Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

flowers
source: purchased
title: Flowers In The Attic (Dollanganger Book 1)
author: V.C. Andrews
genre: Gothic fiction/YA fiction/Classic
published: 1979
pages: 359
first line: It is so appropriate to color hope yellow, like that sun we seldom saw.
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars for being entertaining and twisted
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Blurb:
A major Lifetime movie event—the novel that captured the world’s imagination and earned V.C. Andrews a fiercely devoted fanbase. Book One of the Dollanganger Family series.

At the top of the stairs there are four secrets hidden. Blond, beautiful, innocent, and struggling to stay alive…

They were a perfect family, golden and carefree—until a heartbreaking tragedy shattered their happiness. Now, for the sake of an inheritance that will ensure their future, the children must be hidden away out of sight, as if they never existed. Kept on the top floor of their grandmother’s vast mansion, their loving mother assures them it will be just for a little while. But as brutal days swell into agonizing months and years, Cathy, Chris, and twins Cory and Carrie realize their survival is at the mercy of their cruel and superstitious grandmother…and this cramped and helpless world may be the only one they ever know.

Book One of the Dollanganger series, followed by Petals in the Wind, If There be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, and Garden of Shadows.

My thoughts:
(minor spoilers)

Flowers In The Attic is a blast from the past for me. I remember seeing the 1987 film version as a tween and I read this book and the second in series, Petals on the Wind when I was pregnant with my son. He’s twenty now, so it has been a while since I revisited this series.

I have been on a trend lately, with reading books published in the 70’s like Stephen King’s Carrie, I think I will keep that up. I like the nostalgic vibe to these stories.

Flowers In The Attic  kicks off the five Dollanganger books. It starts off with the seemingly perfect Dollanganger family, mom Corrine, dad and their four children, Christopher, Cathy and twins Cory and Carrie. They are all flaxen haired and beautiful and their nickname is the Dresden Dolls.

The story is narrated by Cathy, the second eldest child. At the start of the book you realize you are reading her memoir.

When the father suddenly dies in a car accident, Corrine who is unable to support her family financially, decides to go back to her childhood home in Virginia. Foxworth Hall is a mansion complete with a staff and caretakers for Corrine’s ailing father. She was disowned by her wealthy parents because when she was 18 years old she married her half-uncle.

Corrine explains to the children that they must hide in her parents attic until she re-gains her fathers love. The kids are viewed as evil because they are the result of incest. The children’s grandmother uses religion as an excuse to set cruel rules for them. The rules are crazy, like she forbids them to look at each other and they can’t speak to her unless spoken to first.

Cathy is 12 and Christopher is 14, and they try to keep the younger twins calm and make the attic into a fun place while they wait. They cut out flowers and hang them on the walls as the seasons change to make the drab attic look like a garden.

Flowers In The Attic is one of those books that is so bad, its good. It is this twisted, Gothic story about a greedy mother who locks her children in an attic for more than two years while they suffer abuse.

Alot of the writing was flowery and the storytelling exaggerated, even hard to believe at times, but I didn’t mind it much at all. It might be a sign of the times as this was published in 1979?

I floundered in the desire to understand, and struggled not to drown in the understanding.
p.28, Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

Corrine, who really didn’t have much depth to her personality, basically just lives to doll herself up. She also expects the kids to look picture perfect.

Momma looked like a fairy-tale princess with her freshly washed and set hair. Her nails gleamed with pearly polish, her long formal gown was of the softest aqua color, and her knotted string of pearls swayed as she glided from here to there, setting the table in the dining room so it would look perfect for Daddy’s birthday party.
p.16

I liked that Cathy decided she would not depend on anyone but herself and not follow in her mothers footsteps. She does say “golly gee!” or something like that too much, and it annoyed me enough to mention it here. Cathy dreams of being a ballerina and dancing in the attic is a form of coping for her. Sadly enough, Cathy is going through a delicate phase in her life while she is imprisoned in this attic. Topics like menstruation and needing a bra, falling in love and having sex are all mentioned at one point or another.

I felt like V.C. Andrews touches on the psychological aspects of the imprisonment pretty well. The kids all cope in different ways. They would spend hours reading or during the darkest of times, sleeping their misery away. Cory keeps a pet mouse. The twins begin to call Cathy “mother”. Cathy and Christopher who are forced to grow up now, set a sort of schedule to live by, trying to create some sense of normalcy in the midst of all the craziness.

Much of the story takes place in this dark, dreary attic and there is a heaviness to that as you are reading. There is also the theme of incest in the plot, which makes the book even more disturbing.
I wondered how it would be if the author removed the incest from the storyline all together, would it still work? For some reason I don’t think it would.

The kids spend alot of their time reading, and I like this quote in particular even though it is a tad cheesy.

And from every book I’d ever read, I took one wise bead of philosophy and strung them all into a rosary to believe in for the rest of my life.
p. 232

I found the ending anti-climactic after so much build up, but it did leave it wide open for the next installment, Petals on the Wind. I’m on the fence about reading it, if I find a copy at the library then I might pick it up. I would like to see the most recent film adaptation.

Overall, I enjoyed my re-read of Flowers In The Attic (Dollanganger Book 1). I recommend it if you enjoy Gothic fiction with a flair for the dramatic and don’t mind taboo topics.

About the author:
One of the most popular authors of all time, V.C. Andrews has been a bestselling phenomenon since the publication of her spellbinding classic Flowers in the Attic. That blockbuster novel began her renowned Dollanganger family saga, which includes Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, and Garden of Shadows. Since then, readers have been captivated by more than fifty novels in V.C. Andrews’ bestselling series. The thrilling new series featuring the March family continues with Scattered Leaves, forthcoming from Pocket Books. V.C. Andrews’ novels have sold more than one hundred million copies and have been translated into sixteen foreign languages.

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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews.

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15 thoughts on “Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

  1. This is a blast from the past! I remember reading this back in the 1980s.

    I recall being intrigued by the plot but I do not remember much about the writing.

    I remember this being so popular!

    I do not think that I ever saw the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha, you know I’ve never read this but always see it mentioned everywhere. This story’s become something of a cult classic, hasn’t it? I did read a Virginia Andrews at one point (about a girl who used to have a twin sister or something?), and yup, the writing is definitely flowery cheesy. I do love Gothic stuff though so I might pick this up at some point. Or at least see the movie 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Haven’t read this one. I enjoyed your review. I think I’d need to be in a certain frame of mind to settle into a novel like this (if it was a short story, I’d have an easier time hopping into it).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Naida,

    I haven’t read anything by this author, although I really can’t say why. Perhaps I have always assumed that the storylines are going to be a bit too ‘slushy’ for my liking and I have just never been in the mood to try one or two …. This is despite many of my friends and colleagues having recommended the ‘Dollanger’ series in particular, to me.

    It wasn’t until your excellent post made me go off and research Virginia (or V.C.) Andrews, did I realise just how many books she had written, or apparently material she had left unpublished and which was discovered and published after her death.

    I think something you indicated in your review might also have me thinking twice about reading this book … The fact that the ending was left wide open, almost forcing the reader into the second installment. I really do like my books to have a definite and conclusive ending, so that even if there is a sequel or more books in the series, I don’t feel almost forced to read them to get closure!

    I really enjoyed your first quote from page 28 of the book and your lovely review made it obvious just how much you enjoyed the book … are you going to continue with the series I wonder?

    Yvonne 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Yvonne, she wrote so many books. Well, I read the first two many years ago, but I might eventually re-read the second if my library has a copy. She does leave the ending wide open and I could see readers needing to know what comes next.
      Enjoy your week!

      Like

  5. I want to read this series! I think I’ve two of the books in my pile. I’m very intrigued by the plot as I know it’s a story one either loves or hates it.

    Like

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