Synopsis from inside jacket flap: Chris, Cathy and Carrie have escaped the attic prison and set off with money scavenged from the Grandmother's mansion. Two teenagers and an eight-year-old who haven't seen the outdoors for over three years, determined to stay together, determined to survive.
And they are fortunate. They are taken in by a lonely, kindly doctor, who readily shares with them his home, his love, his fortune. But even as the three children build bright new lives, the dark horrors of the attic haunt them. Cathy is reminded daily by the way her brother watches her, by the way Carrie's tiny, tiny body does not grow. And Cathy is also reminded of the other child, who didn't survive the long years in the attic. Then she thinks of her mother, of her mother's brutal betrayal of those who loved and needed her most. And she vows vengeance.
While Chris pursues his dream of becoming a doctor, even while Cathy becomes a successful ballerina, she dedicates herself to her plans for revenge. And as her plans become obsession, Cathy risks everything to pay her mother back, and to show her what it's like to suffer at the hands of the one you love most.
Stats for my copy: Hardback, published by Simon and Schuster, 1980.
How acquired: Through Book Mooch.
First line: How young we were the day we escaped.
My thoughts: I reread FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC a couple of years ago, and enjoyed it more than I anticipated, so I don't know why I waited so long to continue the series, other than that I just have so many series to catch up on and so many books to read.
PETALS ON THE WIND picks up immediately after Cathy, Chris and Carrie escape from the Grandmother's mansion, where they board a bus headed to Florida. But Carrie is unwell, complaining of a stomach ache and throwing up. They meet Henny on the bus, who takes them home with her and introduces them to the doctor who she keeps house for. Paul takes the siblings into his home and into his heart, giving them a stable place to live and the semblance of a normal life.
But Cathy aches for revenge. Chris goes off to medical school, and Carrie is enrolled at a private school nearby. Cathy is accepted as a student at a ballet studio while also attending high school. And while Julian, the son of the instructors, falls madly in love with her, as does Paul, despite the many years that separate them in age, she makes plans to move near her mother and seduce her husband.
Despite the melodrama, some (but not all) of the narration is beautifully written, descriptive and evocative, yet the dialogue is clunky and unrealistic, and I can't imagine a world where people cry out the (sometimes lengthy) speeches these characters are saddled with. And there is much overuse of exclamation points, as in this paragraph:
“Right! You bet I'll take you home!” he spat at me as I crouched near the passenger door he had locked. He shot me a fierce, distraught look then bore down hard on the gas pedal! We sped down all those rain-slick streets, and every so often he'd glance my way to see how I was enjoying the terrifying ride! He laughed, wild and crazy, then braked so fast I was flung forward so my forehead struck the windshield! Blood trickled from the cut. Next he snatched the purse from my lap, leaned to unlock my door, then he shoved me out into the pouring rain!
Seriously! Way too many!
Cathy is not a particularly likable character, despite the fact that all the males of the species seem to fall all over themselves around her. And the love Chris harbors for her should've been mega creepy, but I just felt sorry for him and half the time was rooting for him over Paul (a kind and compassionate man) and Julian (a selfish arrogant prick).
In the end, while it's not great literature, it is very compelling, and as soon as I'd read the last page I immediately started the next book, IF THERE BE THORNS.