Tag Archives: dollanganger

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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If There Be Thorns – full of pricks

In the third installment of this . . . this . . . thing, the story is told by Cathy’s two sons, Jory and Bart, in alternating chapters. The boys have believed that Chris is their stepfather, Paul’s younger brother.

The family lives in California, going back East to visit Corinne in the institution. They live next door to an abandoned mansion that the boys sneak into and play in. Eventually, a woman moves in with an old, ugly butler and servants. The woman wears only black and has a veil covering her face. She invites Bart over and spoils him, giving him expensive gifts. She tells him that she’s his grandmother, although he doesn’t believe it at first. The woman, of course, is Corinne, and the butler is John Amos from the Foxworth Hall days. He begins to instill the virtues of Bart’s great-grandfather, Malcolm, and gives him his journal to read.

John tells Bart who he really is, and the truth about his parents and why they should be punished. Bart begins to believe he’s really Malcolm and starts doing crazy things. Jory finds out the truth about his parents from Cathy’s book; she starts writing when she has to give up dancing. He forgives her, although Bart does not. Eventually, his mother goes to confront the woman next door and realizes who she is. They tussle and then John Amos cracks them over the head with a shovel and hides them in the cellar. The place catches fire and Corinne helps Cathy out of the house, but not before her clothes catch fire and she dies. John dies in the fire, too. He married Corinne for her money, but apparently he wasn’t in the will.

I have no memory of this book at all, even though I know I read it. Just didn’t stick as much as the first, I guess.

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Petals on the Wind – Blow me away!

Welcome to the next installment of our V.C. Andrews nostalgia trip. Petals on the Wind is the second book chronicling the Dollanganger family, and if you thought the first one was bad . . . this one is a clusterfuck and a half.

The remaining three children – Chris, Cathy, and Carrie – have just escaped the house where they were held prisoner for more than three years. They’re riding on a bus, and Carrie has fallen ill with the arsenic poisoning that took her twin brother, Cory, towards the end of Flowers in the Attic. She throws up and starts going into shock; a mute woman comes to their rescue and offers to take them to the doctor she works for. Paul is entranced by Cathy’s emerging womanhood, or something, so he agrees to help them, even though it’s Sunday, and the Hippocratic oath admonishes doctors against actually, you know, healing the sick when they would rather sit on the veranda and read the newspaper. On the subject of budding boobs, however, that old Greek remains silent.

Chris doesn’t want to tell the whole truth at first, but Cathy unburdens everything, and, even though it’s a fantastic story, Paul believes her. Behold, the power of sexual allure. He helps Carrie and offers them all a place to stay, and eventually adopts them as his wards.
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Flowers in the Attic – Beloved Trash!

[Note: I’m still trawling through Life magazines, so if you want to see more of that, never fear, it is on its way!]

V.C. Andrews – a name you can still see today on covers of new novels, even though she’s been dead since the 1980s. She’s worth more since her decease then while she lived, which is why the estate continually puts out new stories and series.

It’s the first trashy fiction I ever read, so it holds a special, albeit slightly skewed, place in my heart.

My parents used to own a greeting card store, and like anywhere else, we had our regulars. Terri was one of them. She used to buy her Benson and Hedges cigarettes from us, and over time, she lent my mom and grandma books, namely Andrews and Danielle Steel (who I never read). I remember my mom reading Flowers during lulls in customers, and I was intrigued by the die-cut cover with the scared face of the girl in the garret window.

No one ever told me I couldn’t read these books, so I started in, and eventually read the whole Dollenganger series (which, by the way, is the only one penned entirely by Andrews before her demise). The last few required a library trip, leading a prune-faced librarian to stare at me over her spectacles and say, in an intonation to rival William Shatner, “This . . . is not . . . a  . . . children’s book.” My mom defended me, which is surprising, because I remember these books being so SMUTTY.

This was the long way ’round to say, curiosity has gotten the better of me, and I have to know, are they still as bad as I remember?

Join me!

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