The Christmas Party - Pages 190- 202 (Kindle)
Somehow, I managed to miss the last page of the last chapter where Momma tells Christopher and Cathy they can hide and look at the party. Maybe I was too busy thinking about what Corrine could have done, instead of locking her children in an attic, asking the older ones to raise the little ones, and eventually poisoning them with arsenic donuts. When faced with a life changing situation such as being a widow, what would you do? A) ask your mother for a loan. B.) move back into your childhood home and pass your kids off as a staff members so they can go to school. C.) apply for welfare, sell everything you can, get a job, and create a loving but lower class home for your children or D.) lock your kids in the attic and go party.
If you picked D, you fit right into the world of VC Andrews!
So anyway, that night, she comes to get them. Cathy describes her mother as "so beautiful my heart swelled with pride and admiration, and with some envy too." Corrine's dress has "a skirt of flowing green chiffon" which is cut low to show off a lot of cleavage. "Her scent reminded me of a musky, perfumed garden on a moonlit night somewhere in the Orient." Chris stares at her (cleavage, probably) while Cathy "sighs wistfully."
They follow their mother down the hallway and are stuffed into a table with cabinet doors underneath. There's a mesh screen on the back, which allows them to look down at a "mammoth room, brilliantly lit with candles in the five tiers of three gigantic crystal and gold chandeliers suspended from a ceiling so high above we couldn't see it." They have electricity. I'm picturing candle wax dripping on heads and the Hogwarts ceiling that is enchanted to look like the sky. Harry Potter wasn't the best written book ever, but the world was fun. This world is not fun.
Cathy is enchanted and envious of the party. There are hundreds of people, dozens of "servants" and it's "Fancy, good golly-day!"
She discusses the people with her brother. They talk about hairstyles and their clothing. They mostly watch their mother, though. She is dancing with a tall, handsome man with dark hair and a big moustache. Um, is he Magnum PI? Because I liked him when he was Monica's boyfriend on Friends. She should have married him instead of Chanandler Bong.
They also look at some food. There are three chefs cooking still (apparently in the party room?) and they are making what I think are crepes and stuffed sausages. Cathy and Christopher's mouths water. Apparently they eat sandwiches, soups, fried chicken, potato salad. Sometimes they find ice on their milk.
Magnum PI touches Corrine's breast and Cathy wonders why her mother doesn't slap him. Chris doesn't notice the body language like Cathy does. He's thinking about "when mom inherits all the money, we can have parties like this." He's thinking about sending for his friends in Gladstone. At least he remembers that he once had friends in Pennsylvania.
The Grandmother's dress is red velvet, tight in the front and flowing in the back, and she's wearing an impressive amount of jewelry. They see their Grandfather (is it Maxwell?) for the first time. He looks like Christopher, their father. (And I suppose also Christopher Junior.) Oh, yeah, his name is Maxwell. Maxwell Neal Foxworth.
"You couldn't help whom you fell in love with - cupid's arrows were ill aimed."
And that's when some random party goers give us some more background by coming into the table room and talking about the Foxworth secrets. Someone named Al, apparently had a thing for Corrine, but she only had eyes for her half-uncle Christopher. He thinks that they have to forgive her, as she's the only one left. The women, ever so classy, says "Three children...and only the despised, regretted one is left to inherit all of this."
But that harridan mother of hers never had any patience with her daughter. Jealous, maybe. But what a luscious, rich plum to fall into the hands of Bartholomew Winslow. Wish it were mine!
I'm pretty sure he just said that to his wife or girlfriend. Rich people problems, am I right? Women are plums and you can just be like "I'd rather have her than you."
Albert Donne's companion calls him a slob and reminds him that he's stuck with her and that Corrine never looked at him. They wander off. More people come and go and the pre-teens need to leave but there are too many people. Finally they run back to the room, the twins are fine, they both have to pee. Christopher pushes Cathy down and runs into the bathroom first and locks the door. Then they discuss Bartholomew Winslow. Which is the most absurd name.
Chris mansplains people to Cathy. He also compares his mother to a flame, and men circling her like a moth. My 15 year old boyfriend (when I was 15, not now) once wrote me a poem that he claimed was his original work. It was actually lyrics to a popular hit song. I don't want to share which one. It's embarrassing. It's still less embarrassing than discussing all of the men who want to date your hot mom.
Chris decides that now is the best time to explore the house. He dresses up in some old clothes from the attic and apparently does a Groucho Marx impression.
He kisses her on the cheek.
There is a paragraph about her lovely new nightgown, which is "exquisitely made" and is white with blue ribbons and has smocking. Chris gives her the ole one over, she's pleased that her hair is gleaming. He seems impressed and dazzled. This is not normal, Cathy. You should not be trying to turn on your brother. And he should not be staring at his mother's breasts and your hair like that. Cathy decides that she is princess like. Cathy really needs a feminist mentor and an education.
The pretend to be a princess and a knight and he's going off to slay some dragons. Cathy climbs in bed with Carrie and thinks about Chris, boys, men, romance, and love. As she falls asleep she goes to touch her ring with the garnet stone given to her by her father, which she has outgrown. She's wearing it on a chain. Where did she get the chain?