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Flowers in the Attic: Escape

Maggie Mae



I bet you can't guess what happens in this chapter from the title! 

It's November 10. I am reminded of how the timeline issues could so easily be solved if the author would have just not had them keep track of days in the attic, or had she not tied them to specific calendar days. 

Cathy and fam are visited in the attic by their mother, who was "ill at ease" with little time to spend in the attic. Bart is taking her out. She doesn't want to go. He doesn't know why Corrine looks so sad. Well, maybe you should be a better lawyer and do a background check on your wife before marrying her. 

Chris goes out with two pillowcases to fill with jewels. (I know they are "filthy" rich, but come on. One pillow case of jewels should be plenty.) Pillows must have been smaller in the 50s. What kind of jewels do they have, just laying about, anyway? 

Cathy is sad about Cory. She remembers how he called her Momma, how Cory was afraid Chris would consider him a "sissy" and how he missed his mom and had to make do with Cathy. It's sad, but I'm a bit stuck on the glossed over sexism of "oh, my 4-8 year old brother was so concerned about appearing masculine that he pretended to not miss his mother" I'm guessing these kids would all be considered Baby Boomers, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the sexist language and weird behavior quirks, but I'm still annoyed. There's nothing wrong with a little boy wanting his mom after his dad died trying to recreate Need For Speed

Cathy vows to be the best mother alive to her unborn children. (As of this moment, there has been no inkling that she thinks she's pregnant, or will be soon.) Chris takes longer than expected to return, and she imagines all sorts of scenarios where he is caught. She doesn't actually share those with the reader, nope, she just "envisioned all the calamities," and mentions that either Bart or the Grandmother could catch him. The worst punishment would be "The Grandmother." But what Cathy is imagining as the worst punishment (after her brother died in captivity) is not shared with the reader, either. 

Somehow she can hear a "cock crow" as dawn arrives, but apparently no one can hear children screaming for days? Is this part of the house soundproofed? Will there be a secret sex dungeon one floor down? 

It's mentioned that the carpet is too plush for Cathy to hear Chris coming back. She goes to the attic and hears the rooster again, but this time it sounds muffled and far away. (Is this some sort of explanation? Because Carrie was screaming in the room, not in the attic.) 


Cathy remembers the coldness of that morning when Chris comes back into the room. She's lying beside Carrie. There's no mention of her heading back downstairs after going upstairs for no reason. We get paragraphs of this, and then "oh, i imagined all the terrible things that could happen" and "there was no time to stop in look in the other rooms." V.C.s writing style is not my favorite. 

Chris hesitates in the door, eyes glazed over. The pillowcases are empty. Cathy yells him, and accuses him of turning chivalrous again. Just leave without him, girl. You can do it. Take Carrie, and go. 

Chris mopes and can't use his words. 


"Gone," he said dully. "All the jewelry was gone."

Cathy thinks he's lying. 


"Gone? Chris, the jewelry is always there. And what's the matter with you, anyway - why do you look so queer?" 

Ah, yes, language changes. And wow, so you are aware that he looks upset, and your still "GOD YOU ARE SUCH A LIAR SHITTY BROTHER" which I think is fair because Christopher Jr is quite terrible. 

He's "limp and boneless" and drooping around. Then he cries.


He sagged down on his knees beside the bed, gone boneless and limp as his head drooped forward, and his face nestled down on my breast. Then he began to sob! Dear God! What had gone wrong? Why was he crying? It's terrible to hear a man cry, and I thought of him as a man now, not a boy. 

Your brother should not have his face on your breast. You should not think of it as "terrible" for a "man" to express his feelings. Nor should you really think of your brother as a man. He's still 17 and you've spent every waking moment with him for 4 years. You should be annoyed because he's not using his words like anyone over the age of 4. You should be irritated because he's always around lecturing you. Not because he's crying for some unknown reason. He's probably trying to manipulate you again. 

Cathy holds him and "caresses" him, which leads to kissing, trying to soothe him. I'm going to go throw up in my garbage can at work, now. Sorry cleaning crew! I don't know you, but I appreciate you! 

(Note: I did not actually vomit. Although this book does make me nauseated at times.) I am very, very cold. Like my office was set to 65 when I came in. No idea why. 

Our heroine is going on and on about how her brother is crying. This we get descriptions of. Eventually he is ready to talk. Chris tries to warn her about what she's about to hear.  Narrator Cathy in the future jumps in to say that she was not prepared for what she heard. 

 Momma and Bart had left their suite of rooms! Shocking. 



They had taken with them all those little mementos that made their rooms personal: the trinkets gone from the dresser, the geegaws from that dressing table, the creams, lotions, powders, and perfumes - everything that once was there, gone. Nothing was on her dressing table. 


NOT THE GEEGAWS! Nooooooooo. 



Chris tells how he ran around opening all the drawers looking for something of value. He says the only things left are junk or things of no value to anyone - lipstick, cold creams, stuff like that. Great, so now women's beauty products - a $445 Billion dollar industry - are "no value to anyone." Way to value women, asshole. (I understand that there is no resale value. It's the phrasing.) 

He then goes on to talk about how there's a secret drawer that she told them about. (I don't remember it being in the book earlier.) He put in the combo and there was supposed to be rings and bracelets, and there was no jewelry. 


"...every last thing was gone, Cathy, even that tiara you tried on. Oh, golly, you don't know how I felt! So many times you pleaded with me to take just one little ring, and I wouldn't, because I believed in her." 

I'm laughing at your pain in my coffee, Chris the Dick. Your anguish is nothing compared to the pain that your siblings are feeling due to arsenic poisoning. Cory died because you wouldn't listen. Drop him, Cathy, drop him. 

Spoiler: She doesn't drop him. 

Lots of descriptions of him looking through luggage and how he panicked and couldn't find anything to steal, some bitterness in his voice about Momma's grieving. And Cathy, this whole time, has fingers that "twined in his hair" which I'm going to have to actually use a dictionary for, or imagine it's some sort of soft hair twirling? Google tells me it's when you twist your hair and cut off the bits that don't conform. 

He finally comes across another drawer. Inside the drawer is a silver framed photo of daddy, her marriage license, and a small velvet box containing her engagement and wedding rings. Chris is hurt that she left only that behind, and junk. He convinces himself that she left it deliberately for them to find. He's delusional. 

Cathy also says "No, she has Bart now." 

He continues on, saying that it will take an unbearable crisis to pawn the rings. Cathy notices the warning in his voice. He moves on to what he found in Grandmother's room. (A grandmother, I presume.) 

He realizes she's awake from the light coming under the door. Even so, he eases open the door, and looks around. Cathy is still a child, and accuses him of seeing her naked. He's annoyed. He's glad he didn't see her naked, which, rude. Old people still do it. He did, however, catch her without her wig! OMG. Crucial plot point right here.  



We are treated to a long description of The Grandmother's natural hair. It's blonde and balding. She wears reading glasses and prays before bed. 

Chris continues exploring, going into the grandfather's room. He found his way through the house because he has a wonderful memory and Cathy asks too many questions. Why can't they just be normal kids who sneaked out of their room regularly? These kids make no sense. He's also going on about how beautiful the furniture is. I know when my little brother just died, and I'm looking for things to sell, I totally stop to admire the Jacobean wall hangings. 

He describes the libraray, and I am jealous. It's got wooden ladders. I've always wanted a library with ladders. Grandfather had six phones on his desk. I guess that means he had six separate lines installed and I can only think of the giant mess of cables. Chris does not disappoint with the description of this room, though I do feel it's a bit of a strange time to focus so much on the placement of the furniture. You're not getting paid by the word, here, VC. 

Really, this part is just best read, and it's too much to quote and really claim "fair use," so as best as I can - Chris rambles on and on about how he became suspicious, due to the contents of the desk. He decides to confront the Grandfather, imagining what would happen. He's clearly never met an elderly sick person, because he's got this idea that the Grandfather would recognize him, and not automatically assume that dementia would cause him to think that Christopher Sn is back from the dead.  Chris Jr even has a monologue planned. These kids love monologing. 

The grandfather is not there. He's gone. 



Chris tries to unlock the wall safe. He can't. Maybe Corrine should have gotten them a copy of Skyrim to occupy their times. I bet that would have helped them level up their lock picking skills. While he's trying to break into a safe using methods he read in an encyclopedia, he hears footsteps! 



Chris hides. Fortunately, the footsteps belong to John the Butler, and a woman. Chris says he thought he might nap while they are on the sofa he's hiding behind, because that is a safe place to sleep and human biology will allow that to happen. Chris says he didn't fear that Cathy would look for him, because he locked her in. Then he says "it's a good thing I didn't sleep" and Cathy asks "why" and he gripes at her because he's a not very nice person. "Let me tell it in my own way" ... jerk. She just asked why. There are a hundred better ways to say that! 

John and Livvy talk. John is upset because Livvy is so nervous it takes the fun out of "this" which I'm going to assume is something sexual involving a person in power and a woman who wants a job. She thinks she's heard something. He says it's the mice in the attic, and she starts giggling so something is happening with his hands that we can't see. 




Livvy complains about how mean her employer is, provided that the "Old Woman" is her employer and hasn't tasked that with the person normally in charge of such matters - the butler. She also mentions how the ole concrete bosom would stare at the empty bed smiling, and now that he's dead, she's got his money. 

John corrects Livvy. 



Livvy says that the daughter deserves it, she had to put up with a lot. Malcolm treated her like a slave, but at least she's still young and beautiful, with loads of money. "Some people have all the luck." 

John says "You got me, until the next pretty face comes along." 



Chris is still behind the sofa when they start to "get busy." He describes this to his sister, in all sorts of graphic detail. Cathy is intrigued at the concept of twice in the same night. Chris wonders why she's not concerned about the poisoning or the fact that their grandfather's been dead for a while. Cathy grasps the concept of "oh, grandpa dead, we'll be free" and starts to run with it. 

Chris says there is more. Of course there is. And there is toppling and cuddling mixed in. Along with some kissing. There was no reason this had to be a romance novel. 

Cathy's emotions in this chapter are all over the place, as expected for a teenage girl. She's angry - at Chris, at her mom. She's sad. She's scared. She's paralyzed with fear. She's sad. In that respect, the writer did pretty well. I'm angry with Cathy. I'm annoyed with Chris's annoyingly slow system of telling what happened. I'm frustrated at being locked up and so close to getting out. However, I'm really tired of the long descriptions of things when it should be plot, and no descriptions or even any displays of curiosity.  

I'm also torn at the question of Chris. For a brief moment, Cathy was blaming him for Cory's death, which was kind of nice. Part of me wants to argue that he is liable for Cory's death, in that as the oldest he was left "in charge." They had reason to fear for their lives - they'd been locked up for years. There was tarring, whippings, and no medical treatment when they all got the flu. They had the ability to leave with the key or through the roof. But he didn't want to leave so none of them did. However, he's a victim as well. 

The more I think about it, the more I wonder what life was really like back in Gladstone. Some people have a tendency to remember only the good times.  Cathy and Chris show an extraordinary lack of curiosity.  Were they beaten into submission? 

The next chapter is the last chapter. 


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They really should have had the kids sneaking out to explore more it would have made more sense.

I agree about Chris being liable. They had chances to leave but Chris was always the one that said no despite all of the crap they've had to endure. Locked up, beatings, tar, the flu with no medical treatment, no food for what ten days? None it mattered to Chris. Their mother remarries and doesn't tell her new husband about her locked up children. That doesn't shake him. It might have helped out if Chris wasn't so creepy and a jerk towards Cathy but also if he had better reason for not going like he was scared about taking care of his sisters and brother, worried that he couldn't do it or they''d get caught and split up (I don't really think that would happen once people heard their story 4 kids locked up by their mother and grandmother people would be flocking to take them in but I'm not sure any of the kids would know that) or had a real reason to keep believing in Corrine.  Had Cory not died Chris still wouldn't be wanting to go anywhere. 

he more I think about it, the more I wonder what life was really like back in Gladstone. Some people have a tendency to remember only the good times.  Cathy and Chris show an extraordinary lack of curiosity.  Were they beaten into submission? 

So do I. Its hard to believe they have no curiosity, never explored the house, or  took so long to realize their mother didn't care. Corrine couldn't even fake it an entire year. Its hard to believe then she was that good of mother before all this. Christopher SR was gone most of the time supporting his family and going into hock to get Corrine whatever she wanted and always bring home presents for his kids. Who took care of the kids? Corrine? Its hard to imagine her doing that or really anything. The day to day work of taking care of their kids? Dealing with crying, tantrums and stuff.  Its possible Cathy's only remembering the good times. But its also hard to believe Cathy wouldn't remember bad times. She was the first to notice Corrine didn't care and to question her. Its hard to believe she didn't do that before. Were they beaten or somehow suppressed another way?  

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