“Children are very wise intuitively; they know who loves them most, and who only pretends.”
It would be an understatement to say that I was a fan of V.C. Andrews growing up. I was an "uber-fan." My sister had these books on her bed when I was in the fourth grade, and I was fascinated by the covers, the way they opened to reveal these morbid looking family photos inside the cover, and of course I loved the movie made in 80s. Now I know the movie is horrid, although the score from Christopher Young still remains one of my top favorites to this day. Soon I had my old grubby little hands on this series, which fascinated me back then.
There was something sinister but exciting about V.C. Andrews original stories. I had no idea then what Gothic style was, I just knew I was hooked by the shocking developments, the taboo subjects, the weird twists and betrayals, and of course the innocent main characters sucked into the morbid world.
I was dreading this fourth re-read a little because it's been so long since I've read this one - I was sadly let down a few years back with another re-read of My Sweet Audrina, just as I was when I re-read Garden of Shadows. The overly melodramatic writing went down like cough syrup. I'm happy to say that wasn't the case here - it wasn't a perfect read with the writing style, but it really was her shining moment. Not weighted down yet by overly done prose, it crossed the flowery writing line sometimes but reeled itself back in before it was obnoxious.
You'd think that a book where kids sit in one room and an attic for years would become lethargic with pacing, but somehow Andrews keeps it entertaining. If you didn't know the story at all, I imagine it would have kept you even more glued, but for me I still found it hard to put down. There were little tidbits I'd forgotten.
The grandmother is a kind of horror that hides in the background - she's not really shown much considering the length of the book - but her scenes impress themselves in the brain so deeply it seems she's always there somewhere, looming about. The mother fascinated me in book form - in both movie versions, she's rather one-dimensional - but in the novel, the transition she goes through sort of intrigued me. She didn't come off as a straight villain all the time, although ultimately she did the unforgivable things. It was a morbid character study on a person who lost their pillar of strength and becomes consumed by greed.
Would anyone else have found the twin Carrie annoying? Cory was much more adorable. I can't stand screaming, tantrum throwing little girls - but the group was well done anyway. They were similar but there was also that contrast of personality strengths that played off each other. Not only that, but Andrews shows the depth of betrayal and hope the characters hold, unique to them, with the people in their lives that they love. How they come to realizations and acceptances at different times, how they handle it, played off the psychology of convincing characters.
With this re-read, I think I was more impressed with the creativity of the children than I had been before. The paper garden in the attic that changed seasons as seasons outside changed - Andrews really concentrated on this to show the depth of their coping, a way they tried to keep connected to an actual world outside that seemed more unreal the longer they were locked up.
There's tragedy, there's taboo (that incest thing ya'll), there's betrayal - all kinds of twists that kept me going through this re-read. Inching toward five star, but the writing style has flaws. This was always Andrews best book, and now it's time to start re-reading the rest of the series for review. I pretty much forgot everything in Petals on the Wind, If there be thorns, and Seeds of Yesterday. Hope they hold up as well.
“Love doesn't always come when you want it to. Sometimes it just happens, despite your will.”
1987 Movie Trailer:
Reviews of the Series: