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Flowers in the Attic (Dollanganger) Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 1990
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"At age 13, I survived almost entirely on green apple Jolly Ranchers and Flowers in the Attic, and to this day I can't look at the book without my mouth watering. My much loved copy must have come from a supermarket (it was impossible to go to a supermarket in the '80s to, say, secretly stock up on green apple Jolly Ranchers, without a V.C. Andrews book lurking by checkout)... I loved that book.
The narrator, Cathy, who ages from 12 to 15 over the course of the story, is part princess (she is locked in a tower; she is beset by cruel foes; she has long, perfect hair until the grandmother tars it one night), and part witch (she's tantrum-prone, pessimistic, cynical). Basically, I adored her because she is like all girls around the age of 13: at turns sulky, giving, selfish, charming, nasty and heroic.
Flowers in the Attic is most famous for the fact that Cathy and her brother fall in love. It's a weird, strangely old-fashioned love story (and is Chris ever the stuff of teenage dreams: handsome, brilliant, extravagantly chivalrous), but it's not what hooked me. What kept me circling around to the beginning was that hyper-Gothic female evil. The emotionally cold, physically abusive grandmother. The cloying, manipulative, mind-warping mother. It felt so new and stunning to me — these witches who seemed quite real. I devoured the sequels less to learn about Cathy's tragic love story than to see what kind of woman Cathy became — princess, witch, a bit of both? — and what she'd do with all those awful urges she inherited." (Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl, as related on NPR's All Things Considered) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
THIS IS THE EXTRAORDINARY NOVEL THAT HAS CAPTURED MILLIONS IN ITS SPELL!
All across America and around the world, millions of readers have been captivated by this strange, dark, terrifying tale of passion and peril in the lives of four innocent children, locked away from the world by a selfish mother.
FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC is the novel that began launched the extraordinary career of V.C. Andrews "RM", winning her an immediate and fiercely devoted worldwide following; today there are more than 85 million copies of her books in print.
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Top Customer Reviews
Brother and sister, Chris and Cathy, started out with the perfect life--A loving father, a doting and caring mother--they never needed or wanted for anything. All was good in the Dollanganger home and then to add to their ever loving family, a set of twins were born, Cory and Carrie. Four lovely children the neighbors penned as the 'Dresden Dolls'. Their father was a traveling salesman and he made it a point to come home every weekend to spend time with his family. He loved them more than life itself, until a tragic accident changed the lives of the entire family forever!
As a result of this tragedy, their mother had no choice but to pack up what was left to her family and head to Virginia where her parents lived. The children had never met their maternal grandparents and knew nothing about her, but what they soon learned would drastically change them physically and mentally for the rest of their lives.
Death has a way of opening up the eyes of those who are left to grieve. What we once perceive as one way, quickly can turn to something else, which the Dollanganger children unfortunately learned. The abuse they suffered being locked away up in a huge attic with a sadistic grandmother who never knew love which was a tragedy in and of itself. The two eldest children, Chris and Cathy, discovered horrible secrets their only existence soon told and were left dumbfounded by the mother they adored so much, to find out she wasn't quite the 'Momma' they thought her to be. Talk about having to grow up overnight is an understatement.
This story will take you on an emotional roller coaster in which the reader soon wants to disembark. There was plenty of thrills, but not in a fun and loving way. This classic definitely lived up to all the hype and more! Simply outstanding read. I've never read anything more eloquently told. If you haven't read this one, you most certainly should add it to your reading list.
Now that I've read the book, I must see if the movie lives up to what my mind's eye helped me to view? Hmm, probably not!
I think that is a testament to the writing that gives powerful descriptions yet fuels one's own imagination. I read the series then and I'm reading them again, thanks to Amazon Kindle. I saw the 1987 movie and was quite disappointed with it.
As for the story itself: this is one of the most twisted, interesting, horrific, entertaining books I've ever read. The characters change before your eyes. The loving mother who becomes greedy, malicious, self-centered and absorbed; the grandmother who is profoundly religious and hates her daughter for doing evil in the eye of God and society; they mysterious grandfather who just won't die, but on whose death mother and children place their hopes. The kids are just kids, happy well-adjusted, loving, normal, kids. Until the mother, after her husband dies in a tragic car accident (of course he's more than her husband as we learn) moves herself and children to Virginia to live with her parents. However, the children will live in a secluded section of the house from which household servants are restricted, but one day a week to clean. They must never be heard, seen or even exist until the mother wins back her father's lost love for doing the abominable in the eye of God. The grandmother will bring them their meals once a day, in the morning, with strict instructions NEVER to address her unless she addresses them first. The grandmother is a hateful, violent, scornful, heartless, religious woman who detests her daughter's devil's spawn. Her punishments are severe and cruel. The children are allowed in the attic, for the noise there won't reach the rest of the mansion; especially on cleaning days when the servants are to clean that section of the house.
In the attic the four children find dirt, junk, mice, darkness and depression; but they also find adventure, education, creativity, talent and some fun. The older brother builds swings for the two youngest to swing and play (though they are afraid and don't like the attic); he installs a ballet barre for the next oldest sister to practice her dream of being a prima ballerina.
During the three plus years they lived this way, in one room with a musty and cold in the winter and hot in the summer attic, they lived. Their mother went on with her own life with all the money and fortune and social status she desired and neglected her children upstairs. The grandmother brought them a picnic basket of food each morning and tortured them with threats and the burning fires of Hell, while watching and waiting for one of them to disobey her rules so she could punish them. Punish them for being born, punish them for being alive.
Punished they were....deprived of fresh air, sunshine, good meals and love, they wilted. They only had each other. The two oldest became mother and father to the two youngest, even though the two oldest were children themselves.
This story is told from the eldest daughter's viewpoint. She loves so readily, but through her experience in these years, she learns to hate so much that it absorbs her. I don't know that anyone could blame her for that. The one thing she knows she doesn't want it to be anything like her mother. She gets angry at her older brother for defending their mother and still loving her. All the while she misses her mother, needs her mother, hates her mother for what she has done to the four of them, especially the youngest. She slowly becomes everything she hated about her mother....but that is later.
As I said....this is a twisted story; which continues in sequels with continues the story. However, the "children in the attic" aren't demented. They are products of the lives they had during their most formative years. (Heathcliff and Kathy in "Wuthering Heights" were demented.)
Read the books....don't watch the movies first.
I first read this as a teenager and found it titillating and I'm pretty sure it began the loss of my innocence. Now as an adult, I go back to it and a few other VC Andrews novels when I need to take a break from the real world for a while and put my personal issues in perspective. If you're looking for some thought provoking, profound, even well-written literature, this is not for you. But if you're looking for the reading equivalent of junk food, this is it.