125 of 128 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2003
Okay, I realize that this novel is nothing resembling great literature. But that just doesn't matter nor does it affect my pure enjoyment of this series, as it is a well-written, completely engrossing story.
Flowers in the Attic is a *fairy tale*. A dark, twisted fairy tale, but a fairy tale all the same. This means that the characters and situations within the story should NOT be expected to be realistic in any form. Anyone complaining about the lack of realism is not seeing it as it should be seen. It takes place in some strange, imagined land that almost mirrors our world but not quite. It starts out all shiny and happy, describing the perfect, blessed existence of this beautiful family, and then it descends into a nightmare. Many of the complaints about the shallow characters are accurate but in my opinion it fits with the theme. The characters here can be silly and melodramatic and stereotypical. Nobody in this book talks like a real person would. Some of the older male characters are never developed at all but just kept shadowy, sometimes sinister figures who want to prey on Cathy and other women. And Cathy...she is the ultimate fragile blond-haired fairy tale princess. Only the twisted, upside-down version. Others have pointed out that she is not a likeable character. This is true, especially if you have read the rest of the series. But I don't believe that she was meant to be likeable. The abuse she has suffered has made her too messed up to be likeable, and her increasingly selfish, cruel behavior makes it very hard to have any sypmathy for her. So how did the author manage to make me care so much about a character's story when I so dislike the character? It all lies in the telling of it, the subject matter, the horror that goes beyond evil villains and straight into the human psyche. The incest, for example, lends a deeply unnerving, disturbing, and tragic element to the series that no fairy tale monster could have inspired. I can't believe some people think this book would have been better off without it? Some need to gain a wider perspective.
I've read this series countless times and I hope VC Andrews knew how much her stories touched people. That ghostwriter tries pathetically to copy her style and fails. His novels are all the exact same, and they are boring and tame to boot. He is scared or just unwilling to go to the places she explored. At my local bookstore they still keep his novels under Horror which is quite laughable. Andrews' books belonged there; his would be more at home under general young adult fiction.
FitA is a story meant to get under your skin. It has been condemned in churches and to this day still brings about strong reactions in people, whether they are positive or negative, and so I think the story succeeded in its purpose. Love it or hate it, I doubt you'll ever forget it.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2005
Some people are taking this great read too literally. The thing is, I don't actually think that the details of the story are as important as what it evokes: the terror and uncertainty of being a teenager. The bizarre horror of maturing physically and yet being powerless before adult authority. It's all a metaphor for feeling trapped, which all teenagers feel. If you think about it, that's what all Andrews' books are actually about, and the ghostwriter carries on this tradition, if not as well as Andrews, than competently.
Yes, some of the details are hard for an adult reader to accept as credible, but why do you think we loved this books as teenagers? Because many teenage girls-and I stress girls, because I most of what Andrews' covers doesn't apply to boys-go through all the things Cathy goes through-testing sexual attractiveness for the first time, looking at our changing bodies in the mirror, first period, challenging parental authority,the trauma of first sexual experiences, etc. All those changes are scary and weird. Of course the added elements are demented and perverse but that just adds to the fun.
Andrews just takes common female adolescence, scary enough on its own, and projects it onto a melodramatic stage we can emotionally act it out on. Most of us don't have incredibly wealthy families, haunted by legacies of "sin", possess nearly supernatural physical perfecton or get locked up in the attic, but many a girl can project their uncontrollably blossoming self onto Cathy; many a pretty girl can remember what it's like to first have people comment on your beauty, many an abused child can remember the powerlessness of childhood, etc.
The perverse details of this Andrews' books, as with all of such as brother-sister incest (easier to stomach when, like me, you don't have a brother!), abuse of small children, much older men with teenage girls (see Petals on the Wind for this, yuck), rape, starvation, whippings, etc, etc., are not for everyone, so be warned. If my mom knew everything in here I don't think I would've been allowed to read it! Recently we talked about the book and she laughed at the premise, and so did my husband, and I think adults do have a hard time understanding how someone would keep four intelligent kids locked up in an attic-but the fact that the premise is credible to kids is precisely why kids could be kept in the attic! You tell them to stay there, and they do! They were locked in, and one of their only alternatives would have been to attack their mother or grandmother and take their key when they came in. Adults would have thought of such an alternative, which most children would never entertain.
That's why they're so easily emotionally abused. Besides, they eventually left.
Also, the melodramatic prose might turn some people off, but Andrews has a real skill for creating mood and an engrossing read and that is as much of a legitimate talent as the high-brow literary giants I also love. I'm 29 but I'll never remember when I first picked up this book at 12 and couldn't stop reading and felt like someone connected with all my confusion. V.C. Andrews is like Judy Blume if she was crazy, perverted, and obsessed with sexual deviancy! God I miss that woman.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
I was first introduced to "Flowers in the Attic" through the 1987 film starring Kristy Swanson. Now, these many years later I have finally read the book. I started out of order, reading "Garden of Shadows" the last book in the series, but prequel to "Flowers in the Attic" first. I have to say that this book is very good! You will be glued to the book from start to finish.
The story revolves around the Dollanganger family. One evening Christopher Dollanganger dies in a car crash and his family, consisting of his wife and four children, must go back and live with their family in Foxworth Hall. Both Christopher and his wife, Corrine, grew up in this mansion. It is because of their incestuous marriage that they were both banished from their home and their family.
Wanting to recapture her father's adoration and love, Corrine comes home and hides her children, so that she may inherit his vast fortune. She asks her mother to watch over the children, who are confined to the North wing of the house. They are not allowed to leave this area and can only go up into the attic. Soon their mother pretty much abandons them and leaves them to rot in the attic while she lives her life without them. Their evil grandmother does everything in her power to make them feel as bad, horrible, and dirty as possible, wanting to punish them for what their parents had done nearly 20 years prior. Soon the children discover that they are slowly being poisoned and why they are trying to be killed.
This book is an excellent tale of deceit, love, hate, pain, and triumph. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone! You won't be disappointed!
206 of 259 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2001
This is not fine literature, nor will anyone ever mistake is as such. The plot is better than that of the average bodice-ripper, with some interesting twists and a hint of mystery. The characters are a little one-dimensional, but Andrews throws in just enough lust, smut and violence to keep it interesting.
If books were foods this book would be a big bag of potato chips. You really should eat better, but sometimes you just have to cut loose and indulge.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
This was the first V.C.Andrews book I read, I was probably around 12 years old the same age as Cathy is in the story. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I devoured this book, because it took me to a world I had never experienced. Books are supposed to transport you, stimulate your imagination, and endear you to their characters and places this one does just that and more. I wanted to be a Dollanganger, I had the blonde hair and blue eyes but I wanted the fierceness in their souls also.
This book is about a family and I warn everyone that loves a saga, this one is a doozy. It has a mom and dad, two boys and two girls. Innocent enough right, but wait there's more! The father tragically dies, and the mom reveals that they are grossly in debt, that nothing is paid for so she wrote her mother for help. Her parents, it turns out, are rich as Rockefellers but there is a catch. The mom explains that she needs to get back into her parents "good graces" so the kids wont be sipping champagne by the pool until she does. They pack their belongings and in the dead of night travel to the grandparents grand estate. Quickly they are stewarded up to a secluded wing of the house, to a room that is 16 x 16, where they are to stay until the grandfather forgives their mothers sins. The grandmother is terrifying. She doesn't knit, or bake pies; she doles out scripture and says funny things like "your kids look normal" and "abominations". You feel for the kids, locked away in dark rooms, cold food to eat, always having to be quiet, their only playground is a huge dusty attic. The mother promises "a few days" but it turns into weeks, and months and years.
We are right there with Cathy and Chris and Carrie and Cory, children that are forced to grow up quickly in their minds, while some of their bodies don't grow at all. Kids need to be outside and they need the sunlight, without it they will whither away into wispy husks. This book is about their struggle to remain a family, and the journey into finding out the truth about their parents. It's about the cruelty of imprisonment and biblical damnation. Do the sins of the father revisit the son? Is the past destined to repeat itself? I have probably read this book 25+ times, it's engraved into my psyche. I don't know how to explain the fascination, other than that they characters themselves are so powerfully written, that you have to go back again and again to "visit".
An interesting note V.C. Andrews was born in 1923 and died of breast cancer in 1986. She herself wrote all of the Dollanganger series, My Sweet Audrina, and the first two in the Heaven series. After her death, her family hired a ghost writer named Andrew Neiderman to write more stories to be published under V.C. Andrews's name; he has since written 58 (!!!) novels that are supposedly "inspired" by the original writer's works. I have read a couple of his stories, and they are weak watered down insipid skeletal rip-offs of V.C. Andrews's genius. I think it's disgusting that her estate decided to keep cashing in on her name. I would think that any writer would want to be remembered for their work, their stories, and their characters. V.C. Andrews wrote from her heart and soul and she lives eternally through them forever.
27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2006
Bottom line, I've been alive 28 years on this earth and I've seen thousands and thousands of stories in the mediums of film, television, anime, books, and comic books, but they all pale in comparison to this. And I do not say that lightly.
I enjoy horror and thought nothing more could scare me. Nothing has in years but `Flowers In The Attic' caused me to lose two full weeks of sleep. I never thought a book could affect me so much. VC Andrews' writing style in very emotional. I really believed I was one of those children being tormented in that attic.
Most of what I knew about `Flowers In The Attic' was from the fans reminiscing on how they first read it as a teenager and it was their first "trashy book". A guilty pleasure of vulgarity.
`Flowers In The Attic' is vulgar, but far too disturbing to be classified as a "pleasure" or "trash." "Sick, depraved, disgusting, depressing, vile, and horrific," are better words. I could never have even envisioned that the darkest demon in hell could concoct such an atrocity. Were these the missing chapters of `The Necrnomicon' Satan removed because they were too offensive?
What's truly scary about the book is the way the children are tortured and destroyed mentally not just physically. The physical would be just a mere description of pain. The mental is evident in 12 year old Cathy's narration. We are not just seeing her pain we are feeling her emotions. Feeling her mind become twisted.
VC Andrews really gets into the reader's mind and soul so that like Cathy we share her insanity of thinking. When people think of incest they are typically disgusted and or amused. "Ewww West Virginia." "Ha ha, Jerry Springer." Instead we end up cheering them on! Andrews makes us feel such empathy for the children that we are thrilled that anything (no matter what) has put a smile on their faces. The romance between the two is so intense.
The drama of their love comes not from sex, that could simply be attributed to the raging hormones of teenagers, but rather the romance and how they are truly in love with each other. Cathy and Chris holding hands and staring into each others eyes is far more powerful and demented than anything they could have done in bed.
In the sequel `Pedals In The Wind', Cathy and Chris agree that their love is no doubt only a result of the trauma they suffered. The reality is that they did suffer the trauma and they do feel this way.
How did this come to rate as my ALL TIME FAVORITE EPIC? First and foremost is undoubtedly VC Andrews' writing style. She can make paint drying seem fascinating. The conflict between good and evil could not be more intense. Children make the best heroes because they are innocents and when they achieve courage it is more rewarding. The villains being adults is effective. They are far more evil than any dictator on a throne because they are victimizing their own children simply for sadistic pleasure. There is no logic to it.
In the attic the children experience everything, pain, the struggle to survive, exploration, and forbidden love which of course is the sweetest fruit in the garden.
`Flowers In The Attic' is not a guilty pleasure or a "hard read". I would recommend it because I was truly enthralled by the characters and really cared about what would happen to them next.
I highly recommend the sequel, `Pedals In The Wind', where we see how their bodies have left the attic but their minds still remain.
My depression from reading this book still remains weeks later. I feel at every moment of my life in the verge of tears. All I can ever think about is the horror of the attic just like the characters must feel. The story was so powerful, the drama is very very real.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2005
What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said? When I was in junior high, every girl I knew was reading this book and its sequals. I had dismissed them as trivial schlock but the more I saw people reading them, I just had to see what all the fuss was about. I was not disappointed. From the opening prologue to the haunting epilogue I was hooked. I've read this series so many times I practically know each book by heart. The prequel, Garden Of Shadows, I didn't find all that interesting. For one thing, no matter how good that book was, it was never going to make me have ANY sympathy for that witch of a Grandmother. She was evil.
Anyway, here it is 2005 and I'm reading this sereis again for the first time in 10 years. The story is just as captivating now as it was in junior high. Even though this series was marketed to teenage girls, and it is told from the point of view of a girl, being a guy I still found it to be a great read. I just can't put it down once I start it.
The story is haunting, creepy, exciting and beautiful all at the same time. The incest that everyone makes such a big deal out of is usually taken totally out of context. While I do find it to be disturbing and creepy, within the context of the novel and the circumstances in which the kids grow up, it is certainly understandable. People just make too big of a deal out of it. I do admire V.C Andrews for having the courage to write about a very taboo subject. She writes about it in such a convincing and delicate manner that you just totally believe in the story and the characters. While reading the book, I challenge anyone not to cry during the chapter 'Color All The Days Blue, But Save One For Black.' It's just not possible. And if you can read that chapter and not cry then you just have no heart at all.
This book will always be one of my all time favorite books. Just as good as it was 25 years ago. I don't recomend the entire series of five novels, but the first two are just great. After Flowers In The Attic, you have to go on to Petals On The Wind. For me the story just goes down hill starting with the third book, If There Be Thorns. I enjoy the entire series, but the story does get rather old after the second book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2013
Somewhere in my adolescence, I appear to have missed the memo about V.C. Andrews. It was only after a discussion on Goodreads that two friends pointed me in the direction of Flowers in the Attic, and it was only then I realised it was a book read by many tween/teen girls in the 1980s, which should have (almost) included me. I was immediately intrigued - after all, how explicit and creepy could this book really be?
It was only after I finished reading that I realised what the attraction here actually was - all those taboo topics that were rarely spoken about during my teen years, along with one huge one that's rarely spoken about now culminate into a book that although it appears to have been written for readers of a certain age, is the reading equivalent of watching a car crash for hormone-ridden teenagers.
To be honest, the writing is, well, crap. The language and dialogue is cringe-worthy and extremely outdated - the word 'golly' is used a whopping nineteen times, and often combined with 'day'. The characters are either blindingly naive or so nasty I wanted to throw them down the stairs, there are generous lashings of innuendo and the story itself borders on the ridiculous. How a bunch of children can live in an attic for a long period of time without a household full of servants even guessing that something other than 'hundreds of mice' was living upstairs, how the mothers friends and family don't guess that she'd popped out four kids and how the grandmothers crackpot religiousness both discouraged and yet in a way encouraged the inevitable really pushes the limits of believably, but in the end it was so engrossing I really didn't care.
And yet, I found this incredibly readable simply because it was like watching that car crash. It's creepy and controversial yet appallingly written, but I went straight out and bought the next book, Petals on the Wind.
This is a hard book to rate - on one hand I rolled my eyes so hard they hurt, on the other I was completely captivated.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I recall seeing the movie version of this book many years ago, and have been curious about the book for some time. As is usually the case, the book goes far beyond the scope of the movie. So many gray areas are colored to create a more complete and moving story. Certainly those that were moved by the movie will enjoy the novel.
After the death of their father, mother is left destitude and financially crippled. Seeing no alternative, she returns to the parents she left for a forbidden marrige all those years ago. As the mother returns home with her four children shocking family secrets are revealed at regular intervals. Many of the secrets were omitted from the movie version. As their mother atones in order to inherit her dying father's fortune, Cathy, Chris, and the twins are imprisoned in the attic. Their only contact with the outside word is the cruel grandmother that brings their daily meals each morning.
Their mother's visits become less frequent as the story develops, forcing the children to change in ways which their grandmother predicted. However, it also causes them to develop independence, realizing they can no longer depend on their mother. In effect, Chris and Cathy become their parents.
So many aspects of the novel are haunting that some readers may be unabe to continue. Despite their flaws, one can not help but pull for the children. Even as the story ends, so many questions remain unanswered. With the bar set so high with this book, it is difficult to project other books in the series that follows meeting anticipation.
49 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2000
I was introduced to this spellbinding saga when I hired the film Flowers in the Attic (about 5 years ago). When I learned that there existed a book about this story, I just went to look for it and bought it. It is a shockingly true book, a pure example of greed and selfishness. When I read it for the first time I could not stop thinking that I might turn out to be a bad parent since the mother in the story was so normal in the beginning but then she changed... But to understand the whole reason of such cruelty one has to read the whole series starting with Flowers in the Attic, then Petals on the Wind, If there be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday and finally the prequel of all the series: Garden of Shadows (the start of all the deceit) When I read Garden of Shadows, dealing with the early misfortunate life of Olivia, I thought that after all she was not as bad as she turned out to be. Ill treatment from her husband and the death of her two sons made her search for something to console herself into, which unfortunately turned out to be hypocritical religious teachings by the horrible and perverse John Amos, a distant cousin of Olivia and butler of the Foxworths. Unfortunately, the creator of such vile actions (the grandfather) suffers the least whilst the mostly innocent (the children) suffer the most. After reading this book, whenever I happened to pass by a large mansion, I used to ask myself if there might be someone hidden in one of the rooms of the uppermost floor, waiting to come out... My only regret is that this story is based on a true story.