Becky's Reviews > Flowers in the Attic

Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Mar 13, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: mystery-and-thrillers, the_south, 2011, reviewed
Read from March 13 to 22, 2011

Confession: I was a child of the 80s and I never read a single V.C. Andrews book. Not one. I wasn't limited in my reading material, but it just never crossed paths with me, I guess. Maybe if I had read them when I was a pre-teen I would have liked it a little better. As it was, I thought it was OK.

It's funny, because anytime I'd hear mention of this book, there would be The Hush, and the whispered "...Incest...", and the Look, the one that commiserates about how much of a rebel they are for reading such a naughty story. So of course, when I saw a used copy of Flowers in the Attic at my local thrift store, I snagged it. And after reading it... I found it a little bit of a let down. For all the hype about the *whisper* ...Incest..., that was a surprisingly unsurprising (yeah, I know, I know) and unimportant part of the story - at least it was to me. Again, if I was eleventeen, it probably would have been SCANDALOUS. At 28, not so much. At 28, I think, "Well what the hell did they THINK would happen with developing bodies, raging hormones, intense fear and uncertainty, and constant close proximity?!" And in a family that has a history of being a bit unorthodox, and very open and close with one another, even more points to tip the balance.

What I thought was more important was the mundane stuff: the hope they struggled to maintain, the brave face the older kids wore for the younger, the coping mechanisms and the games and the little rituals and the way that they tried to make life as normal as possible in an abnormal situation. These kids all had their childhoods stolen and ruined, and yet there was a feeling of hope that pervaded the story. Through sheer will and determination, they would not let their mother's betrayal and cruelty ruin them.

I couldn't really help but wonder what I would do in a situation like that. I kept thinking, "Bash Granny over the head with Grey's Anatomy and then snatch the key, lock her in, get out, run." But then, the fact that they DIDN'T is plausible - they were kept docile and trusting for as long as they were because of the promise of so much better later, and who isn't willing to sacrifice a little to gain a lot? It's just that when the "little" sacrifice takes on epic proportions, it's no longer worth any gain, no matter how large.

I was fascinated by the Grandmother, but even more fascinated by the mother's gradual shift from loving, doting and adoring mother to cruel and heartless, cold and calculating, greedy harpy. I thought it was so interesting the fact that both Corinne (the mother) and Cathy (the daughter) were each separately described as acting their parts while in the attic. Both acting the same part, that of loving mother, but each for vastly different reasons. Cathy acted to keep a semblance of routine and family and stability while Corinne acted to keep the children trusting and docile and quietly out of the way of her ambition and greed.

I thought that the story started out pretty slow, and up until about halfway through, I didn't really care if I continued or not... but curiosity won out, and I'm glad I finished, if only for bragging rights. But my gosh, the writing was so juvenile! Now, I know what you're thinking, that this is a story told from the perspective of a young girl, so of course it will be juvenile. But no, sorry, that's no excuse for it. The writing was juvenile, not the narration. True, Cathy did use some ridiculously juvenile terms ("Golly-lolly!" made me roll my eyes every. single. time.), but the childrens' vocabularies were advanced to the point of being almost unrealistic. When talking amongst each other, they sounded like college professors or something. Know-It-All Chris especially got on my everlasting nerves. I was so glad when he finally lost control and fell from his lofty holier-than-thou pedestal and became bearable again! It also seemed to me that there was quite a few inconsistencies in the writing and characterizations as well, but I can't think of any examples off the top of my head. It wasn't the worst written book I've ever read, but it certainly isn't anywhere near the best either.

Overall, I think this one works out to be just good. The story, once it finally got going, was interesting, but the writing detracts from that a bit. I'm undecided if I will read the next in the series... but I must admit I'm a teensy bit curious...
13 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Flowers in the Attic.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

03/13/2011 page 1
03/17/2011 page 161
39.0% 6 comments
03/21/2011 page 342
83.0% 1 comment
02/21/2016 marked as: read
show 6 hidden updates…

Comments (showing 1-25 of 25) (25 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Fiona Hah, I can't wait to see what you think of this. I loved this when I was about 16...

Becky I've never read it... We shall see. I'm about 25 pages in right now.

Maciek The Grandmother is my favorite character. So evil!

Kellee Well?

Maciek It was very juvenile in places, but the whole concept was gripping enough to make me read the whole thing. The whole concept of children locked in a strange, remote room in some grand estate was great; their discoveries of various rooms were captivating. I thought that the final "twist" was chilling and downright creepy.

Trudi I'm a sucker for anything that remotely smacks of "gothic" and kids locked in an attic as their mother's dirty secret just absolutely enthralled me when I was 12. You're right though Becky, the incest part didn't really impress me at all ... I was like, so what?? This is the result of what was done TO them, not what they chose to do for themselves. Even at 12 this seemed an inevitable course of events (but that's probably thanks to my earlier education by way of The Blue Lagoon ;-) LOL)

It was the mother's descent (or should I say return?) to absolute callousness and cruelty that floored me. That she would do those things to her own children!!!! Well, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree though considering who her mother is. As Maciek points out: "So evil!"

I would recommend this book for a lot of reasons -- not for the quality of the writing (obviously!) but at the very least for the sake of cultural literacy. It's just one of those books - like Peyton Place or Valley of the Dolls :) :) :)

Becky I've never read either one of those either, Trudi...


Trudi :) :) :) ...confession, I've never read Valley of the Dolls. But I will! Someday I swear. As for Peyton Place, it's actually very good and not what you would think at all. The story behind this novel is pretty gripping too - Grace Metalious was quite the woman!

Maciek I though the incest aspect was a let-down. I was fully expecting some nasty details, since this book was so controversial and all, and when I got to that part I was like "EH? that's it?"
The rest made up for it though. The grand estate and the crimes of its inhabitants were chillingly real.

message 10: by Shel (new)

Shel I was OBSESSED with V.C. Andrews books in high school but haven't picked one up since. Wonder how they'd hold up...

I tried watching the movie version a few years ago and couldn't get past the first ten minutes.

Becky I really want to see the movie... I'm kind of hoping it's so awful that it's awesome. LOL

Maciek Why everyone keeps bashing the movie? It stars Louise Fletcher as the Grandmother. Louise Fletcher. The Grandmother. It just has to work.

Becky I don't know who Louise Fletcher is... O_o

...Should I hide again??

Maciek Have you seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? She played the head nurse. If not, I highly suggest you do, it's a great film.

message 15: by Becky (last edited Mar 23, 2011 02:54PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Becky Ahhhh... Yeah I've seen that. Although I didn't really like it much. Just like A Clockwork Orange. They were just good... *shrug*


Maciek I enjoyed both. If I remember correctly, Fletcher won an oscar for the Cuckoo; imagine her in Flowers. She had to keep some limits in that one. The Grandmother is so cartoonishly evil and truly knows no boundaries it just has to work and the ending result will blow up the cyberspace.

Trudi Louise Fletcher is totally awesome, but her appearance in the film version is too brief to save a movie that is sooooo BADLY acted. I don't know Becky ... so bad it's good??? Maybe. I did love the house they chose though, and the attic is pretty close to what I imagined :)

Dustin Crazy little brown owl I loved the Flowers in the Attic Film. Absolutely loved it - watched it when I was in elementary school (I mean when I was that age - I didn't actually watch it in school, just to clarify) Never read the books though :-)

message 19: by mark (new)

mark monday as a fellow child of the 80s, i am particularly proud of you for not reading v.c. andrews back then! but how about john saul? at one point it seemed like every girl i knew was reading one or the other.

Becky The God Project around 14 or so, which would have been the mid-90s, and then Black Lightning as an adult.

Not really impressed with John Saul though. Both books were just middle-of-the-road, with The God Project being a bit better.

message 21: by mark (new)

mark monday only one i've read is Nathaniel. scary (at the time) but mediocre.

however, GR has one excellent review of Nathaniel that i just discovered:



Becky I'm sold! I'll now be buying a copy. LOL

Dustin Crazy little brown owl I moderate the John Saul LitGroup - you're both invited to come join :-) We read a John Saul book every month. We're reading Shadows in April and we're currently on part 2 of the Blackstone Chronicles 6 part serial - they are less than 100 pages each. Really, come revisit John Saul. He was my introduction to horror as a teen and while I admit some of his books are lousy, he remains a must-read author for me.

message 24: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph Ok, so I know the basic story but I never read the books*

*My cousin is blind and was obsessed with VC andrews. SHe used to keep me up late reading these books.

What the hell happened? I never was awake for the whole thing.

Becky I don't think I would be able to remember or explain it all... You should just read this review:

back to top