Remembering Flowers in the Attic

By admin
20 November 2013

Our book blogger remembers how intrigued she was by the book Flowers in the Attic as a teenager and finds out about the movie coming out based on the bestseller.

Every few years there's a book that teenagers of a certain age (actually, it's usually girls) just have to read. A book that just grabs the imagination and everyone (again I mean girls) tells one another to read.

Twilight, Hunger Games, all had similar starts.

My generation, which would probably include girls about five years older and about 10 years younger than me, had Flowers in the Attic (the Dollanganger book series) by VC Andrews which was published in 1979.

I read it when I was about 12 years old in the late 1980s after someone told me how special it was and clearly it was as there was a waiting list at the library for the whole series. I was blown away. I couldn't tear myself away from it; it was an inconvenience to go to school or to sleep and I remember being told to switch off the lights and continuing to read with a torch under the duvet until the battery died. I needed to know more about the four Dollanganger kids whose lives were pretty much destroyed when their father dies in the story narrated by the second-eldest child, 12-year-old Cathy. Their useless mother, Corrine, allows their evil grandmother to lock them up in the attic for two or three years (my memory fails me) so Grandpa won’t know about them.

Now I have the minor dilemma of whether or not to reveal the big OMG moment of the book but it is a 34-year-old book so I'm going to assume you know about it and if not then I'm shouting SPOILER ALERT! and will continue.

The kids don’t have a pleasant time in the attic where they’re starved, get no medical treatment and are constantly called devil’s spawn, and then Cathy and her slightly older brother, Chris, fall in love and start an incestuous relationship. Just typing that line reminds me how I had to sit up straight and try to get my head around this in the middle of the night. END OF SPOILER ALERT!

So why am I reminiscing about this? Well, other fans of the book, we’re getting a TV movie. I read about this a while ago but dismissed it thinking it would be rubbish but I was pleasantly surprised to read last week that it has a great cast and sounds like it has a good chance of being good!

The four siblings in the new Flowers in the Attic movie

Unlike a previous movie which I didn’t see, they’ll stick closely to the book and not leave out the OMG moment (I know! How on Earth did they decide to leave that out?) And the new version has 14-year-old Kiernan Shipka, Don Draper’s daughter in Mad Men, playing Cathy and she can definitely carry this movie. Heather Graham is her mother and Oscar-winning actress Ellen Burstyn is the cruel grandmother.

Watch the trailer here:

I also realised I knew nothing about the origins of the book or the author and found interesting info on the-toast.net and an interview with the editor of the book, Ann Patty, who found the gem that sold about 40 million books worldwide.

"We did not market it initially to teenagers. I was very young and inexperienced [when I acquired Flowers in the Attic]. I’d only published maybe two or three books at that point ? I didn’t know what I was doing. But the book had a real hold on me. I found myself talking about it to anyone who would listen.”

The editor also had more on Virgina Andrews who died of breast cancer in 1986. “She was in a wheelchair. She had surgery when she was in her teens. Her spine was fused ? it didn’t move. From her butt bone to her head, the spine did not move. So it was much more than being in a wheelchair. Much more. She never really had much of a life, so she was stuck in perceptions of the way the world works of a young teenager, because after the age of fifteen she wasn’t in the world anymore.”

That is just heartbreaking and explains why she wrote such heartbreaking books. The movie will be on TV in America in January and hopefully we’ll see it soon after.

Buy the book here.

-Natalie Cavernelis

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