Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews
Published by: HarperTorch
Publication Date: September 1st, 2011 (first published 1979)
Series: Dollanganger, #1
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Mystery
Date Read: December 31st, 2015
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Booktopia
The haunting young adult gothic romance classic that launched Virginia Andrews’ incredible best-selling career.
Up in the attic, four secrets are hidden. Four blonde, beautiful, innocent little secrets, struggling to stay alive…
Chris, Cathy, Cory and Carrie have perfect lives – until a tragic accident changes everything. Now they must wait, hidden from view in their grandparents’ attic, as their mother tries to figure out what to do next. But as days turn into weeks and weeks into months, the siblings endure unspeakable horrors and face the terrifying realisation that they might not be let out of the attic after all.
Virginia Andrews is a publishing phenomenon, with over 100 million books in print. Still as terrifying now as it was when it first appeared, Flowers in the Attic is a gripping story of a family’s greed, betrayal and heartbreak.
This book begins by introducing the beautiful Dollanganger family. Corrine and Christopher have four children often referred to as “The Dresden Dolls, named after their blonde hair, blue eyes and doll-like beauty: Chris (14), Cathy (12), and twins Carrie and Cory (5). They are a very loving family and are well-off financially.
When Christopher dies in a tragic accident, they are forced to leave their old life behind and are taken to their Grandparents mansion located in Ipswich, Massachusetts by their mother, Corrine, where they were locked in a single room which leads to a huge attic. This is the story of those years they spent locked away from the world, creating a new world in the attic.
“Children are very wise intuitively; they know who loves them most, and who only pretends.”
The novel is written in the first person from the point of view of Cathy. She and Chris have to become parents to Carrie and Cory. They have to take on the responsibilities of adults. I love the characters. They seem so real and relatable, the characters were well-developed, I found each of the characters realistic and unique and felt that I could feel what they were feeling, especially Cathy, the protagonist.
“Way upstairs there are four secrets hidden; blond, beautiful, innocent and struggling to stay alive.”
They were all similar but there was also that contrast of personality strengths that played off each other. Not only that, but Andrews shows the depth of betrayal and hope the characters hold, unique to them, with the people in their lives that they love. How they come to realizations and acceptances at different times, how they handle it, played off the psychology of convincing characters.
The grandmother is a kind of horror that hides in the background, she’s not really shown much considering the length of the book. The mother fascinated me in the novel, the transition she goes through sort of intrigued me. She didn’t come off as a villain all the time, although ultimately she did unforgivable things. It was a morbid character study on a person who lost their pillar of strength and becomes consumed by greed.
Even if you die before I do, I’ll remember our lives up here and in the attic. I’ll see us dancing beneath the paper flowers, with you so graceful, and me so clumsy. I’ll smell the dust and the rotting wood, and I’ll remember it as the perfume sweet as roses, because without you it would have been so bleak, and so empty. You’ve given me my first taste of what love can be.
This book is so descriptive. When I read it, I always imagine everything so clearly and I feel so connected to the story. I feel like I know what the mansion and the attic looks like. During the book, our characters face the constant lack of maternal love, the emotional oppression and a life in the shadows.
I was impressed with the creativity of the children. The paper garden in the attic that changed seasons as seasons outside changed – Andrews really concentrated on this to show the depth of their coping, a way they tried to keep connected to an actual world outside that seemed more unreal the longer they were locked up.
This book tackles a lot of serious dark subject matter, but V. C. Andrews really approaches it in a subtle and unassuming way, essentially making it more digestible for the greater public to view and commentate on.
Chris said it was a deadly crime to waste time. Time was valuable. No one ever had enough, or lived long enough to learn enough…And look at us: we had time to spare, hours to fill, a million books to read, time to let our imaginations take wing. The creative genius begins in the idle moment, dreaming up the impossible, and later making it come true.
Incest can be a difficult subject to digest; however, Andrews handles it with care. But ultimately, I think the reader has to forget the family relationships between some of these characters and just focus on the intensity of the drama between two people regardless of their relationships. The relationship between Cathy and Chris builds and builds and you can’t see it ending any other way. And then there are so many secrets to be realized in this series.
Secrets are exposed, lies are told and terrible things happen to the children. There is just something about this book that I thoroughly enjoy. I got completely absorbed in their world. There was something sinister but exciting about V. C. Andrews stories. I had no idea then what Gothic style was, I just knew I was hooked by the shocking developments, the taboo subjects, the weird twists and betrayals, and of course the innocent main characters sucked into the morbid world. I adore this book and hope that people who haven’t heard of it might give it a chance!