by Victoria | 2/10/2014
" I read this entire series several times as a teen and began re-reading them via audible.com in 2012. Petals on the Wind is book 2 of the series, where Chris, Cathy and Carrie are finally free of Foxworth Hall in Virginia. There trek to freedom in Florida is interrupted when Carrie becomes extremely ill on the bus and a kind deaf woman, Henny, takes them to her 'doctor son', Paul Sheffield, in Claremont, South Carolina. Paul, suffering from his own loss of his wife, Julia, and son, Scotty, takes them in and they share some of their story with him, including later, Cory. Paul doesn't judge; he showers them with love and gifts and takes Chris under his wing to begin college and medical school, while Cathy completes high school and it appears Carrie middle school. Cathy also enrolls in the local ballet school, owned by the famous Madame Marisha and George, and their son, Julian, visiting from New York, soon falls in love with Cathy. But Cathy is in love with Paul as he is her though she is much too young for him. The book spans years as they arrive on Paul's doorstep with Cathy at age 15 and I think she is in her early 30's when the book ends. Cathy, forever fleeing Chris's love, and blaming their mother, Corrine, agrees to be Paul's wife. She is so happy and in love. But as she is capturing fame and fortune with Julian with the ballet, they travel to Paris, and Cathy is visited by Paul's sister, Amanda, who tells Cathy that Paul lied to her and Julia is still alive. Cathy, impulsive and passionate, is hurt and marries Julian. They live in New York and Cathy soon discovers Julian is insanely jealous of any man who shows Cathy interest, but especially Chris and Paul. He cheats on her with young girls and abuses her physically. When Chris obtains his medical degree, and invites them to his graduation, Julian refuses to go and forbids Cathy to go. But it is too important; she drugs him and goes and finds out during her visit back home that Julian has had her replaced in the tv production of Giselle with her rival, Yolanda. She returns home, with Chris, who refuses to allow her to face Julian alone. They arrive at the ballet rehearsal and watch as Julian attempts to adjust to Yolanda's difference in height and weight from Cathy, ungracefully so. To everyone's relief, Cathy steps in and they perform beautifully, until Julian in a rage, stomps on Cathy's feet and races offstage. Back at their apartment, Chris tells her though she has broken toes she will dance again as they await Julian's return. Instead, Cathy receives the call that Julian and Yolanda had a car accident; she is dead and Julian has a broken neck, though no spinal cord injury. As Cathy realizes she is pregnant and maybe she never gave Julian a chance because of Chris and Paul, she stays at his bedside to tell him how much she loves him. But Julian, distraught over the thought of never dancing again, kills himself, after telling Cathy she should have an abortion. Cathy names their baby Jory, in honor of Julian and Cory. Paul is hopeful she will return to him but Cathy is determined to make her mother pay for robbing them of their childhood and health. With Carrie and Jory in tow, they move to a cottage in Virginia. Cathy takes over a ballet school and turns her eyes toward her mother's husband, Bart Winslow. Carrie fills her days taking care of the house and cooking and Jory and she falls in love with Alex. She is so happy and Cathy is so glad, but fearful, as she knows in their lives tragedy usually follows joy. When Alex tells Carrie he wants to be a pastor, Carrie is distraught as she tells Cathy she is not perfect and pastor's wives are expected to be perfect and she remembers the Grandmother telling them how they are evil and unholy and the devil's issue since their parents, Corrine and Christopher, we half niece and uncle. Almost immediately, Carrie falls ill, desperately ill as Cathy calls Paul to Virginia. If you read Flowers in the Attic you know how all four children were poisoned with arsenic on powdered sugar donuts and Cathy and Chris think this is a recurrence. But Cathy finds a note that she shares with Chris where Carrie relays again how she cannot marry Alex because she is not perfect and she misses Cory and how she saw their mother on the street one day and ran up to her but Corrine told her she didn't know her. Carrie asked if your own momma doesn't want you, then nobody can want you. Cathy also finds a bag with a bottle of rat poison and one powdered sugar donut with one bite as they realize in horror that Carrie laced the package of donuts with the rat poison and ate all but one so she could die like Cory. Alex is heartbroken and by her side but Carrie has lost the will to live and dies. Cathy is consumed with thoughts of revenge as she seeks out Bart Winslow again and entices him into an affair. In the past, Cathy had been writing letters to their mother with cryptic messages and she is devastated when Bart shows up at her ballet school one day shortly after Carrie's death with the bundle of letters. She tells him half truths, that she is related to Corrine, but because Corrine's father, Malcolm, had an affair with her mother. With information gathered from Bart, Cathy uses the old wooden key Chris carved to enter Foxworth Hall and confront the Grandmother, who can no longer speak or move. As she rages and torments her with a silken lock of Carrie's hair, she lashes the Grandmother once on the buttocks and melts candle wax in her hair, telling her the time has come for Cathy to wield the whip and the tar and withhold food. But, Cathy begins crying when she sees the lash and cleans the Grandmother up and leaves, realizing she is not as hard as the Grandmother. Soon Cathy finds out she is pregnant again and tells Bart she has accomplished what she set out to do; become pregnant with his child and she is leaving Virginia. Bart pleas with her to stay but he will not divorce Corrine. Cathy agrees, but only because she has her master plan set in motion. She gets a dress designer to duplicate the exact emerald green dress her mother wore at that Christmas Eve party at Foxworth Hall when she was 12 and she and Chris hid in the corner alcove and watched their mother with Bart Winslow. She has her hair cut the same as well and leaving Jory in the care of her friend, Emma, Cathy heads to Foxworth Hall, planning a midnight appearance. She arrives early and heads to her mother and Bart's room with the fateful swan bed and using her mother's date of birth, opens the combination of the safe to put on the emerald and diamond jewels their mother wore at that same party. Cathy decides to head to their old prison, the attic, to wait and she is surrounded by ghosts and memories as she rages inwardly of all they suffered at the hands of their mother and the Grandmother, all for money. At midnight, Cathy heads downstairs to announce to all she is Corrine's daughter and she begins her tale of their lives in the attic. Bart, interrupting her, tells the guests this was a joke he and Cathy schemed up to play on Corrine and the three of them retire to the library where the Grandmother sits in her wheelchair. As Bart realizes the lies Corrine has told him over the years he is appalled that she hid her children away, conspired to murder them, so she could inherit. Corrine denies it at first but then relents though she tries to weave some fluff in to make her sound better than it was. As if. As mother and daughter rage at each other, the Grandmother, mutely denies Corrine's new lies with her eyes. It is when Chris appears in the doorway that Corrine loses her grasp on sanity as she believes it is Christopher and she tells him she only wanted to make them a little sick so she could take them away from the Grandfather's clutches. She runs from the room and sets fire to the attic and as all rush from the house, Corrine yells that her mother is still inside the blazing house. Bart rushes in to save her and perishes with her in the fire. Cathy returns to Claremont with Jory and becomes Paul's wife at long last, though he has been in poor health. When her son is born, Bartholomew Winslow, II, she is content to live out her days in Claremont. Paul tells her that she and Chris should move where no one knows them as brother and sister and while Jory and Bart II are too young to realize Chris is not their father. When Paul dies peacefully in his sleep, Chris, Cathy, both boys and Cathy's friend, Emma, move from Claremont to begin their new lives. They visit Corrine monthly, though only Chris goes in, at an insane asylum where she spends her time in a padded room. The book closes with Cathy finding in their own attic, two twin beds and a picnic basket and she laments that she is not like her mother, not like her at all. Its been so long since I've read the series, and I believe there were at least 6 books in the series so I cannot wait until audible turns on the next book in the series. "