Flowers in The Attic – a Review

This is a novel that has been read by many people, and is known by even more. It is most well-known for its inability to shy away from the most corrupt subjects, and has henceforth developed a large group of haters, as well as a large group of lovers.

Flowers in The Attic is the twisted tale written by Virginia Andrews of four siblings, Chris, Cathy, and the playful twins, Cory and Carrie. After the unexpected death of their father, their mother reaches out to family members to help their grieving family, now under extreme pressure after losing their main source of income. The grandmother of the children allows them to come back to the childhood home of their mother, under some extreme conditions. The children are to remain hidden in an attic until Mother can repair her relationship with her dying father, and can be written back into the will before he dies, reclaiming her fortune. However, what was meant to be only a week of waiting, becomes a month, then a year, and soon the children are forced to question the only things holding their hopes and dreams stable in this torturous wait.

This novel is profound and macabre, written beautifully (if at times pretentiously). One thing is for certain, time has not dulled the twisted and shocking plot- one that, at the time of its release, set the literary world aflutter.

Its clear that Andrews is not afraid to write about anything- anything. She takes these pure, innocent and lovable children and twirls them in a coat of abuse, incest, and demonised religion. It is no surprise that when it was originally published in 1979 it was banned from many schools and libraries, I mean, who could blame them?

That being said, I was hooked by the blunt, grotesque and morbid elements that this novel boasts, Every word packs emotion. You can feel what every character feels. The weight of the inhumane cruelty these children are forced to endure pushes you down like an unseen blanket of anger and loathing. Bitter hatred for the villains of this story, the mother and the grandmother, constricts your entire body. After being exposed to all of the raw pain and experiences of Chris, Cathy, Cory and Carrie, I can’t help but be sickened by the thought of their beloved mother’s selfishness and greed.

Flowers in the Attic traps you. It will have you fighting to be released, yet yearning to dive deeper into the heart-wrenching story of the Dollenganger Family. The feeling of utter helplessness consumed me while reading this, taunting me with each word that went against basic human morality (and trust me, there’s a lot of those moments).

Love. Unarguably a main theme of this book. It made me question it completely. What is love? Is it an action, or a feeling? Or something other? It makes you question love as you watch four children become deprived of it, trying desperately to craft their own. But where does this leave me in terms of my own feelings upon love? Am I disgusted? I certainly didn’t feel comfortable while reading about Chris and Cathy’s forbidden, incestuous relationship. But at the same time, do I now feel as if love is more important than ever? Without a doubt the love and bond these sibling share is what got them through their torturous years locked away, hidden. In some ways this novel does show the unyielding power that love possesses. In others however, did it show love to me as a breakable object that is used only to manipulate? Most certainly. The questions and contradictions that are brung forth are endless, and and example of the impact of this ground-breaking novel.

I know many people find Flowers in the Attic too creepy, perverted even, and its difficult to not partly agree, but if loving this book is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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