORST. You honestly think that your awful legal guardian is perving after you because, what, his backyard garden lacks cohesiveness and color? WHAT KIND OF AWFUL VICTIM BLAMING IS THIS? Um, Cathy, he is staring at you because he is a GROSS PERVERT. THE END.
" . . .I accept the fact that you three are godsent to help me make up for the mistakes I've made in the past."
Wellll, first of all, Dr Pervert, if they ARE godsent, then God is the worst diety EVS. That, or he just really actively hates you. Because those three? Are not a reward.
And second, it's be better if history repeated itself now and everyone drowned themselves in the river. Right now. Please.
How could a stranger come so easily into our lives and give us love, when our own blood kin had sought to give us death?
Probably because your blood kin actually knows you. The stranger isn't so unlucky yet.
Chapter Three: Life's Second Chance
Number of Drinks Taken: 12
Number of Drinks Chugged: 6
Number of Shots: 3
Chapter Summary: Jeepers, life is just so great! We're going to start school soon! School! We don't have to go in lower grades or anything cause of how well we taught ourselves while we were in the attic! Cause if there's anything that teenagers do well, it's buckling down and doing their schoolwork without any outside influence.
Dr Pervert tells us that he's started the legal proceedings to formally take guardianship of us! That's awful swell of him, but he can't do it unless Mama gets notified! So a lawyer has to send Mama a letter telling her all about how we've escaped and where we live now! What if she comes back for us? What if she decides to completely go against her known character and throw away her fortune and publicly claim us as her children and then lock us up in the attic again for no reason at all? I will devote several pages of angst by making this shaky-as-fuck premise an actual plot point in my novel!
But that's not all that's going on, no sir! Dr Pervert takes us school shopping!! It's so much fun; we go to a mall and everything!! Of course, it is not without its drama; Carrie pitches a fit when the awful saleslady tries to dress her in toddler clothes (on account of how small she is, you know). Lord, she cries and cries and cries, because she doesn't want to be dressed in pastel colors! She wants red and purple, because Carrie has the fashion sense of Perpetual Austin Mayoral Candidate, Leslie! Eventually, Dr Pervert decides that he'll just buy a whole lot of fabric and that I will make Carrie's clothes for her! Me! This is incredibly unfair!
Meanwhile, I clean the store out of all their cosmetics, buying only what I have seen on Mama's dresser, right down to the anti-aging creams! And I bought my first bra! So maybe now Chris can stop staring at my tits all the time!
Ha ha ha, just kidding! We totally accidentally sexy wrestle for a while. But then Chris puts his mouth on my breasts - again!- and I run away. I tell him, "Chris, we have to try to be normal! And infect other people with our gross emotional and sexual baggage!" But he just won't listen to me! La! I think I am just too pretty! That's probably the problem! Maybe if I were uglier, like the people who read this book, my brother wouldn't be so in love with me!
I Can See Why People Like This Book, Because: Shopping Montage! The only thing better than a shopping montage on TV is a shopping montage in real life, but if you can't have either of those, then reading about a shopping montage in a book will have to do. As soon as I realized that I was about to read a narrative of an actual shopping montage, I immediately put the book down, turned on my PC, and made a special Shopping Montage playlist in iTunes. Lots of Cyndi Lauper, songs from the Pretty Woman soundtrack, (still the best shopping montage of all time. "You work on commission, right? Big mistake. Big. Huge! I have to go shopping noooowwww!"); you know, just really upbeat shopping montage-worthy music.
But then it turned into some sort of emofest about fucking Carrie and her fucking malnutrition, or whatever, and Cathy's stupid obsession with her mother's tits, so I had to put on Elliot Smith and Bright Eyes* instead. This was, like, a shopping montage for people who hate joy. And I bet there are a lot of folks out there who do in fact hate joy, so they would totally love this book.
*Ha ha, just kidding, like I have any fucking Bright Eyes on my iTunes!
Notes from the Margin:
At last we were going to be normal kids. Then, when I felt tentatively secure, Carrie let out a howl to shatter crystal palaces in London!
Um. London has crystal palaces? I wasn't aware. The Queen sits her royal romp on a crystal toilet when she wants to go to the bathroom? I would think that would be highly uncomfortable! And also, you know. Not for nothin', but I don't think I trust Beatrice or Eugenie in a crystal palace. Shit's gonna go down in a circumstance like that.
Dr Paul soothed her. "Darling, I adore blond girls with blue eyes in pastels, so why not wait until you're older to wear all those brilliant colors?"
Ugh, way to go, Dr Pervert. Look, okay, if the kid is pitching a fit then one may try bargaining in some way. But one PROBABLY shouldn't make the bargaining sound like the intro paragraph to a book called "How To Abuse Your Parenting Position By Being a Super-Creepy Child Molestor." I'm just saying.
She'd try to forget that we ever existed. Well, she wouldn't forget. I'd see to it that she didn't. This very Christmas I would send her a card, and sign it with this, "From the four Dresden dolls you didn't want," and I had to change that to "The tree alive Dresden dolls you didn't want, plus the dead one you carried away and never brought back." I could see her staring at that card, thinking to herself, I only did what I had to do.
Uh, no. She's probably going to be staring at that card and thinking, "Thank God these brats ran away. What the fuck kind of maudlin Christmas card is this?"
But every fairy tale had a dragon to slay, a witch to overcome or some obstacle to make things difficult. I tried to look ahead and figure out who would be the dragon, and what would be the obstacles. All along I knew who was the witch. And that was the saddest part of being me.
Really? Really? That's the saddest part of being you? That your mother is a psychotic bitch? Not, say, that your brother is continuously warm for your form or that your now-legal guardian keeps wanting to look underneath your sweater, or even that your other brother is dead and your sister looks almost as worrying as Kristen Chenoweth looks right now? (Seriously, did you guys see her on this week's Glee, which I continue to watch mostly because I hate myself? It's . . . not good.)
I mean, look, I've known people with crappy moms before. (Not me! My mom is the best! Happy Mother's Day, Mommy; I love you! Sorry about all the cussing all the time!!) And they might think that their crappy moms are the worst things about being them, but they also have, like, normal people problems, like a fear of commitment or low self-esteem or the overwhelming urge to eat five hamburgers in one sitting anytime they get reminded of their mothers' comments about their weight. They don't HAVE SEX WITH THEIR SIBLINGS! Listen, Cathy, maybe you're confused about life; I get that. But let me help you out here: THE SADDEST THING ABOUT BEING YOU IS THAT YOU EXIST.
I couldn't go to sleep. I kept hearing him calling me, wanting me. I got up and drifted down the hall and again got in his bed, where he lay waiting. "You'll never be free of me, Cathy, never. As long as you live, it will be me and you."
I love that it isn't enough that Chris JUST be an incestuous douchebag rapist. No, no, he has to be an incestuous douchebag rapist who makes telenovelo actors look unaffected. Tell me you didn't picture the two of them clutching each other whilst dramatically pressing their hands over their hearts and looking a bit like they were shitting blood?
Chapter Four: Visions of Sugarplums
Number of Drinks Taken: 14
Number of Drinks Chugged: 8
Number of Shots: 18
Chapter Summary: It's Christmas! Christmas is the time when we celebrate the day that Santa Claus imprisoned the Baby Jesus in an attic in a manger so that he could collect Mary and Joseph's large inheritance.
This Christmas is super-special, because we finally have a real tree with real presents that we get to unwrap downstairs will real people who aren't trying to kill us! I mean, they're still trying to fuck us - at least Dr Pervert is - but still!
Chris, Carrie and I bought Dr Pervert a nice robe and Big Fat Henny a giant tent dress. And Dr Pervert bought us all tickets to see the Nutcracker!! It turns out that thee is a super-great Russian ballet school here in this tiny town in South Carolina! This is so exciting!
We go to the ballet and I get to meet the ballet teacher, Madame Rosencoff! Chris tells her that I'm a great dancer and she asks me to audition! I'm not ready! I haven't practiced in months! What will I do?
Christmas is just so fun that I can't sleep. So I go downstairs to lay under the tree for a while. Chris is already there, so we decide to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ the traditional way: with sexy sex times. Of course, it's not appropriate to fuck your brother in a place where anyone could just walk in, so we go up to my room, since it's not like witnessing her siblings having sex will screw her up even more.
But then I change my mind, which means that it's time for Chris to shift into rapist mode. As we're struggling with each other, we fall off the bed and Chris discovers my secret stash of food under the bed. I'm just like Britney Murphy in Girl, Interrupted! DON'T TAKE MY CHICKEN AWAY!
Chris and I fight and I tell him I'm never going to have sex with him if he moves away to go to school! Because I never want to have sex with him unless I can use it to manipulate him in some way!
I Can See Why People Like This Book, Because: Who doesn't love Christmas? It's the most magical time of the year! And it's even more magical when you can witness two siblings so close! It's just what Jesus would have wanted, right? For people to celebrate His birthday by attempting to rape their siblings?
Notes from the Margin:
Chris and I had used the last of our stolen hoard of money to buy Paul a luscious, red lounging robe, and a brilliant gown of ruby red velvet for Henny - size fifty-eight!
OKAY WE GET IT. SHE IS THE LARGEST LADY EVER IN THE WHOLE WORLD EVER. O.KAY.
"You have studied the daunce?" (Always she said "daunce," as if it had a "u.")
Oh, great. Someone even more pretentious than Cathy. Hooray.
"There's not a dancer on that stage tonight who is as good as Cathy! Not one! That girl out there, playing the lead role of Clara - sometimes she is out of time with the music - Cathy is never out of time! Her timing is perfect; her ear is perfect. Even when Cathy dances to the same melody, each time she varies it just a little, so she never duplicates, always improves to make it better, and more beautiful, and more touching."
Okay, we get it, we get it. Cathy is beautiful and perfect and wonderful and the best fucking thing that has ever happened to anything in the entire world. She is the very best dancer in the entire world and she has never needed anything like instruction or workshops or critiques! She shits gold bricks and then laces up her pointe shoes and then dances on those bricks.
"How can I find anyone else, when you've been bred into my bones - and are part of my flesh!"
Chris, that's why you GIVE YOUR SIBLINGS A KIDNEY. NOT YOUR PENIS. Let me see if I can help you here:
Things You Can Do With Your Siblings:
• Argue about who your parents love more, them or you
• Ask to be bailed out of jail
• Make your parents breakfast that is burned on one side and undercooked on the other and snicker when they eat it to protect your feelings, like, SUCKAS
• Compare Christmas presents
• Donate organs
• Make funny toasts at each other's weddings
Things You Can Not Do With Your Siblings:
• Fuck them
"Not here," he said between kisses. "Upstairs, in my room."
"No! I'm your sister - and your room is too near Paul's. He'd hear us."
Um. That's not . . . that's not really equal reasoning, Cathy. You don't want to have sex with him because he's your brother . . . but if you are going to have sex you should do it where Dr Pervert can't hear you? THIS LOGIC DOES NOT RESEMBLE EARTH LOGIC.
Later, as I lay alone on my bed with my eyes open, I realized from the hopeless, flat way I felt that even in a valley without mountains the wind could still blow.
Um, what? WHAT? What does that even mean? First of all, it's not a valley if there aren't hills or mountains next to it! And second, HOW DID THIS SHIT GET PUBLISHED?
Listen, ladies and Brian. I bet a few of you have dreamed of writing books. Some of you even have! Maybe some of you have been working on a manuscript; maybe some of you have been too afraid to start. But I am here to tell you; don't be afraid! Don't think you can't do it! You can! Not because you're an amazing, natural-born writer; I don't know if you are or not. But because no matter WHO you are or even how poorly you write, IT HAS TO BE BETTER THAN THIS SHIT.
Chapter Five: The Audition
Number of Drinks Taken: 8
Number of Drinks Chugged: 6
Number of Shots: 2
Bottle Finished: 1
Chapter Summary: It's time for the audition! I'm so nervous! What if they don't like me? Then they'll be like everyone else in the world!
At the auditions, I meet a cocky young man named Julian, who dances in New York. He's going to dance with me in my Sleeping Beauty duet! Of course I pick Sleeping Beauty to dance, because a tale of a young girl who does nothing but lay around and wait for a boy to rescue her sounds exactly right!
My cue begins and I dance and dance and just when I reach the point of my lift, I am seized with a horrible pain! And there's so much blood! What is going on?
I wake up later in the hospital! I'm so ashamed! Chris tells me that I needed a D&C because I've missed so many periods that all the uterine tissue had built up! That sounds totally logical and not at all like an excuse to make me feel better for miscarrying the baby that I'm pretty sure my brother implanted into me!
But that's not the scariest part, of course. The scariest part is that I ruined my audition! But then I get flowers from Madame Rosencoff and I've been accepted into her academy! This is the happiest day of my life!
I Can See Why People Like This Book, Because: Everyone knows that ballet is totally boring. There should definitely be more spontaneous miscarriages during ballet scenes! What ballet is missing is placenta; I've always said this.
Notes from the Margin:
"Follow me,"she ordered, and off she strode, her strong legs heavily muscled. How had she let that come about? I was never going to be on pointe so much my legs would look lumpy like hers- never!
So, let me get this straight, Cathy. You want to dance. All we ever hear about is how much you fucking want to dance. Dance, dance, motherfucker, dance. But you don't want to dance so much that your legs become - horror of horrors! - muscular. You don't want the muscles that support you, lift you, allow you to walk and run and jete and pirouette to, I dunno, make themselves known?
God, I hate her.
A touch on my arm made me jump. Whirling about I confronted Julian Marquet. "Break a leg," he whispered, then smiled to show his very white and perfect teeth.
I am interrupting my current chugging (mmm, mojitos!) to say: "Hiccup!" Also, HAI JULIAN.
. . . I was halfway to him when a terrible pain seized my abdomen! I doubled over and cried out! At my feet was a huge pool of blood! Blood streamed down my legs; it stained my pink shoes, my leotards. I slipped and fell to the floor, and grew so weak I could only lie there and hear the screams.
Aw, I just wanted to give you guys an excuse to finish your drinks. You're welcome!
Though, I will say this: this scene HORRIFIED me as a child. HORRIFIED. I have kept this scene - and the description of all the blood - in my head for like 20 years! So, um, thanks, V.C. Andrews?
"It's . . . a procedure in which a woman is dilated, and an instrument called a currette is used to scrape waste material from the lining of the uterus. Those missed periods of yours must have clotted and then broke free."
Chris, if you truly believe that's how periods work you are going to be the DUMBEST DOCTOR EVER. I'd say that I really hope you don't end up going into gynecology, so that you aren't selling that hogwash to actual patients, but I don't think I need to hurry. The only vagina you'll ever be interested in is your sister's.
Okay, guys, that's it for this month!! When we pick up, we get to go to school! PLUS both Chris and Carrie end up being sent away to schools out of town! Gee, I wonder why Dr Pervert would want to remove all the other kids from the house . . .