‘For I think of us more as flowers in the attic. Paper flowers. Born so brightly colored, and fading duller through all those long, grim, dreary, nightmarish days when we were held prisoners of hope, and kept captives by greed.’ (location 33-38)
So this group read of Flowers in the Attic hosted by insatiable booksluts has finished the next part of the novel and are now at the halfway point, more or less. So be warned – there will be spoilers below!
First of, I want to say that I get a weird feeling when reading this book. I’m not sure if it’s the mom part of me that really aches for these poor kids or if it’s because I feel a bit trapped in life with every day being more or less the same: getting up, getting kids ready and taking them to kindergarden, going to work, picking the kids up, making dinner, eating, putting the kids to bed, going to bed myself and repeat – more or less. Whatever it is, the book makes me feel a bit besides myself. This is not necessarily a bad thing – right now, I don’t quite know what it is…
When we finished last, we had just realized that the grandmother means business. In this section, we learn that at least she has a reason for being mad at her daughter and for not wanting her grandchildren – although not a reason strong enough to whip anybody or to treat the kids the way she does.
The children’s mother finally tell the kids the true story of their father and her. It turns out that the children’s father was the half-uncle of the children’s mother. They fell in love when he came to live at her home and then ran away, got married – and returned, expecting to be welcomed with open arms. When that didn’t happen, they left and lived in happiness until the father died. And now, the mother has to try to get on her parents’ good side again to be able to provide for the children. Or that’s what she says at least.
Where the first part introduced us to the four children and their parents and set up the story, this second part is all about life in the attic. The children now know they will have to stay in the room and the attic until the grandfather dies so Chris and Cathy try to make the twins have as good a time as possible. With the help of their mother, they create a beautiful fake garden in the attic for the twins to swing and play in and look at.
The mother visits regularly and tells them about her life and how she tries to learn a skill so she will be able to make it in the world. She’s trying to learn how to become a secretary. But when Chris and Cathy are allowed to sneak down and peek at the Christmas Party, they see their mother seemingly very close with a man. And for the first time they see their grandfather in his wheel chair.
When Chris afterwards goes off exploring the house and the mother returns to lock them in before he’s back, she for the first time reminds them of the grandmother – especially when she hits Chris when he returns to the room.
And every morning the grandmother with her silent disapproval and dressed as a grey ghost brings them their food, never with even a single kindly word.
The twins both get seriously ill during this time too and the mother is very worried about them. Luckily they both pull through, although they seem like shadows of themselves. Carrie for on doesn’t constantly chitchat anymore but is almost as silent as her brother. And this is probably a good place to show one of the novel’s issues. Cathy so misses her sister’s chitchatting – but then only a few pages passes and suddenly, Carrie is back to normal and Cathy is annoyed by it even though it was only a little while ago that she was so worried about her and was sure that she would never return to her own self. Another seemingly example of this lack of constancy is, when the twins just hate the attic and everything about it is scary to them – and then a few pages later exploring the attic is the best way to spend their time and Cory wants to spend all his day in the attic…
It’s like V.C. Andrews just changes the facts as it suits her and fits the story. To have the twins be so scared of the attic creates a good scene and some nice action – but she need them to get used to it later on and instead of showing how they gradually grow familiar with it and less scared of it, she just writes that now they’re fine with it. Of course, this is much easier – but it’s also cheating!
Despite this, I’m still interested in reading on but I’m also ready for something new to happen in the third part. I’m guessing that the oldest children’s sexuality will probably be in focus in this section which will give the grandmother a chance to some creative cruelty!