So, at a friend’s recommendation I just finished reading (well, really, more skimming for important plot points) Flowers in the Attic. I have to say, I’m really surprised this book was so popular! It’s so very, very bizarre. For one thing, the whole plot is totally unbelievable (It seems like it would make more sense for the kids to go in temporary foster care or something while the mom gets training for a job – deciding to win back your bajillionaire dying father’s affection while keeping his grandkids hidden from him in his house is . . . weird). Then, there’s the fact that these kids plights just get more and more miserable . . . it’s like an upper class Dickensian existence. When the kids are starving for two weeks, the boy cuts his veins open to give the twins his blood to drink to keep them from being thirsty! Isn’t that so unnecessary, and unhygenic? And would it actually be hydrating? Wouldn’t it make more sense to sneak some food from the freaking mansion they lived in?
And finally, the elephant in the room . . . incest! Ewww . . . how on earth could a brother and sister raised as such actually have sex with each other, even if they were confined? I feel like that requires a special congential form of crazy.
That being said, I thought it was a page turner, although from what I could tell a good chunk of it was, “We are stuck in the attic, the twins are sick, we’re trying to play make-believe to brighten up their world, and my brother wants to sex me. Oh, and gramma is mean.”
Anyways, I would be really interested in hearing about others’ reactions to this book. I would especially like to know how the whole incest angle was received by readers when the book was first published, because that seemed quite strange and gratuitous to me, but actually is also the only thing that really sets this book apart from your typical maudlin-romance-tragedy type novel.
When I was eight – yes, *eight *-- my grandmother gave me V.C. Andrews’ Dawn series (though I think at that point she was dead and someone else took over.)
Summary of the plot of the series:
Poor girl sleeps in a bed with her poor brother, who she often finds staring at her as she gets dressed in the morning.
Poor girl attends rich school where she is ostracized and humiliated, falls in love with rich boy at school who tries to snow her in the front seat of his car.
Suddenly one night, poor girl is awakened in the wee hours of morning from police who have discovered her ‘‘true’’ identity as the daughter of rich parents – yep, that’s right, poor girl and rich guy are brother and sister. She is ripped from the only family she has ever known and sent to live with her true, rich family.
Rich guy is devastated, decides the only proper course of action is to rape his newfound sister (in graphic detail.)
Poor girl realizes that the guy she thought was her poor brother is now the love of her life. They do it.
Poor girl and former poor brother get married and have a baby.
Next book in the series starts from the daughter’s perspective. Her parents die in a fire.
Then her uncle (the one who raped her mother) rapes her (in graphic detail.)
So she runs away from home.
The one thing I remember the most vividly is when she was laying in bed with her boyfriend, Niles, and they were basically trying really hard to be abstinent. She looks down, sees he’s got a hard-on, and asks, completely seriously, ‘‘Does it ache, Niles?’’
This stuff is mind-numbingly stupid, but when you’re a kid, it’s entertaining as hell.
I reread my VC Andrews books (the Dollanger and Dawn series) once or twice a year. They’re just brain candy, and I enjoy them, even though at this point, they’re practically memorized.
And, when I was bored last month, I bought the first book in the new series, which by this point is written by someone who wasn’t even born when VC Andrews was alive…it was absent of incest, but included a creepy sister, a dead mom, and a secret pregnancy. I’ll probably pick up the next one when it’s published…
I wondered this too. If I recommended it, I would say things like “it’s sooo trashy, but good in a crazy trashy way.” If I tried to claim it was “good” without describing its hilarious over-the-topness (melodrama only a 13 year old could love, really) my irony meter would explode.
File with “Forever” and “Valley of the Horses” under Books I read in Middle School Because I Heard There Was Sex in Them
Yes, all of her books were creepy as shit, far fetched, involved rich families and incest. At one point, I’d read every book of hers, but I think I stopped because 1) they were essentially the same story and 2) they become increasingly uninteresting variants of the same story.
My reaction to Flowers in the Attic can be summed up as “This shit is crazy!” and “Eww!”
Haha, actually, it was recommended to me for a very specific reason: as an only child, I’ve always been mildly intrigued by sibling-incest, and have always wondered if it happens more than people admit to. So, my friend recommended this book, for obvious reasons.
I can understand that it’s essentially a bodice-ripper, with all the typical trappings of that genre, and that can explain a lot of its popularity. However, I’m still surprised that more teenage girls weren’t squicked out to the point of discarding the book by the brother-sister sex. Or was it the over-the-top scandalousness that kept young girls hooked?
I read it when I was a teen, which is why I don’t think Twlight is a big deal (for teens - not the 40 YO women who are reading it). I still own a copy, and I read it and own it for this reason - I had a pretty bad time in my teenage years, with plenty of emotional and verbal abuse. That book comforted me a great deal because whatever was being done to me, they had it way worse than me. It also acknowledged something very fundamental, even in an over the top way, which no one around me was acknowledgeing - sometimes, mothers can be bad.
These were the books that we all snuck off our mother’s shelves and read in secret. They always seemed so scandalous at the time. I think I only read the Flowers in the Attic series and the Heaven series.
However when I was all growed up I hunted down My Sweet Audrina. Jebus Cripes. I refused to read it where I could be seen, but I still read it. So trashy, but hilarious.
I quit reading VC Andrews (long after she had nothing to do with them) for the same reason. She had one or two intriguing (for the age I was) stories then she just changed the setting, names, and which relative the main character would fall for (or would fall for her) and how the incest would come to light.
It worked though, those books are still making money hand over fist. Somebody is still reading them. I even thought about reading the newest series just to see if the formula is still the same.