Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Review: Flowers in the Attic

Summary: A major Lifetime movie event—the novel that captured the world's imagination and earned V.C. Andrews a fiercely devoted fanbase. Book One of the Dollanganger Family series.

At the top of the stairs there are four secrets hidden. Blond, beautiful, innocent, and struggling to stay alive…

They were a perfect family, golden and carefree—until a heartbreaking tragedy shattered their happiness. Now, for the sake of an inheritance that will ensure their future, the children must be hidden away out of sight, as if they never existed. Kept on the top floor of their grandmother’s vast mansion, their loving mother assures them it will be just for a little while. But as brutal days swell into agonizing months and years, Cathy, Chris, and twins Cory and Carrie realize their survival is at the mercy of their cruel and superstitious grandmother…and this cramped and helpless world may be the only one they ever know.

Book One of the Dollanganger series, followed by Petals in the Wind, If There be Thorns, Seeds of Yesterday, and Garden of Shadows. -- Penguin Pocket Books

When I heard that FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC by V.C. Andrews was being made into another movie -- one that stays true to the original novel, my intentions were to first re-read the book and then watch the movie. Well, you know what they say about best laid plans...

Like many women my age, FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC was huge when I was in middle school and high school. All of my friends were reading the Dollanganger Family series and I remember being thrilled when I received the boxed set for Christmas one year. (Obviously my parents were no longer previewing what I was reading!) I was caught up in Christopher and Cathy's story and couldn't get enough of their horrible grandmother. These books were like crack for me!

So fast forward almost thirty years when I decide to re-read FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC. When I sat down a few days ago to read this novel, I admit that I didn't remember many of the details. That's not to say that I didn't remember the big themes of the book, namely a mother who abandons her children, an abusive grandmother who locks them in an attic, and a not-so-normal relationship between a brother and sister. However, I didn't remember many of the specifics until I actually read them again. And then I was like, "Oh yeah!"

For those of you not familiar with the novel FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC, I can provide a brief summary. Basically the Dollanganger family has it all -- beautiful parents and four beautiful children -- until one day when the father dies in an accident. Corrine, the mother, returns to her childhood home in the hopes that she can inherit the family fortune, but she must keep her children a secret from her father. The grandmother reluctantly agrees to let the children live in the attic of their mansion; however, the mother's visits become less and less frequent; and the days become months and then years.

I have to say that I think my reading tastes have changed quite a bit since I was a teenager. That's probably an understatement. As I re-read FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC, I quickly realized that the writing wasn't so hot and that they dialogue was even a bit forced. Furthermore, I saw how outrageous the storyline was and much of the story was almost laughable.

Having said all that, I still enjoyed FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC and wanted to keep reading it. I think that says something to the staying power and fan obsession with this series. I can't even explain why I kept reading, but I did. There is just something about this novel that makes it hard to put down. Maybe it's the portrayal of evil? Maybe it's the sheer thought of being at the mercy of a monster with no alternatives? Or maybe it's the idea of an incestuous relationship? It's probably a mix of everything, but FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC draws in readers and causes some very intense reactions.

Remember when I said that I intended to watch the movie? Well, it was on last Saturday and I missed it. Fortunately, it is on again this Saturday and Sunday; and I have already set up my DVR. Check here for more details.

The movie has a great cast. It stars:
Heather Graham as Corrine
Ellen Burstyn as Olivia
Kiernan Shipka as Young Cathy
Dylan Bruce as Bart
Mason Dye as Christopher
Chad Willett as Christopher Sr.
Ava Telek as Carrie
Maxwell Kovach as Cory

It's difficult for me to highly recommend FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC for many of the reasons I mentioned above, but for some reason, I do think it's worth reading just for the experience of being part of the FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC craze!  I also suggest a re-read for those of you, like me, who loved this book as a child! There's just something about it!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

I'd never read this but have heard all the hype so read it recently. Needless to say, I was disappointed with it.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I read a bunch of these in middle school (I'm quite certain my parents had no idea what they were about either), but eventually I got tired of them. After they get out of the attic, the intrigue loses its lustre. A few years ago I did a challenge where I read a bunch of books from my youth, and this was one of them. Through my adult eyes, it was a quick read but pretty dumb.

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) said...

Oh my gosh - this brings me back to middle school! I loved VC Andrews and read everything of hers, including this whole series. My mom always commented "I can't believe you're reading that creepy VC Andrews"…I wonder if she knew exactly how creepy the books actually were. However, I agree with your comments that her books are probably most appreciated at a young age.

Nise' said...

I read this book when it first came out. I was 19. Probably would not like it as much now.