“Flowers in the Attic” by V. C. Andrews is the first book in the Dollanganger series and probably V.C. Andrews’ best-known series. I wanted to read this book partly because it is so well known I feel like I should, and also because I am purging my personal library but I don’t want to get rid of books that I haven’t read yet. Seeing as how I wasn’t impressed with the Casteel Family Series (Heaven, Dark Angel, Fallen Hearts, Gates of Paradise, Web of Dreams) and the Cutler Family Series (Dawn, Secrets of the Morning, Twilight’s Child, Midnight Whispers, Darkest Hour) that I read by V.C. Andrews, her collected works are on my short list to get read and get off my bookshelves.
Like her other books, “Flowers in the Attic” starts off with a tragedy – the father dies in a car accident and everyone’s lives are turned upside down. “From all that I heard, and overheard, fate was a grim reaper, never kind, with little respect for who was loved and needed.” (Flowers in the Attic, pg 22). The oldest girl, Cathy, is the narrator in “Flowers in the Attic”. Cathy’s mother becomes stagnant after learning of her husband’s death, and Cathy and her older brother Chris step up to care for the twins amongst the grief they too are feeling. She is forced to grow up much too quickly and has to accept not only the fact that her father is dead, but that their family is broke. It is this financial distress that causes Cathy’s mother to attempt to reconcile with her parents. We soon learn why Cathy’s mother left her parents behind.
Cathy, Chris, the twins, and their mother leave the home they knew and loved in the middle of the night to arrive at a new home that will become their prison. The children learn that they were the product of incest. Their mother married her half-uncle and because she did this she was disowned by her parents. Upon return to her childhood home, Cathy’s mother says that she needs to regain the affections of her father and in order to do that her children need to stay out of sight. The four children are shown to a room high up in the mansion that has a staircase into the attic and are given strict rules by the grandmother they meet and immediately dislike. “…nor will you allow your eyes to meet with mine; nor will you seek to show signs of affection toward me, nor hope to gain my friendship, nor my pity, nor my love, nor my compassion. All of them is impossible. Neither your grandfather nor myself can allow ourselves to feel anything for what is not wholesome.” (Flowers in the Attic, pg 61).
The grandmother was very easy to hate. It was clear from the beginning that she was a terrible person, the kind of person that will blame children for where they came from rather than embrace family. Despite the grandmother’s harsh words, Cathy and Chris work hard to keep hope alive, even when the effort seems fruitless. I enjoyed observing the different characters growing and evolving throughout the novel. It kept things interesting. “Evil was dark, crooked, crouched and small – it didn’t stand straight and smile at you with clear sky-blue eyes that never lied.” (Flowers in the Attic, pg 124).
Would I recommend this book? Surprisingly, yes. I was impressed with how well written it was, for a number of reasons. I feel like “Flowers in the Attic” is almost infamous in our culture, and I also have read other works by V.C. Andrews and was not impressed. So I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it, and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.