The Dollanganger Series of five books was written by Virginia C. Andrews in 1979. Flowers in the Attic is the first book of the saga and the most representative work of the author.
In this story as well as in the other narratives of the writer, the life of the main character (which is always a woman) is described since her childhood, teenage years, adult life and family background; what in a chronological order, the last chapter should be the opening of the series, all series display the same layout.
Catherine Dollanganger, a teenager who is forced to hide in her grandmother’s mansion attic, in the company of her three siblings, after losing her father. The first part of the saga tells all the hardship and misfortune she and her siblings have to endure for a long period of time.
Some critics have cataloged this series at Gothic category; I find it rather as a family saga, I cannot see the gothic element in any of the books. It is more of a tragic family story that withholds a lot of obscure secrets that eventually come out as the plot develops.
It all starts with the happy life of the Dollanganger family that is soon abruptly broken by the father’s death, and how this happening brings about disastrous consequences for the entire family. The first part of the novel is quite striking due to the sudden turn the story takes, what catches the reader’s attention right away.
At the beginning, Corrine (the mother) is very much a real support for her children and defends them from the grandmother’s vicious mistreatment; nevertheless, later on as the plot develops new perspective arise and she considers her options even if some of them have consequences for her children.
This narration brings about a great dose of sadness, thus reading it can be a masochistic exercise that places the reader under a torrent of depression. The torture scenes and the restrictions some character have to face, I find them, occasionally excessive. Some of the antagonists lack the minimum sense of solidarity and compassion; perpetrating such disturbing acts. On the other side, religious fanaticism plays a relevant role in the novel, and due to superstition a lot of suffering is inflicted to the victims in order to “purify” the fruit of the sin.
The most sensible character of this work is represented by Kathy (the heroine of the novel) who clearly perceives her mother’s deviation, and impetuously reacts against her; in contrast to her brother Chris’ attitude, who stubbornly refuses to see her transformation and continues standing beside her despite of her betrayal.
One of the most recurrent aspects of V.C. Andrews work is the incest, which might result inappropriate for some readers; though it is actually a component that provides a different perspective in some way due to the fact that it takes place as a result of specific circumstances character have to face and not as a consequence of relatives sexual abuse.
This is an easy digestible reading that will give you a lot of entertainment and will leave you wishing to find out what will happen next in the second part, Petals on the Wind.
Flowers in the Attic
Flowers in the Attic