Garden of Shadows; or, A Different but still kind-of-the-same perception of evil [Dollanganger, Book 5]

When last we left the Dollanganger family, we would have been looking at Seeds of Yesterday, which was so scintillating I completely forgot to write about it! If you absolutely MUST know, there is a Wikipedia page to fulfill your desires! This book, however, is a “prequel,” if you will. It is written from the point of view of Olivia Foxworth, nee’ Winfield – aka, the evil grandmother. Honestly, it very nearly makes one pity her – even taking into account the inconsistencies between this volume and the others in the series. According to sources, the ghostwriter finished this one from Andrews’ notes, which may account for some errors.

We begin with a prologue, where Olivia states that she is forced to tell her own story, when she would have much rather kept it to her grave. She dares her readers to judge her after you discover what she’s been through. I know someone who might be up to that task . . .

What Olivia has been through is a doozy – or de rigeur for Andrews books, depending upon your perspective.

Olivia’s mother dies when she is young, leaving her father to bring her up. He treats her like a son, teaching her about his business accounts and training her as an accountant. She is far from truly feminine and in fact, is pretty gangly and awkward-seeming. She dreams about finding twoo luv some day, and imagines life as the pretty people in her fancy dollhouse. She is not having much luck finding a husband, despite her father’s best attempts.

Until the day Malcolm Foxworth comes to dinner, and seems quite taken with her. Especially her head for business and the fact that she is mature and not flighty. After a walk, a dinner out, going to church together, and some horseback riding, he proposes. Malcolm cites the fact that they have much in common and would make a great partnership.

Olivia is over the moon, as she has fallen for his dashing good looks. It is only later that she realizes – he never once mentioned the word “love.”

The wedding is put together very quickly. Olivia waits with bated breath for her first kiss at the altar, but it’s merely perfunctory. The wedding is attended by her father, her aunt, and her cousin, John Amos (the creepy butler from the other books). And indeed, he is creepy here, too; he has barely met Olivia, as he is from the “poor” side of the family, but he begins insinuating himself right away.

There is no honeymoon; indeed, the bride and groom board the train to Virginia that afternoon. Olivia begins to see already how megalomaniacal he can be – and stingy (he won’t let her order too much food on the train, to save money).

They pull into a deserted depot late at night. The butler/driver meets them and drives them to Foxworth Hall, which Malcolm tells her is her responsibility. She is given a quick tour of the rooms they pass; one of these has a white door. Malcolm says it was his mother’s room, and no one is allowed in.

Olivia is given her own bedroom. She hopes it is just for appearances and puts on her sexiest lingerie (with a V-neck! *gasp*) to await Malcolm’s return. But he never does, and she remains an “unlit candle.” By the way, the dollhouse never comes with her to Foxworth Hall, so it’s unclear how Corinne eventually gets hold of it in Flowers to give to the children.

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Kristy’s Big Day, Or, Who’s Really Getting Married Here? (Baby Sitters Club, #6)

We open with Karen, Kristy’s soon-to-be-stepsister, waxing poetic about old Ben Brewer, a family ghost that apparently lives in the attic. Kristy is concerned that Andrew, soon-to-be-little-stepbrother, is getting frightened by all this ghost talk. Yes, I mean, Ben Brewer eats fried dandelions, I’d say that’s pretty scary.

Kristy exposits that her mother is getting married to Watson, the kids’ father, and they will be moving to his mansion on the other side of town. This will be a good thing for everyone – everyone but Kristy, that is. I know, she’s a kid, she’s never lived anywhere else, all of her friends live close by, blah blah. With her flair for the dramatic, however, you’d think she was moving to Mars. Stoneybrook can’t be terribly big. Also, Watson can be a jerk.


I don’t remember seeing any evidence of that – he’s paid you for watching his kids even though you’re nearly family; he seems to treat you and your brothers well enough. Oh, I get it, you’re just pissed that he’s taking your mom away. To live in a friggin’ mansion.

Anyway, the step kids and Watson have come over for dinner of “pasketti,” as Andrew says, who is perturbed that worms are on the menu. Kristy sets him straight. Kristy wants to eat outside, her mom makes a joke, and Kristy acknowledges that her mom has been in a “great mood” since the engagement. So maybe you should stop drinking the Hatorade? Kristy goes around the table and gives a long detailed explanation about how the family comes together. She wonders if the two youngest will be fighting over toys and things.

Karen pipes up and basically repeats what Kristy has just thought. Charlie asks for wine, but they tell him no. Wah-wah.

Mrs. Thomas announces the wedding date to the table. Andrew needs to have a wedding explained to him. Kristy finds out that she’s going to be a bridesmaid. She’s excited to wear a dress and flowers, and I must ask where the girl is coming from. This is tomboy Kristy, right? Sweatshirts and jeans and sneakers? And now she loves dresses?

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Dawn and the Not-So-Impossible Three (Baby Sitters Club # Five)

This is the first Dawn book. As she pedals to her next job, Dawn informs us that she’s the newest member of the BSC, and that the club is the most important thing in her life. Not school, or family, but the club. Dawn is from California. California is awesome. Connecticut sucks, because it’s too cold. Dawn talks to the meteorologists every day. Sounds like she’s a bit crazy.

Speaking of crazy, Dawn’s job today is at the Pikes, the family with the metric ton of children. However, only half of the clan will be home. Mrs. Pike is heading to a trustee meeting – how does she have time to do anything with all of these kids? Dawn tells us that Mrs. Pike is super-organized, “a baby-sitter’s dream.” A bite-sized version of Foreshadowing skates across the hall tiles.

Dawn tells Mrs. Pike she has a BSC meeting at 5:30, which gives her leave to recap the club members and what they’re like. She leaves Mary Anne for last because she’s Dawn’s new best friend. And their parents, who were high school sweethearts, are dating again.

Mrs. Pike tells Dawn that one of the kids is playing at the Barretts, a family Dawn doesn’t know. Mrs. Pike tells her that Mrs. Barrett is “very relaxed,” and the kids go back and forth between the Barretts all the time.

Baby-sitting happens. Dawn is asked about her “new-old” house, which is from 1795, and it’s dark, and narrow, and you have to duck if you’re tall, but gee golly wow, so much history! Mallory, the older Pike, is all ears about Dawn’s mom and her dating escapades. Dawn doesn’t know the whole story about why they broke up, but she does known that her parents were unhappy together and got divorced. Mrs. Schafer is crazy – not “nasty crazy,” more ditzy, seems like. But, Dawn, what is nasty crazy? Is that a Cali thing, like “hella?”

Anyway, the musing is interrupted by the Barretts making their first appearance, Suzi with a skinned knee. Dawn takes care of it and the kids stay and hang out.

As Dawn is in her driveway, Mary Anne runs up and says she has “great news.” Ooh, what? Kristy came out? Claudia can spell?

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Tarnished Engagement, or Let’s have some more doormats (All Romance, Volume 1) with Bonus Advert!

Meet Nina and Dick. They’re in college and Dick’s in a band. Dick likes ugly suits.

AR pg 25

They end up working at the same hotel for the summer, Dick with his band and Nina as a waitress. Waitressing leaves Nina ragged and very little time for her man, as they work different hours.

After a time, Nina is resolved to see him at night, even if she has to stay up late. She catches him with one of the rich guests, and he’s upset to be caught. Unintentional pun coming up in three . . . two . . . one . . . (Hint: see yellow box).

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Marcia sneers at the fact that Nina is a waitress, blah blah, class wars. Dick claims he’s just being nice because Marcia offered to get his band more gigs, and then he can make more money! Honest!

Marcia begins to berate Nina the very next day, and Nina, surprisingly, tells her off. Wow!

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Marcia has asymmetrical boobage going on here.

Dick gets mad. See Dick fume. Spout, Dick, spout. Nina says they’re done. Say goodbye, Dick!

And then, here comes her man – Marcia’s, that is!

Nina, since she’s such a good doormat person, she goes to warn Dick that Mr. Loring is on his way. Personally, I would have let him had his balls handed to him, but that’s me.

Everyone lies, the Lorings leave, and Dick tells Nina he’s been a fool. And of course, she forgives him, because this is All Romance, not All Breakups.

AR pg 28

Yes, Dick, it doesn’t matter that you fell for a wealthy young socialite bitch because she offered you some money. I know it’s me you REALLY love!!

See below for a bonus advert:

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“My Soul Wasn’t My Own,” or, the Devil is in New York (All Romance, Volume 1)

Abby is raised in an orphanage until she is sixteen, when it is discovered that she has an aunt, who comes to claim her.

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Now, isn’t this something you would have figured out before you went to claim your niece? Also, she’s sixteen, so it’s not as if she would need constant supervision. She’s also been in an orphanage, so I’m sure she can fend for herself. I think I’m over-thinking a comic book for young girls.

She sends Abby out with the maid to go shopping and get her hair did, and wonder of wonders, she’s pretty! But . . . can she sing? Of course she can, with a little work. Aunt Magda decides to invest in her niece – lessons, a trainer, even finishing school!!

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This is also called “older people living vicariously through the young.” It’s sad that Abby finds this sort of sexism kind – as if the only endgame for a young woman (an aspiring chanteuse, no less) is to snare a rich man.

Abby makes her debut, and everyone finds her stunning, including Mr. Randolph, who is a fine catch!

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Sure, he’s a catch . . . if you’re into dudes who could be your grandfather! Also, need I remind you that this girl, Abby, is SIXTEEN. I know the median age for marriage was much lower in 1949 than it is today, but still – EW.

A serious sculptor is also interested in the young Abby, for his new work called “Spring in Flight.” The man chasing Abby will be played by model and wrestler Cal Martin, who is only interested in a serious acting career. He pays no attention to Abby when they first meet, except for letting her lean on him a little when she tires from modelling. Then, in her dreams . . .

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Oh, boy, Abby! *fans self*

Abby is still seeing RichGrandpa, and probably having to sit on his knee (not shown). She only has eyes for Cal, but he doesn’t seem interested – thinks she is a spoiled little rich girl, as she comes to the studio in a hired car. Abby protests.

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Wow, Cal is rather intuitive – for a pretty boy. Abby is so grateful to be out of the orphanage that she will explain away anything her aunt does, including auctioning off her V-card.

After this, Cal is more receptive towards Abby, and indeed, they have a day on the town when the sculptor takes a sick day. They are caught, however, by Aunt Magda, and she is PISSED that a common wrestler should have put his meaty paws on her human Fabergé egg!

AR pg 22

If RichGrandpa can’t take his little dolly seeing New York sights with a young man for one day where they didn’t even mack on each other (they went to the AutoMat, how scandalous, you guys!), RichGrandpa can stuff it. Well, he can stuff it anyway, for being interested in a relationship that is rather pedo.


Time passes, and Aunt Magda has another hare-brained scheme – let’s get Abby into the movies! She plans an “accidental” meeting with the movie producer at the unveiling of the sculpture. And he loves it! For the man, not Abby.

AR pg 23

NO one has seen Cal, though – oh, wait, here he is. The director makes his offer, and Cal asks to speak to Abby alone. He asks her if she’s married to RichGrandpa; she isn’t, and how dare he ask, after he walked out on her?

AR pg 24 (a)

The famous last words of the wife of “Jungle Billy.”

AR pg 24 (b)

Aunt Magda is an awful person. I mean, he’s standing right THERE; she has no filter, just like Chevy Chase!

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OH, but now, she’ll make his decisions for him, because he’s going to be a rich movie star. Until she finds out that he has to work with monkeys and swing from trees, because that’s not something successful people do.

So, Abby gets the man of her literal dreams. Hurrah. Now you guys should find a way to dispose of Aunt Magda and get the proceeds from her nightclub, and all will be well!

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“Sister Without Scruples,” or, you two-timing whore! (All Romance, Volume 1)

Sister without scruples, eh? Sounds kink-ay!

A girl named Fran is our narrator for this one. She met Jeff Gilbert at a charity function three weeks ago, and he’s already told her that he loves her. Whirlwind romance, indeed! These all seem to have that theme – that’s probably why things get so easily screwed up. Anyway:

All Romances 001        JVJ tilliban #8 (1949) - Page 10

Oh, Jeff, I just love your patronizing tone. Especially from an orphan. And what if you don’t like her family; is that her fault?

Of course, Fran is more worried that Jeff will like them a little TOO much, especially her stepsister, Rita. Rita takes all of Fran’s men away from her, woe. She realizes that she can’t stall Jeff any longer, so she invites him to Sunday dinner.

At home, Fran confronts Rita and warns her to keep her mitts off this one.

AR pg 11

“If a man isn’t willing to go, no other girl can get him away.” I didn’t post the panel from the previous one, but the girl with the cut-up face says the EXACT SAME THING before the train crashes and she flies into the mirror. Yes, no other girl. If said girl keeps putting herself in that man’s way, however, with the intent of making his impossibly tiny waist-high head turn towards her, it’s also her fault. I love how Rita’s mom makes her out to be a hero to womankind of a sort. Yes, Rita, show these men for the scoundrels they are, with your raven tresses and teeny waist!

In the next panel, Fran tells us that Rita lied to the last two guys, telling them that Fran was a “two-timer” and other things, when she was only working late. Of course, her stepmother defends her real daughter, and her father just wants to read his damned paper, damn it.

AR pg 12

A shallow comment, please indulge me. You know that your bitch stepsister is going to try to grab your man away from you. You know she has that seductive look about her and wears her hair down, how scandalous! So, you dress like a frump, in a shirtwaist with frilly pockets? Yeeeah, she is looking pretty smoking by comparison. And bearing her shoulders.

Basically, all Rita does is purr at him, and he’s a goner. It actually took him a week, which means that his periscope must not be up to snuff – perhaps a visit to the doctor is in order. May I suggest Dr. Howe?

Frannie, what are you going to do now? Enter Mr. Creeper at the office, and boom, she has an idea!

AR pg 13

Fran has a secret, conniving bitch side to her, too, even though she pretends that she doesn’t.

Of course, Rita gloms onto Lee immediately, leading to all sorts of shenanigans. She breaks it off with Jeff, leaving Fran free to take up with him again.

AR pg 15

And suddenly, it all makes sense to both menfolk, and everyone leaves the table with Rita sobbing for her little old self.

Jeff asks for Fran’s forgiveness, as he finally sees the light!

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He doesn’t expect it (but he really secretly does, because she’s a doormat), and she definitely does (because again, she is a doormat). So, what is the lesson here? Jeff really, truly loves Fran, except for the time that he was into her two-timing ho of a stepsis. But, but, it wasn’t his fault! Rita and her feminine wiles, and her . . . .shoulders, and that vixen hair!! Blast her!

I’d say “product of the times” and have done with it, but I can’t, because if these sorts of comics were produced today, it would be the SAME thing, except that Rita would stalk Jeff via Facebook and then send him titillating text messages.

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“I couldn’t go back to him;” or, ahoy, shallow men and ladies! (All Romance, Vol 1)

Gentle readers, there is a veritable treasure trove on the Internet of which you may or may not be aware. It’s called Comic Book Plus, a wealth of Golden and Silver Age comics, as well as other public domain ephemera, all free to read and download. I found this website a long time ago, when I discovered those few issues of Calling All Girls, but for some reason, never went back.

Even though there are some fabulous prizes, such as All Romance, which was published by Ace Comics in 1949-1950! Exciting romance stories for the young teenage girl, that are totally shallow and show women (and men) to bad advantage!

Here is the first story in Volume 1, called “I Couldn’t Go Back to Him.” No, no, I just couldn’t!

Faye tells us her story – she went to visit a school friend and met the dashing Michael, and, after a whirlwind courtship, they became engaged, and Michael bought them a little house.

AR pg 3

Before she leaves, she talks to her friend, Gloria, and discovers that Gloria and Michael used to date. But Michael swears he only has eyes for Faye now, because she is so beautiful. You’re a trophy, Faye! Michael can’t wait to mount you on the wall.

Of course, tragedy must strike, or there isn’t a story. On the train, there is a terrible crash, and Faye is flung into a mirror which cuts her face, making her a candidate for plastic surgery.

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In fact, the news report said that she was dead, and that’s fine – she cannot be loved anymore . . . *sob*

The doctor takes pity on her and offers her a job with him as his receptionist, and a place to live with him and his sister. Faye keeps herself busy, but Molly, the doctor’s sister, think it’s not “normal” for Faye to stay in and not date. Don’t think about turning lesbian, Faye; Molly has her eye on you.

Finally, the doctor forces her to look at herself in the mirror – frankly, I think she looks better now than pre-surgery, but whatever. She realizes she COULD go back to Michael, and this cause the doctor to sigh and turn away. Faye knows that the doctor is in love with her, but who cares about that?

AR pg 6

But, alas, it’s not to be. She is surprised that Michael doesn’t recognize her – duh, you had plastic surgery! – but, also, Gloria is there with him now! She tells Michael that she is not, in fact, dead, and he kisses her . . . but she feels nothing. NOTHING! Gasp!

This upsets Gloria, of course, as they were to be married the very next day, and here comes that hussy Faye again to ruin everything! But she doesn’t want it, even though she thought about the house the whole time she was away.

“When I marry, Michael, it will be a man I marry, not a house!” I sure hope so, lady, as there are laws about that sort of thing.

She realizes that the only person in the world who truly loves her is the good doctor, who saw her at her worst and still cared. She runs back to him, but ruh roh, his sister Molly is PISSED. And rightly so, because this bitch can’t seem to make up her mind.

Thankfully, the doctor comes back in right then, and they share a passionate embrace.

AR pg 9

I dunno, Doctor, I would watch out for her. She seems kind of fickle, JUST LIKE MICHAEL.

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