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An Oldie but Goodie: Flowers in the Attic

It’s back a few days early, but I have a number of things coming up over the weekend so I thought I’d post my “Oldie but Goodie” book suggestion today. And again, it’s not so much a review as a book recommendation for those readers looking for something not so current but still worth a read.

Flowers in the Attic is the first book in the Dollanganger series by V.C. Andrews and one of the few books actually written by Ms. Andrews. After her death in 1986 a ghostwriter took over and has continued publishing books under the V.C. Andrews name.

Flowers in the Attic was originally published in 1979 and the latest reprint was in 2005. It is available online in paperback, eBook and audio formats at Amazon and in paperback and eBook formats at Barnes & Noble.

I have opted for the first edition cover as it depicts a much more creepy image than the 2005 cover which is way too misleading with its sun flares and tow-headed young couple looking like they’re about to embrace.

Goodreads description:

Such wonderful children. Such a beautiful mother. Such a lovely house. Such endless terror!

It wasn’t that she didn’t love her children. She did. But there was a fortune at stake–a fortune that would assure their later happiness if she could keep the children a secret from her dying father.

So she and her mother hid her darlings away in an unused attic.

Just for a little while.

But the brutal days swelled into agonizing years. Now Cathy, Chris, and the twins wait in their cramped and helpless world, stirred by adult dreams, adult desires, served a meager sustenance by an angry, superstitious grandmother who knows that the Devil works in dark and devious ways. Sometimes he sends children to do his work–children who–one by one–must be destroyed….

‘Way upstairs there are
four secrets hidden.
Blond, beautiful, innocent
struggling to stay alive….

***

Flowers in the Attic was the book to read when I was growing up. When a movie was released based on the book it became overwhelmingly popular and everyone went out to buy a copy. Except me. I decided to wait a few years, not one for being part of a trend, and then decided to be even more of a rebel and purchased My Sweet Audrina, which is a standalone novel by the author, instead.

Now that book was probably one of the most creepy stories I’ve ever read – and I only read it the one time, many years ago, but I’m still hesitant to even think of re-reading it.

But it did peak my interest in Flowers in the Attic and so I read that first book, not even realizing it was a series, and I absolutely loved it. It was so dark and disturbing and just thinking about the time in which it was written – the late 1970s – it was really a controversial book. And apparently it has been banned at one time or another in various places. According to Wikipedia, the book was even pulled from a school library in the 1990s.

This book was categorized, I believe, as young adult, but some of the topics and issues in this book and series are not appropriate for younger readers.

***

If you ever thought your mother was bad, just wait until you meet Corrine – the Mom – or Olivia – the Grandmother. What was once a happy family has fallen apart after the death of their father. Corrine returns to her mother’s home with her four children and proceeds to keep them locked out of sight in the attic. They are trapped there, day after day, year after year, getting sicker and sicker while their mother lives a life of luxury.

They have been told they need to be kept out of sight from their Grandfather so that his inheritance will pass to Corrine. If he were to learn of their existence she would be disinherited and they would be left penniless. So at first the children go along with it. But they finally reach their limits and try to escape.

Flowers in the Attic is their story of suffering, cruelty and unspeakable evil as they are left to wilt, out of sight and out of mind.

***

It was many years before I discovered that this was a series. I then read the entire series and every other book written by V.C. Andrews – the author and ghostwriter – that was written up to that time. I managed to accomplish this in just a couple of weeks, which was definitely much too quickly and I grew disenchanted with the writing style and formulaic approach of the various series published under the V.C. Andrews name.

I loved the Dollanganger series, however, and still do to this day as it was so very original. I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like it since. (Except for the many series that followed by V.C. Andrews.) Even her Casteel series had some creepy but interesting moments – a series that was also partially written by Ms. Andrews. But the Cutler series, the Landry series, the Logan series and the Orphans all began to blend into one another.

If you are looking for an older but interesting book to read, this book and series stand the test of time. However, be warned that this book may be considered offensive to some as there are romantic situations involving the two older siblings.

But if you can get past that, you will discover a very chilling book about a family with dark secrets and evil at the heart of all that they are.

***

To learn more about the work of V.C. Andrews check out The Complete V.C. Andrews website.

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