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Book Review: Flowers in The Attic

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Trying something new today. I like the format of video books reviews a lot. Let me know if you hate it. Or love it. Bottom line regardless: lay off the V.C. Andrews!

Did I get it wrong? Is darling VC actually the Nabokov of our day? Let me know in the comments section.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Megan Horton April 15, 2009, 5:26 pm

    You are so right about everything you said. VC Andrews does suck. I love your description of the book covers and all the books in the grocery store, just lined up all sad lookin on the bottom shelf. It was a terrible book, and I hated it. I don’t want to end up married to my brother, not that you’re not awesome. I love the video format so keep doing it!

  • Josh Hanagarne April 15, 2009, 5:40 pm

    Have you read any of the others?

  • Cyndi April 15, 2009, 10:47 pm

    I confess I read an inordinate amount of VC Andrews when I was a tormented young teen. They were typically about a dollar and fifty cents at the local book exchange. My mother should have stopped me. Your review is perfectly on point. I’ve since gone back and paged through a couple as an adult and was stricken by first the astonishingly bad stylistic composition (see flagrant abuse of ellipses and exclamation marks) and uninspiring and drear subject matter. Perhaps even more disturbing would be the glorification of the all-to-predictable incestuous relationship using the standard romance novel format as alternately a cousin, brother, uncle, etc is set up as the romantic hero to some tragically beautiful young thing who uses the word “for” entirely too much. And I quote: “There’s going to come a day when you are going to be the helpless one, and I’m going to hold the whip in my hands. And there’s going to be food in the kitchen that you are never going to eat, for, as you incessantly say, God sees everything and he has his way of working justice!” – Cathy Dollanganger – Flowers in the Attic

  • Josh Hanagarne April 15, 2009, 11:02 pm

    You poor dear. What I remember most about VC is the amount of explanation points in every paragraph. That and the pages of ALL CAPS. You could flip through the book and see all the shouting from the corner of your eye.

  • Ben Owens April 15, 2009, 9:31 pm

    I’ve never read any of them, and happily never will. My sister likes them though. I’ll show her this review and see what she says.

    I do like the video format. Very entertaining.

  • Lindsey Owens April 15, 2009, 9:33 pm

    I liked it too!!!!!!!!!! Not the book, the review.

  • Josh Hanagarne April 15, 2009, 9:42 pm

    Lindsey, you are wise. Wise and brave.

  • Megan Horton April 16, 2009, 2:58 pm

    Oh I read all of the Flowers in the Attic ones, I think there were four but never any of the other series. I was going to, but I think you wisely talked me out of it.

    • Josh Hanagarne April 16, 2009, 3:11 pm

      Ben, I’ve decided that in September we’re going up to Adam Glasses’ gym in North Dakota for the TSC. You and me.

  • Rachaela November 20, 2011, 10:36 pm

    I think the book struck a nerve in a couple of places, which is why it was such a hit. The incest angle was seriously daring for it’s time, but in my opinion, what made people react the way they did to the book was that they could relate to a lot of issues Cathy and Christopher faced.

    The first thing was they were trying to love a parent whom it was becoming increasingly obvious that she was more concerned with her own happiness and comfort then the welfare of her children. Corrine was weak and I believe it was an ‘out of sight, out of mind thing’ for her in that if she didn’t have to face her children suffering, then she didn’t have to think about them. It would be one thing if their mother was actively abusive like their grandmother, but she kept telling her children she loved them and promising them that they would soon leave the attic, while the living situation became worse and worse, ultimately culminating in the death of their brother Cory. It was only at the end when they realized that their mother had been lying to them for a year about their grandfather being dead, and that they were continually kept hidden because of a codicil in their grandfather’s will disinheriting their mother if she was proven to have had children by her previous marriage and had no intention of them ever leaving the attic. The children were not blind to their mother’s faults, but up until the end, they didn’t think she would try to poison them to make the problem go away. That kind of betrayal from their mother was soul destroying. More than a few people who read the book had parents whom they desperately wanted to believe loved them despite it being apparent that their children were never a high priority for them.

    The second thing was Cathy and Christopher being pushed into the parenting role of their younger siblings. Again, that situation was something that many people who read the book had experience with. I have personally talked with people whose parents abdicated their parental responsibilities to their older children because they were involved with drugs or alcohol and the kids were trying to keep their family together, shouldering responsibilities that they were far too young for but did it anyway. I’ve also know of mothers who would ALWAYS choose their men in their lives over their children. Some of those men would beat or sexually molest those children and the mothers would deny it was happening because they didn’t want to lose their man.

    OK, now we get to the incest angle. Don’t deny it, you’ve been waiting for this part. This is something a lot of people don’t talk about now, let alone in the late 1970s when the book came out. Some children are isolated either physically or psychologically and are not getting their needs met from their parents for love, affection, fun, praise, comfort, belonging, etc. More than a few turn to a sibling if they cannot get it from outside sources. This really messes with their heads, especially when they are young and their hormones kick in. In Cathy and Christopher’s case, they had assumed the parental role for their younger siblings, they were spending 24 hours a day together in that attic, were emotionally dependent on each other, their father was dead and they had trust issues with their mother. Their love map got all skewed and their feelings for one another became romantic. Even under circumstances that are not so extreme, more than a few siblings have ‘noticed’ the other while growing up, though most don’t do anything about it. However, from what I’ve read, sibling incest is more common than parent-child incest and more underreported. But back in the day, nobody talked about it. This book did and people who sibling incest had happened to (especially women) just couldn’t get enough of that book no matter how poorly written since probably most had no reference to this sort of thing happening to anyone else in literature.

    From what I’ve read about V.C. Andrews, she was the youngest of three children and the only girl. When she was a teenager, she fell down a flight of stairs at her school and severely injured her back and hip. Arthritis and a failed spinal surgical procedure forced her to spend most of her life on crutches or in a wheelchair. Since most young men were not exactly banging down the door to date or befriend a crippled girl (she never married), and she couldn’t participate in the same activities as her peers, I think she was desperately lonely and the only males who were paying any attention to her were her older brother(s). That’s how I believe the incest theme got started. You take love and affection where you can get it. I don’t believe that she actually had incestuous relations with her brother(s), but I do think she was aware of her own feelings, which probably unnerved the hell out of her and she obsessed over it. While some people deal with these things by trying not to think about them, others can’t stop thinking about it. That’s probably why the incest angle played such a prominent role in her books.

    • Josh Hanagarne November 21, 2011, 9:30 am

      Hi Rachael. Would you be interested in writing a Book review for this blog? I would love to hear more.

  • Natalie P. December 11, 2011, 6:08 am

    Personally, I enjoy the writing style. As a pampered princess, I don’t often fantasize about being treated badly and then having my life turn fantastic, so I enjoyed the content and the pace of the book. I don’t think it’s quite fair to say that they “come out every other day”, or that there are “countless” sequels, because although she has written plenty of books, there are only 5 books in the Flowers in the Attic series, which is honestly less than most book series, and I enjoyed every one. (Garden of Shadows was my favorite, though. :P)

    I have just graced you with my opinion. You’re welcome, person who is probably way older than me with more life experience… life experience and age are over-rated. 😉

    • Josh Hanagarne December 11, 2011, 8:31 am

      You are my new favorite commenter, pampered princess. Thank you.

      • Natalie P. December 11, 2011, 12:24 pm

        You’re welcome. (=^.^=)