V.C. Andrews’ Dollanganger series came out over thirty years ago, but for many devoted readers of this classic gothic tale, Christopher, Cathy, and Foxworth Hall still loom large. Recently, we were thrilled to watch Lifetime’s amazing new version of Flowers in the Attic–it was over-the-top juicy fun, just like we remembered! So you can imagine how excited we are now that the second book in the series, Petals on the Wind, is getting its own Lifetime treatment!

In fact, right now, Lifetime is running an amazing sweepstakes on their POTW page! You can enter to win one of four complete sets of the Dollanganger series–just click here. But not until you read the excerpt below, and see what Chris and Cathy are up to in Petals on the Wind….

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Chapter One: FREE, AT LAST!

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.

Free. Was ever a word more wonderful than that one? No, even though the cold and bony hands of death would reach out and drag us back, if God wasn’t up there somewhere, or maybe down here on the bus, riding with us and looking out for us. At some time in our life we had to believe in someone.

The hours passed with the miles. Our nerves grew frazzled because the bus stopped often to pick up and let off passengers. It stopped for rest breaks, for breakfast, then to pick up a single huge black lady who stood alone where a dirt road met the concrete interstate. It took her forever to pull herself onto the bus, then lug inside the many bundles she carried with her. Just as she was finally seated, we passed over the state line between Virginia and North Carolina.

Oh! The relief to be gone from that state of our imprisonment! For the first time in years, I began to relax—a little.

We three were the youngest on the bus. Chris was seventeen years old and strikingly handsome with long, waving blond hair that just touched his shoulders, then curled upward. His darkly fringed blue eyes rivaled the color of a summer sky, and he was in personality like a warm sunny day—he put on a brave face despite the bleakness of our situation. His straight and finely shaped nose had just taken on the strength and maturity that promised to make him all that our father had been—the type of man to make every woman’s heart flutter when he looked her way, or even when he didn’t. His expression was confident; he almost looked happy. If he hadn’t looked at Carrie he might have even been happy. But when he saw her sickly, pale face, he frowned and worry darkened his eyes. He began to pluck on the strings of the guitar strapped to his shoulder. Chris played “Oh Susannah,” singing softly in a sweet melancholy voice that touched my heart. We looked at each other and felt sad with the memories the tune brought back. Like one we were, he and I. I couldn’t bear to look at him for too long, for fear I would cry.

Curled up on my lap was my younger sister. She didn’t look older than three, but she was eight years old and small, so pitifully small, and weak. In her large, shadowed blue eyes lingered more dark secrets and sufferings than a child her age should know. Carrie’s eyes were old, very, very old. She expected nothing: no happiness, no love, nothing—for all that had been wonderful in her life had been taken from her. Weakened by apathy, she seemed willing to pass from life into death. It hurt to see her so alone, so terribly alone now that Cory was gone.

I was fifteen. The year was 1960, and it was November. I wanted everything, needed everything, and I was so terribly afraid I’d never in all my life find enough to make up for what I had already lost. I sat tense, ready to scream if one more bad thing happened. Like a coiled fuse attached to a time bomb, I knew that sooner or later I would explode and bring down all those who lived in Foxworth Hall!

Chris laid his hand on mine, as if he could read my mind and knew I was already thinking about how I would bring hell to those who had tried to destroy us.

He said in a low voice, “Don’t look like that, Cathy. It’s going to be all right. We’ll get by.”

He was still the eternal cockeyed optimist, believing, despite everything, that whatever happened was for the best! God, how could he think so when Cory was dead? How could that possibly be for the best?

“Cathy,” he whispered, “we have to make the most of what we have left, and that is each other. We have to accept what’s happened and go on from there. We have to believe in ourselves, our talents, and if we do, we will get what we want. It works that way, Cathy, really it does. It has to!”

He wanted to be a dull, staid doctor who spent his days in small examination rooms, surrounded by human miseries. I wanted something far more fanciful—and a mountain of it! I wanted all my star-filled dreams of love and romance to be fulfilled—on the stage, where I’d be the world’s most famous prima ballerina; nothing less would do! That would show Momma!

Damn you, Momma! I hope Foxworth Hall burns to the ground! I hope you never sleep a comfortable night in that grand swan bed, never again! I hope your young husband finds a mistress younger and more beautiful than you! I hope he gives you the hell you deserve!


Petals on the Wind

© 1980 Virginia Andrews


And remember, don’t miss out on Lifetime’s sweepstakes!