Petals on the Wind – Still Dusty, Less a Favorite

I remember reading this for the first time as a young teen. I remember being sad because I didn’t like it as much as I expected to. Now, many years later, I totally get why that is…I no longer like Cathy AT ALL. I can no longer empathize with Chris. I find them more icky than intriguing. Is that understandable given the circumstances they face in Book 1 and 2? Eh, I don’t think so. I just don’t.

Unbelievable bit 1: Adoption – I was totally bummed that their plans to join the circus after leaving Foxworth Hall were completely derailed within the first twenty pages. I mean, Chris and Cathy really didn’t have to do that to support themselves, but to see them fend for themselves for a while before shacking up with a stranger would have been realistic and nice. And I see that they really needed to get to a doctor fast for Carrie, but it all just plays out as too convenient. Blah.

Unbelievable bit 2: School – Then Chris gets to go to an accelerated college/med school program even though they haven’t been to ACTUAL school in three years. Cathy gets to be the top ballerina in her hick town because she’s just that darn talented even though she didn’t have any formal lessons while in the attic or even before that back in Gladstone! And Carrie places into third grade even though Chris and Cathy spent all of five minutes teaching the twins their letters up in the attic? As far as I can remember, those twins never even learned to read or do basic math, so…yeah right.

Unbelievable bit 3: Sending Carrie away when they should all be sticking together – The child has just been poisoned by her family, lost her twin brother, discovered she is freakishly proportioned, and left the only home she’s ever known…to be sent off to deal with life and her abnormally large head and little body ALONE? Um, Cathy, I’m pretty sure you spent ALL of the last book calling Carrie something akin to “your own daughter” and promising that you’d never let your children be cast aside. Hmm…sounds like you might be like some other mother we know.

Unbelievable bit 4: Carrie’s death – Oh, and weird-headed, insecure Carrie FINALLY gets someone to love her, but then kills herself. This makes no sense. And no one really notices! It isn’t nearly as traumatic as it should be as Carrie has become only a minor character in Cathy’s world of insanity and narcissism. Even Cathy just keeps her icky hair in purple and red bows and hires a babysitter for the kid. She doesn’t even get the two pages of reminiscence Cory does in book one.

Unbelievable bit 5: Cathy’s irresistibility to men – Ahem…how to put this nicely? Cathy totally throws herself at all the men she sees in this book…this includes her brother Chris (which isn’t TOO surprising), her mother’s husband Bart, her dancing partner Julian, and her foster father Paul. I get that our narrator is emotionally damaged and needs love and all that, but really. She encourages relationships with men who are bad for her and then walks out on them at the last minute for another guy. And every time, the men still pine for her. I’m pretty sure there is a nasty name for that type of behavior in a girl. And, I’m pretty sure guys don’t hang around waiting for a girl like that, however pretty and off-her-rocker CRAZY she might be, to do it to them again.

Unbelievable bit 6: Every problem in the history of the world is all Corrine’s fault – I do get the whole need for revenge against the mother and grandmother thing, but that takes such a backseat to all the OTHER stuff Cathy does. This makes no sense of course, but it does show how Cathy is losing her grip on reality. In fact, everything Cathy does wrong is her mother’s fault…okay, up to a point, I see why she’d say this, but then she hasn’t seen her mom in like ten years! After a point, wouldn’t she just have to grow up and take responsibility for her actions, no matter how sucky her parents were? Of course not, because it is working out so well for her this way! Oh, and she’s INSANE.

But still, Julian’s death is her mom’s fault? Her own impulsivity? And the enmity between Paul and Chris, really? Corrine never even met Paul or Julian! In fact, Cathy blaming her mother becomes so laughable I started highlighting those lines that show out of touch with reality she is. For example, she acknowledges:

“I wanted [Chris] with me always–just the nearness of him, the confidence he gave me–nothing else. I was trying to balance my time between Chris and Paul, to give each of them enough, but not too much. I watched the jealousy between them grow, and felt it was none of my fault — only Momma’s! As everything wrong in my life was her fault.” WTH?

Unbelievable bit 7 – The ever so important/unimportant kids and…a picnic hamper – Oh, and did I mention, Cathy’s such an impeccable ballerina she becomes almost famous? But then she puts that off to have children without a second thought? Such a good mother! Well, at least until her child gets in the way of her revenge plan and gets dropped with a nanny or maybe left at the abandoned ballet school (poor Jory!) or becomes her NEXT revenge plan (poor, poor Bart Jr.!) And THEN…crazy girl marries her impotent (but later not) adoptive father and buys a picnic hamper and puts beds up in the attic? Now, whose fault is that, Cathy? Ugh, I HATE this girl.  Blargh…I just can’t stomach this book at all and now I remember why it took me years to actually read book three in the series, If There Be Thorns

Hopefully, it won’t take me that long this time, even though it isn’t really looking too promising. I don’t want to read this one and my copy is so raggedy, the cover pages have fallen off (it has one of those cool keyhole covers that I so love about this series, but apparently make them very fragile).  And there is that whole Shatter Me challenge to worry about…

Oh, and I forgot UNBELIEVABLE BIT NUMBER ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY (and the number one reason these books annoy me) – The author keeps mentioning things in passing that were never part of the book. She refers to these things as if they were actual scenes (often in arguments) but then makes no further reference to them and no explanation as to why they appeared in the first place. Again, lazy writing, inserting things of convenience in your narrative but never going back and including the kernels that would make them plausible…ugh.


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7 Responses to Petals on the Wind – Still Dusty, Less a Favorite

  1. Tarah Dunn says:

    I love that you’re rereading and reviewing these V.C. Andrews books! Such a fun idea. I remember being scandalized and addicted in middle school to this series. It’s really bizarre that they were marketed to teenagers, which of course makes younger kids aspire to read them. My Sweet Audrina scared me so much.

    • shelleybean1 says:

      My thoughts exactly, ladies! My Sweet Audrina is next up after I finish the Flowers 5, and I guess Shatter Me so my sister doesn’t strangle me or something if I fail to meet her challenge 🙂

  2. Re: Unbelievable bit 6: this is totally the thing I noticed most about all the books after FitA. The kids really *were* the victims in the first book. Everything thereafter, they did to themselves.

  3. shelleybean1 says:

    Too true. When did the ghostwriter step in, Fifth? You mentioned you might post your feelings about that, but I don’t remember seeing it yet (love your blog, btw). Maybe it’s HIS fault (after all, if that shameless promotional quote on his book cover is any indication, fact checking/plausibility seriously aren’t all that important to him…)

    Still, it doesn’t seem unreasonable it would still be Andrews herself as she often did similar things (is this fiction or nonfiction?) and let whole plot arcs die and others burst out of nowhere…could totally have been her.

    • The ghostwriter has always been really hush-hush about where exactly he took over. I think he probably picked it up permanent-like around the third or fourth book of the Casteel series. I also sort of suspect that there were rough drafts for both Garden of Shadows and Web of Dreams and that he might have just polished those two up, or even finished them, since there are still big swathes of those two that read in Andrews’s style. (The framing device in WoD in particular reads like different author.)

      But this is more Baseless Speculation. Both the publishers and the ghostwriter have clamped down hard on who wrote what. It is a meeeestery.

      • shelleybean1 says:

        I’ll watch for those sections on my next re-read. I do remember, even as a kid, thinking that they just didn’t “feel” right.

  4. Neisha says:

    Here is more reason you should dislike Cathy. Just joking. This book is about understanding someone like her. All those things you mentioned make her very dislikable and rightly so. Look at little deeper. How can Julian have committed suicide if he was paralysed neck down (he tells Cathy he can’t feel her hand on his chest)? Why did Cathy have sex with Paul when she was with Chris? And she puts a candle in the attic to let the house catch on fire, the incident that Bart dies (find the clues). She must tell them she loves them before they die so they can forgive her. Bart dies before that.and how did She know how many doughnuts Carrie consumed(when she hits the grandmother)? Please read the last paragraph in the the Siren call of the mountains( petals on the Wind) when she runs to Carrie’s room sataing the wind will take carry before her. The package was had just one bitten doughnut left.. Pay attention to the words Spanish Moss ‘love the clung and clung until it killed’. Analyse this book using Chris as your mentor. He questions things. Contact me on if you need more answers. Mostly what frustrates me is that readers have never stopped to ask why would Cathy choose a incestuous relationship over her children’s well being. Imagine the shame they would have to face. Surely she could have found some other alternative and then I found the answer… Chris was the one thing that could save her from becoming killing… Choice of a lesser sin. Clues. There always references to the green towel or blanket or lawn in the room of the dead. Julian was a towel over the lampshade when they find him dead, bart she covers with a green blanket. The wind always blows. Spanish moss is also a clue. This novel goes deep into the human psyche. If you also read Flowers in the attic carefully, you will come across Cathy stating that Cory often liked to eat the nothing but the sugared doughnuts so she would give him her share. She didn’t know it was laced with arsenic but she felt guilty for contributing to his death. Corinne states later that she was only feeding them a little dose arsenic to get them ill to sneak them out of the attic.

    Macrocosmic view.

    The Thomas Hood poem has four levels. through all the misery and suffering there comes one person who lead humanity out of darkness. The ONE (Remember Neo in the Matrix?) will change the tune of death, destruction and despair and bring hope and unity.

    The compelling story of a family’s betrayal and heartbreak, love and revenge. The family is actually the whole of humanity. The secrets they learned in the attic ( higher place) is the story of human history. Human beings have the the ability to hurt, kill and destroy (the bad gene) and through this comes the ability to love.

    There are so many clues to evoke people to know this is an esoteric story. “The story is told in symbols, Cathy” Chris to Cathy reading about the ill fated Raymond and lily and their quest to find the purple grass. Usually we all associate the garden being a place we all go to when we die. “Roses in God’s garden” Cathy to Carry when she has doubts about marrying Alex are something like only the dead are perfect.

    Dopplegangers. Greek mythology, Egyptian mythology. Biblical allusion. I hope now that you’re older. You can ask the bigger questions.

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