Publication Year: 1979
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genres: Horror, Gothic Fiction
Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews tells the story of four siblings and their hidden lives trapped in an attic. After their beloved father passes away in an accident, their mother brings them to live in the attic of their grandparents’ mansion. They are not supposed to be there for long, just until their mother sorts out her father’s will so the inheritance can be passed onto her. But when it takes weeks, months, and even years for the children’s unknown grandfather to die, they ponder their mother’s motives, while despising their unfair and cruel grandmother, who brings them food everyday.
‘We stood as if rooted, and gazed around with incredulity. Huge, dim, dirty, dusty, this attic stretched for miles! The farthest walls were so distant they seemed hazy, out of focus. The air was not clear, but murky; it had an odour, an unpleasant odour of decay, of old rotting things, of dead things left unburied, and because it was cloudy with dust, everything seemed to move, especially in the darker, gloomier corners.’
This novel is really enjoyable and easy to read! It is told in the perspective of Cathy, the second oldest of the four siblings. She and Christopher are the ‘mother’ and ‘father’ to their younger siblings, twins Carrie and Cory, who do not adjust well to being forbidden from leaving their small living space. It is such an immoral thing for a mother and grandmother to do, as they are not allowed to go outside, and cannot even do basic things like visit a dentist. Although they receive countless gifts from their mother, their situation is not fun in the slightest.
This book is actually considered controversial because it contains a taboo subject. There is (spoiler) incest present in the novel. This was not fun for me to read about and made me cringe internally multiple times. I also did not view Chris favourably because of how he treats Cathy and he lost my initial liking towards him.
The voice of Cathy comes across as very strong and her emotions are evident in the text. She is clearly the strongest out of the siblings, as Chris is too trusting and should have listened to his pragmatic sister. All of the siblings are quite different, but I like that the grandmother sees them as the same, even though they just children and are unique in their own way. And speaking of the grandmother, she is a horrible old lady who treats the children with a certain malice I could not understand.
The setting is an important factor in making the novel creepy, and it succeeded. I hated the attic at first and the mansion in general unsettled me greatly as I read the novel. While the motivations of some of the characters seem ridiculous, the setting is highly intriguing and I wanted to know more about the elusive Foxworth mansion. I also loved the plot twist! I already knew it because I have seen the film, but I forgot about it before reading and was thoroughly infuriated.
What didn’t make it a five star read is the writing and the plot. The writing is okay, but not amazing. The author clearly wanted it to sound like a young girl and used the phrase ‘golly-lolly!’ an awful lot of times. The plot is slow, and they are basically trapped in an attic for the whole novel, so not much happens.
Even though this book is dark, it is really entertaining to read. The writing is very easy to follow and can pretty much be read by anyone, even though it is not really intended for younger audiences – but youngsters read it anyway in the ’80s (which is why it was banned).
This book has been adapted twice into films! I have not seen the 1987 version, but I saw the 2014 version a few years ago when it first came out. It is a television movie and the next three novels were surprisingly also adapted. They started to interest me less as I watched them, but watching the first film is worth it (if you are intrigued by the plot).
Flowers in the Attic is certainly a creepy read! I would recommend it to anyone who likes gothic novels.
- Have you read Flowers in the Attic?
- Do you want to?