I know, I know. It's taken me a long time to do this, but here it is in all its glory. Well, the first part of its glory anyway. Since the different sections in this book are all uneven, I guess I'll be doing all of Part 1 and half of Part 2, in case you're reading along.
POTW picks up right where Flowers in the Attic left off. Chris, Cathy, and Carrie are on a bus on their way to Sarasota, Florida. Their goal is to become aerialists in the circus, since they spent so much time on the rafters in the attic. I recall exactly one time in FITA when Chris was on the rafters, but I'll go with it. Minor continuity issues like this aren't nearly as bad as stuff like changing the spelling of a character's name from book to book (I'm looking at you, Corinne and Gabrielle.).
Anyway, Carrie is sick and puking all over herself. Some asshole yells at the bus driver and says that they better get the sick kid off the bus. Look, I know it would be gross having to ride a bus with someone who is barfing, but they paid their ticket just like you. A huge black lady who is mute but can hear helps them and gives the bus driver directions to the house she cleans, where the man who owns it is a doctor. Somehow I don't think Jessi would approve of a black lady being fat and a housekeeper.
They get to the house and the doctor, Paul Sheffield, is sleeping on the porch. He wakes up and looks Carrie over. They tell him they are orphans, and he says Carrie needs to be hospitalized for at least two weeks. Guessing that they are lying about their parents being dead, he asks if they are still orphans now that they know it'll cost so much. Cathy breaks down and tells Paul their story, which is more unbelievable in synopsis form. Paul says he wants them to stay with him, as he has a huge ass house and the only person there besides himself is Henny, the housekeeper. They decide to stay until they get better.
Their first night there is difficult, as they haven't slept in separate rooms or beds in about 3 years. Cathy pushes together the two twin beds in the room she's sharing with Carrie to make one big bed, because Carrie threw a shit fit. She and Chris make out for a bit (I don't think I can do a boner count because there's waaaaaaay too many, but I'll try, so Boner #1) and then Chris goes off to his room. Cathy thinks she hears him calling her in the night, so she goes to his room and lays down, which he takes as a sign that it's now sexytime (#2), and she smacks him and tells him to stop. He asks why she came into his room if she didn't want some hot lovin'. Damn it, Chris, not everyone who enters your room wants to have sex with you! He tells her he's not made of steel (just one part!) and to not come into his room again. You'd think all the hours of TV would've taught him something about being able to distinguish between horniness and being scared, but whatevs.
Chris and Cathy have tests at the hospital because of their arsenic poisoning, and they're pretty much okay besides being anemic, pale, and underweight. Cathy also hasn't had her period in more than two months, but she says she's never been regular. She worries about being pregnant. Gross!
After a few weeks, the doctor talks them into staying. He is looking into them becoming his legal wards. He tells Cathy his sob story about his wife and young son, who both had died earlier. Chris and Cathy are hesitant about staying, but Carrie decides she wants to live there so they let an 8 year old decide their fate.
Paul takes the kids shopping for clothes that fit and stuff. Cathy gets a bra and makeup for the first time. Carrie screams bloody murder at the selection of clothes that would fit her, as they are all from the toddler section. Carrie wants red and purple clothes, not baby dresses. Paul solves this problem by getting a sewing machine and saying that Cathy can learn how to sew dresses for Carrie. Carrie has little faith in this, but allows Paul to buy her some dresses in the meantime. Cathy notices how every girl turns and stares at her brother. Must be the Prince Valiant haircut. Chris will soon be going off to a college prep school, Carrie will be at a nearby all girl's boarding school, and Cathy will be at the local high school. They are all nervous about being apart.
That night, Cathy can't sleep so she goes downstairs to gaze outside for awhile. She finds Chris there, and he takes this as an invitation to feel her up (3). She pulls away and he says she'll never be free of him. She kisses him and runs back to her room. What the fuck is wrong with these two? This is basically the main idea of Part 1, as it ends here.
Part 2 starts off with Christmas. The kids use the last of their stolen money to give Paul a robe and Henny a velvet dress in size 58. Holy shit, I've never seen a dress that big! Paul gives them tickets to see The Nutcracker, as performed by the Rosencoff School of Ballet. After the show, they go back stage to meet the dancers and the directors of the company. They are interested in Cathy, and Chris says she's better than any dancer he saw tonight, and that she taught herself to go on pointe. In all my years of dance classes I cannot imagine taking just the basics and then teaching myself the rest, especially while being locked up away from even seeing anything else. I call bullshit on her being so advanced and knowing everything. She gets an audition.
That night Cathy cries to Chris and says that she's out of practice. Can't she ever confide in Carrie? Chris is sick of being cockblocked. Ugh, they start making out and undressing each other (4) and Chris tells her they can go to his room and have sex but she says no because Paul might hear. He says Carrie can sleep through anything so they can do it in Cathy's room then. Sick, imagine waking up to your older brother and sister having sex! I'm sorry. She says she'll be with him forever if he gives up being a doctor. I have no idea why this matters. He says no, and carries her up to the room she shares with Carrie, where they get naked and roll around on the floor. He knocks into a bunch of food Cathy has hidden under the bed. He tells her he understands why she hid the food, and that if they just had sex one more time it would last him forever. I doubt it, and so does Cathy, who tells him no, because he's going to be a doctor and leave her. She won't give it up for him again unless he promises to never leave her. Yet she can become a prima ballerina and travel the world. I don't get Cathy's logic, but it becomes apparent in this book that she doesn't really have any.
Audition time! Cathy is dancing awesomely with one of the male dancers, Julian Marquet, until she gets a stomach cramp and starts bleeding all over the place. She sure made an impression! She wakes up in the hospital, where Chris tells her she had a D and C because her missed period must've clotted and then broken free. Gross. He tells her it was not a miscarriage, and she has nothing to worry about. I don't know if I believe him, but since there's no baby I'll let it slide. Cathy receives flowers from Madame Marisha, co-owner of the dance company, that tells her when to show up for class. She is excited about being accepted.
Carrie is nervous about going away to school, and Cathy gives her the parents and the baby from the dollhouse at Foxworth Hall. Carrie is happy to see them, and asks why they have to pretend their mother is dead. Cathy says it's just easier. The next day Chris leaves for his school, and before he leaves tells Cathy she's hot and she better not sleep with Paul. I'd say wtf if it wasn't a plausible command. You'll soon discover Cathy is a big old ho who amasses quite a collection of last names by the end of the book.
The night after Chris leaves, Cathy can't sleep again and goes downstairs to get some warm milk. Yuck. She finds Paul by the fire, and of course she's wearing a see through negligee, because V.C. Andrews women do not own pajama pants and a sweatshirt. He asks what's going on between her and Chris and she babbles on about how she danced in the attic and Chris would watch her (boner happened before, so doesn't count) and says that they did the best they could. Paul asks what the hell that means, and then Cathy goes all slut-nuts. She starts going on and on about how Paul undresses her with his eyes and rips open her negligee to bitch about the see through nightgown underneath and says that it was inappropriate for him to buy it for her. He laughs at her and starts feeling her up, but then stops and says it's wrong. Hey, Paul - tell Chris that. She says it's okay and that she's his whenever he wants her. They kiss, and then he throws her off again and says she's a child. She says he doesn't have to love her, and can just use her whenever he wants. Paul says no, and Cathy runs up to her room. If you think reading this recap of that was confusing, try reading the real thing on pages 69-76.
Cathy goes to school and then ballet class afterwards every day. Julian Marquet hangs around because he wants Cathy. Surprisingly, she's only easy towards inappropriate males, like her brother and her guardian, because she doesn't let Julian come on to her. There's more of Cathy and Paul making out and then pulling away, making out and then pulling away, and it's all pretty dumb. Will somebody just have sex with somebody already? All the male characters have a severe case of blue balls by now! Cathy goes on a date with Julian, who turns out to be Madame Marisha and Georges's (the other owner of the company) son, and he tries to get lucky in the car but she says no. He tries to get her to come dance with him at his company in New York, and she says she'll think about it. She goes home and talks to Chris, who is visiting for the weekend. He feels her up and stuff and then she pulls away. I am getting so sick of writing about that crap.
After Chris goes back to school Cathy puts on a negligee (what else?) and waits for Paul to come home. She plots her revenge against her mother for awhile. Her mother's new husband, Bart Winslow, just happens to be from the town that's a twin city to the town Paul's house is in, so Cathy has subscribed to all the local society newspapers so she can keep on eye on her mother. If you didn't think Cathy was crazy before, this should surely convince you. Paul finally comes home and after fighting and flirting, he tells her the whole story about his first wife, Julia. Julia had been abused by a cousin or something as a child and as a result never wanted to have sex with Paul. He raped her and she became pregnant and had their son, Scotty. Paul cheated on her tons and Julia found out and freaked out. What did you expect, Julia? She said she'd make him pay, and she definitely did by taking Scotty for a walk by the pond and holding herself and him underwater until they both drowned. Cathy is saddened by the story and offers sex as a condolence. One track mind, seriously. Paul resists, and Cathy goes to bed. She decides to devote herself to her dancing. I swear to God I'm not making any of this up.
Cathy plots some more against her mother, thinking about using the four birth certificates she found sewn into the lining of their suitcases and their old friends from the town they used to live in as evidence. Her crazy self is pleased, and she goes to sleep.
Cathy is turning sixteen, and is completely in love with herself. She puts on a sexy dress and does all of her makeup in preparation for her party and literally kisses her reflection in the mirror. Chris tells her it's not becoming to do that, and she whines that she's afraid no one will tell her how beautiful she looks so she has to tell herself. Chris takes the bait and tells her she's hot and makes out with her (5). I think I'm becoming desensitized to this shit. At her party, Julian hits on her, and she resists, so he says the hell with her and leaves. Julian doesn't put up with this wishy-washy shit, which gives him a big edge over Paul and Chris. After the party, Chris gets all jealous of Julian and accuses Cathy of being a ho who will sleep with someone to get an edge on her ballet career. Nah, but she'll do it as a form of repayment for her adoptive father. More love pledges and shit, but not enough to earn Chris boner #6.
Cathy puts together a scrapbook of society articles about her mother. She also visits the library and reads up on Bart Winslow's family. Why doesn't anyone commit this girl? Seriously, they were locked in an attic for three years and slowly poisoned by their mother and no one once suggested therapy?
Now we go into a story about Carrie. Yes, she's still alive, it's just that hos and pervs get the most attention in this book. Carrie's roommate at school sucks and everyone makes fun of her for being so small and having a giant head. A secret society of girls kidnap Carrie during the night and blindfold her and put her on the roof. She freaks out and inches her way back inside. Back at Paul's, Cathy receives a call that the teachers can't find Carrie. They go to the school and find her in the attic, still blindfolded, by a huge stacks of wooden crates. Her leg looks broken, and Cathy must pull her out quickly before the crates fall down. She gets her out and they take her away from the school and decide to enroll her in the public school at home. More importantly, Cathy made it through an entire chapter without slutting around.
Cathy the Crazy mails a mean letter to her mother. Carrie is teased at her new school for being short and deformed looking and this pisses Cathy off at her mother even more. How come Carrie ended up short and weird looking but Chris and Cathy didn't? They spend the summer with Cathy dancing, mailing letters to her mother, and building up her society scrapbook; Chris waiting tables at a restaurant and preparing to go to Duke; and Carrie wandering around being depressed and deformed. Sounds like loads of fun. Cathy sees their mother one day in a store but surprisingly doesn't do anything crazy. Actually, she gets mad at herself for not doing anything crazy and throws a paperweight in a store at a mirror, so I guess that kind of counts.
I'm about halfway through Part 2 of the book now, so I guess I'll end it here. Keep checking back tomorrow for the next part of our story! Will Cathy finally have sex with someone and quit being all talk? Will Chris realize that wanting his sister is gross? Will Carrie grow? Will Julian continue to be normal, and therefore awesome? Will Paul buy Cathy non-sheer pajamas? Anything is possible in a V.C. Andrews book!
Cover image will be shown at the end of the book, because there is a big spoilery mistake on it.