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Flowers in the Attic: "The Long Winter, and Spring, and Summer"

Maggie Mae

1,224 views

The Long Winter, and Spring, and Summer. Pages 215-230 (Kindle). 

If I make it through these 15 pages, we will be done with Part 1 of this book! 

Recap: Cathy and her siblings are trapped in an attic. I believe they are literally locked it, but they are also emotionally trapped. Their mother is a piece of gold-digging trash, and their grandmother would punish the Maxwells for having too much fun. On Christmas, the downstairs people had a party while the children upstairs skulked around and spied on their rich relatives. 

The children are cold. They are watching ungodly amounts of television. Cathy compares her life to that of "invalids, sick people, and old people" because they eat, bathe, and dress daily to sit down and watch tv.  I'd make a joke about Americans, but come to think about it, most of us do other things besides TV. Even the "invalid, sick, and old" people. For one, there is the internet. 

It's so cold that they huddle in the bedroom, not going into the attic. Cathy claims that the TV is teaching them how to spell and pronounce difficult words. Sesame Street doesn't debut until 1969, so I don't know what they are watching that teaches them how to spell. Was there a predecessor? I do not know. I am, however, remembering watching Sesame Street and being so confused as to why no one would teach me how to make a "2" the same way that Kermit did. Also, Kermit is my favorite and I think his investigative work contributes to my love of journalism. (Real journalism, not 24 hour cable news or list bait stuff.) 

Cathy's 13th birthday is coming up in April, so she examines her skin daily to check for acne. I get the impression that they are having difficulty distinguishing advertisements from documentaries. 

Both Chris and Cathy have reached puberty and are "growing hair where we hadn't had hair before." Cathy plucks the "funny looking, crispy, amber-colored hair" with tweezers whenever she can, but she notices that they keep coming. 

Chris catches her one day with her arm raised and asks her what she is doing. She "likes her body nice and neat" and he tells her to think of the hair as sexy. This could be a somewhat charming scene, but it's creepy. He ruined it. And then she ruins it some more by saying that "big bosoms were sexy, not crinkly, wiry hair." And then goes on about how she has "hard little apples" poking out of her chest. And her brother looks at them quite often. 

I need a shower. 

I should have waited on the shower. 

Quote

I was coming alive, feeling things I hadn't felt before. Strange achings, longings. Wanting something and not knowing what it was that woke me up at night, pulsating, throbbing, excited, and knowing a man was there with me, doing something I wanted him to complete, and he never did...he never did... always woke up to soon, before I reached those climactic heights I knew he would take me to - if only I wouldn't wake up and spoil it all. 

Shockingly, she's also seeing stains on the boys sheets. And he tells her they are nocturnal emissions, she doesn't believe him. She tells him to go to a doctor so that Cory doesn't catch whatever is wrong with him. Chris tells her that he heard older boys talk in the locker room and it's all normal. I thought he was a doctor and was reading books about this kind of thing? She claims it's too messy to be normal. 

I find it too weird to be having these dreams in the bed with your brother, and then making your sister wash the sheets. Also, poor Duggar girls. 

Chris warns her that her time to mess up the sheets is coming, and he's noticed that she's developing and should talk to their mother about it. Why is he such a douche? I know he's the oldest sibling but ugh. 

All of the kids are kind of each other's last nerve, which is understandable as they have been locked in a room together for months. Carrie talks constantly and freaks out if you tell her to stop. The grandmother gets upset if the beds are messed up so they can't sit on the beds. Cory fiddles with Tinker-Toys and doesn't make anything not noisy. The kids want everything they see on TV. Chris and Cathy watch soaps. My guess is All My Children because Days of Our Lives didn't come out until 1965. DooL would be my choice. I scheduled classes around it in college. I occasionally skipped lunch during high school and watched it in the band room or went home to catch it (Always watch on Fridays, they recap most of the week and leave you with a cliff hanger.) Marlena was possessed! Wait, secret island! Clones! ... Will Eric Brady finally reconnect with Nicole? He's the son of Roman and Marlena and his twin Sami is such a train wreck and then she's not! Maybe I should start going to the gym on my lunch so I can catch back up. I miss it. 

In late March, Corrine comes in with a box. Chris takes the twins to the attic. I wonder when he cornered the mother to tell her to have the period talk with Cathy. Cathy wants to be a ballerina, not deal with periods. Don't we all, Cathy, don't we all. Corrine says there is nothing they can do. In 2017, there is! We've got Mirana and starvation. Two time tested ways to limit your period. Or you can take daily pills and just skip the sugar ones. 

Corrine says that having babies is very rewarding. How, exactly, are these children rewarding to her? I get the impression she thinks of them as toys that she keeps in the attic and can go back to and play with when it's convenient for her. Corrine tells a very bitter story about how she didn't know anything about periods when she got hers for the first time. 

Corrine ignores the twins when they come back from the attic. She "fondles, kisses, and fawns" over Chris. 

***

The attic grows warmer, they take down the paper snowflakes that I forgot they made, they make spring flowers. Cathy turns 13. Cathy gets ice cream, cake, and some needlepoint kits. The twins get better gifts (IMO), ice cream, cake,  an accordion and piano.  There is no way the staff isn't noticing Corrine carrying objects upstairs that disappear and cartons of ice cream. Malcolm Foxworth Senior doesn't approve of men who play music and write poetry. One of her brothers was forced to work in a bank. Oh, the horrors of having to work a well paying job that gives you plenty of time to study music on the side. Malcolm Jr rebelled by buying a motorcycle and crashing it, falling hundreds of feet down a chasm and dying. 

Her other brother, Joel, ran away during the funeral. He died in a skiing accident in Switzerland. They never found his body. When this happens on DOOL, you just know it's so they can recast the character later. Or the actor wants to go on vacation. 

These stories disturb Chris and Cathy, as it seems as though men around their mother tend to die in tragic accidents. That's what happens when you are a character in a gothic romance novel, kids.  I'm not as familiar with this series as I am with the Casteels, but I'm certain that at some point, you'll both die in a tragic accident so one of your offspring can narrate a sequel. Sorry about the luck, Cathy. 

Chris is annoyed because they've read every book in the attic. Maybe your mother should bring you more books. Compared to ice cream, televisions, and accordion, books are pretty easy to sneak in. Especially paperbacks. But then again, you'll be trusting that Corrine can read well enough to figure out something you might like and don't already have. Since they don't have anything new to read, they decide to teach the twins to read and write. They don't want to and Carrie throws a screaming fit. They are 6, btw, which is old enough to not act like this. But then again, they are being raised by a sister mom and a neckbeard brother. 

Corrine is down to visiting once or twice a week. Classic. 

***

It's summer. Oh, Corrine got the message about the books, and is now stealing books from downstairs and giving them to the children in the attic. She's not looking at titles or making any effort anymore. They read a historical novel that made them enjoy history more. Somehow this book gets them talking about being naked. Cathy is on her period, it's her second one, and she is crampy. He tells her that he likes this about her particular situation, and that if it makes her into a woman like their mother, he's all for it. Thanks, asshole. Also, stop being so fucking creepy. 

Cathy asks again if she thinks its odd that they've been locked up for so long. Thank you, Cathy. Please keep pressing the issue. Throughout this conversation, which is finally actually relevant to the plot, he is breathing into her hair. I'm not even joking. "His face lowered into my hair" is a direct quote from Cathy. He pulls back when she mentions mother, then embraces her again. He has to believe. Apparently he's an optimist, not just a creepy teenage boy who wants to have sex with his mother. Seriously, dude, get a reddit account and friend that guy who supposedly actually had sex with his mom after he broke his arms. They love this stuff over there. He also mentions that there must be some reason they are in the attic and not at boarding school, which is, actually a good point. The grandmother has money too! Either one of them could sneak these kids off to boarding school! Or they could leave them in a fire station or sell them on an orphan train or put them in a cottage on the edge of the property. 

***

Corrine is now visiting rarely and not on a regular basis. She tells them that Malcolm is close to death. And then she comes back and says that he is fine. It's August and they've been there for a year. They also did not mention the anniversary of their own father's death. 

With that, Part 1 is DONE. We are halfway! 

 

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FloraDoraDolly

Posted

Her other brother, Joel, ran away during the funeral. He died in a skiing accident in Switzerland. They never found his body. When this happens on DOOL, you just know it's so they can recast the character later. Or the actor wants to go on vacation.

If you really want to know, read Seeds Of Yesterday.

About 1950s soap operas... Guiding Light and As The World Turns are the only two I can think of from that era that continued into the 21st century. They're both gone now.

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Maggie Mae

Posted

10 hours ago, FloraDoraDolly said:

If you really want to know, read Seeds Of Yesterday.

I knew he was still alive! I don't know if I'll have the time/patience to do the entire series, though. Or if there is even that much interest in my crappy recaps of a book that I'm reading at work. 

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catlady

Posted

3 minutes ago, Maggie Mae said:

Or if there is even that much interest in my crappy recaps of a book that I'm reading at work. 

oh, i'm definitely interested!  you're catching so much nuance and providing so much insight that i missed back in high school, that i've seriously considered looking for used copies for myself. i'm always looking forward to you next installment! :smile: 

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unholypoledancer

Posted

I'm reading!! I would totally follow any and all Dollanganger recaps! Let me know if you do the Adare books by V.C. Andrews, too!

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FloraDoraDolly

Posted

I am definitely enjoying these recaps. I haven't read these books in decades, yet I remember them so well. If you decide to continue, Petals On the Wind provides a treasure trove of snarkability. Garden Of Shadows would probably be next on that list. If There Be Thorns and Seeds Of Yesterday are less snarkworthy because they focus mostly on Cathy's creepy younger son. 

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HerNameIsBuffy

Posted

Fwiw I am enjoying the hell out of these.  I spent tonight on a comfy couch with wine, pizza, and your reviews and it was awesome.  

Quote

There is no way the staff isn't noticing Corrine carrying objects upstairs that disappear and cartons of ice cream.

I would believe she could sneak that stuff by the staff before I can believe they were so quiet.  Roller skates?  An accordion?  Aren't attics like that mostly wooden floored echo chambers?

I get why they trusted her initially, but now?  I'm going with Chris being in total denial as a defense mechanism due to the pressure.  I mean he's the eldest, any plans to leave he will be expected to take lead on.  If it doesn't work and they are punished it's on him...I can see why he'd be desperately hoping Mom would shape up so he doesn't have to make the hard decision.

And he's completely gross with Cathy, but he's also a child who has been sexually seduced by his mom for years, albeit without culminating in sex...but she's absolutely sexually toying with him from his earliest stirrings.  And when she wasn't there to do it she packaged his captive sister in sexy things for his pleasure. He had no chance of developing anything resembling a healthy sexuality.

I want someone to write a character analysis on the dad because he's the missing piece and this sick dynamic didn't start at his death.  

 

 

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Maggie Mae

Posted

7 minutes ago, HerNameIsBuffy said:

Fwiw I am enjoying the hell out of these.  I spent tonight on a comfy couch with wine, pizza, and your reviews and it was awesome.  

Thank you for the compliment! I think I'll start Part 2 tomorrow if I have time. It took a lot of time to do full recaps and it's my busy season at work. 

7 minutes ago, HerNameIsBuffy said:

I would believe she could sneak that stuff by the staff before I can believe they were so quiet.  Roller skates?  An accordion?  Aren't attics like that mostly wooden floored echo chambers?

I kind of get the impression that they aren't directly above anyone, however, music instruments tend to not be quiet. They should have bought them all silent pianos.

Attics also tend to have low ceilings, especially in older homes. So those skates should be fun.

 

7 minutes ago, HerNameIsBuffy said:

I want someone to write a character analysis on the dad because he's the missing piece and this sick dynamic didn't start at his death.  

Me too. Be the change you want to see in the world.

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