Somehow I made it to the ripe old age of (age redacted) without knowing the details of this book. Written in 1979, this story of a family and it’s slow, painful, deconstruction has titillated audiences and will be return to the small screen soon via a Lifetime movie (of course). I was intrigued both because of that, and because they were reviewing it on my favorite Podcast, Literary Disco: their episode description is perfection.
“It’s time to take on the book that you all read, under your covers, late at night, freaking out about the nature of puberty, poisoned donuts, and inheritances. This is the book that we almost murder Rider for even suggesting it might be a classic of any sort. This is the book that is way too dramatic. This… is…. Flowers in the Attic.”
The Dollanger family leads an idyllic life: handsome hardworking father (Christopher), beautiful stay-at-home mother (Corrine), and four beautiful children (Chris, Cathy, and twins Cory and Carrie). Their perfect existence is shattered by the sudden death of Christopher and the children slowly realize that their life was more fragile than they ever understood. With no life skills, Corrine can’t support them so they will be moving in with their grandparents who had never been mentioned. Why the secrecy? Because their family hides secrets…dark secrets that break them down into misery and despair they never could have anticipated.
Though the two eldest, Chris and Cathy, are skeptical, they were not prepared for the reality of their new lives. Their mother has fallen out of favor her parents, banished from their home for unspoken crimes. Wealthy, unrelenting, and staunchly religious they are not very interested in Corrine, and least of all the children. In fact, Corrine explains that her father can’t even know the children exist, so until she can get back in his graces, the children will be hidden in the attic. Repressed by the grandmother’s harsh rules and cruel ways, they dream of a time where the fortune is theirs, and they will be free. No more than a few days. Days turn to weeks, weeks turn to…a while.
With Corrine absent as she tries to work to save money and earn her father’s love, the children have to fend for themselves. Chris and Cathy become surrogate parents as they try to protect their siblings and their isolation and lack of any other influences has disastrous consequences.
Campy, compelling, horrifying, and sinfully delicious I recommend this book as to any other children of the 80s who missed it the first time around, or anyone who is having a bad week and needs reminding that things could always be much, much worse