Flowers In The Attic
February 25, 2018 11:29 PM - by V.C. Andrews - Subscribe

“Love doesn’t always come when you want it to. Sometimes it just happens, despite your will.”

Flowers in the Attic is a 1979 Gothic novel by V. C. Andrews.

As the back cover states: "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."

NPR: 'In The Attic': Whips, Witches And A Peculiar Princess

Buzzfeed: The Ghost Of V.C. Andrews: The Life, Death, And Afterlife Of The Mysterious Flowers In The Attic Author

Slate: Flowers in the Attic, Daughters, and Moms

Vulture: Nostalgia Fact-Check: How Does V.C. Andrews’s Flowers in the Attic Hold Up?

Book Cover Creation: Flowers in the Attic

Gifs tagged Flowers in the Attic at Giphy
posted by roger ackroyd (19 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I was 12 when I first read this book and subsequently gobbled up the rest of the series as they appeared. I loved them in a uniquely twisted way (although it was very obvious that the Grandmother prequel hadn't been written by Virginia). The last time I read them all was about 3 years ago (I usually leave a good few years between re-reads) and although the writing style becomes more grating to me with each re-read, the story continues to fascinate, so much so that I have to read every book until the bitter* end (although I skip that Grandmother one more often than not).

posted by h00py at 12:21 AM on February 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

So glad you posted this—how has it been almost five years since the last time we talked about Flowers? (And one more about a movie adaptation.)

From the Buzzfeed article: The letter concludes: "I call my novel, which is not truly fiction… FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC." (Andrews always said that a doctor who had cared for her during her teen hospital stays had been hidden away for years, and his story had stuck with her; he became the character of Chris Dollanganger.)

Is this more or less likely than Cathy becoming a ballet dancer?
posted by asperity at 8:15 AM on February 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

I never read any of these, but they were inescapable - if your store sold any books, it had a shelf of V.C. Andrews.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:18 AM on February 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Reading some descriptions of the more recent books, I should probably pick up some of those. "Reluctant girl vampire" sounds like fun.

Also: He continues to write novels under his own name, and is peddling the prequel to The Devil's Advocate, which tells the story of how Milton, the devil, came to New York and started his law firm.

I think this would be more entertaining if Neiderman could somehow time-shift it into the much more precarious legal employment world of the last ten years than if he sticks to the timeline of the original novel. Alternatively, he could write a thinly-veiled Matlock tie-in novel, except instead of Andy Griffith it's Satan. (I'm sorry, Andy Griffith.)

In conclusion, I'm gonna go see if I can find some powdered donuts.
posted by asperity at 8:42 AM on February 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

I remember one summer all the teen girls at the swim club were reading Christopher Pike novels, and then suddenly we all switched to VC Andrews. It was a weird summer.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 10:08 AM on February 26, 2018 [5 favorites]

I think I only read bits of this - I was a somewhat cloistered, goody-two-shoes teen. I think I would read bits here and there, and when things started getting a little too sexy I'd close the book blushing.

But I had most of the plot breathlessly related to me by a friend when a bunch of us were at a slumber party, and one of the girls there who was a big fan was telling us in detail what happened. Except when she got up to the point where the brother and sister finally sleep together, another girl there suddenly shouted "oh HELL no" and refused to let her continue.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:08 AM on February 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

I read Flowers in the Attic for the first time when I was 32 years old, on my very first international trip to a non-English speaking country: specifically, an overnight flight and then a layover in Rome en route to Tunisia. I could not have chosen a better book for this. It so perfectly complemented that confused, kind of giggly state of delirium that comes from being awake 24 hours and knowing you can't go to bed yet and also you can't talk to anyone around you and are in a weird basement of a foreign airport waiting to take a bus out onto the tarmac to get on an airplane with Arabic writing on the side that I can't even come close to reading. HOOBOY. Part of me wishes I'd read it at 12 like everyone else, and part of me is so glad to have had the hilarious experience of reading it under those circumstances. I remember so clearly sitting there in the basement airport area being like "WHAT?"
posted by something something at 11:33 AM on February 26, 2018 [6 favorites]

It's a pity that their actual first encounter was rape. I guess that was necessary to keep Cathy sufficiently morally pure to be the protagonist.
posted by praemunire at 12:54 PM on February 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

I read this book not too long after it was first published, around when I was fifteen. This was when it was just an adult bestseller and nothing more.

What I recall was that -- even as a teenage boy in 1980 -- the book was amazingly lurid. I couldn't believe that a book about incestuous children locked away in an attic could be a national bestseller.

So, anyway, I've managed to live to this late date without knowing until now that this became a teen girl's rite-of-passage. I never would have guessed -- I found some of the links above to be quite illuminating and interesting.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:59 PM on February 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

To this day I remain unclear on why my mother let me read this -- in junior high, about 1990 -- because she was pretty strict about trashy media, and obviously had to know what it was about (I'm sure she read it, she goes through close to 400 books a year, she reads everything), and I didn't read it on the down low or anything, I just sat there reading it in the living room. We passed them around in the hallway at junior high and the teachers didn't say anything either. It's like all the adults I knew decided just to shrug that a bunch of 12-year-old girls were reading a lurid incest novel!

Actually, I'm gonna ask her next time I see her. (If I remember to!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:11 PM on February 26, 2018 [6 favorites]

I feel like adults tend/tended to be more lenient on written content than visual. Which is probably the correct tactic: something you read in a book and don't understand is likely to just go over your head, whereas visuals will force you to confront whatever just happened. But I'm not sure that would apply for this book!
posted by praemunire at 9:08 PM on February 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

My mother got me this one as a desperation play when I was sick for weeks and had read everything in the house twice over. I promptly became a voracious VC Andrews monster and suspect my mom came to regret that choice.
posted by Stacey at 5:02 AM on February 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

A few weeks ago a friend of mine emailed me to tell me she was sitting on the GO train listening to a young woman talk about how she reads V.C. Andrews, and then segue into talking about how no one respects her.

I read a number of the V.C. Andrews books when I was 14 and a friend of mine was into them and would loan them to me. I think what I enjoyed most about them was the materially lavish, luxurious lives the characters lead. My family lived a very no-frills, shoestring kind of life and it was entrancing to read about life in a mansion with servants and having the best and most beautiful of everything. Yes, the characters sometimes are poor, but they never remain that way for the entire novel. I don't believe that these novels would have been anything like as popular if they'd been set in middle class or working class existence with no fairly tale benefactor ever arriving on the scene to whisk them away to a life of luxury, and of course the money and privilege of the characters is what allows them to get away with a lot of decidedly criminal shit.

I won't say I didn't enjoy the non-incestuous sex scenes, of which there are quite a few, though I later realized that they read as though they were written by someone who'd never had sex in her life.

I just did some googling, and my word, there are a LOT of these books. There are 25 different series. I seem to have read only the ones actually written by V.C. Andrews: the entire Dollanganger series, My Sweet Audrina, and the first few books from the Casteel series.
posted by orange swan at 6:42 PM on February 27, 2018 [4 favorites]

Yeah, agreed. One of the most memorable scenes for me is when she goes to try on her mothers clothes and jewelry, and looks at the Swan Bed. I wanted a Swan Bed for /years/.
posted by corb at 6:19 AM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh my god, I just reread this now, and it is way more horrible and terrible than we thought at the time. Also, Christopher the Younger is a terrible garbage human being. It's not just that he rapes his sister when he learns she has kissed a man, it's also all the "WHY DO YOU PRANCE AROUND MAKING ME WANT YOU" nonsense.
posted by corb at 1:28 PM on March 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Oh my god, I just reread this now

I keep coming back to this, and noooo don't do this to yourself!
posted by asperity at 10:01 AM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Golly-lolly, is this book even trashier when you read it as an adult! This made a Big Impression on me when I was a kid, and as an adult it was even more incredible. It's so...lurid. And pointless seeming. But so readable.

Also, it has sentences like this: “I could hear him breathing deeply my scent.”
posted by mynameisluka at 8:01 PM on March 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

I think I mentioned this in my previous post about FitA, but I do wonder if there are still books like this that get passed around by kids and whispered about in hushed tones.

My parents were strict with me in many ways, but for some reason rarely questioned what I was reading. As in, I remember them asking me about one book, ever. I was allowed free reign in the library and in my parents' bookshelves. I think it's as praemunire said, that adults tended to be more lenient about the written word because they figure [correctly or incorrectly] that stuff you don't understand just goes over your head.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:50 AM on March 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's like all the adults I knew decided just to shrug that a bunch of 12-year-old girls were reading a lurid incest novel!

I was in middle and high school when these came out. We girls were also reading a lot of romance novels popular at the time and sharing them at school. I particularly remember Passion's Proud Captive, which I picked up off my mother's bookshelf. I read it many times and has to be included in any list of formative books for me. It opens with the heroine being lashed to the mast of a ship to be raped by the sailers; she's rescued by a pirate or something who eventually, after a long period of rising sexual tension, rapes her to glorious orgasm; in the course of the book she is the sexual captive of a colonial governor, and is also auctioned off by an Arab sheik, before finding her happy ever after.

Even at the time, I remember finding it odd that parents would flip out about us watching an R-rated movie on HBO at a sleepover, or a boy being caught with a girlie mag, but we were openly carrying around these books were arguably pornography.

I also remember, since I got so many of these books from my mom's shelf, realizing that she was probably masturbating to them...just like I was.
posted by Orlop at 9:59 AM on May 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

« Older Counterpart: Act Like You've B...   |  Podcast: Hello from the Magic ... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments