Petals on the Wind by Virginia Andrews
Published by: Harper London
Publication Date: September 1st, 2011 (first published 1980)
Series: Dollanganger, #2
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Mystery
Date Read: April 17th, 2016
Links: Goodreads | B&N | Book Depository | Amazon | Book 1 Review
In this novel the three children who survive from ‘Flowers in the Attic’ are left to remember the horror of those years. They determine to exact revenge and Cathy, the eldest sister, yearns to show her mother and grandmother the terror of the attic.
“Little girls get hurt when they play grown-up games.”
Even after taking the children out of the attic, Andrews still retained that distinctive and haunting tone that worked in the original. While Flowers in the Attic is the better novel, Petals on the Wind is definitely a worthy follow-up. However it was a lot slower, longer and didn’t have the crazy sexual tension like the first one.
After long years of being locked in the attic of a gothic Virginia mansion, Cathy, Chris and Carrie are finally free. Their freedom tastes bitter, though, as their lives have been irrevocably altered by the unspeakable cruelty and hatred with which they’ve been treated by their own family members.
We get to see the returning villains from Flowers in the Attic, like the grandmother and the mother, but I won’t spoil their condition or what happens.
“How young we were the day we escaped. How exuberantly alive we should have felt to be freed, at last, from such a grim, lonely and stifling place. How pitifully delighted we should have been to be riding on a bus that rumbled slowly southward. But if we felt joy, we didn’t show it. We sat, all three, pale, silent, staring out the windows, very frightened by all we saw.”
While Cathy hates her mother with burning passion and would give just about anything to see her suffer, Chris is a whole different story. He still loves their mother, even after all the pain and suffering she has caused them, even despite the fact that she had tried to kill them all for money.
The forbidden kisses and touches continue throughout the book, though Cathy seems determined to put an end to their “unnatural love” and force Chris to move on and find someone else. Bound together by years of suffering in isolation, they continue to struggle with their feelings and sexual urges.
“How can I find anyone else, when you’ve been bred into my bones – and are part of my flesh? Your blood runs fast when mine does! Your eyes burn when mine do – don’t deny it!”
Meanwhile, Carrie meets a young man named Alex and enjoys a sweet courtship—until he says he plans to be a minister. Frightened, remembering her grandmother Olivia’s rants about the children being the “Devil’s spawn,” she purchases powdered doughnuts and arsenic and attempts to reunite with Cory. In the hospital, Cathy tells Carrie that Alex won’t be a minister if it bothers her so much, but Carrie has another reason for attempting suicide: she saw Corrine on the street and ran up to her, and her mother’s angry rejection of her further convinced her that she must be unworthy. Carrie is my favourite character in this book and her outcome always makes me sad.
Petals on The Wind is just as entertaining and disturbing as Flowers in the Attic, and I loved every single page of it. It’s a guilty-pleasure kind of read, but one that actually stays with you for quite some time after you put it down. The writing is exceptionally compelling and quite beautiful, the descriptions evocative and seductive and the characters – even the supporting cast – fleshed out just enough to make the story believable, and, therefore, very unsettling.
“I was an instrument of yearning, filled with a ravenous desire for romantic fulfilment.”