I was going into 8th grade when my mom bought me a two pack of VCA books, Flowers in the Attic and Butterfly, and though I was supposed to save them for the plane trip to Florida we'd be making in a few days, I opened up Flowers in the Attic, and couldn't put it down. I was thrilled to discover that there were four more books in that series, and many other series. From then on, every time I went to the library I took out a whole series and devoured it. I became familiar with the fact that the first edition books had an outside cover with a hole in it and then an inside cover with a picture of the characters, and have searched thrift stores high and low for first editions. Of the 60 books currently published, I think I only have about 6 of them that I need a first edition copy of (I do own every book, just not in first edition). I know they're trashy, but I love them so much. My bitchass principal in 8th grade saw me reading one during study hall and banned them from school because she felt they were dirty (and they are!), but that didn't stop me. She can suck it, because at least I was reading, instead of smoking pot and giving half naked lap dances like my classmates.
Anyway, I would like to present to you the book that started it all for me, Flowers in the Attic. One of the best parts of a VCA book is the complete unbelievability of the story, and man, this one has got some good shit.
There's a little ominous prologue that states that the story is real and all names have been changed. Some people take it literally, but I never have. The book opens up with the narrator, Cathy Dollanganger, who is 7 years old. She lives with her older brother named Christopher, who was named for her sexy ass father, and her mother, Corinne. Their dad, Chris, travels for his job, but comes home every Friday to give his kids presents and do his wife. Not surprisingly, Corinne tells Cathy and Christopher she's pregnant with twins. Christopher is cool with it, but Cathy freaks out because she won't be the baby any more. Her dad comes home and soothes her, and gives her a sterling silver jewelry box and a ruby ring, and promises to love her the best of any other little girls, as long as she doesn't tell anyone. It's kind of sweet, I guess.
The twins are born, and there's a little boy named Cory and a little girl named Carrie. From day one Cory is quiet and Carrie is a loud ass bitch. The book skips ahead to when the twins are 4, Cathy just turned 12, and Christopher is 14, and they are waiting for their father to come home for the weekend. It's his birthday, so they are having a little surprise party for him. All the guests are there, and hours pass without their dad coming home. A police car pulls up and tells Corinne there was a car accident, and that Chris is dead. It's all very sad and whatnot, and they grieve.
Corinne tells Cathy and Christopher (who shall now be called Chris because I don't feel like typing out Christopher) that their father indulged her, and they lived way beyond their means. Since Corinne has no skills other than being hot and they never put any money away because they always expected there would be more time to do that, everything is being repossessed. Corinne says that she wrote to her parents, and they are all going to stay with them. She goes on and on about how rich they are and everything, but all I can concentrate on is that she's been described as wearing a filmy black (for mourning) negligee. Um, Corinne? Chris is getting a hard on, put on some damn clothes. She never even told the kids they had grandparents who were alive before, and then also drops the bombshell that their real last name is Foxworth. Corinne says they will leave that night. There are only four suitcases, and the selfish bitch says she needs two just for her own things, so the other two are to be shared between four kids. Barely there lingerie doesn't fill two suitcases, ho! Cathy is sad because she has to leave behind all of her favorite things, like the music box her father gave her and her favorite doll that he had bought for her. I hate Corinne.
They ride the train in the evening, and arrive at their destination at 3 o'clock in the morning. Corinne has her two suitcases placed in a locker for later because she says they're walking and she can't carry four suitcases. Chris and Cathy are in charge of the twins, who they must carry because they are asleep. Corinne yells at them and tells them to wake up the twins and make them walk, and then says under her breath, "Lord knows they'd better walk outside while they can." Foreshadowing!
After a billion miles, they finally reach the gigantic mansion. Corinne's mother greets them, and by greet I mean stands there coldly and hustles them upstairs into a bedroom. She says the children are all beautiful, and then proceeds to insult Corinne by asking if they're retarded or something. Corinne gets all pissed and then starts to put the twins in one of the two double beds in the room. The Grandmother yells at her and says that the boys must sleep in one bed and the girls in the other. Corinne says they're innocent, and The Grandmother says that's what she and Corinne's father always thought about her and her half-uncle. Sin in the camp!
The Grandmother goes on to say that they need to hide the kids from The Grandfather for a bit, until he stops being pissed at Corinne for being a damn ho. Because of that, the children must all stay in the one room, which will be locked, and may go into the attic to play via the secret door in the room's closet. She says she will bring food up to them only in the mornings to not attract too much attention. Corinne is more pissed that her mother won't close off the whole wing of the house for the children to be locked into rather than the fact that her children are being locked in at all. She totally knew what's up the whole time.
The next morning The Grandmother brings them their food for the day and a list of rules. She says she'll beat them if she finds them breaking any of the rules. She's my kind of gal! Basically they have to be clean and boys and girls can't be in the bathroom together and stuff like that. Oh, and they can't open the drapes, or speak to her unless spoken to first, or be idle. The Grandmother is more of a hardass than Laine!
They sit down to eat breakfast, and Carrie starts bitching about the food. Okay, they have some pretty good shit there, I have to say. Bacon, eggs, toast, and hot cereal for breakfast, sandwiches and soup for lunch, and fried chicken, string beans, and potato salad for dinner. I think I'm just hungry, but I don't know what to eat for lunch because it's Ash Wednesday and I can't have any chicken flavored ramen. Taking this even further off topic, I hate any type of seafood and love cheeseburgers, so Lent is pretty hard for me. By the end I am so sick of grilled cheese, cheese pizza, and cheese quesadillas. Let me know of anything that doesn't contain meat or seafood that would be good to eat on Fridays.
Anyway, after 10 o'clock passes (the kids aren't allowed to go into the attic until then because the maids are cleaning the second floor and might hear them), they all go up to explore the attic. The atticis as big as the entire mansion, and there's tons of cool shit up there, like Civil War uniforms and books and old toys and stuff. There's even a little schoolroom, with desks and a chalkboard. It's all hot and dusty and dirty up there, though. Carrie starts bitching, and I wish The Grandmother was there to give her something to bitch about. Both twins start complaining that they want to go outside, which of course they can't. They decide to eat lunch, and all take baths beforehand. Chris and Cathy break a rule because Chris sits on the tub and talks to Cathy while she's bathing (Chris hard on alert 2). Gross, I definitely want my brother at least 100 feet away from me at all times even when I'm in my underwear, and the feeling is definitely mutual. Cathy says they shouldn't do that any more, not because it's weird, but because The Grandmother might find out. She also says that she likes her naked body better than his because it's neater. Cathy has obviously never bled through a tampon and pad before. What? Don't act like it's never happened to you if you're a girl. Shit's gross.
They finally eat their damn lunch, and the twins are all cranky so Chris and Cathy put them down for naps. I could use a nap right now. The day passes by uneventfully, and their mother, followed by The Grandmother, comes in to see them after dinner. The twins become rabid dogs and try to bite The Grandmother, and she orders Corinne to show them what happens if you disobey. She turns around, unbuttons her shirt (Chris hard on alert 3), and reveals whip marks all over her back. The Grandmother says she received 33 lashes for each year of her life, and 15 more for each year she lived in sin with the kids' father. The kids are horrified, but Corinne's a ho, she probably liked it. She's into that shit. The Grandmother blathers on about how the children were born from sin and were spawns of the devil, and that she will feed them and let them stay in their house, but never love them. She leaves, and now Corinne must tell the kids all about the whole half uncle thing.
Corinne's grandfather was a cradle robber who married a teenager. They had a son, the childrens' father, and they both died. Chris was penniless, so Corinne's dad, Malcolm, let him come to Foxworth Hall to live when he was 17 and Corinne was 14, and they both fell in love at first sight. Ew! After a few years they could not deny their gross love any more, so they eloped and were both banished from the house. Malcolm had a heart attack on the day he banished them, and has been frail and weak ever since. Now the kids know why Corinne was disinherited and why they must stay hidden away until she can convince Malcolm to love her best again. She says it won't take long, and they might have to stay in there for about a month. She also says that she's going to go to secretary school so she can get a job and then a little house for the five of them. Why doesn't she just become a stripper? She's got all the kinky lingerie.
The days pass by, and their mother visits them every day, and stays longer on Saturdays and Sundays. She says she's making headway with her father. Soon a Sunday comes where she doesn't show up until pretty late. She comes in wearing a sailor dress, I kid you not, and Cathy gets all pissed and wants to know when they can be released. Corinne says she hasn't been honest with them, and that her father said he was glad that Chris was dead and it was a good thing they didn't have any kids. Corinne tells them that they must stay locked away until he dies. He's in really bad shape, and should die pretty soon. She promises if he doesn't, she'll tell him about them.
More days pass, with Chris and Cathy hoping the grandfather will die every day. They get the idea to decorate the attic as a garden for the twins, and spend time cleaning it. Corinne brings them buttloads of art supplies and drawing instruction books, and they create animals to go along with their flowers. Corinne says she's still going to secretary school, and is totally lying. Weeks pass, with them creating the garden, reading old books, and the twins playing with toys. Cathy becomes more and more discouraged and despondent, so Chris has a talk with Corinne and Corinne brings her ballet shoes and costumes because Cathy wants to be a famous ballerina someday. She starts practicing all the time, and Chris either reads or paints. It's all kind of boring, but I guess that's the point, to show how dull their lives have become. They also drag mattresses over to an attic window and sunbathe naked because they feel they need sun to grow and be healthy. They feel safe in the attic because The Grandmother is claustrophobic so she won't go up there. When the seasons start to change, they change the seasons in the attic, too, by taking down their flowers and putting up autumn leaves.
They play hide and seek one day, and Cory accidentally locks himself in one of the trunks. He nearly suffocates before they find him. Chris and Cathy slowly warm him up and rock him, and in that moment become more like parents to the twins than Corinne. Cory is okay, and Chris breaks all the locks on every trunk and wardrobe in the attic so that they never lock again. Cathy knows they won't be truly happy again until their grandfather's funeral.
Soon they cross off the hundredth day on their calendar. Thanksgiving is coming, so Corinne brings Cathy some table decorations. She says that she is going to sneak up Thanksgiving dinner to them. On the day of Thanksgiving, they wait and wait, all while getting hungrier and hungrier, and still Corinne doesn't show. Finally she comes, drops off the food, and rushes out before anyone misses her downstairs. The twins don't like the food, but Chris eats everything in sight. After dinner is over, the twins say that their hungry, even though they spent all of dinner bitching about the food, so they eat sandwiches from The Grandmother's daily picnic basket. Cathy realizes that it's hard to be a parent. No shit, Sherlock.
The next day Cory gets sick. Corinne finally comes in and after seeing him, takes his temperature. She tells him to take aspirin and drink his orange juice and he'll feel better. Carrie gets sick soon after. Corinne, followed by The Grandmother, takes her temperature and it's 103.6. She says she needs to take Carrie to a doctor, but The Grandmother says that small children often run high fevers and that with the medicine, orange juice, and plenty of rest the twins will be fine. Nineteen days later, they finally are better, but will never be the same. Their eyes are shadowed and they are very quiet and weak. Corinne brings them vitamins, but Cathy says they need fresh air more than anything. Corinne says it won't be much longer. We've heard that one before, ho!
Christmas Eve soon comes. They all have been making presents for each other secretly. Chris comes up with the idea to make something for The Grandmother, and they all work on a gift, which is a landscape made out of silk and different cords and pebbles, and then framed with an old frame from the attic. Their mother brings them a tree, and sometimes during the night snuck in to leave presents. They have new clothes and toys and candy, which is a big deal because The Grandmother doesn't allow them to have candy for fear of them getting cavities and needing to go to the dentist. Cathy tries to give their gift to The Grandmother, who just ignores her and leaves. Cathy gets pissed and smashes it. The Grandmother should've taken it, for fear of Cathy going crazy and needing a psychiatrist.
Corinne comes with more presents, including a kickass dollhouse that was passed on from The Grandmother to her when she was a little girl. I love dollhouses! She also brought the twins trikes and Chris and Cathy roller skates. They also get a small TV set, and Corinne says that her father is writing her back into his will and leaving her everything, since The Grandmother has money of her own. She tells Chris and Cathy that there is going to be a huge party given downstairs tonight, and that there is a cabinet with a screen door that overlooks everything. She says that if Chris and Cathy are quiet, they may watch the party from there. She comes up to get them before the party starts and takes them to the cabinet. They see The Grandfather for the first time, and also hear some people talking about how Corinne is dating a man named Bartholomew Winslow. Soon they get bored and need to use the bathroom, so they leave. Once in the room, Chris decides he wants to explore the house since the door is unlocked, and puts on a disguise of old clothes from the attic. He and Cathy exchange some pretty flirtatious words (Chris hard on 4), and he leaves.
Cathy falls asleep waiting for him, and is shaken awake angrily by her mother, who is demanding to know where Chris is. Cathy doesn't know and Corinne says she'll never let them out again. Chris comes in and Corinne slaps him. You have to read the part where she forgives him, it's so weird:
She must've seen something in Chris's stunned expression, something that made her hot anger disappear. She drew him into her open arms and covered his wan, splotched, moustached face with quick little kisses that sought to take away the harm she'd done. Kiss, kiss, kiss, finger his hair, stroke his cheek, draw his head against her soft, swelling breasts, and let him drown in the sensuality of being cuddled close to that creamy flesh that must excite even a youth of his tender years.
Would you think that's talking about a mother and her son? Gross! Oh, and Chris hard on 5.
Chris forgives her, because all the blood has rushed out of his brain elsewhere. After Corinne leaves, Cathy expresses her doubts that her mother doesn't have enough money to take them away to their own house, since she always has on expensive clothes and butt-tons of jewelry. Chris dismisses Cathy's disbelief. The blood hasn't returned to his brain yet. He tells Cathy about the house, and how he saw Bartholomew Winslow with Corinne. Cathy asks if he kissed her and touched her breasts and stroked her buttocks. Hee and gross! These kids see their mom way too sexually. Chris tells Cathy about the trophy room, which has tons of animal heads on the walls, and about their mother's room, which has a huge round bed shaped like a swan. They marvel over the bed some more, and then go to sleep.
More months pass by, and the kids are pretty much addicted to the TV, since it's their only way to view the outside world. Cathy and Chris's bodies are changing, and Cathy sees stains on Chris's sheets and thinks he's become a bedwetter. He tells her what they are - and I never want to hear my brother ever tell me about that shit, I seriously need to puke now - and she says he needs to see a doctor because it's much too messy to be normal. Chris tells her that her time to stain the sheets is coming. She doesn't know what he's talking about, and goes back to pulling any armpit hair or pubes she finds out of her body with tweezers. Chris must've talked to Corinne again, because she brings Cathy a huge box full of pads and tampons and stuff, and tells her about bleeding from the vag. Cathy tells her she's going to be a ballerina and she won't have kids until she's older, so she can cancel the period, kthanx. Corinne laughs and tells her it'll come whether she wants it to or not. She says it doesn't seem fair that Chris doesn't have to go through this shit, and to that I say word, and Corinne says Chris will have his own struggles to go through, like controlling his erections around his mother and sister. Okay, she didn't say that, but what other struggles could he have?
Cathy has her birthday, soon followed by the twins'. She and Chris teach the twins to read and write, and they discover Cory may be musically talented. Soon it's summer again, and Cathy has gotten her period and has mega cramps and needs to stay in bed, which I remember all too clearly from when I was her age. Cathy believes even less in their mother, and Chris still doesn't doubt her at all. Chris sucks. Corinne comes by less and less, and after a week of no visits, finally comes and tells them their grandfather is sick and could die any minute now. Cathy and Chris pray for his death, and they have now lived in the locked room for a full year.
Everyone pray that my night class gets cancelled because of the snow! I promise that if it does I will write Part 2 and post it tonight. No cover image today, I'll post the absolute worst of the many covers when I do Part 2.