Re-reading novels of childhood is a mixed bag. It's wondrous to revisit old books, similar to finding long-lost friends again, rekindling love once felt...but there's always the small chance you've changed enough not to feel the emotion you did before. Sadly that happened to me in this case, which in a small way makes me regret reading it, although if I got to rewind time I'd do the same thing.
I found myself drooling over the second half with as much relish as I likely did when I was a kid, but the first section? An absolute chore. The writing style is overly dramatic, as it usual with gothic and Andrews, but it can become cloying quickly. Not much happens the first half of the book, other than the main character Audrina walking around aimlessly confused, not able to make sense of anything.
This repetitive action does cause the direness of the situation to ram itself further in the readers head, but it's hard to keep patience. After awhile I was saying, I get it already, move on! I didn't need nine chapters showing the same confusion and little change. I began to get depressed, shuddering to think I'd end up giving the book I once loved a negative review if it continued the same trail. Thankfully it did start changing a bit, and the end was good enough to redeem itself a star.
Flaws aside, Andrews always was a whiz with characters. When flaws were present in her paper-people, they were usually notched up to such a dramatic degree they became shocking. My Sweet Audrina is the same, with each character deceptive in their own way. The father in Audrina's life, Damian, is one of the more intriguing of the bunch. He sort of reminds me of 'The Women of Eden.' He wishes to control and never be left, but takes a cruel, sadistic pleasure once the woman is too vulnerable to leave his side. The women he attracts - from Audrina's mother, aunt, sisters, etc., blossom mainly under him only.
You see their personalities only in how they react to how he treats them. With Audrina's mother, you hear her regret of not pursuing a career in music and how she relates to the father, with the aunt you hear about her relationship with the father, and it's the same with everyone else. It makes me wonder why V.C. Andrews did that in a way. Seeing a woman as herself with personal problems not involving one man would have been refreshing too, but she could have done this to show the extreme degree the women were dependent on Damian. Either way, it ended up being one of the more fascinating areas of the book. The last few pages were chilling, and without giving anything away I'll just say I'm happy with the ultimate decision. Strangely, I shouldn't be happy, I should be the opposite. It's strange that somehow, to a degree, Andrews words had the power to put me under the same spell Damian wove over the other women.
It's a given the book wouldn't be as exciting since I remember the end, but I ignored that fact. I'm not sure how many first-time readers will guess the big finale, but I imagine the book will turn out a lot better for those who remain clueless. It's a whopper if you don't know what's coming, sort of comparing the viewers who watched The Sixth Sense. I debated on Audrina's reaction with Arden. Was she too harsh, or not harsh enough?
As a summary, if My Sweet Audrina had been more tightly edited, it would have proven a better experience. Too much psychological whining and not enough action grew boring, and the writing style at times was too dramatic. On the other hand the characters - especially Vera and Damien - were engrossing enough to where you could never stop reading. The family, house, and style of writing were so odd and haunting that it's power can't be forgotten. The ending gave me a strange chill, as most of her books do. Despite the dramatic flair and occasional flaws, it's no wonder V.C. Andrews became such a legend in the first place, and blissfully remains one to this day.
Also, check out this amazing art from a Deviant artist for the book
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